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50++ Cyclists Touring the US - With No End in Sight

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50++ Cyclists Touring the US - With No End in Sight

Old 05-13-19, 05:14 AM
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50++ Cyclists Touring the US - With No End in Sight

Earlier in the week my wife and hosted Janice and Stephen Rickey, touring cyclists who are 7,300 miles into their bike ride that started in Seattle, went to San Diego and then over to Key West and now is heading up the East Coast. He is 72, she is in her mid 60s - they sold their house, and have no end point planned.

I posted a bit more on them in the Touring forum here. You can see their full journal at CycleBlaze here.

A few days after the left us, I met up with them on the East Coast Greenway route through Maryland and did about half of their Annapolis to Baltimore segment with them. For the first time, they are touring on e-bikes - just using eco mode to get up hills loaded, they are very strong pedalers.



Janice and Stephen when I picked them up in Berywyn Heights MD.
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Old 05-13-19, 06:35 AM
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Fabulous. This is my dream. Id like to start in southern Italy in April and see where the road goes.
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Old 05-13-19, 07:26 AM
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Wonderful! And...do it while you still can!

Originally Posted by jpescatore
For the first time, they are touring on e-bikes - just using eco mode to get up hills loaded, they are very strong pedalers.
I don't doubt their veracity, but the physics of this statement baffles me. Purpose-built e-bikes have heavier frames, more robust wheels and tires and beefier brakes. Then there's that big central motor and the environment-hardened electronics. Add a battery, its charger and a spare battery. You get a relatively heavy bike that's "hard to pedal without the motor" (<-- a statement from their journal). Does a rider gain anything pedaling all this extra load everywhere (vs a far lighter non-e-bike) only using the assist in its lowest setting only up hills?

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Old 05-13-19, 07:58 AM
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When I crossed the country with a small group in '99 one participant turned 77 during the trip. R.I.P. Stu. The overall strongest rider was 60. He rode a full suspension MTB (back/neck issues due to riding a motorcycle as a CHiP all his working life) towing B.O.B. with a ton of weight. His tent, which his wife had made for him long before the trip, was so big we jokingly called it "the condo." When the zipper crapped out in MN he went to RIE and downsized to an 8.5 lb. tent. Even for those days that was heavy.
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Old 05-13-19, 07:58 AM
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Congrats to them. They are living my dream.
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Old 05-13-19, 01:54 PM
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Unless and until you have spent a considerable amount of time on the rode it's hard to truly predict whether it will be your dream or your nightmare. Things like countless miles in a cold rain, headwinds that drop a bike with panniers to 5 miles/hr., snowy passes, mosquito-infested campgrounds, slim pickin's for meals, nights at freezing, lows in the middle-80s with high humidity, days over 100 degrees with no shade and the walls of city park showers covered with black mold can have their effects.
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Old 05-13-19, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
I don't doubt their veracity, but the physics of this statement baffles me. Purpose-built e-bikes have heavier frames, more robust wheels and tires and beefier brakes. Then there's that big central motor and the environment-hardened electronics. Add a battery, its charger and a spare battery. You get a relatively heavy bike that's "hard to pedal without the motor" (<-- a statement from their journal). Does a rider gain anything pedaling all this extra load everywhere (vs a far lighter non-e-bike) only using the assist in its lowest setting only up hills?
The math seems to work in favor of the ebike: Using Bike Calculator a 160 lb rider riding a 25 lb bike (about what a touring bike weighs) up a 5% hill putting 150w out will go up that hill at 6.76 mph.

That same rider on a 50 lb bike (about what their ebikes weigh) needs 170w to go up that same hill at that same speed - an additional 20w. The motor on the ebike is adding way more than 20w!
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Old 05-13-19, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore
That same rider on a 50 lb bike (about what their ebikes weigh)...
50# ebike with charger and spare battery - impressive. What brand and model are they riding?

...needs 170w to go up that same hill at that same speed - an additional 20w. The motor on the ebike is adding way more than 20w!
But only during the period of time they ride uphill. I will again note their statement in their journal said the bike was hard to ride without the motor.
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Old 05-14-19, 03:54 AM
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The battery and motor and I think the transmission/BB were Bosch but I didn't notice what the bike brand was - nothing I'd ever heard of.

You could change the bike weight to 75 lbs and the needed added power would be 40 watts on the hills. Those ebike motors are conservatively rated at 250 watts continuous (mainly because Europe had limits at that level) and the batteries are something like 400 watthours. If in eco mode the motor was assisting 30% of the time, over an 8 hour ride you'd still be getting 50-100w boost when the motor kicked in.

On a flat road the added 25 lbs is 10 watts, 20 watts if the added weight is 50 lbs. So, yes - on table top flat roads e-bikes are a net negative. On a 60 mile ride that is pretty flat, you will still see 1500 feet or more of going up.

Riding next to them on a 30 segment of the East Coast Greenway route that I would consider a flat ride., Strava showed 864 feet of climbing on the loop I ended up doing. On the segments where we all down shifted, I could hear their motors start to whir. I was on my beater hybrid bike with no bags, they were fully loaded on ebikes but made a nice pace on the actual flat sections - they definitely gained back the watts on the 800+ feet up!
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Old 05-19-19, 07:23 AM
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Thank you for posting. I originally scoffed at eBikes, and still sort of do in a snobbish sort of way, but if they bring more people into bicycling or keep people cycling later in life, and get some people out of their cars, they may be a game-changer in a highly positive sense. My brother-in-law, overweight and not aerobically fit, couldn't decide among a mountain bike, and ebike, or a folding bike, so he bought a folding mountain eBike, which enables him to climb a 10 percent grade in high gear, something I can't pretend to do.
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