9/07/2015 Welcome home

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Epilogue:

How Far? 9,854 Miles.
How Much Time? 4/09/2015 to 9/07/2015. I first cycled to the East Coast to see my sister and then headed west. I spent about 2 weeks stopped doing repairs and a week vacationing with Leslie in Colorado. So about 4 months and a week of actual riding.

This does set a new world record for the longest journey ever taken on an ebike. The longest previous was 4000 miles taken by my new friend Troy.

I did return home with the information I set out to get. I have learned through experience how to build batteries that are rugged and reliable and made for heavy duty electric bike use. I also know what does and doesn’t work on electric touring bicycles.

There is a Welcome Home party planned at my house. Leslie and Abby have been preparing treats. My home is pretty rough after 5 months of vacancy.

SAM 2095

The vest, the final leg not yet checked off.

SAM 2100

Showing how it is done.

SAM 2101

My Certificate of Creaturedom. This is awarded to those who can become human animals, creatures, and is very difficult to achieve. My cycling through Europe, Morocco, and even Tanzania did not allow me to receive a full paw. But this trip did!

SAM 2116

9/06/2015 Ocala Florida to Tampa Florida

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I am scurrying down the highways looking forward to staying at the comforts of another Air BnB. I have received confirmation in my email and my credit card has been charged. I ride past a number of budget hotel options just outside Tampa City.

Tampa City.

SAM 2089

The right bolt on my rear wheel has come loose, making the wheel shift disconcertingly when I accelerate. Soon after this picture it starts to pour. I decide to try to ride to the Air BNB and do the repair there. I tuck the phone into a plastic bag and continue.

I guestimate I am about half a mile from my destination when my phone quits. It is fully discharged. Nothing to do but sit in a park and wait 15 minutes in the rain. “Well”, I tell myself, “It looks like your last day is going to be another adventure, doggonit.”

When my phone is charged a bit I ride to the Air BnB. I am a sight, soaking wet, arriving on bike. The hostess tells me that they have cancelled my reservation. I am indignant. “What do you mean you have cancelled it? I just rode 115 miles to get here and it’s pouring rain….” She says I can sit on the front porch until I sort things out.

Mad, I hop on my bike and ride away- less dramatically then I would like though, ’cause of the rear wheel. I find a bit of shelter to repair my bike.

SAM 2090

While I am repairing my bike, I get a new email. “Your AirBnB reservation has been cancelled.” Grrrr. She just now cancelled it! I look for a hotel option using my phone, but being in downtown Tampa all I get very high prices. But Ybor City is just 7 miles away, and has some more affordable hotels. So I put the phone back in the plastic bag and try to navigate out of Tampa City.

Tampa City has a trolley. Unlike rail tracks, trolley tracks are recessed in grooves. In the rain and with my tired frustration I get my rear wheel caught in a track groove and try to turn out of it. I know immediately something is terribly wrong. My rear wheel is now bent into what is called a “potato chip” shape.

I find a sheltered spot under an abandoned building to take a look. I can barely push it there even with the brake disconnected.

SAM 2091

Whoa, that is bad. I get out my spoke wrench and soon realize it is hopeless. Spokes are broken, the rim is ruined. It is 6:30PM. I call two bike shops close, both are closed. Tomorrow is Labor Day. I would have to wait until Tuesday to get a new wheel, and I am just 80 miles from home.

I call two wise friends, Mike and Thom, and we agree the trip is over. I call Leslie, and she cheerfully agrees to come pick me up and she’ll leave right away. What a great girlfriend- to patiently wait all these months and still be kind to me.

I’m very very tired and very very glad to have done it and to arrive home.

SAM 2094

9/05/2015 Fargo Georgia to Ocala Florida

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I ride 131 miles today. The “Loop” is officially complete, as I have crossed my path through Florida. Now all I have to do is ride about 175 miles to Venice. I’m on track to be there Monday afternoon.

Meet me at the Circus Bridge and finish the ride with me if you can. We will ride a mile to my house on Queen Road and there will be food. I should be there around 3:00 PM, it’s only 80 some miles south of Tampa.

Call Leslie at 941-488-1212 if you’d like her to call you when I get close.

I’ve ridden over 130 miles for the last two days. I have given the motor more boost and so picked up the speed to around 18mph. It is amazing to ride so far so easily. I am still discovering the capabilities of Sherpa and rethinking what ebike touring can be.

SAM 2088

9/04/2015 Hinesville to Fargo Georgia

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137 Miles today, about 295 miles to go. Total Miles is 9,615.

Today doesn’t start out well. As I ride away from my hotel I hear the back brake rubbing. A mile down the road I decide it is a problem and that I’d better take a look. A little closer look shows the back wheel has a large wobble in it. Broken spokes are no problem, I have plenty of spares. But none of the spokes are broken. I start to true the wheel then notice this:

SAM 2081

Four of the spokes look as if they had been tugged hard enough to break the metal in the rim. It can only be the torque of the motor. The aluminum rim is just too soft to handle it. I cannot ride it, catastrophic failure is imminent.

What to do? A google search shows there are no bike shops in Hinesville. Their are no bike shops in any of the towns my ride takes me through today. The closest bike shop is back in Savannah, about 35 miles in the wrong direction.

I consult with Leslie, her solution is to rent a car and drive to Savannah and PU the part. Not a bad idea. I decide to go to Wal Mart instead with the intent of buying a new bicycle just for the rear wheel. Along the way I’ll look for a pawn shop.

When I arrive at Wal Mart I explain my situation to some employees outside and they say- “Oh, talk to Doug, he works on all the Wal Mart bikes.” Doug is paged to the front of the store. I explain my situation and show him the bike. Maybe he has a spare wheel at home?

But Doug is in charge of the returned bikes, and says they have a lot of them. He explains that when a bike is returned, they can’t give it away, and the manufacturer doesn’t want it back. He is instructed to chop the bikes up and throw them away. He presents my case to Alan, the manager, and Alan generously allows Doug to get me a wheel. Then he has my picture taken with him and some staff, just in case I really might be famous someday.

Doug shows up with a nice new steel wheel and we get to work.

SAM 2082

The job is done. It is another one of those cases of going from despair to elation in an hour. The touring cyclist emotional roller coaster.

Thanks so much Doug and Wal Mart!

SAM 2086

All-righty then, I’ve got a 115 mile ride and it is already after 10:00. I have 40 miles to go by 3:00 when I stop for lunch and to feed Sherpa. I decide to pick up speed and bump up the boost. But Blondie gets ditsie on me. She takes me off the highway for 6 miles, then turns me onto a dirt road, seeking a short cut. Cursing I decide to take it rather than backtrack. The road gets worse, becomes soft sand filled with deep puddles. My motor and batteries go underwater several times. But Sherpa keeps on trucking. I keep hoping each new turn will put me back on the pavement, but that is not happening. Finally I switch out of bicycle mode and to car mode. Blondie finds a highway just three miles away and I head towards it. When I do reach it, after over an hour, I now have 41 miles to go!

OK, time to let her fly. With maximum boost we roll comfortably along at about 19mph. It is dusk, and the lights get used to alert overtaking cars. Rain does not slow us down. We do make Fargo after dark. My hotel room is ready. Dinner is across the street.

Phew, it’s been a long day. Into Florida tomorrow morning, Ocala tomorrow night!

9/03/2015 Walterboro SC to Hinesville Georgia.

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I ride 115 miles today before 4:00 and into Georgia. I’m now 381 miles from home.

The countryside has leveled out. The air is hot and muggy, it sticks to me as I try to pass through it. Swarming flies make me button my shirt and turn up my collar.

Magnificent old oaks canopy the road with moss covered branches.

SAM 2073

Around me is the subtle beauty of swamp.

SAM 2076

Log and chip trucks roar past me all day. Their spindly logs hang out 20 feet behind the trailers like bristly tails. I see where they are going.

SAM 2079

Chocolate soup rivers rest awaiting caffeine.

SAM 2078

9/02/2015 Camden to Walterboro South Carolina

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Rode 117 miles, 500 to go! Should be home Monday afternoon.

I feel like I am still discovering the potentials in ebike touring. Now that the terrain has leveled Sherpa and I can cover more ground more easily. I am letting Sherpa do all the work, I just keep a light pressure on the pedals. It is so cool to rack off a couple 100 plus mile days and not to be wiped out. The heat and humidity are intense, and riding Sherpa is the coolest place to be short of inside AC.

I am shooting for over 100 miles a day all the way back home. It was too humid and hot to camp last night so I found one of those legendary 35 dollar a night hotels that I had been told were out there somewhere.

Blondie led me to this road which was clearly marked DEAD END. ROAD CLOSED.
Knowing she is a genius, I took it anyway. It led to this abandoned and barricaded bridge:

SAM 2069

Of course I rode it, watching out for the big holes or breaks that might be there. Nope, it was perfectly safe.

SAM 2067

I guess that was the big adventure of the day! Somedays are like that. But flying along on Sherpa watching the scenery flow past was great.

8/30, 9/1, Charlotte to Concord to Camden South Carolina

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611 miles to go on the morning of 9/2

Another cryptic email from Marsy:

Friends and Ecyclists:  Marsy is hibernating in a banana grove at the bottom of a pleasant crater. Geoscans from an Omni shuttle picked up that image this morning. The Source be with her,     Vee on Venus Rd. 

www.ebike2mars.com

I think Marsy is pregnant- and hibernating!

Meanwhile, back on earth, in Concord I rent an Air BnB. My ex, Cynthia, drives 2.5 hours to spend a day. Her’s is the first familiar face and presence I have been with for a long time, and I enjoy my day very much. I’m so thankful that we remain close after 27 years of marriage and 8 years divorced.

Cynthia

SAM 2055

Today another state Yay.

SAM 2057

People seemed to like my post about Wal Mart BnB’s, and asked for some pictures. I am staying at a Wal Mart BnB in Camden tonight, so happy to oblige.

Here’s the steps in summary. Pulling up to WalMart and checking out the outlets. Do you see Sherpa?

SAM 2058

Yes, ejuice is flowing.

SAM 2059

Hey, there might be a camping spot somewhere in this woods. Let’s explore by foot.

SAM 2061

Sure nough. I’m far enough back to be well screened by trees.

SAM 2062

Let’s take a shower.

SAM 2063

The camp has been made, Sherpa has been unpacked, let’s take him back to Wal Mart and charge him. He feels safer chained to a cart.

SAM 2065

Today I felt like a good meal and walkto a Chili’s and have two dinners! When I have finished, I check on Sherpa, and he has finished too. So I take him back to camp.