Friday, December 17, 2010

Bikes for the Zombie Apocalypse: Part 1

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few months you're aware that AMC has adapted The Walking Dead for television, and, well, it is awesome.
My boss and I both love the show,
and the show has prompted many zombie-preparedness discussions around the watercooler at work. My boss is of the 'Zombieland' persuasion, which is to say he wants to find the biggest vehicle that he can and run down zombies. I find this theory flawed for a number of reasons:

1) Packed roads and highways. Let's face it, once some test-lab monkey bites patient zero and people start freaking out, they are going to take to the roads in panic. Mass pile ups, people turning into zombies or dying in their cars, you don't want to be part of this.

2) How long are you going to have a ready supply of gasoline? Smash-and-grab might be a good option for a 2-hour movie but it's not a long-term survival strategy, ok? Ok.

Clearly, bikes are the solution for practically every post-apocalyptic scenario. Imagine The Boy and The Man from McCarthy's The Road having bicycles. Roving bands would be easier to escape, and they wouldn't be struggling to cover 4-6 miles a day on foot.

I should note that a significant part of my zombie survival strategy involves lying low for the first few weeks of the outbreak. The recurring theme of those who survive the initial onslaught of zombies seems to be waking up a few weeks into the disaster. So stage 1 of survival is hoping there is plenty of food and water in the house for a few weeks and boarding up the windows, keeping lights off, etc. Mobility comes into play only after the most of the population has been eaten or is now part of the larger zombie population.

Part 1 of my Bikes for the Zombie Apocalypse is a personal practical application. If the zombies hit Denver, what is my strategy with my current stable?

+ = ?

First, some quick eliminations. I love the Peloton, but lets face it. It's not practical and I'm not going to try to survive the zombie apocalypse in SPD-SL cleats.

So, love to the Peloton, but it's going to end up as bars on my windows. Maybe some of the awesome 853 tubing will be filed down for use as a hand weapon.

Next is the single speed. Again, I love her, but not super practical. I can't carry food and weapons in a messenger bag for the rest of my life. She faces the same ultimate fate as the Peloton.

The Collegiate is a step in the right direction. A bit more practical, some cargo capacity, platform pedals. But she's slow and heavy and her age requires a bit too much maintenance. However, she might do well in stage 2 of zombie survival: scavenging. If stage 1 is living in your bunker (or being in a coma at the hospital), stage 2 involves raiding your dead neighbor's pantries for canned goods, water, weapons and ammo. So the Collegiate might do ok in this scenario.

Our Joebike would be awesome as a stage 2 bicycle. Lots of cargo capacity, easy loading, stable handling means one handed steering and one handed crossbow firing. Rear rack will help, could carry a passenger to help with zombie defense if needed. Internal hub means less maintenance which would be nice. Dynamo lighting could be useful, although I don't hope to be outside after dark.

But, once true mobility was needed, she might have some shortcomings. The small front wheel means low clearance and poor off-road performance. And she's not very fast.

The Surly LHT is probably my ideal choice from my current stable of bikes. With front and rear racks she has decent carrying capacity, without sacrificing mobility and speed. She can handle the off-road terrain reasonably well too. If the zombies rise up tomorrow, I'll wish that I had a couple of large rear panniers to match my Jandd Mountain Panniers up front, but I will make it work. The Schwalbe Marathons in 700x32 should last me at least a few thousand more miles. Enough to get me out of the metro area and safely away from most of the zombies.

So that basically wraps up Part 1. If the zombie apocalypse starts tomorrow, I'll be on my Surly. Part 2 will be: what if I had time to be better prepared? Stay tuned....