Money, pump… gun? Is a weapon necessary for a bike ride?


I read a cycling article last week that rather brilliantly had the word ‘bandits’ in it, not something you see every day.

Darwin Atapuma attacked by bandits in Colombia” read the shocking headline.

While out on a training ride the BMC rider was accosted by two men who tried take his bike from under him. The attack resulted in cuts and bruises to Atapuma’s arm, and though the report states that the men were arrested by police it does not say whether they actually made off with his bike before that.

Personally, I’d have targeted Nairo Quintana for his Canyon Ultimate CF SLX, a far superior bike to the BMC time machine SLR01, but I suppose bandits can’t be choosers.

In all seriousness though this attack does highlight some interesting points, the first of which is, why doesn’t this happen more often?

Think about it – we are off in the middle of nowhere quite often, rolling along alone a lot too, on machines that are worth thousands of dollars, more than some of the cars that whizz by us.

We’re skinny, lack upper body strength and wear shoes we can’t run more than 10 feet in. We may as well be wearing bright multi-coloured kit to announce our presence…

This brings up the second point: should we carry guns?

I laughed as I wrote that because it does sound ridiculous, but the truly astounding thing is that there are cyclists out there who do indeed pack heat on their daily jaunts.

There is a thread on that is entitled “How many of you carry a gun as part of your cycling equipment?

Joe West, the author of the thread, opens by saying he prefers a .45 when out touring.

Here in Arizona we can legally carry open and concealed (concealed with permit).

For long distance touring and bicycle camping… I think I’d feel safer carrying my .45 semi-auto pistol (concealed so it doesn’t freak people out).

Anyone else carry while biking?


Weisse Luft then chimes in with his preference.

My current choice is a Kel-Tec P3-AT. 10 ounces loaded, locked breech, recoil operated semi-auto with a six round magazine. Its good enough in my hands for “velo-dog” use (small revolvers traditionally carried by cyclists in the early 1900’s) but being .380, adequate for self-defence when loaded with +P Cor Bons. A spare magazine is only an additional 3 ounces. For the weight of a small water bottle, I have adequate defence. I have yet to use it and my cycling partners don’t know I carry.

Three ounces huh? Wonder if there’s a gun thread on WeightWeenies too? (I checked, there isn’t, unless a ‘grease gun’ is a weapon?)

To balance the gun-carriers, Routier wades in with a slightly hysterical comment but one which I am sure most of us have some sympathy with.

Are you sick? What attitude is that? You also wear a gun while going to the theatre with your girl?

         Well I guess it’s just typical American behaviour. I saw that movie Bowling for Columbine. You should watch that, it                 gives you a whole other look on the carrying of weapons.

         Answer to you question: No I don’t carry a weapon on training! But many do, most of whom, it seems, are Americans.

Here’s a fellow on YouTube showing off his pistol pack

It seems mad to me, an Englishman living in the relatively calm, relatively gun-free Taiwan, that people would ever think of carrying a gun anywhere. And yet should we as rational people consider actually riding armed and ready for an attack? Would Atapuma have been better off with a Magnum in his back pocket? Or would he be awaiting sentencing for manslaughter?

I was involved personally in an attack by a motorist when I was 16, out riding with my 18-year-old teammate in the north of England on a remote hillside.

A large BMW came speeding by, bringing an involuntary middle finger from my companion. The car stopped, drove back, and out stepped two massive blokes. My friend got a smack in the mush that wrecked his front teeth and we had our bikes thrown about too. It was terrifying.

Do I wish I had had a gun? That is a question I want to say ‘No’ to, but, thinking on it, I just don’t know.

And then there is the issue of female cyclists and safety. If my soon-to-be-born daughter decided to take up the sport and was off on five hour rides alone in the hills, would I insist on her carrying a whistle and mace? Would it be enough even if she had them and was attacked?

What next? A knife? A telescopic striking stick? Or a snub-nosed automatic? Maybe Garmin could make one with a bike computer on it, might do well.

Many will say ‘Well that is America, more people have guns there’ but this misses a point – just about anyone who rides more than to the corner shop has encountered an angry motorist. Scary encounters can happen anywhere, you needn’t be in Texas or Wyoming.

South Africa is also known as a relatively violent place, as this video here attests to:

And it’s not just in America that cyclists are carrying weapons. ran a story back in March 2014 that told of David Best, 64, who had been hit by a car and was subsequently discovered to be carrying an airgun, a knife and – best of all – nunchucks!


Seriously though, I hope I never live in an environment where I really have to confront my indecision over carrying a weapon of any kind.

Finally, for those of you considering going all Dirty Harry (the shaved leg version), here’s a bit of advice on making that first gun purchase.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

12 thoughts

  1. When I lived and trained in Texas we debated this issue (late 80ies), but it asn’t until the early 90ies in France that I as threatened with a gun by a motorist ! He clearly came too close for comfort on a narrow bridge, I hit his car (evidence he as too close) and he stopped for an argument. NRolled his window down half an inch and pointed a gun at me. I called him a coward and he left (should have written down his licence plate), I did feel a bit shaky afterwards. Guns are never the answer, they only lead to more guns and problems. We need less of them, not more. If you’re packing on a 10 mile ride, you are clearly nuts. I wonder why he never shows his face in the video 😉

  2. Nice post, I appreciate the thought process–it’s honest. I never could understand the revulsion toward defending one’s self. There is the world some people want, and then there is reality.

  3. I used to carry a CO2 pellet gun to dissuade a rather nasty neighbor dog. I told the owner many times that he needs to control his dog (it would chase and grab and follow me into my garage). He ignored me so out came the gun, it held about 15 pellets and after unloading the magazine several times the dog learned and never came onto the pavement after that. They are useful, I would have preferred to shoot the lazy dog owner but I’m sure he a had a bigger gun than me.

  4. It’s becoming necessary in Argentina! We have had multiple high end bike robberies in our local trails. I’m thinking of getting pepper spray though…

  5. I’d feel a little silly pointing a pistol here in Sinaloa Mx. where AK47’s (Goat Horns) are the bad guy’s weapons of choice .In ten winters I have never had a problem although others have been robbed on the trails. If selling an expensive bike was not so difficult it would probably be more prevalent.Riding in Narco country does however still give me a bit of an adrenalin rush.

  6. funny thing Lee, when I’m on the MtB, I never bother, but I NEVER leave home without my center jersey pocket having a prominently perched .40cal and a spare mag. No joke, but I can’t help but wonder if the fact that drivers see that means I get a wee bit more space as they pass…..of course if they’re texting it’s a moot point, right?

    despite the prevalence of firearms here, i think most americans are still ingrained with a sense of “omg, guns are dangerous!!!!” (no they aren’t, no more so than a car….which has yet to kill anyone by itself- operated by a yahoo on the other hand….), thus when they see one they tend to steer clear. the way i figure it, i get a little bit of that effect, and I also have a viable method with which to defend myself and my mates if we ever encounter serious road rage. avoiding it at all cost is always the first move, but there’s a heck of a lot of weirdos driving cars nowadays, as you well know…..Albuquerque ain’t Taiwan!!!!

    ps: congrats on the little munchkin, maybe i’ll have to come back and bring a baby present one of these days 🙂

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