Security Notes for Bicycle Touring

[This list was originally written for Maximin and is by no means complete]

1. Make copies of your passport. A photocopy to carry with you as well as a picture on your netbook and emailed to yourself in your email. (Also note that US passports sell on the black market for 10k, so should you be really hard up for money it can be sold.)

2. Power of attorney. You can give it to someone you trust in the USA. Can be useful for any banking issues as well as tax problems and medical issues if you are incapacitated. Simple power of attorney forms can be gotten at your local library. Also very easy to terminate.

3. Your bank card is essential to survival. Always carry it in your secret pocket and have the international phone number of your bank emailed to yourself and on your netbook so you can cancel the card if stolen. You also need a USA address on file with the bank that your new card can be sent to. A person at this address can then send the new card to you in S America. This is easier if you have given power of attorney to this person. Also tell your bank of your travel plans. This way they can monitor your card use and put a hold on it if used irregularly. Additionally, many banks if not notified of a S American trip will immediately put a hold on your card or cancel it. Set daily withdrawal limits and credit card daily limits. No doubt the default daily limits on the card are much too high for S American bicycle touring.

4. Adaptor connector for camping stove. This allows you to use the needle-headed butane canisters that are sold in hardware stores. The adaptor screws into the stove and then twist-locks onto the top of the butane canister. Essential when traveling by bike as camping stores are often hard to find to purchase the specially designed screw-on camping butane canisters. Also, hardware store butane canisters are cheaper than the camping canisters. I lost my adaptor and don’t think I’ll see another one outside of Argentina, a country of people who enjoy camping. I consider this my most serious loss of gear. 

5. Another well known security precaution in hotels is to leave your TV on while out of your room. Make sure its loud enough that someone putting their ear up to your door can hear it.

6. A knife is a good weapon. A switchblade is best since it only takes one hand to pop it. You can slowly bring out money from your left-hand pocket with your left hand--getting the thief to watch that hand--while bringing out the switchblade in your right from your right-hand pocket, popping the blade and keeping it hidden by your thigh, and then, as you slowly hand the money towards the thief, handing it to thief’s hand holding the knife, you stab the fucker in the throat, while pushing his knife away from you with your left hand. But only do this shit if you feel you must. Switchblades are also good for cutting things when camping and for cooking too, as well as cutting your cardboard boxes for transporting your Bike Friday. Switchblades are illegal in all states except for New Hampshire. It may be something you purchase when arriving in S America.

7. A better weapon for defense is a sort of heavy stick that unfolds and you can whip people with it. I don’t know the name of it and I wish I had one. Perhaps they make them to fit in pockets. With this you can whip it out and keep a knife-wielding attacker at a distance while you fuck him up. You should strike for his knees or shins first, bringing him to the ground, then you can hit him some more or begin to stomp on his face and kick him. Then, later, if you’ve taken a particular dislike to him, you can get out your switchblade and cut into the bitch. But keep in mind that if you should bring out your knife you had better be prepared to kill with it. This is true especially in Colombia where letting a guy live is certain to mean a life-threatening future problem. He’ll be coming back for you with all his friends and well armed.

8. Carry a bit of money in your regular pockets to give to a mugger. A wallet with a few bills in it is even better. Its always best to avoid violent confrontations. Most of these guys are professionals.

9. A good pair of shit-kicking stomping boots. These may be heavy and you would only wear them when off your bike, but they are great for fighting. Just kick a motherfucker in the knee and he’s going down. The groin is a good spot too but can be hard to kick just right, so go for the knees or shins (shins are very sensitive). He’ll go down (or at minimum be unable to walk towards you) and then you can stomp the shit out of him. You should always attempt to get a guy on the ground first, especially the big guys. Got to take out their legs. A good pair of shit-kickers does that easily. Then stomp until he’s no longer a threat. You can also kick further than you can punch, meaning a kick is an offensive move that also keeps you protected, while a punch always leaves a man open to the counter. Perhaps you can purchase these boots when you find a place you want to stay after touring for awhile. Obviously its really a luxury to carry these things in panniers while touring.

10. In any violent encounter in S America be prepared to fight 7 guys. Miguel the Ninja of Buga told me this and I believe it is a good rule to follow. So get the lead guy down and then be quickly turning to take on the next guy. You need to work quickly, and that is why getting a guy in the knees and getting him down is important so you can turn and fight the next one.

11. Be aware that the thieves with knives and guns often look for couples. Its an easier robbery to grab the girl and then rob the both of you. Be aware of this when walking with a girl. You’re actually safer without her.

12. If the thief has a gun give him what he wants. Don’t fight.

13. Some robberies may involve them stealing your clothing, including your pants. This means your secret pocket and its contents is being taken too. You may indeed choose to resist depending upon what you’re carrying and your assessment of the attackers and situation.

14. Walk on sidewalks at the edge of the street, not against walls or buildings. That way if someone comes at you from in front or behind or from an alley they’ll have a harder time pushing you against a building or into an alley to rob you. You also have an opportunity for escape by being able to run into the street. Also, a cop in a car has a better chance of seeing the robbery.

15. When walking at night back from the bar or club or walking in a bad area I have often put a good-sized rock in my back pocket. If you can throw hard and accurate it makes a great weapon against a guy with a knife. Hit him good, then run.

1 comment:

  1. Power of attorney - great idea I hadn't thought of. I'm all over it.


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