This is all about augmentations of human energy with electric power for cycling
as the most sustainable form of human transportations

Monday, April 18, 2011

Riding Trike 230 km in 11 hour 15 min

Having considerable love towards cycling as Sustainable mobility , I wanted to test my pedaling potential. Having cycled 200 km plus per day many times in normal upright cycle long back, I was confident of crossing 200 km per day in my trike with eZee pedal assist but wanted to prove it. Upper limit of cycling speed of 20 to 22 kmph and limited daylight hours are big hurdles for setting higher goals.

Shankaranna and Mohan who joined me as support crew in earlier attempt were enthusiastic this time too. Boys having summer holidays also joined us. We decided on one of route shortlisted earlier, climbing charmadi ghat road. Instead of coming back on the same road, we planned to come back Via Shiradi provided there was enough daylight remaining. Limiting factor was the fact that they are 40 km apart.

Previous noon I rang up Ravi D Souza who was my classmate and close friend during college days. Information passed on by Ravi was disappointing. One was it is raining here now & may rain tomorrow noon too. Another was road from there to Bangalore Mangalore highway is in poor condition. Things like impending rain do not dissuade me from reaching the goal and I decided that remedy for rain is raincoat and not canceling the trip. I did not want to postpone as there are more chances of rain on days ahead and my team members need to be available.

As planned earlier, I left home at sharp 5 AM. The dogs who usually chase me in my village roads had not woken up yet and I had silent & pleasant ride in comfortable weather. The night busses coming from Bangalore were zooming with bright lights and I was bit dazzled sometimes. Since I was very much familiar with that road, it did not trouble me much. At 6 AM, I was in Uppinangadi bridge and checked the progress of my support team over mobile phone.

We had two options there. One was usual Guruvayanakere road that was still under repair and other was Belalu road involved steep climbs. We had decided to take the Belalu road after asking around. Many people advised this road are one who use petrol vehicles and do not understand the hardship of pedaling steep climbs that puts considerable pressure on our muscles. Shankar supported this road and I was ready for both options.

To increase the mileage per battery, I had reduced the peak assistance from 22 Amps to 18 Amps on the previous day. The climbs right from rivers were real steep and put considerable strain on my knees. I had reached midway of this road when the team members reached me and promptly we put more depleted battery for charging in Nano car. Starting from home with 20 Ah, I had consumed about 18 Ah battery power when reached Ujre. Alternate route might have stretched the batteries little more.

Anticipating the requirement of charging in Ujre I had arranged for access for a plug at Dinakar’s relatives. Shankar was against visiting any houses feeling that answering all their questions will delay our departure. My knees badly needed some rest and I convinced him that it is better to have some charging from the plug. So we spent one hour and fifteen minutes for breakfast and charging.

We left Ujre at 9.45 AM. Kottigehara was 3000 feet higher and 38 km ahead of us. I hoped to cover this distance in two and half hours and managed to do exactly that. We replaced the battery with fully charged one at the foot of ghat [mountain] road at charmadi and younger son Sunil was assigned the task of replacing depleted battery with charged one whenever needed.

The road surface and inclination was good. The eZee pedal assist unit gave me solid support and complemented my efforts. Satisfactory speed while gaining height vastly boosted my spirits and it was very enjoyable ride. The other road users were supportive exhibiting thumbs up sign every now and then. A accident in Japan had claimed tip of my right thumb and so I could only smile back.

Somewhere along the mountain road, I happened to catch signal in my mobile at 11.00 and sent message to my friend Ravi that Kottigehara is 18 km ahead and will reach there by 12.15. There was still lot of climbing but I was able to reach there at the promised time.

The first questions to Ravi was about road ahead and food. Ravi said you have to pass by Mudigere and you get much better vegetarian food there. So we went towards Mudigere and at the junction where our road takes a turn, we parked the trike in a garage and I hopped into his car. Ravi told me yesterday it had rained around this time and it may rain today too. Luckily rain did not trouble us until much later. I was back in trike and started pedaling in about an hour.

Time was 2 PM and road was expected to be bad. I wanted to start descending the mountain road by 4 PM so that we can reach bottom before it is very dark. The road was very bad for about 25 km and non existing in some parts. It slowed me considerably. At Hanbal, I told my team members that all joints in trike as well as in my body have been well tested. About 12 km after Hanbal was tolerably good. Finally I was able to hit Bangalore Mangalore National highway by 4.15 PM.

Coming down the mountain road was really thrilling but I had to take sufficient care. I had brakes only on both front wheels and none in the back. I had to apply both brakes simultaneously and carefully as there was lot of chances of losing control on slippery road surface. I have to admit hub brakes installed in trike nicely took that torture. Most of turns had new surface that looked smooth with pebbles fixed while pouring. Anyway I had safe passage downhill.

I reached Shiradi at the bottom of mountain road in fading daylight. My legs had little to do for many kms in chilly weather and had become numb. After a few km of vigorous pedaling it got better. Cycle analyst computer also malfunctioned there because of chilly weather and I disconnected it for some distance. So I do not have total energy used up data. I could have noted time accurately but somewhere along the way the refill had fallen out of my pen and only shell remained. Sometimes I fail to note down the data because of my clumsy and tiring movements and here was another excuse.

It was getting dark nearing Nelyadi and rain which appeared imminent for a while started to drizzle. Anil advised me to leave the trike overnight somewhere with known people but I was not ready for abandoning the trip midway. Shankar also started feeling concerned as I was almost invisible both due to darkness and rain. The drivers have never seen something like this contraption cannot properly visualize the trike dimensions. Getting mesmerized, they may come and hit me was his concern. If under influence of alcohol mean they not even realize that they have hit me. We came across a muddy layer on the road that happened because of rain moved the soil heaped on roadside. Two vehicles had collided just before we reached there and then Shankar became more tense. Operating a Maruti authorized service centre, he gets news of accidents too often and naturally becomes tense before all of us. Not being exposed to so many accidents, I was more cool.

Beyond Golithottu, I put in all efforts pedaling furiously. I had earlier traveled in that road more than ten times and must have created new record on this day. Mohan driving Nano tried to illuminate my path to maximum extent.

Reaching Uppinanagdy Shankar told me that he can talk to hotelier and we can leave trike here. I convinced him that just 15 km more for your workshop and Puttur road in front of us is less crowded. I had told Shankar during planning stage itself that he has to watch over me. Having sensory and perception problems, I don’t always realize being close to collapsing point due to fatigue. Actually I meant more about heat factor during daytime as sensing ability of my body is poor and urinary inconsistency may push me towards dehydration. Maybe it also made him more jumpy.

The road towards Puttur was more undulating with plenty of turns. So I had to depend on my feeble LED trike light for some distance. When we reached Bolwar circle, Mahalingeshwara was on his yearly rounds. Luckily only front end of procession had reached there and we were not delayed. Finally at 8.30, I got out of the trike and stretched my limbs.

Total distance on trike was 230.3 km and I had been riding for 11 hours and 15 minutes. So moving average was 20.4 kmph. Energy used was about 65 Ah plus maybe another 5 Ah when I had disconnected the meter. Power usage was much more than my estimation because of bad design of locally procured rear tire and bad road near Mudigere.

Next day I had to take Sunil to his school for readmission and so took Omni. When I went near the trike, I was shocked to find deflated rear tire. It is not very easy to attend to rear tire as chain, gear system plus my bag limit our access. So carried the trike home in Omni. I dismantled the tire at home, only to find very small pin hole puncture. I could have pumped air and bought it riding if necessary.

I had noticed more power usage since sometime but never thought increased drag was due to the tire. Now have replaced the local Ralson tire with original Schwalbe and performance improvement is noticeable. I am sure this tire would have saved minimum 10 Ah power during this trip and naturally moved faster too.

Having support crew and vehicle with charging facility saved me about five hours charging time along the way. Maximum time spent in riding was around seven hours earlier and it was four more hours this time. That means with battery exchange facilities available or with more batteries very long trips can easily made with pedal assist bikes or trikes. Darkness, Rain and Crowded Highway together make deadly combination and will be avoided in future.


Shree Kumar said...

Great going, Govinda. All these posts will make a good case study of using assisted transports. Keep up the good work !

PS: You really need better lights. Some battery operated torches are quite powerful - e.g. I have a friend's DealXTreme Aurora torch. Fantastic stuff. Lasts 6 hrs & gives a high power beam.

Pejathaya said...

Dear Guru Govind
Idea of climbing 3000Ft and down again in the same day covering 230 Kms in one day is breaking your own record. Taking a support vehicle along is a very good idea. Wishing you all the best! - Kesari Pejathaya