This here’s a minor post on the e-bike and the printer, just to indicate how things are working out for those who might be considering adding these items to their Squandered Resources Arsenal.
The indications of a fading e-bike battery is becoming confirmed. I rode the 4 miles to town and back yesterday, although the total mileage actually expanded to over 14 miles. The principal casualty was of course my posterior, since it takes regular outings to condition same for longer rides. That hasn’t happened over the last 9 months or so. I’ve been walking. Despite the special Ergon grips, my left hand also predictably went lightly numb. But keep in mind that I’ve made seat and grip mods to the bike in order to be able to keep riding at all – previous injuries make me unable to ride any standard-equipment bike for more than a few minutes – so anything over that indicates some degree of success.
It’s also worth noting that the NexRide’s Spandex-style seat cover began to show holes last December (probably due mainly to sun exposure) , and my inquiry to NexRide for a re-covering resulted in an invitation to send the seat in for a free rebuild. That’s notable, since the seat was well out of warranty. What resulted was a new cover material which is a more conventional textured vinyl-style cover. That’s good for me, since I’ll no longer have to cover the seat with a shopping bag whenever rain is expected. Before, the Spandex allowed the foam underneath to soak up water, preventing use of the bike until it dried out. Not no more.
As to the Evelo’s Samsung battery, the margin of fat in its mileage range was lean by the end of the ride. I had made a concerted effort to take it easy on the battery by lowering the degree of powered assistance, and by lowering speed. A 10-15 MPH headwind didn’t help, since air drag, not road speed, has the greatest effect on range. For the sake of my rear end though, the last couple of miles were done without pedaling, using just the throttle control. The same ride last year allowed for more reserve capacity at higher speeds, so the battery is definitely aging, but don’t assume that 14 miles in Wickenburg represents the true range limit over a flatter route. Much like the Mighty Furd, the Evelo’s mileage suffers significantly over hilly terrain. The long 4-mile coast downhill into town does not fully compensate for the energy needed for the uphill return trip. I might have made perhaps 17 miles before automatic shutdown, but estimating such things is problematic because less assistance and less speed with lower gearing has an inordinate effect on range. Going at a crawl, its mileage range is such that it will get you there, no matter “where” may be. That’s one of the pluses of a “mid-drive” layout, which uses the bike’s gear ratios just like you do. Just as you conserve energy on hills by using a lower gear, so does it. Air drag is the main enemy. Hills, second. The battery range results mostly from these two factors.
Knowing that the battery was beginning to fade, this trip started out as a substantial risk for me. A walk of 1-1/2 miles on this terrain is about my energy limit (due to some medical complications that appear to have put a possibly permanent dent in my recovery), so frying the battery substantially short of camp would pose a problem. So a couple of days before, I’d headed down toward town just two miles and turned back. Since everything looked good on the capacity front, I repeated that mini-trip to ensure that I could go at least the minimum 8 miles without having to walk too far. It worked. Not a whole lot of battery left, but it made it okay.
Once in town on the real voyage, well, you know how that goes. “What’s that over there? Is that new? I’ll just go see…” Town has some notable slopes too, so I was careful to do as much of the effort as I could in order to give the battery a break. When new, I think I’ve previously estimated the Aurora’s maximum range as somewhere over 32 miles, the way I ride, and with the BOB bike trailer in tow. (40 miles seemed possible on true flat ground at minimal speed and assistance level.) I suspect that I’m now somewhere below 25 miles range on nearly flat ground, but it’s hard to say since the Wickenburg ride is a bit of a “make it or break it” acid test, pass or fail. With not a whole lot of reserve left on a healthy battery by the end, an aging one is certain to hit zero and fail unless steps are taken to minimize the energy demand. I deem that my battery is on its way toward a mandatory replacement, but will probably last the 7-month+ tour as long as I keep an eye on my trip mileages and speeds, for my own protection. I’ll have to graft in a compatible aftermarket 48V battery next Winter.
On a happier topic, I recently unearthed my tiny Primera Trio printer. Honestly, I’m guessing it hasn’t been used for a full year. With a color cartridge installed for that length of time, well, my expectations were not high that the cartridge would not be as dried out as a mummy. Much to my surprise, one color worked fine, one almost worked, and the third was comatose. Sitting it on a wet paper towel for awhile did no good, so I resorted to heating a little water in a pan and letting the print head portion soak for 10 minutes. Using the “cleaning” feature on the printer as a follow-up exercises each color, but I now had two colors up and one still deceased. I gave up at this point and was preparing to install the still-wrapped B&W cartridge I carry as a spare. Being cheap as I am, I sat and dealt with the mixture of angst and bitter disappointment for a few minutes. In the spirit of Voodoo and “stranger things have happened”, I tried a print some ten minutes later after the printer had sat idle. Presto! It works great! All colors are back on board. Go figure. I’d used up some 30% of the remaining ink over several runs of cleaning, but that left me with a still-hearty 50% to go. Life is good.
One unexpected if not bizarre event out here at camp was that I’d wandered outside on nature’s call a couple of days ago, and what should suddenly appear but an aerobatic mono-wing airplane maybe 100 feet away and just 100 feet above ground level on the rise where I stood. It was no higher, I assure you. Could have been half that. Throttle up, it was following the valleys as it headed south, and lifted to maybe 500 feet after it zoomed over me. Crop dusting without the crop or the dust. No time to wave, smile or grab my camera or iPhone, and it was gone. I just kinda stood there with my mouth agape. Cool! I wondered about the why, and it took me some time to suspect that it might be evading radar for the sake of illegal drugs or something, but A] it was a full-on airshow acrobatic plane, not a larger high-wing Cessna with storage, and B] it was certainly going the wrong way if it was carrying a load. These things make me think that it was, as I’ve seen a few times, just a trip for kicks. Pilots do that out here, just because they can. With no air traffic to speak of and the uniquely Western attitude of “hold my beer and watch this” in a relatively consequence-free environment, there’s a distinct lack of the Deputy Dan mentality out here. Like steer roping contests, there’s kind of an understanding and an acceptance of testing your mettle just for the enjoyment of it. Nobody calls the cops unless it’s serious, and if you crash, you can just wait the half-hour or more for help and it’s your fault, not society’s or poor parenting. Besides, the military fighter jets do this too, albeit at a few hundred feet. He was getting his kicks, and frankly, it was a hoot! Between his plane and the cropduster over my RV park at midnight in Wellton, there’s nothing quite like the sound and sight of a low-flying piston aircraft with the wick turned all the way up. Wow. I wish you could have been here to see it, because I won’t see anything like it again in my lifetime. But then again, out here, I can’t absolutely guarantee that.