flyingbeekeeper wrote:Grindz -
Fellow electrical engineer here. Let me say, first, I'm impressed on the achievement. I watched all your bike tour youtube postings and read the entire forum thread on it, too. I checked out your website as well looking for the 'lessons learned' debrief but didn't find any.
I, too, am looking at a week to 10 day bike tour this year and was hoping to get your tips of what you learned. I want to take a slower, enjoyable pace.
Here is my list from what I took away from your daily blogs:
1. Charge at vending machines, Ice machines, gazebos with power during the day.
2. Use dual battery packs to dual charge.
3. Don't tour in high summer
4. Carry spare chargers
5. Use ES & Warm Showers as a support group to couch surf and get encouragement.
6. Don't shoot for 150-200 miles a day, do 100-120 instead and enjoy it.
7. Use smart phone/Google for route and finding support bike shops.
8. Glympse to let the wife know where you are.
9. Own up to tripping someones breaker
10. Don't bring too much crap, stores are all along the route.
11. Look out for sprinklers when camping. And use a bike cover even on clear nights.
- dining ideas? Fast food good/bad? dictated by plugin availability?
- laptop worth it?
- what to jetison?
- when to stop for the day?
- covert camping pointers?
- tire brand recommendations?
- Cargo trailer? Worth it?
- camp stove?
- what battery pack do you have that can take 16 Amps?
- odd gear that you found useful?
So I'm interested in the unknown lessons. Can you shed some light on that?
Awesome Thanks! These are really good talking points. I have an article upcoming in Electric Bike Action magazine, and one I'm going to write for ElectricBikeReport.com. You have given me some great ideas to expand upon things I didn't get into in the more broadly-targeted electric bike action article.
Let me address a few things that jump out at me.
1. Those are the top 3, but you can find outlets anywhere if you're privy, but these are easiest to find.
2. False, I would encourage 1 large battery pack. If you make the packs removable, this might be nice, but otherwise I would encourage one larger battery pack. There are a few advantages to this, most importantly charge C rate stress.
3. I love touring in summer. I think a better lesson would be, don't try to do 154 miles per day for an entire month straight...
4. Not necessarily spare chargers, but your daily range is limited by your efficiency and charge rate, so the closer you can get to about 1200-1500w the better.
5. Crowd sourcing places to stay is a great way to save money and experience more, but it requires planning that I did not always have time for. There's a price you pay for spontaneity and speed. Be careful on warm-showers though. The people I met were ridiculously nice and accepting, but I feel that the whole e-bike thing may cause some people to be less enthusiastic about hosting, because they don't feel as much a kinship. I recommend being forward about the situation and explain the bike in detail.
6. Agreed. 100-120 per day is an ideal pace with my rig. This can be increased by utilizing j1772 ports IMO and a higher speed. It could also defeat the purpose.
7. Google maps sucks for ebikes. It's amazing, but the rules are not the same for cycling, walking, or driving. I would advise careful route planning beforehand using satellite imagery, street view, and national bike routes, to determine shoulder size etc.
8. I used google+ mostly for my wife, Glympse is better if you have a bigger audience
I had several hundred people follow me on Glympse per day.
9. ABSOLUTELY! Get approval wherever possible beforehand. I calculated that my one battery charge is the same as the monthly uncertainly in the average power meters measurement. So nobody will miss the electricity. But freaking people out is not good
10. Great point thanks, You got it, Ebike touring might tempt you to bring too much. I picked like I do on motorcycle trips, and it just didn't work out well at first.
11. hahaha yes!
Bathrooms - In the midwest, sometimes unplanned roadside stops were necessary... Otherwise, other charge stops with bathrooms such as gas stations and restaurants work too ( just make sure you buy stuff there of course) Many bike paths have public stops along the way as well.
Restaurants - Here is what I've found:
Dunkin' Dounuts - It seems like these always have outlets that are enabled. I don't know why, but it was a consistent theme, YMMV. They also have a good eggqwhite flatwhich which isn't quite as diabetes-inducing....
Mcdonalds - almost never have outlets enabled
Wendy's - almost never, always brick construction
BK - 50/50
Diners - very often
my contrast gas stations - almost always - it sucks huffing gas fumes while you charge though...irony
Laptop- I used my laptop for the edits, and it was nice to have. You don't really need it in general, but I would recommend a 13" or smaller macbook for space. the 15" is kind of a monster. 10" would be ideal IMO, but just leave it at home if you don't have to do video editing / catalog photos / etc. Most android / ios devices can do as much as a cheap small computer anyway.
Do not bring - extra clothes. You don't need a week's worth of clothes. Wash them nightly if possible, or every 2-3 days, and bring about that much worth. Extra tools. Everyone is different here, but I brought way too much in tools/extra components. This is hard though, if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere... The weight does add up. I wanted to bring a skateboard and a melodica too. This didn't happen with good reason
Make sure you have the smallest tent and sleeping bag. Mine are worth about 30 bucks collectively, and they're huge. I've literally used my 20 dollar tent over 100 times, but I should have spent the money on something smaller. I could have done without my fullface motorcycle helmet too. It was nice to have a few times, but a lightweight downhill helmet probably would make more sense. That's really hard though. I would like something in-between. I brought a microphone along with me in case I wanted to create some content for the podcast, never used it. Brought an icharger 106b along with me, never used it and nearly destroyed it.
When to Stop: This depends on how you tour. If you're racing across the country for no-good-reason, as I was, you have to just keep running. I tried not to do much after and before dark. I would recommend to find someplace to camp a couple of hours before dark though. Every day was different for me. I dunno.
Covert Camping - This can be dicey, but many times people won't mind if you pitch a tent for a few hours in a rural church lawn (but mind the sprinklers as you mentioned). Public parks if they are large enough in the suburbs work. Graveyards are great places to camp, if they're the type that are left open 24 hours a day. Nobody is going to mind the company
Of course all of these require special care not to bother people, so make sure not to break the law etc...... there are cheap or even FREE campsites in many small towns in the midwest, right in the middle of the village. Ask around. These are often called "fairgrounds" and these are great places to camp. The freedom to camp pretty much anywhere doesn't need to end even though you need a plug to charge up. a quick one-hour top off and you can spend a few hours sleeping off the beaten path.
Tires- There are a lot of different touring rigs that can work. For anything 26", hookworms are the only tire to use. That being said, I would recommend motorcycle type tires for longevity instead. A narrow tire lightweight touring rig could be really compelling too, but that's just different from what I have going on.
Trailer - I would avoid a trailer unless you have some really niche reason (say your dog wants to come along, I don't know) If you need a trailer you're probably trying to bring too much. Especially if you have a cargo bike
Camp stove - I have brought one of these on motorcycle trips before, but you know what? It's so much easier to eat at restaurants and not bring a lot of food along with you. That's my strategy, and since there is so much time to stop, you might as well. That's just my strategy though. If you're thinking about going further off the beaten path, and saving more money, this might make sense.
Battery Pack - fast charging in under an hour isn't that difficult for most battery packs, even low C cells. I have a >2kwh pack, but I don't think I ever used more than 1.6kWh.
Odd gear- my lighter surprisingly came in handy as a soldering iron. The motorcycle cover was useful in the rain, but if I had a large tarp that I could use to create cover for myself as well, that would have been event better. The motorcycle cover was as much for security as for rain resistance. That way you're not advertising what you're leaving around, even though it's all still there. rearview mirrors (are not really odd) but essential. My giant rear taillight, also essential. Bandaids/first aid, always have a little bit of this. A multitool can replace a bunch of tools and you always know where they all are. Onboard USB charger was super useful. Just make sure you have a couple of extra cables. Also if you use a camera that USB charges, than you can spare a few more chargers. Plastic baggies for electronics and other stuff you don't want to get wet. Handlebar mount for the phone was essential too, Broke one and ordered another on amazon. Without this I couldn't see my navigation, which made negotiating bike paths impossible, since they aren't named, and you end up going the wrong way very easily.
These are absolutely wonderful points beekeeper, thank you for summarizing them! I hope you don't mind if I use some of them while creating a more expanded article