The Blog

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer break - Oliver

This may be my last post until August when we get back from our summer trip.

There has been interesting movement on many fronts since my last post. On the technical side, the bicycle I got is wonderful. After getting to the top of our hill, the roll down to the flatlands is a total kick. The long wheelbase and the low center of gravity makes the ride a complete delight.

Fast too!!

Michael picked up a recumbent like mine and is working on getting another one for Tinki. All off of Craigslist! He will borrow my bike while I'm gone so that he can get some real numbers on how efficient it is compared to the bikes he's been building.

Michael and I spend a lot of time talking about and even went to look at an older shuttle bus to convert for use as a support vehicle. As it turned out the seller is a realtor and had our offer and another offer so he started a bidding war. He just couldn't help himself. We didn't like that so we backed out. Our current thinking is to use my VW Vanagon as a support vehicle and spend more time in hotels along the way. Since we have to charge nightly, it makes sense to be close to the grid.

I posted my trike on Craigslist and after a flurry of activity decided on a buyer who is an above knee amputee. It will be interesting to see how this works for him. He plans to strap his prosthesis into the pedal and use his good leg as the majority of the power source. I sure hope it works out for him!! He's very excited.

On the media front, Michael and I met with an old friend who insisted that the project have a "take-away" for followers of the ride. We both agreed and I've been working on what that take-away is and how to sell it. The current thinking goes something like this:
"The ride of each of our lives begins at birth and ends at death. For the last 200 years, our rides have been mightily influenced by the ethic that values personal gain over benefit to the commons. As the planet's eco-systems go into decline, the personal gain values are showing their flaws. A renewed ethic that values the good of the commons needs to inform each of our rides. The bicycle ride that we are taking is really a metaphor for the ride that describes each person's life. The GROWH invites followers combine their rides with ours. When the GROWH is over, the real work of transforming humanities ride will still need doing. Come to our website and pick from the palette of choices out there that will contribute to the healthy survival of this planet."

That is a rough version of the take-away value that the GROWH offers. We will need to build that website but there is nothing to invent. I see apalette of opportunites ranging from changing lightbulbs to growing your own food to marching on Washington. Once people engage
more fully in their rides, they will want choices of actions they can take that are aligned with their passions and available time.

AS I may have mentioned before, we want to put together a team that will help us develop the media portion of the GROWH. This will include the website mentioned above and well as the communication with the various "riders" we will visit who are currently engaged in supporting the commons.

That's all for now!! Oliver

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blog lessons- Tinki

I'm trying to learn to use this blog and as you can see the pictures keep squeezing the text to a thin little are on the right. Now I'm going to try to put a picture above the text. Just my chickens. They are coming on the ride too so we can have fresh organic eggs.

More Swedish pictures

Sweden's 4th of July is June 6th-Tinki

To celebrate Sweden's national day we rode our bikes to the nearest town, Norrköping, about 14 miles away. It didn't seem too close so I wonder what 100 miles a day is going to feel like. In any case it was a very pleasant ride with bike paths all the way and everywhere in the city. There were speaches and singing in town and everyone waving Swedish flags. On the way home we stopped to take pictures of prancing foals. Life in the Swedish countryside makes it hard to believe that the world is in a crisis.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My New Ride - Oliver

Bob and I smiling about the future.

My new ride! Check out my Scion XB which is headed to Los Angeles to be converted to full electric.

As my wife Deirdre noticed, the fates have been busy.

After the weekend in Sebastapol introducing folks to electric bicycles and all of the challenges we are facing with battery management, controllers etc. I came home and cruised through the listing of bicycles on Craigslist. Lo and behold, my new ride appeared. The seller, Bob had put the bike together with the intention of riding across country with his brother!! The ride didn't happen and Bob didn't have room to keep the bike so he sold it to me.

I went over to Half Moon Bay this afternoon, hung out with Bob for about an hour and a half and came home with a bike that will work to get us across the country. It's a mid drive system which means that the motor is attached to the frame and is connected to the pedal powered drive train. The advantages that I have noticed are 1) the bicycle gearing connects with the motor optimizing the ability of the motor to help on any terrain and 2) losing the weight of the motor in the hub makes the bicycle much more manageable as a bicycle. I tested the bike without using the motor just to get used to it and it was surprisingly easy.

I feel like the almost insurmountable technical challenge surrounding the Green Ride has evaporated thanks to Bob and the bike he put together. Michael had set the deadline of getting the bike technology sorted out by the end of the summer and after today, I feel like we're ahead of schedule. There's lots of details about why this bike will work that I won't bother to explain. The bottom line is that the bike has the potential for a 100 mile range and weighs less than 75 pounds.

The weight of the bike is key to its success as a long range vehicle. And the fairing doesn't hurt either!! If this bike performs as presented, charging batteries and battery management are both idiot proof. Plug it in . . . wait . . . unplug . . . ride! I love it!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Swedish skating (Tinki)

To get in shape for the ride I roller skated 90 km last weekend with 10 friends, along an old train track that has been changed to a bike path. It travels along a river called Klarälven with very little contact with roads and we had a great time enjoying the scenery, the unusually warm weather, the perfect asfalt, the exercise and each other's company. Perhaps some of them will join us on part of the ride. I can assure you they can skate as fast as an electric bike. They ended up pulling me so that they didn't have to keep waiting.