Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in an ongoing series aimed at keeping you on the road and out of the poor house. Hard times demand frugally demented ideas, so we took away vagabond writer Joshua Placa’s meds, duct-taped a laptop to his chest, gave him a tin cup and sent him off to investigate the best deal for the biker buck—on everything. This installment discusses delightful discount dining while on the hungry open road.
Does it sometimes feel like a foreclosure sign has been hung on your head? Everybody seems in a funk, and just too poor to spare any fun. Or maybe just the fiscal fear of fun is enough to keep you home, where there’s free TV and a nice, cushy couch to nap away your troubles.
Like everyone else, motorcyclists have been suffering through this sputtering economy. But this does not mean we have to stay home, and mumble about the days we could afford food and gas. We just need to be more creative, tighten our chains, and use our brains. There are ways, my broke friend, to stretch nothing into something.
This is Josh's girlfriend, Celia. He allows her to sit of front of 2000 greasy calories, but she isn't allowed to eat it.
Wily veterans have long used sneaky, well-kept secrets and crafty tricks to get the most out of what's left of their last oily, tattered dollar. Riding relieves stress and puts miles between you and the daily grind. The plan is so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t come up with it yourself.
Bikernet Health Warning: Avoid the Day of the Dead and eat right!
After 30-something years of biking and bumming, piling up a wealth of valuable experience at being broke, I am bona fide and institutionally certified to deliver free advice. Truth is, we blow bucks on a lot of needless stuff.
I don't get these Heart Attack Grill shots. I thought we were on a budget?
Topping the list is dining out, which is the bane of modern motorcyclists and the focus of this installment of the Budget Biker, an ongoing series aimed at keeping you on the road and out of the poor house. It is one of the prime differences between old school and new school, frugality and frivolity. New school throws down the cash at the first inkling of appetite; old school can’t waste time pulling over to satisfy a hunger pang or two when home cooking is only two or three hundred miles away.
When I was a boy, the notion of eating out meant gathering roots and berries, or starving until we made it back home. This, my dad would proudly say, toughened you up, built character, and made you appreciate the value of a dollar. I would have traded all that in for a hot, juicy burger, but the stingy coot was right. Bandit’s pappy often said, “You’d be a long-time starving, if that’s all you had to eat.”
There is an economical compromise: pack your saddlebag with a picnic. Include cold beverages, hearty sandwiches, maybe a piece of fruit for once. Pick a spot along one of your favorite scenic roads, pull over at some piney place, relax, enjoy, and save money.
Bring a date and you’ve got the makings for romance. Variations of the saddlebag picnic include the backpack breakfast and the Tour-Pak dinner. Cheap, non-perishable snacks like protein and granola bars, trail mix, dried fruits and jerky can be left in a saddlebag almost indefinitely.
Low blood sugar can be dangerous, make you lose focus and do dumb things. On one long lost ride, at the first gas station we had seen in 133 miles, a hunger-dazed buddy accidentally filled his tank with diesel fuel. This and more consequential mistakes can easily and frugally be avoided by keeping your brain and body well fed and lubricated with water.
Alternatives to dining out or bagging it include buying food and drink directly from supermarkets. This can be as good as bringing a pre-made meal, but fresher. Supermarkets sell chilled and “warm” drinks (cheaper). Both get the job done. Deli counters offer sandwiches and salads, or you can just buy some cheese and bread to make your own gourmet snack and have a romantic lunch somewhere, probably someplace beyond the parking lot.
For a hot meal on the go, I’ve heard tales of old timers wrapping something in aluminum foil and clamping it somewhere along their exhaust pipe. (This is purported to be where the term, “piping hot” comes from.) Cooking times vary and take a bit of trial and error, or so go whimsical folktales of fanciful food preparation in a pinch. Could work, though.
The old exhaust pipe barbecue trick has been around since the first burp of carbon monoxide, although few bikers these days would likely feel the need to test it. Then there is the meal on the go, or otherwise known as road kill. As an old, gray grizzled biker once told me, “Nothing wrong with it, long as it's fresh.”
On the other hand, if you cut a dusty trail early, eat yogurt and trail mix for breakfast, and saddlebag munchies for lunch, then maybe you saved enough cash for a Mexican feast and a margarita for dinner.
Stay tuned for the next edition of The Budget Biker, where we will discuss cheap and practical alternatives to retail riding gear.
I'm full. Can we take a break?
The Budget Biker welcomes suggestions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations of food, liquor and most items of sinful intent are gratefully accepted and may be tax deductible, somewhere.