Experience With Bicycle Commuting and Touring, Hammocks, and Stoves, by David in Israel

Since June of this year when my new Dahon Speed 8 folding bicycle arrived I have greatly increased my bicycle mileage typically doing about 120 miles a week commuting instead of taking the bus in. The Dahon is a 20″ wheel folder so I have the option of bagging it up throwing it in the back seat or trunk and catching a ride with friends or taking the inter-city bus if I am tired, this hitch-hike-ability could be an important to a survivalist trying to cover long distances, perhaps even beating out the larger harder to stash 26″ wheel folding bikes. The better Dahons come equipped with Schwable super long life tires, they have significantly longer wear life than most bicycle tires. Since this bicycle is ridden around four hours a day comfort is key, a quality narrow spring seat, alloy pedals, hand grips and multi position “horn” bar ends were upgraded since these were the places that my body interfaced with the machine. Good fenders and aluminum cargo racks front and rear let me carry my backpack on the front with the extra pack strap length secured with recycled inner tube rubber bands. I had straps added to my pack to secure my pack onto the front rack where I feel I have the best control. A useful feature of some Dahons is the seat post air pump which gives a long stroke floor pump inside the long seat post shaft. As for spares I carry an extra tube, LED headlight, tire levers, Rema Tip Top patches(by far the best), and a Crank Brothers folding bicycle multi tool, additionally I have 4mm and 6mm Allen wrenches on my key chain next to my Kryptonite bike lock key. During regular times I wear a bluetooth headset for my mobile phone and white LED forward headlamp and red rear LED flashers attached to the helmet, a yellow reflective safety vest makes me even more visible to drivers. A Glock Model 17 and two spare mags in a padded Michael’s of Oregon (“Uncle Mike’s) holster on my heavy leather belt is comfortable and has shown no complaint to my regular sweating on summer rides. During a two hour afternoon ride I consume about two liters of water and occasionally gulp down some salted honey I keep in a sports gel flask for an extra boost before a hill. Regular mountain commuting will wear on your brakes, a complete set of brake pads is a good idea to keep in your repair kit.

I have made several five day to one week trips in the last few years and in addition to the regular stuff I carry for commuting I also include:
-Stuffable semipermiable rain/wind jacket
-Two pair of wool socks
-Hennessey asym hammock
-MSR Whisperlite International stove
-Kerosene fuel bottle
-MSR cook set
-Military nesting silverware
-MMR-40 40 meter QRP kitted radio
-15deg F lightweight sleeping bag
Everything fits in a mountaineering day pack.

I find that beans and lots of rice supplemented by eggs for dinner and fresh fruit especially bananas for snacks keep me running strong all day if I am careful to pace myself, I also try to remember vitamins. Since I know that I will be eating large portions it makes sense to pack larger camp pots. Strong coffee seems to boost my cycling strength especially when traveling uphill, but a person should know how late in the day they can drink caffeine before it affects their quality of sleep. Caffeine also causes you to urinate more requiring additional water supply. Along with the Norwegian and Swedish armies, I use the fold-a-cup coffee cup. It is unbreakable and flexible.

Hydration is key, for commuting my regular 2/3 liter bottle and a 1.5 liter soft drink bottle is enough for commuting 1.5 to two hours with about 200 meter climb in the hot sun. More water bottles for longer trips can be carried in tight panniers on the rear rack. There are times where a very dilute fruit juice makes gulping down water easier. I refill my bottles at every opportunity. I carry an Aquamira filter squirt bottle for my bike bottle and purification tablets for using questionable irrigation or spring water.

I have previously in SurvivalBlog extolled the virtues of kitting together the very small (2/3 the length of a 600 page paperback book) and inexpensive MMR-40 radio. It provides 6 watts for CW or SSB PSK-31 digital mode has a range of up to several thousand miles [with favorable ionospheric conditions].

The Hennessey hammock is a wonder of simple engineering. The asymmetrical design lets a large person lay off-axis on his side without being forced into the parabolic curve of the hammock. Entry is through a slit in the bottom which snaps shut from the weight of the camper and a tough bug net is sewn to the whole hammock. There is a cord keeping the bug net off of the campers face hung from this is a mesh pocket for your glasses, phone, or headlight. The rain fly when attached kept me warm and dry through a few downpours, but if there is a possibility of strong wind the rain fly cords should be staked or weighted with water bottles else they might blow a flap of rain fly open to the rain depending how the hammock is hung. If it is cold more insulation or a sheet of closed cell foam will make up for the compressed insulation heat losses on the bottom of the hammock. The Hennessey hammock also makes a nice swing seat, if you have no big trees available. The instructions also show how to use the hammock as a one man tent using walking stick or saplings. As with any hammock be sure you are tied into live trees and not dead rotted snags which could fall and crush you. On the upside you need not worry about how steep the incline or rockiness of the terrain as you are hanging suspended.

I used to carry a small Triangia cook set including a brass alcohol stove, which is a tougher sealable version of the DIY soda can stoves. I have found these to be useful in their weight but the hazard of a tip over burning fuel spill combined with the price of alcohol fuel at the paint store lead me to keep this for ultralight expeditions and instead to use my MSR stove. The MSR Whisperlite is designed for easy field maintenance as are most MSR products. The one main weak point, the pump stop, which has failed in a non critical way on all of my older MSR stoves, could allow foreign objects into the pump mechanism or loss of the piston, this has been upgraded to a much stronger design in recent years by MSR. I use kerosene due to the higher energy content over gasoline and the cleanest flame of fuels easily available to me in Israel. I carry a small bottle of alcohol to prime the stove, this leads to much less carbon accumulating on the stove, and quicker startups. (A tablespoon of alcohol fuel into the primer cup is enough to prime the stove most of the time.) Using the wind guard (very heavy aluminum foil) wrapped tight to keep the heat in the stove it primes and is ready to cook much faster, then the wind guard keeps the heat on my pots. I must also mention that MSR makes a repair/service kit with most of the parts and tools to fix and maintain your stove even on extended outings. – David in Israel