I spent more than a year customizing my Bridgestone Mountain Bike a piece at a time, with different racks and lights and tires and gearsets, slowly making it into the machine I could ride across a country. Then, I bumped into a fellow employee outside my building as he was unlocking his nifty monopod-style recumbent bicycle, and impetuously asked him if I could test ride it, and whether it was for sale.
Two days later, after I confirmed that I could get a generator installed in a 20-inch wheel sent to me through the mail in time for my trip, I drove to his house and purchased the bicycle, and all its accessories. Suddenly I had a completely different machine for carrying me from Oregon to Idaho. I had less than a month to get used to riding it, and to overhaul it for long-distance touring, but I felt I could do it, and that I was doing the right thing.
This bike is called a Bacchetta Giro 20. It is so much more comfortable to ride than my Mountain Bike that it feels like cheating. I rode it for the June ride of San Jose Bike Party and it was like sitting at home in an easy chair the whole time. On top of that, it was more aerodynamic, and distributed the weight of my body and luggage more evenly across the wheels.
I had originally planned to leave for my trip on July 3rd. (Work intervened.) The new 20-inch wheel with the tougher tire and the generator arrived with about four days to spare, and I hauled everything out to Menlo Park so my buddy Breakpoint and I could complete the assembly.
The first thing we needed to do was wire up the new wheel.
Next, I had to make some modifications to my charger design, since I was using smaller batteries than before. We printed a draft piece on the 3D plastic printer - a small slice of the model - and crammed the parts into it, then tweaked my final version based on the results.
The 3D printer takes many hours to print a plastic widget of this size. Then it has to soak in an acid bath to remove the structural support material that was laid down during printing.
When it came out of the bath, it looked like this. There was a little residue still on it, but we chipped it away with dental tools.
Here's Breakpoint examining the fit of the components. I think I did a pretty good job.
There was still one regulator circuit I needed to wire up, so I busied myself with that while Breakpoint did some 3D drafting work on a computer nearby, designing a lid that I could screw onto the top of the enclosure and attach velcro straps to.
Here's a sample cutting from the printer. We chopped a little cube out of the corner while we calibrated the device to the thickness of our plastic.
At home I tested the charging unit on the Mountain Bike, since it was much easier to put up on the table and turn upside down than the Giro.
And here's the Giro fully loaded. I asked La to come up with a name for her, but she hasn't given me one yet. Well, actually I think she suggested one, but I didn't like it, because it didn't sound adventurous and tough enough.
It's been a long, complicated process preparing for long-range cycling. Part of the preparation has consisted of long conversations with other bicyclists who had had similar adventures. Talking to them, I get the sense that they all share a complicated set of emotions about their pastime. On the one hand, they feel a surge of pride in their accomplishments, and find it gratifying that they can share their enthusiasm with other people interested in doing the same thing. On the other hand, they must inevitably describe some of the places they've gone and the things they've seen, and that can often sound like bragging, which they find distasteful. Long-distance cyclists mostly want to be left alone with their adventures, or at least share them with other people who are actively out on the road, because they want to keep themselves distinct from racing cyclists who are all about the competition.
I'm definitely not out here to beat competitors.