Author Topic: Living on my bike  (Read 28872 times)

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Offline kenstrandberg

Living on my bike
« on: March 04, 2009, 08:26:12 pm »
Over the last couple years, I've run into people (men only so far) who live on their bikes. They have no or little personal property except their bike, clothes, and necessities. One young man I met in Oregon goes to Idaho during harvest months and works for a while, then to Mexico and elsewhere south for the winter. Another man in his 50s I camped next to who was leaving Reno for points south. He had been living on his bike for 14 years. He spent his early years going around the country, working when he needed to and traveling otherwise. After seeing much of the country, he stays in the western states. When I last saw him, he said he was on his way to meet a man in his 70s who lived on his bike and was on his way south and staying in a town about 100 miles from where we were.

So, my question is if there are any folks out there who have or still do live on their bikes for more than just a tour? I'm interested in:

what you do to support yourself
what expenses do you consider absolutely necessary living on the bike
where do you go, and what time of the year do you go there
if you take anything with you beyond a typical tour setup
how you manage your money while on the bike
anything else you've learned or do that's different from a long-distance tour
do you travel alone or with someone

I currently live on the road in an RV, so downsizing is not an issue. Been there, doing that. But I'm really interested in what it takes to live on a bike.

Thanks.

Offline dunedigger

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 09:01:22 pm »
I've really been thinking about this kind of life as well. I guess it just takes a certain person to do it. I'll be living on my bike for about a year or so when I do the my circuit along the US, I'm a slow biker. I don't think I will want to go back to a sedentary lifestyle afterward. It just seems like you can take so much more out of life when you spend it doing the things you truly love, and travel is what I love xD Camping shouldn't bother you, and neither should living on very little if you wanna live that kind of life. People always say to travel light when you bike tour, but I'm not so much worried about that. Cotton may be the devil, but I can't give up my big canvas army overcoat. It's really good in the winter. As to why I would like this? I've taken to reading a lot of travel writings lately, and have been greatly inspired by people like Chris McCandless, John Steinbeck, and Jon Krakauer. Among many others. Yes, I know, I'm young and naive. But I don't care xD My family and friends think I'm off my rocker.

I will be living off savings for the most part. When I run out I guess I'll either find a job or go home and settle down again, rest, and earn more money. When I go it will either be just me or me and a dog.

Seein' how you have a RV, if you switched to a bike or even a car you would sell a hell of a lot of money on gas expenses xD

Offline kenstrandberg

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 10:28:25 pm »
Two things:

1. Do this while you're young and not established in a particular lifestyle to which you become accustomed. It makes it much easier.
2. Don't listen to anyone else. The real explorers, entrepreneurs, discoverers did so by not following the normal road.

If you do this, please get on facebook or something and keep a log. That would be really interesting to follow.

Offline dunedigger

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2009, 10:49:05 pm »
Yup, I'm either doing it in May '10 or in May '11, depending on whether or not I continue on with my horrible college experience. I do plan on keeping a journal/travel log, and then uploading it to a blog somewhere. All depends on how often I will be able to access free computers.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2009, 11:42:25 pm »
There are two ways to look at this. As bicycle tourists it sounds exciting and a great way to go, but here in Florida, especially in Tampa, it is truly a sad comentary. It has gotten worse since the economy has tanked. When I speak to peope who live on their bikes, they are, mostly destitute and would love to get off the road and have a safe shelter to live in. I bought a tube and changed a tire for someone and he wanted to give me a bandana, he didn't have much. I wished him well and gave him a few dollars. It breaks my heart and I always try to help them a little. If you stop and engage them, they are very scared but some will share their experiences and have the most fascinating stories. They certainly live on very little, are in serious need of health care, and are constantly harrassed. Their biggest worry is surviving the extreme heat we have down here. I am sure this is not what you wanted to hear but it is a sad reality. Sorry....

Offline dunedigger

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2009, 11:55:01 pm »
Mmm, yes. I saw the same thing when I almost moved out to Portland, OR. Very nice city, but I decided that I am going to stay away from big cities. Cities give me this weird vibe.

Offline biker_james

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2009, 08:06:29 am »
We met one fellow when we first started touring who seemed to fit the description. A german fellow named Marc who did not sounded like he was headed home anytime soon. We met him on Vancouver Island, and he was heading north towards Alaska, with plans of heading back south towards Chile where he had friends, by the time winter came. I'd love to know what happened to him, and where he is now. He seemed pretty cautious about spending his money, but he certainly wasn't destitute. I wish I'd asked him more questions about his lifestyle and future plans. 

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2009, 08:15:40 am »
There is no need for tourista to make an apology. Everybody sees the world in the light of his own experiences, and by whatever vicarious learning he can acquire along the pathway of life. What he has seen is what he has seen and known. It should not be taken as a negation of anyone's point of view, but as a valuable contribution to the broad spectrum of realities we call the human experience. Therefore, some people may be thriving on the "life on a bike" lifestyle, and others may be in a very bad way. Perhaps those are not adventurers by choice, but down at the heels, destitute persons who can afford only a beat up old bike for transportation.   

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2009, 12:54:49 pm »
I think I know what bikerjames and tourista829 are talking about. There is this man. His name is Cecil. I consider him an itinerant worker. His bike is his transportation. He is a nice enough person. He meeds medical attention for his heart. Most of his teeth are gone. He smokes like a chimney, but is a nondrinker. He will ride his bike thirty or forty miles to a town and work there doing whatever, odd jobs, picking tomatoes, that sort of thing, maybe painting someone's porch. No education to speak of much. He will go to another town say 35 miles away. It may take him two or three days to get there. He will set up his rag tag little camp, stay there so many weeks perhaps, and pick oranges for a living, and so on and so forth. He is a poor homeless man whose only transportation is a bicycle. Or maybe that is not what they mean.

There are people riding bikes long distances who are not what we might define as bicycle tourists. They are people out there on the road, and most likely mainly around bigger cities who are basically down and out. They are not likely to be adventurers; perhaps they are more like misadventurers who are in a hole they do not know how to climb out of. They have their bikes, and that is their only way of getting around. On the other hand, I have lived in China for long periods, and there the velocipede is the main mode of transportation for hundreds of millions of people, and I assure you many many Chinese evince that down and out aspect in their appearances and finances.

The down and out types in the US are not what I consider to be long distance bicycle tourists, but maybe some of them are.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 01:04:49 pm by Westinghouse »

bobbirob22

  • Guest
Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2009, 01:46:24 pm »
I am curious as well about living off my bike. Ive thought about doing this for years, it is a dream of mine. If you think about it, living off your bike is no different than a long tour. I love to camp, ride my bike and be alone so this lifestyle would suit me well. I would have an income, I have schitzo-affective disorder and draw disability ($650 a month) so I would have income. $20 a day for food and $50 a month for expenses such as tires, tubes, batteries, and hygene products would work quite well. Whatever i didnt spend that month would go into savings. I know where all the lakes and rivers and creeks are and there are many places to camp here (kentucky) so I wouldnt have a problem finding a place to sleep every night. I already have the essential camping gear that I would need, tent, stove, mess kit, sleeping bag, lanterns, radio, weather radio, and would also have the tools I need to work on my bike along with extra tube and a patch kit. I have a trailer to pack it all in and dont mind hauling a few extra pounds so I can carry all my gear, food and water to last a week or two with me. I also have Nashbar waterproof panniers, front and rear, that i will keep my clothes and other small stuff in.
Living off my bike is something I would love to try and if I decide to go for it, ill keep a journal on www.crazyguyonabike.com and keep you all posted here to as best I can.


If anyone reading this is living off your bike, I would love for you to post and tell us about it. Do you think im nuts for wanting to do this or is it something you become accustomed to quickly? I already camp out most of my days,  I average 2 to 3 weeks out of the month camping so doing it full time would not be much of a change for me. I love the outdoors and have always thought about living this way. Any imformation, tips, and tricks for this lifestyle would be much appreciated.  Thanks.

Robert

Offline Tourista829

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2009, 02:10:25 pm »
As I listed in other posts, go to the MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) website www.mec.ca and go to cycling, learn tab, and bicycle touring tips. There are two people, who are doing exactly what you want to do. There names are Janick Lemieux and Pierre Bouchard. I believe the way they fund it is by writing in different journals, sponsoring different product lines, and obtaining corporate sponsors. They are harden world travelers. Maybe there is a way to email them. If you can't find there info, contact MEC, I am sure they will provide you with their email address. If it were me, I start off with a decent nest egg and go from there. When I have toured, I was able to get freebies from churches, universities, and even some military bases. Crazy Guy on a Bike has an excellent journal, worth reading. Good luck.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2009, 01:15:55 am »
I don't think Bobbirob is in the least bit nuts for wanting to do that. Once you have had a good look at the world you would see that there are over six billion persons inhabiting this planet, and lifestyles vary beyond your wildest imagination. As long as you have the necessary funds there is no reason why you cannot make your dream a reality. You may have some kind of dysfunction of the nervous system, but that would not prohibit you from working now and then for extra money.

As for myself, I have been working overseas for years on contracted projects. At the end of a contract I may want to renew. If not, I can come back to Florida. I might, usually actually, take off on a long tour across the United States. I also cast around for other jobs overseas. If I find something that interests me I try for it. I do not always get what I apply for, but sometimes I do. If I am successful or lucky or whatever it is that gets me employed again, I take off back overseas. Before I started working overseas I would take long tours. I too had an independent income, but from a private source, not disability or government. I certainly was not rich with it, but it enabled me to be free and independent of having to take unfair employment just because of the pressures of economic necessity; that in and of itself could be seen as form of wealth.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 04:29:24 am by Westinghouse »

Offline biker_james

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2009, 06:40:15 am »
Actually, this guys journal on Crazy Guy is more my idea of living on the bike http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=1419&v=7VO - on tour for 1000+ days so far. The homeless/no other option approach is less appealling to me, but they may be hard to distinguish after a while, I guess.

Offline bagoh20

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2009, 09:34:39 pm »
I guess a lot of us have thought about this.  Just going off-grid and living to ride and explore.  I certainly have been entertaining the thought a lot lately.  I have sufficient assets after 35 years of nonstop work to survive without working if I sell everything.  My issue is that I cannot bring myself to give up my main activity which is helping various causes and contributing to efforts that help, like dog rescue, which I do a lot of and spend substantial money on.  I would have to give this up since it requires a house, a job for funding and a lot of time.  It seems very selfish, but I want to live that truly free simple life.  So, I'm torn between being useful and living my bliss.  I get great satisfaction from my charity work, but I would absolutely love to wake every morning and just ride and explore.  I think I'm screwed.  I need to figure out some kind of 3rd way.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Living on my bike
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2009, 08:42:53 am »
That would be difficult choosing between a full life of charitable social work, and exploring the world on two wheels. If you ever choose the latter opportunity, be sure to keep a very good journal of all your experiences to make a book, or at least a well bound record you can pass on to succeeding generations. I don't know how much experience you have with writing. You might want to get boned up on it, or even take courses in it if you ever do set out on a record keeping project like that. Remember, books are not written; they are rewritten. Revise.