Monday, October 31, 2011

Get Your Vampire Defense System In Place

Today is the day....if you haven't already done it, you should get some garlic in the ground.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Smiles and Waves

The reactions I've seen while driving my velomobile have been consistent and at times incredibly energetic.
  • The most basic and common is the broad smile, usually from someone alone and on foot.
  • Two people together will usually cause one to elbow the other while pointing excitedly my direction.
  • Two or more high-school aged persons will often shout vociferous approval, "Awesome car!" or something guttural, perhaps while thrusting a fist outward with index and pinkie-finger extended.
  • A young child might say: "I want one".
  • I had a Harley-Davidson rider pull up alongside me and quiz me on my power-source. Upon learning it was pedal+electric he offered to race me to the next gas station, which I found hilarious.
My perception from all this feedback is that driving the Quest is really worth the effort. Around here it really is something different. People recognize it as a thing of interest and I like to think that they intuitively understand its power as an energy-saving mode of transportation.

In any case it's nice to think that when the kids standing out at their bus-stops, or riding their buses, come home after school and their mother asks what they saw on "Mulberry Street"....they will have something worth mentioning.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Second Commute

I had dramatic improvement on my second commute, getting my one-way time as low as 78 minutes!

The only issues I'm having are fog on my goggles and rain at high-speeds.
I'm going to have to look into a product like Fog-Tech to see if I can defeat the foggy goggle problem.

Here's some photographic evidence of my morning commute from several days ago:

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

First Real Commute - Part 2

The rain moved in late in the day, which gave me the chance to test the theory that one can be comfortable driving a Quest velomobile in the rain.

The comfort-level was quite good. The amount of ventilation is about right to keep from overheating, while the amount of wind-blocking prevented me from getting chilled on the descents.

I do need to remember to wear face-protection in the rain. Raindrops are positively painful at speeds over 40 mph, which I hit on at least 3 downhill spots each way.

Also, I need some anti-fog eye-wear that really works.

Finally, on the last mile before arriving home for the evening my throttle-lever slipped out of position. When I re-adjusted it I found I was able to apply more amperage than before. This means it's possible I still haven't tested the system with maximum throttle. I'm excited to see how much faster I can ascend the hills with this new top-end.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

First Real Commute - Part 1

I laid on the throttle today at almost every opportunity.

Result: 1hr 31min morning commute.

This time, as you may know, is one minute longer than my target.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Other details:
I burned 8+ amp-hours on the battery.
Avg speed 18+
Max speed 47 (coming down a straight hill with great visibility. On the curvy hills I keep it at 40 or less.)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Commute Trial-run

Having received my battery back from Headway Headquarters this week, it was time to test the theory that launched this yearlong quest to obtain a motorized...erm...Quest.

I call her Dulcinea. This is supposed to reference her sweet, slim curves, but I tell ya, when you're pulling 80 pounds of machine up the kind of hills we have around Amboy, "fat-pig" is a term more likely to come to mind.

So, with my motor & battery (adding another 25 pounds) I set out yesterday to see if I could make the round-trip of 58 miles to my office and back, with only one "minor" mountain in between. Oh, and I really wanted to do it in 1.5 hours each way.

A bit after leaving home, I realized I left my battery charger at home, which meant I wouldn't be able to "refuel" at the office. So, I had to be a bit conservative with the "juice".  I have a 36-volt 16 amp-hour battery. I'm told that you should only expect about 13 amp-hours when running a battery of that capacity. So, with that in mind I planned to use no more than 6.5 amp-hours on the way to the office.

Pulling out of Amboy drained about 4 amp-hours. This was using my lowest gear and full-throttle, going 7+ mph for about 6 of the 8 miles required to reach the summit of Kelly road, which is about 1000 ft above sea-level.

From there it switched from an exertion challenge to one of restraint, as I bombed down the other side of Kelly Mountain, a steep descent of approximately 2 continuous miles. I decided that it's best to keep my speed at 40 mph or less, since it does take some lead-time to come to a stop and you never know when a deer will be in the road.

Getting the rest of the way in was relatively smooth sailing. I made it in 1 hour and 50 minutes, (1 hr 43min rolling time), having used about 6.2 amp-hours.

The way back was more of a challenge. My legs were already "well-done" & there is a tad more climbing to do  on the return-trip.

I knew I'd need a solid 4 amp-hours by the time I got to the base of Kelly hill, so I paced the battery and tried to use my legs on the "flat" stuff. Still, I was pretty well exhausted & relied on the motor to boost me several times.

Pulling northbound up Kelly Road was every bit as epic as I'd imagined. I was so grateful to find that my motor and battery could sustain the ascent in my 1st gear...although my input was needed almost the whole way in order to keep the motor from laboring or lugging.

When I made it to the top, my legs were leaden. With my motor allowing me to "spin" I wasn't sidelined with cramps like I had been in the past, but I still contributed the whole way up and my legs were so depleted I began having an altered sense of reality.

To give an example...having reached what I hoped would be the summit, a stretch of road that was relatively "plano"...I decided to conserve battery and pedal alone. The stiff resistance I felt indicated that either my brakes were engaged ( I checked that & ruled it out considering how willing the machine seemed to be to roll backwards) or I was really fatigued and rolling on a flat-tire or two. So I got out to check & found the tires all fully pumped. I was really, really fatigued.

I took the opportunity to to stretch and take some water.

Back in the cockpit, I shed my illusions and cranked up the throttle, allowing me to crest what I finally realized was the real summit of Kelly Mountain. At the top, my joy was reinforced by the animated discussion and pointing that my arrival produced in two men standing in their garage about 70 yards to my right. I waved to them and they waved back. I was filled with the sense that I brought something positive into this corner of the world.

From Kelly mountain it is practically all downhill to my house, so that was quick and easy.

Heidi had roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, blanched kale & buttered lima beans all set on the table when I got home. Bless her sweet spirit.