Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Motorless For a While

Sunday night biking home I heard a metallic clang behind me. I stopped to see if I had run over something that would cause a flat tire. Surprisingly, I found that a part had fallen off my bike.

Now the way my e-bike works is that an add-on motor kit attaches to the spokes of the rear wheel to power it. It uses three clamps that are bolted to an adapter that then connects to the motor. What fell off was one of those clamps. Even more disturbing was that two clamps were already missing. Only the clamp used for the adapter itself was keeping everything in place.

I had eventually planned to remove the motor once I felt comfortable pedaling on my own. Seems that time has arrived sooner than I imagined.

Once I safely got home, I took off the battery pack and shudder a bit as I loosened the only clamp remaining only to watch the motor fall off. There is an online retailer that fortunately sells replacements parts for my 12 year old bike. Just have to wait a few days for my next paycheck to order what I need. Until then I AM the motor. I think I am up for the challenge.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bad Experience Leads to New Commute

This past Saturday seemed like any other day. Got ready for work, biked to the bus stop. Loaded my bike on the bus rack and got on. About halfway to work the bus driver stopped the bus. He told me I had to take my bike off the bus and get off, that it was too heavy for the rack. I have been biking and busing around SA for about two years and this was the first time I had ever heard of weight restrictions on bicycles.

Now my e-bike is no lightweight but it weights in at 50lbs. The racks on Via buses are designed to hold two 55lb bikes while in motion. Rather than argue with the driver, I simply got off and caught the next bus going my way 10 minutes later. Needless to say I was frustrated, Fortunately I had left for work early so I still got there on time.

All that day at work I thought of what I needed to do to bike to work as well as home. I believe have grown too comfortable with my current arrangement. I can deal with the south Texas heat, I just need to overcome my dread of daytime traffic. I see cyclists on the road all the time around here, maybe it's time to start joining them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Easing Into the Saddle

My name is Jen. I'm the cycling cohort. While Steven sits and writes the history of how we got to this point, I'd like to jump in and just say... this has changed our lives. Not only are we more active, we are also more involved parents and enjoy spending time cycling as a family.

I used to be a reluctant cyclist. I had my first accident a couple years back and found that flipping a bike and landing on concrete is not fun. It took a couple months to coax me back into the saddle. By then we had moved closer to Downtown San Antonio, which is within 1 1/2 miles of my college, a 1/2 mile from our daughters' school, and 4-6 miles from both of our jobs.

Steven took to riding the bus to work and cycling home. The last bus in his area was usually an hour long wait. Me, I still yearned for a car. I liked how convenient it was to get from A to B in air conditioning, regardless of distance, traffic or pit stops. It felt like freedom. Or at least that's what flashy car commercials immortalize.

It took me a while to be comfortable enough with myself to support using my ezip to go to family functions and commute to school. My dad thought we were crazy when Steven and I showed up for Thanksgiving dinner towing the girls in a 2 seat trailer. First assumption he made was that I lived close by since he didn't know exactly where our new apartment was. When we told him, approx 5 miles away, his look of shock helped me feel better. We ate well, but not too much, since we knew we had 5 miles between there and our doorstep. Biking there helped us pass on seconds and third servings, and on our way home we made a nice detour to a nearby park to let the kids play on the jungle gym before being buckled in for the 30 minute ride.

Since then, I began commuting to and from college. A quick 15 minute ride and I'm awake, ready to tackle the day. I get to smell the food cooking at local restaurants and hear birds serenade each other while the cars next to me have their windows rolled up and music blaring. Biking the 1 1/2 miles to school every morning is almost like my moment of peace, meditation. It helps me appreciate so many things drivers take for granted, or dont get a chance to slow down and witness.

I also favor picking up my kindergartener by bike. I travel the half mile to her school, then enter the car queue lane in the cul de sac, and bypass all the cars and park in the grass next to the loading zone. The teachers instantly know which kid I belong to and my daughter happily dons her helmet. This fall she will be biking to school along side me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The 2nd E-bike part 1

After about three months commuting from work by e-bike, I figured my wife Jennifer should have a chance to get around in case she had cabin fever. While doing some holiday shopping at a local WalMart, I dropped by the bicycle section and low and behold they had three electric bicycles. They were Ezip Trailz made by Currie Technologies, the same guys who built the motorization kit on my Schwinn. So $450 later, I had a second e-bike, helmet and a bicycling partner to boot!

It did not go so well at first. She loved the motor, because she didn't feel physically fit enough to bike normally. When she tried it out for the first time she heard a buzzing sound. I thought it was the motor so I dismissed it. I discovered it was the rear tire rubbing against the rear mounted battery pack. The battery rack was bent and no matter how much I tried to bend it back, it would not stay.

Sadly, we had to return it. Since it was around Christmas 2009, the other bikes were gone. We did buy a child trailer for me to carry our two children, 2 and 4, as well as a rear child seat.