22
Jul 2010
by larry

Solar Xpedition Day 3

I had 100 miles to cover. I filled my water bottles, charged my batteries, applied sunscreen, and took off.

I used my motor sparingly in order to make it the whole way. I started out with 720 Wh from my two batteries. The panels gave me another 100. And I was able to freeload another 100 from the cafe where I had lunch. People look at you funny when you ask to use their outlet to charge a massive 12-pound battery, but so far no one has refused.

As I neared my destination the sky darkened and rumbled. A shadow passed over me and I felt as if a giant foot was about to step on me. The sky opened and out poured its contents. In this situation I usually just put on my swimsuit and keep biking. But a man beckoned me over to his porch. We sat drinking beers and watching the lightning crackle and boom like a fireworks show.

I finally reached my destination. My family and friends welcomed me. I was tired but happy. And I had proven to myself that long distance travel by electric cargo bike is possible and even enjoyable. Not necessarily enjoyable in the sense of comfortable, but enjoyable in the sense of meeting people and experiencing nature firsthand rather than from behind a window.

And I showed myself that solar power can have a valid supporting role in my suchlike travels. I think the ease with which an electric cargo bike can be made solar makes it a good starting point for future experiments.


bicyclist’s view of wildlife


Silver Bay

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  • http://mark.stosberg.com/bike Mark Stosberg

    ” People look at you funny when you ask to use their outlet to charge a massive 12-pound battery, but so far no one has refused.”

    Thanks for reporting your experience. I was thinking of doing the same when taking the electric bike on tour.

    Have you ever run into this problem: Instead of draining fully, the battery just cuts out, but can be fixed with a “reboot”– unplugging/replugging the battery from the controller? (as happened midway through a recent 26-mile trip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markstos/4867073969/ ).

    This has happened a couple of times lately and I find it vexing. I wonder if it would be better for the system we unplugged the battery from the controller when charging it. Usually we don’t, for convenience.

  • admin

    Mark:

    In a few rare instances (separately from a low battery) it has happened to me that the battery cuts out and I have to turn the controller off and then on again to start again. Two times it happened when someone borrowed my bike and started up a steep hill. A third time it kept getting worse and worse and within half an hour I had to replace the controller. (Clever Chimp replaced it for free.) I’m guessing there are controller parts that can be damaged by too much current, and that sometimes they can recover by cooling off but sometimes not.

    Say did you weld that custom trailer hitch yourself? The one at:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/markstos/4891384544/
    I’m a welding newbie.

  • http://mark.stosberg.com/bike Mark Stosberg

    Kurt welded the hitch for me.