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The skills that every bike tourist should have

Sometimes you have to be a ninja. Last week I was cruising down the Rio Honda bike path in the rain.

Big, bucket-sized globs of water streamed down my face and into my eyes. My waterlogged shoes sloshed and drooled out excess water at every stroke.

When I got to the exit where I wanted to leave the bike path, the gate was locked.

No problem. I just hoisted my panniers, my bike, and myself over the fence. But it got me thinking.

When you're riding your bike as your main source of transportation, you're basically subverting the dominant paradigm. Lots of times you have to bend the norms and rules of  society, because the cards are stacked against you.

How many times have you had to swerve out of the bike lane to avoid catching your wheel in a sewer grate? Stealth camp because there was no reasonable place to stay within riding range?

I suspect almost every serious bike traveler has a list of minor traffic violations, walls and fences climbed, illicit camping and maybe more. And I'm pretty sure most of you are proud of your opportunistic improvisations.

I'm not going to preach any kind of morality. One could argue both sides. You could say it's important to be a law-abiding citizen to give bike tourists a good reputation. You could claim a higher right to special privileges, as someone who is using their own physical body to alleviate global warming.

These arguments are irrelevant once you're out somewhere cold, hungry, wet, and far away from where you should be. Then it's a matter of survival, or at least prospering.

In addition to stealth camping and climbing, it wouldn't hurt to have several wilderness and urban survival skills. Building a fire, catching a fish, dumpster diving all come to mind. Even hopping a freight train might save you some day.

Any other skills to have in your bike traveler repertoire?

4 thoughts on “The skills that every bike tourist should have

  1. Jacobbear

    Thanks Labann! I just checked out your blog--interesting stuff although it's going to take me a while to read your book. Some of the things you wrote in the preface really resonated. I look forward to reading more.

  2. Andhi

    I love this video! Love seeing you on the road and your set up with your bike! You are soooo awsmoee taking this tour! So cool, I wish I could do that! I used to bike alot and miss it and hope when my back feels better I can start taking some road trips. Inspirational! Thanks for sharing! You are so smart! Ciao, D

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