C5 Survival Advice- Part 4- On Motorised Bicycles- From South America

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With your host, Category5

(A shout out to the visitors from England, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and of course, all the Canucks.The vast majority of viewers, though, are coming from the States and this isn’t surprising considering the giant wobbling shitstorm that has been teetering to fall since the 70s. I suppose that teetering dung pile has been building up since the end of WWII when they decided ruling the world would be a good idea. Not to mention running the world on oil. When it falls, alot of countries fall with it. I´m feeling like one of those 80s hair metal bands in a dive bar finding out he is famous in Japan.

Another BIG shout out to the one visiter from Bolivia. I eventually figured out who it is. Another volunteer with the NGO I am with and let me tell you, She is one tough chick… and a fantastic model of the type of person I think is best suited to adapt to the end of the world. A hard life hard case like myself, perfectly adapted to living in the runes while smiling. Death Metal aficionado, tattooed, and able to hold her own in the mosh pit amoungst the usual sausage fest. Train hopper, hitch hiker, sleeping in any squat she need to. She fought her way up to construction forman amoungst the usual swinging dicks and is now volunteering to teach woodworking and construction with simple hand tools in Bolivia. If you are reading this, when our stint is up, make sure you train hop across the country to visit our doomstead. Now onto the C5 circus side show)


“As long as we are looking at making money, making wealth, becoming richer than we are today, we are taking a very long walk off a very short pier. All our expectations of economic growth, betterment, of improvement, all that stuff that is hardwired into our imaginations, that was relevant to a time that is already past. We are now facing a situation where those of us that are relatively privileged, relatively well off, have to face the most difficult task we have ever faced which is to be poor with some level of dignity. Now that is terrifying for a lot of white people. Most people of colour know how to be poor. They have had plenty of practice… Most of us have no clue. We are terrified of being poor. We have never done it. The thought of rubbing elbows with someone that is poor will make a lot of people in the Salary Class wet themselves.

…So, the question is, are you willing to learn to be poor with some level of dignity and skill. And it takes skill. You have to learn how to do it.”      John Michael Greer


Unlike in North America., this South American city has completely embraced motorised bicycles. These motorised bicycles are normal enough that I see several each day. They are everywhere. And this was one of my big eye openers immediately after arriving here. I knew I had to focus my X-ray goggle, obsessive doomer, resource depletion, economic contraction, ex street kid, apocalyptic news reporter, bloodshot eyeballs on this fascinating adaptions to living with limited resources.

Sure, there are electric bikes and scooters here but they are rare and only seem to be in the  4 wealthy districts of the city.

As  John Michael Greer points out, “Most affluent Americans would sooner die in a fire than do anything that would make their neighbours think they were poor”.

C5 Rule of Survival- “ If all else fails, lower your standards” or lower your expectations, depending on the context.

Yes. I have seen these in Canada but the people riding them sort of communicated that they were either a teenager waiting for their time to get a motorcycle , a mechanically inclined but unemployed red neck or most often, a determined alcoholic that had lost their license because of too many DUIs but still had to make it to the liquor store.

That is not what is going on here. It is just young adult Millennials without high paying jobs that do not live in the wealthy districts. I will get to the pros and cons and why you should consider this for preparedness a little further down. It is a bit different than you are imagining at the moment.

Let me stop right there and say preparedness is the wrong word. I want to float a new concept to you folks. This isnt Prepping. Its ADAPTION. I’m not a Prepper anymore. I´m prepped. Now I am an Adapter. Im adapting my life to the apocalyptic future that has already started. Chew on that for a while and remember the word Adapter.

Let us start with my first observation of them her in South America. I am a motorcycle rider somewhere on the biker spectrum as well a bicycle aficionado. When I saw my first motorized bike up close I immediately thought to myself ¨nice lines¨. nice linesSomeone actually took pride in its style. If you have very limited resources this is still something you can tinker with in your free, non-job, time and be proud of it. It is very human scale. You do not need an autoshop packed with expensive tools bought on credit. Just some basic ones. All of your post-industrial stuff will need periodic repair and care but you do not really need to be an expert auto mechanic or work two jobs in order to pay one. The parts are cheap and fairly easy to understand.

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Then I started seeing them everywhere. It was not just a few anomalies. Not as much as scooters in Spain, electric bikes for old people in Holland or 125CC motorcycles… everywhere on the planet…. but North America. A subject for a later time. Still  quite a few. A few weeks later I found the bike repair district a few blocks from my home where people rebuild old bikes into new and I realized that they were being sold to people already assembled if not already coming out of the factory premade. For those of you visiting me from other countries, one of our Canadian comic icons is Red Green. His catch phrase is ¨If the women don´t find you handsome they should at least find you handy.¨ His men´s lodge group pledge is ¨I am a man… but I can change… if I have to … I guess.¨ Considering the epic, competing apocalypses of our time and the psychological blocks to adaption, that is a damn fine survival pledge to internalize.

Then the bikes got even cooler. I started noticing the choppers. These were not an anomaly. There are lots of them in the mix.

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It is one of my lesser known, semi-serious, cryptic C5 rules of survival – ¨What is the point of surviving the zombie apocalypse … if you can´t look damn cool doing it.  Girls are watching. The world will need repopulating.¨ Of course there is also ¨Never trust anyone with a mustache¨ but let´s forget about that one.

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Speaking of girls, I think there is a plot of the gods that the moment I leave my camera at home is the moment the real cool stuff happens. Like one day on the bus, I looked over and there were two sexy police women in riding boots facing each other while comparing flash light sizes like at any moment it might suddenly break out into an erotic porn light sabre battle. If I had got that shot I would be famous for life… probably get escorted by gruff, AK47 carrying police to the airport out of the country… and my mom would probably disown me. I know my mom is reading this, so… hi mom. One of my young childhood goals was to say something inappropriate right at the moment when my mom was taking a drink to get her to squirt milk out her nose.

The other epic photo I missed was a motorized chopper bike going by with the traditional 70s chopper, raised bitch seat on the back. Yes, bikers do refer to this as a bitch seat, try not to faint. On the back was the obligatory sexy beach bimbette. I was impressed. I guess the bad boys really do get the girls.

Okay. Now for the serious stuff. Resource depletion, economic contraction, climate chaos and social destabilization. One of the key points, for me, in my self-proclaimed, semi-serious, survivally expertlyness happened a handful of years ago after reading ¨The Slow Crash¨ by Ran Prieur. This was a pivotal moment for me. It was the moment that I understood collapse was not an event but a process. What followed was about a full year of asking myself some serious questions. Suddenly, all my standard survivalist expertlyness skillsets became next to useless. I asked myself a tough question. What does prepping for decline actually look like in contrast to preparing for collapse. Poverty, permaculture and people where the vague concepts that started to fill that void. My focus shifted … and my real learning curve began. I had a lot to unlearn. So here we are talking about poverty, how to avoid it, how to adapt to it with some level of dignity.

C5 rule of survival – ¨Just because its TEOTWAWKI doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. Just the world we knew. ¨

Let me tell you what really happens in an economic collapse.

You lose your job.

You lose your mortgaged house.

You lose your financed truck.

Does this sound familiar to anyone. You will lose your social standing and self-respect. You may lose your wife as well but here´s hoping she is different. You will also most likely lose your mental health as well if you can´t psychologically adapt to all the changes. Other people may still have jobs but you just won´t be one of them… or you might end up working for a few dollars a day like many of the folks down here.

So here´s my first kung fu.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. This is not a reflection on your inherent self-worth. It is remarkably normal. What we were doing previously was abnormal.

If you like this historic gem…if you like this jem...

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A motorized bike spans the huge economic gap by deeply reducing costs. No car payments. No car insurance. No car inspections or license renewal costs. Much lower gas costs. Repairs can be done by yourself and parts are in the tens of dollars instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you do upgrade to a much better bike along the way all you have to do is to switch out the engine. If fuel becomes totally unavailable, either through supply chain shutdown or you become too poor to purchase gas, simply detach the motor. Well, Voila. You still have a working bike to go about your daily life. You have only lost a few hundred dollars instead of several thousand dollars that you were going to lose anyhow through depreciation or built in obsolescence. If it is a short time fuel disruption, simply detach the secondary chain if you do not want to remove the engine. The first motorcycles were not much more than these. You can even make your own snowtires if you are tough enough to face the snows.

Just do not tacticool or camouflage your bike. I have seen many of these recently and it is just stupid. At best you look like a Rambo wannabe idiot that people fear will shoot up a school or a mall. At worst you look like a potential insurgent or spy inviting interrogation with a set of jumper cables.

Now for climate chaos. If roads get substantially damaged and the cars are not moving, chances are you can still get around with a bike as was true during the aftermath ofHurricane Sandy. Heck. It can even be carried in a canoe, lifted over a fence, hauled over downed trees or pulled up a cliff with ropes. You can even carry a chainsaw on one to cut your own paths. As seen in the picture in my previous post. You can go places cars can´t. Walking paths, sidewalks, between traffic jammed cars, bike paths, single track hiking paths, train tracks, quad trails, and even some cities have racks on buses or they can be taken on light rail transit during the down hours in some cities. I suppose I could use it on the Canada trail three kms from my house that I could theoretically cross the continent on.

Now for social destabilization. Nobody is going to steal your vehicle … or plant a car bomb under it… because you can carry it into the house. If it is no longer safe to be out at night, that is a great time to do vehicle maintenance in your living room. Just so you know, I have been carrying my bike up 6 floors of stairs each time I use it. My tummy flab has pretty much disappeared at this point.( MrsC5 raised her eybrow and shook her head).  Besides, a quality bike should never be left in the yard, on the porch or even a shed. You would not think of leaving your rifle there would you? A quality bike requires the same level of care.

If you find yourself living in your car, van or RV (a whole other subject for another time) your motorized bike can be carried with you. You will want to park that vehicle as quickly as possible and switch over to the bike to do your life chores.

If you are thinking about your carbon footprint, here is the bad news though it does work out in your favour in the end. Small engines are notoriously inefficient and spew a lot of carbon as well as unburned fuel. But gas is not your only carbon footprint. There is also the extra years robbed from your life getting you to your carbon spewing job you need to pay for your disposable cars or trucks. There is the mining and manufacturing of all the materials. A bike and motor are a lot less material. Then there is tire replacement. Also a lot smaller. Then there is all the infrastructure that also needs carbon heavy upkeep, repair and eventually totally replacement. You can feel good that your light bike is not wearing out asphalt, also made with oil. And as these roadways break down, while cars are having to go real slow and spew extra carbon whilst stopping and accelerating for potholes, you can whip right past them. I have been doing that here even without the motor. Other than being able to turn a few wrenches, I am no mechanic but the little I do know points me to one upgrade you can do to these small, cheaply made motors to improve efficiency. Replace your spark plug and spark plug cable with a high quality, high performance one. This will increase the spark which should improve the fuel burn taking place in the cylinder. Like tires and tubes, these are parts that periodically need replacements and should be stored when times are good.motor choper 1

So here´s the other bad news. People might envision going, ¨Woo hoo! I can pedal and only use the engine uphills. Yeah!¨ Unfortunately, this is not going to happen. It´s a flaw in the design. Hopefully someone will solve this in the future by adding a free wheel. Once you do this, it is only a motorbike at this point which means, yes, you can still peddle but you lose all that smooth magic bicycling efficiency because you are still turning the piston in the cylinder. This acts sort of like like a mechanical air brake. I do see people peddling them because the engine is off but they are going really slow. Same goes if you find yourself at the top of a hill. This won´t be the time to say, ¨Weeee! I can shut off the motor and go faster than the engine.¨ Nope. You would need the engine on and I am guessing it might still slow you down. The only way to do this transition from motorbike/non-motorbike would be to stop, use a wrench to loosen the chain, detach it, fold it up and tie it out of the way so it doesn´t get tangled in anything. Then do it in reverse when you want to use it again. I suppose that is still doable in certain circumstances like if you run out of gas and want to peddle to a gas station far away. The next problem is that these motors are not powered or geared for heavy hill climbs. It is more a problem of gearing than engine size and because it is aircooled, even if you were to change out sprockets. I am guessing that you can potentially risk overheating, damaging or even seizing the motor. Its hard to tell without first hand experience.

I need to get a donate button up soon. It´s not so that I can E beg or even make a living as a writer…Though that wouldnt hurt. I can either write or I can just build stuff. It´s for the research part of DGM Survival Research Centre. I would like to document running one of these small engines, to abuse it, overheat it and maybe even break it to see what it can actually do. If I simply had my own engine, I would treat it with care but that is not what you are here to learn.

But the biggest stumbling block to a poverty mitigation/adaption strategy like this is simply that it goes against the national zeitgeist. The Nascar nation. The open road romance. High speed car chases as some mythology of manhood. Conservative repulsion of anything new. Liberal repulsion that it doesn´t represent the electric myth of perpetual progress. The ¨There ought to be a law against that¨ response so common amongst the busybodies. I could actually see a cool, underground, illegal subculture rallying around something like this if it became tabboo like they do today over pot. ¨Dude, come check out my illegal MBike. You are not a rat, are you?¨


So let me sum up. Do not be looking at this idea as some cool way to ¨Bug Out¨ as a survivalist strategy. We will be kicking the shit out of that survival myth in the next few months… in a big way. But for now, the main point is that this is an adaptive strategy to reduce your costs in a world of diminishing returns. Massive downsizing to reduce costs so you can pay off your debt slavery or not make that debt in the first place. To keep from finding yourself bankrupt and homeless. To reinvest what money you did save into more productive survival strategies that make you even more resilient.

To give you HOPE.

To allow you to adapt if you were already kicked to the curb by a country that doesn´t care whether you live or die in a delusional Empire nearing it sell by date, that thinks your poverty is your own fault and a moral failing. This is a human sized project that you can take pride in, even if others ridicule, mock or hate you. They don´t need to know that you feel absolutely great about yourself because you know that you are both smarter and tougher than them.

This is a good time for a WWCD moment. That is, What Would Chris (Martinson) Do? I will rough quote him here so that I do not have to look it up. ¨When I started this I was running from something (the obvious future collapses). If I knew then what I know now I would run towards it. As I cut my lifestyle in half my quality of life doubled.¨

¨Do you know where fear lives in this culture? It lives between the gap between what you know and what you are doing about it. The only way I know to close that gap is, make your actions come into alignment with what you know. It is that easy. It is that hard.¨

Reducing the speed is where life begins. It is where you really begin to see the world around you. It greatly increases your situational awareness as you role though life. Sometimes when I ride my motorcycle in a pristine area with few cars to compete with, I will slow right down to 25 km/hour for as long as I can. That is the moment the world comes back alive again. I can really experience it and find myself mourning for when this was a big part of my real life before I started to zoom past it all. Do you really think those Amish in their horse drawn carts are depressed about missing out on technology? And sometimes, at the top of a mountain pass, I will kick the bike into neutral, hit the kill switch and ride down without all the noise. For a brief moment I will feel like I am flying like a bird. Free.

I bet you didn´t think this is what is awaiting for you at the end of the empire.

That´s all I got.

The next round will be a return to ass pain. Episode II. The Ass Gods Strike Back.

And as promised in Part 1…. sexy female police officers in riding boot on motorcycles. Yum.

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