Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “E-Bike Pack Mule”

Picky Pioneering

You don't see too many of these. These were on the leg from Pine Bluff to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

You don’t see too many of these. These were on the leg from Pine Bluff to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Today was a short jaunt that turned otherwise, but in the end, I’m all set up in camp at Vedauwoo in the Medicine Bow National Forest, solar panels out and everything humming along. The cell data signal at my location is on-again-off-again at two out of five stars – and that’s with the amplifier –  but it works most of the time.

The day began with a drive to a Walmart in Cheyenne, made more interesting by having an incorrect address on their website. But, I made it there after some steering wheel gyrations and stocked up on fresh produce, eggs, bacon and so on. From there I keyed in the GPS coordinates generously volunteered by Flybiker. The impressive 3,000′ climb during the entire trip, plus a headwind, knocked the fuel display down to 8.0 MPG. Now I know what the title for the film High Plains Drifter refers to. There was a warning sign that the “Happy Jack Bridge” was out of commission until the 18th, but where was that? That was the exit I wanted, but where was this bridge?

Once I made it there, I found out that the bridge was the connector over I-80, and its sudden absence eliminated any chance of heading back east toward Vedauwoo. Oh well. What a great, wide trail! I was impressed that the Read more…

The War on E-Bikes

Cool! A new way to kill yourself!

Cool! A new way to kill yourself!

Reader Michael recently sent me a link to a rather spectacular e-bike, a high performance, low production European model capable of 40+ MPH. This e-bike by Trifecta boasts 4,000 watts, an 85-pound weight despite plenty of aluminum and carbon fiber (it’s mainly the battery), a 14-speed automatic transmission, and a price tag starting at $25,000 smackers. Yep, you read that right. Many one-off e-bikes have been built with even more power and even higher top speeds, but the Trifecta differs in that it’s no one-trick pony. Seeing this Lamborgini on two wheels prompted some thought, which in my case is always an invitation to mental chaos.

Federal law here defines e-bikes as common bicycles, as long as they have electric motors no bigger than 750 watts and top speeds of no more than 20 MPH on flat ground. And Federal law trumps all state and local laws. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at laws and ordinances that have been passed in some jurisdictions.

My Evelo Aurora helps me get up those long grades. My only potential lethality with it is pedaling hard enough to give myself a heart attack.

My Evelo Aurora helps me get up those long grades. My only potential lethality with it is pedaling hard enough to give myself a heart attack.

Look at New York, for example. New York State has banned all e-bikes, period. In that state, their motors disqualify them as bicycles, and because there is no provision to register them as motor vehicles, they are legally Read more…

Pack Mule Conquers Rockford’s Rugged Roads

It came, it saw, it conquered! Well, it dodged potholes, anyway.

It came, it saw, it conquered! Well, it dodged potholes, anyway.

I’ve been walking for exercise lately, since the presentable nature of the Blackhawk Valley Campground has been making for a pleasant enough little hike. But with all the recent rain, mosquito hatching has taken place, and a grunt up the steep forested entrance drive makes for an unpleasant enough little hike. Indeed, with the river just a few yards away, an evening stroll anywhere in camp is beginning to become an exercise in priorities.

Evelo Aurora to the rescue. Rockford is a rather gritty, sprawling burg, so there’s no “distance to town”, per se. You pass little pockets of businesses until you find one with the type of store you want, and there you are. My self-assigned mission was to Read more…

Overland Expo 2015

The local horse riding place had a bunch of horses saddled up and ready, to tempt visitors into going for a ride.

The local horse riding place had a bunch of horses saddled up and ready, to tempt visitors into going for a ride.

[Caution: If you’re on a limited cellular data plan, you might prefer to abort and hold off on this post until you can get to a free WiFi source. It’s a big one, with lots of photos.]

My being out in Arizona’s drier parts for so long made the many days of overcast and frequent sprinkles of rain stand out. The rain actually got significant just before the Expo started, which turned the grounds into a bit of a mudpit, which was probably a first for this show. I felt sorry for the vendors, who had to find the driest spot available in their little preassigned slots to set up canopies that were commonly surrounded by moats of water. Attendees then had to snake their way around the mini-bogs and ponds to navigate a workable path in the gooshy mush. Even on the main paths through the show area, folks needed to use care to pick a path here and there.

I merely cruised around the camping area on my first day, since heavy rains were quickly due in. These visitors from Brazil had a Jeep that we are not offered: one with a diesel engine. Torquey when it counts, Jeep thinks they won't sell here. This one is making its way from coast to coast before moving on to another continent.

I merely cruised around the camping area on my first day, since heavy rains were quickly due in. These visitors from Brazil had a Jeep that we are not offered: one with a diesel engine. Torquey when it counts, Jeep thinks they won’t sell here. This one is making its way from coast to coast before moving on to another continent.

The e-bike proved invaluable here just to gain entry! I was able to idle it right through a couple of deep troughs of water, pedals up, and park it against a perimeter fence or tree to walk at leisure. That was handy, because folks faced congested paths in and through by foot, plus the Aurora carried a big bottle of water for me. People didn’t seem to mind the sloppy ground or resent the occasional Read more…

An Unusual Day

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Yup, that’s sleet on the truck bed in the photo above. It looks like it’s going to top out at about 50 degrees today, which will make for a pleasant afternoon inside the Mighty Defiant because of the ceramic propane heater in here. I’ll likely have to keep it idling overnight, since the prediction is for a 23-degree low, and once it approaches 30, the “temperate weather only” limitation mentioned in the Gulf Stream manual starts kicking in. But don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of propane because when one of my two 20# heater tanks ran out last night, I filled it up today at the infamous Grand Canyon Village RV Park in town today for $24 and change, which is about twice the cost of anywhere else. Unfortunately, around here, there is no anywhere else for propane refills, and I do not adore the thought of running out of heat when it’s most needed. That’s just me. I asked at the visitor center in the Grand Canyon.

Notice those orange cones? A crew of fit-looking people came by in two pickups and an ATV to drop them off. Seems there’s going to be a 12-mile marathon tomorrow morning, and those mark the path the runners should take. And no, I’m not going to move them. They are taking the same way around that

Read more…

Tusayan Trail Ride

Well no, actually, this is Wickenburg, the place I left. I just put this here as a point of reference.

Well no, actually, this is Wickenburg, the place I left. I just put this here as a point of reference.

Busy day, yesterday. I figured I’d do a quick tour around a sizable loop of trails approved for car travel and camping. It turned out to be an 11-mile tour over a mix of soft dirt and rocks, and I couldn’t help but check out several branches heading this way and that. Over that distance, I found 3 or 4 super-secluded, pretty little sites. One is quite close, but does not allow the peculiar E-W aiming that the Defiant needs, nor the sun exposure either. The other sites require true high-clearance vehicles to access and, if it rains at all, four-wheel-drive. Off the main loop, some ruts are so deep that even the Mighty Furd would high-center. For a pop-up truck camper or traditional high-clearance van, the few compact sites scattered about would be very nice places to be. Slow trip to town, though!

Biking down the trail and looking off to the side. Much pleasantry.

Biking down the trail and looking off to the side. Much pleasantry.

I ultimately returned to camp, moved the Defiant over a width to get the solar panels into the sun, and then hung them up to start churning electrons. Nearby tall pines do not the best solar situation make, but since the system is configured fairly aggressively now, it works out fine. The Verizon data signal is good enough that kicking the Wilson amp into gear causes intermittent dropped connections.

There are elk tracks aplenty on the trail here, but I  Read more…

Wickenburg Trail Ride!

I stopped here when it struck me that I never thought I'd have the opportunity to do this kind of thing or see these kinds of sights. But they're out there, waiting.

I stopped here when it struck me that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do this kind of thing or see these kinds of sights. But they’re out there, waiting.

I sheared off all the storage stuff on the Aurora e-bike the other day, and went out for a ride on a trail leading north. Rather than blather on about it, I’ll just show off the snaps here.

Ditto on this one. You know, you sure don't see much of this in northern Illinois.

Ditto on this one. You know, you sure don’t see much of this in northern Illinois.

Read more…

The Pack Mule Page!

The System, ready to deploy.

The System, ready to deploy.

After much work to make an excessively long and tedious information page even more so, the Evelo Pack Mule page is finally complete – for now. That page is tabbed above, right beside Contact Me, About, and Mailing Addresses. It’s about the volume of a mid-sized novel, which makes it a slow-reading reference to the why and how of transforming a very competent e-bike into a Beverly Hillbillies version of a unique fixer-upper.

But it does spell it all out as to why I needed an e-bike, what I decided I needed it to do, what I did to make it suit my oddball purposes, why I chose the componentry I did, and how it’s all working out. It’s also one of the more comprehensive reviews of the Evelo Aurora out there, but from a viewpoint slightly bent toward my own eclectic schemes and needs.

Frankly, it’s a page that won’t fly for Read more…

Amazon Apathy

What glam the Aurora lacks when coated with dust, it makes up for in utility.

What glam the Aurora lacks when coated with dust, it makes up for in utility.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time modifying my Aurora e-bike since I got it last summer. Why so long? Other projects, calamities, shipping of parts, bad weather trimming back evaluation rides, and unsuccessful mods trimming back evaluation rides and requiring respite. But I think I’ve finally got it nailed, and I’m doing what I hope will be the final-final-final testing. General interest in the result should be pretty limited, since the stock Aurora, properly optioned, can take care of 95% or more of the people who would buy it. A few people replace the mountain bike handlebars with cruiser bars, and that’s pretty much all they need. The stock seat’s quite decent, for what it is.

As an explorer, the 500-watt Evelo Aurora is agile and powerful enough to work well.

As an explorer, the 500-watt Evelo Aurora is agile and powerful enough to work well.

What I’ve been doing in concert is to build a dedicated Evelo Aurora Pack Mule page, which outlines what the features were that made me choose this brand and model for the starting point, and why. And what type of service the e-bike has been pressed into service to do (and why). And a complete list of parts and mods, complete with explanations and links. Oh, the things I do for the two readers who will at least make a token effort to start sawing their way down that page! And oh, my pity for them!

Can an affordable urban commuter fun e-bike handle this? Barring falling into a rut or launching the front tire, yes, if it has mid-drive.

Can an affordable urban commuter fun e-bike handle this? Barring falling into a rut or launching the front tire bucking bronc-style, yes, if it has mid-drive.

Thing is, that page has been squirming all around, successfully slithering away from the “Publish” button, because of trying to keep up with the ever-changing bike. The page just never really settled down enough to Read more…

Don’t Tread on Me

Surprise! I've noticed rabbits and birds using the Defiant as cool shelter from the hot sun. This was a wake-up reminder to "stay in the now, man!"

Surprise! I’ve noticed rabbits and birds using the Defiant as cool shelter from the hot sun. This was a wake-up reminder to “stay in the now, man!”

I tend to always be preoccupied with something or other when I’m outside, which is not the best possible mindset when camping in the Great Southwest. I had just returned from a hub test on the Aurora, followed by an impromptu exploratory ride further south along Vulture Mine Road to check out some recently closed campsites. I parked the bike and stowed my sun gear, then shuffled toward the trailer door, key in hand. No, I did not scream like a little girl. Not loudly, anyway. I was still about 5 feet away, and was surprised at the effectiveness of its camo. Once I moved further right, toward its rear, it Read more…

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