The Last Ten Percent
After nearly finishing up a local solar project, it’s time to try to get back in development mode with the Evelo Aurora e-bike. The title of this post relates to the design maxim, “the last 10% of a product’s development takes 90% of the total project time”. In other words, there’s a big difference in the time it takes to make something work, and the time to make it work really well. I decided to take an impromptu bike ride, motivated by a local fifth wheel packed with yapping mutts having an anxiety disorder. I wanted to keep an eye out for an alternative campsite just in case the noise became intolerable. Well, while I was wandering about, I decided to tour the north shore of Senator Wash Reservoir beside the Laguna Dam LTVA.
The goal of this trip was two-fold. One, evaluate the road in, to gauge future accessibility for the Mighty USS Defiant. Two, start putting some seat time in on the bike to see where it it now is on the ergonomics scale. I’d like to be able to survive a biking errand to the western edge of Yuma (a bare minimum of 25 miles), and although the bike is now probably capable, the rider may not be.
The scenic version of the Senator Wash Reservoir’s north shore was published about a year ago. This trip is more roadway-oriented. To boil it down, the Defiant can almost certainly be hauled in and out successfully, but the couple of steep slopes involved in the way in and out would make it a real good idea to engage 4WD-Low to urge its 7,000-pound bulk up the dirt grade. It would also be an excellent plan to make the voyage with empty waste tanks, since steep descents can make the greywater tank regurge into the bathtub. It’s here that freshwater and waste systems like the Tankmin make life less negatively adventurous.
Beyond that, I was surprised to find just four small rigs in the entire place! The dearth of level campsites keeps the riff-raff like me at bay, but still, what I consider the primo big-rig spot was wide open. Odd. The north shore is really geared for small, versatile rigs like truck campers, vans, truck caps with tents, and so on. Bigger rigs like the 26′ Defiant can find spots, but not generally in the nicer water-side areas. The main issue is simply the slope to the water, though driving in blind and hoping for turn-around areas to show up is a bad idea. There are many tree-lined dead ends. Exceptionally top-heavy truck campers will have a few issues as well, mainly from crown on some of the trails. Other than that, the more capable the vehicle, the more pleasant choices abound.
As usual, the Evelo Aurora e-bike handled the excursion just fine. My main concern for it in the Laguna Dam LTVA was an ability to handle the dirt access roads to campgrounds, something which proved difficult with my plain Raleigh mountain bike last year. Besides my own cardiac capacity issue on a particular two-mile stretch uphill, standing on the pedals on the uphill sand merely wasted the extra push in wheelspin. That issue ended with the Aurora, since the extra motor power available makes standing and the resulting weight transfer off the drive wheel unnecessary. No wheelspin, and no wheezing. I’ve even made it up the Grade of Death with a full 30# propane tank in the Ibex trailer, no problem. Two miles of bad grade on soft ground doesn’t do much to help battery range, but that’s to be expected.
Today’s trip was sans trailer, and the even steeper grades pushed the needed pedal assist levels from 3-4 to 4-5 (out of 5 available). But the trip also underscored the value of the mid-drive layout, which takes full advantage of the bike’s available gears. The Aurora passed the thousand-mile mark on this trip, which may be chickenfeed for a serious road cyclist, but to me represented checking off its first thousand miles of serious abuse without incident. I mean, the incessant wind makes covers impractical, so it’s out in the rain and sun full-time. Keeping the chain brushed off and lubed every few weeks doesn’t mean that it isn’t usually a bright reddish-brown from abrasive dust. The cranks even tend to accumulate thick dust on their trailing edges! And there’s the physical abuse of all the rocks, washboard and full-power climbs with the extra weight of the trailer.
So the problems that did surface on this 14.7-mile trip were my issues, not the bike’s. I’m still goofing with seats and handlebars in order to take weight off my wrists and nether regions, and the need for continued effort here certainly surfaced. I’d returned the bike back to its original straight-ish handlebar after trying a Nitto cruiser-style unit for quite awhile. I’ll get into that in an upcoming post, but the key is that a wrist injury from my squandered youth resurfaced on this ride, and my petute began to protest at the 11-mile mark, which was odd since I’d been pulling 18 miles in Wendover, Utah! None of that bodes well for any shopping trips to Yuma, so further, more radical corrections to pedaling position and seating are going to be happening in a timely way if I’m going to be able to make the heroic trip.