Monthly Archives: January 2020


Ha! In my last post I was expecting bad weather for a few days. As it turned out, mostly not, so I was able to get out and ride everyday and I’ve had some great ones! I did miss 1/17 due to weather but then had 5 straight days of riding. Then we did get some actual winter weather, two days of snow, rain and freezing rain.

1/18: 9.5 miles
1/19: 11.7 miles
1/20 17.5 miles
1/21: 21.6 miles
1/22: 21.8 miles
1/25: 19.7 miles

Total is now up around 409 miles since getting the bike less than five weeks ago.

These were some great rides. I ventured up 219 to another county road 221 and then out to Hwy J which was a 15.5 mile ride and no dogs! A few nice hills and some great views of farmland from a distance. Will be a great spring/summer/fall ride. As with 217, 219 and 221 are very quiet with almost no traffic. Fantastic.

The bike continues to perform as expected. After 21 miles and starting with a full charge, I’m still at about 35% battery. Now, that said, I’m peddling the whole time. The last few rides I’ve mostly been in PAS 3 60% of the time, 30% in PAS 2 and the remainder in PAS 1 on the 2 miles of our gravel drive which is a slow ride. The rest has been blacktop but with lows of gentle rolling hills, a couple of steep hills. I’ve learned though that at 30% battery remaining, available power is less and drops far more quickly. So, the top 30% of a fully charged battery is not the same as the last 30%!

Letric’s user manual says I should expect 35 miles on PAS 3 on flat ground, 180 lb rider. With my winter clothes and boots I’m about 175. Add in another 12 lbs for my water, grocery baskets, pannier pack, lock, two small tool/phone packs. So, about 187 and fairly hilly. I’m going to speculate that I’d be good for 25 miles which is short of the 35 but I’ve got more weight and on hilly terrain. I’m not disappointed at all as that seems about right and is more than enough for the rides I’m currently doing. But…

All that said, I’m already thinking that in 6 to 8 months, if my knees continue to do well and if I continue riding as much as I hope to (300 miles/month) I think I’m going to look at adding another, lighter electric bike. Lol. I’d keep the Lectric to share with friends/family and to continue using as my town commute bike for shopping and meetings in town. I’ve got my eyes on a new bike that only weighs in at 38lbs (compare to the Lectric 63ish lbs). It would make a perfect gravel bike for longer distance rides around the county, handling blacktop or rock roads. The batteries are very light weight so I’d carry two extras and I think I’d have no problem going out for 40 to 60 mile rides, quite possibly 90 miles with the two extra batteries. The kind of bike I could go out for a day with and ride all these county back roads. At 15 to 18 mph, that’s potentially 4 to 6 hours of riding.

Funny, when I bought this bike I was expecting to use it to ride the 2 mile round trip to my parents so I could visit them more often without walking it all the time. I had no idea my knees would hold up so well to peddling nor that I’d actually be riding it 10 miles to town for fun rides. It was supposed to be a fun little utility bike for short range rides around the lake. That’s been the biggest surprise of having it. If the weather forecast holds for the next week I’ll likely have 400 miles just for the month of January.

And, last, all this has lead to me fully rediscovering the bike. As I’ve been writing about for the past month, I’m not only riding the bike as much as possible but also have jumped into the best way that I know to try to be active in terms of climate change and that is to create a local cycling project. Transportation will be a key cornerstone in how we deal or do not deal with our climate change problem. Getting active in promoting local cycling as a part of that solution feels like the best thing I could do.

Cycling Project Update

I’m really feeling optimistic about this project! Previous posts here and here. I sat down yesterday with our local extension council community and economic development specialist. She’s very enthusiastic and solidly supportive of the project. We met for 45 minutes to discuss the vision of such a project, goals, tasks and a basic timeline. Will be meeting with her in a month. She suggested we attend a city council meeting and a county commissioners meeting to let them know what it is we’re cooking up. Will be doing that in February.

We’ve set a goal of having our first group ride in the spring and possibly also a first bicycle safety class. So, I’ll be working on those as well as assembling a list of local cycling enthusiasts as well as assembling our initial order of cycling safety literature and checking in with the free bicycle helmet programs. Possibly a table at our local spring festival, Azalea Festival. These are all the short term goals. Other short to mid-term goals would be initial installation of bike racks and initial installation of bike share-the-road signage.

Mid and long-term goals still in the picture too and include advocating for the adoption of Livable Streets guidelines at city and possibly county level as well. Also development of bike and walking paths at city lake.

Still early days but this is moving forward. Woot woot!

Fredericktown Cycling Project

I mentioned in a post recently that I’d emailed the administrator at the local health department to inquire about a possible cycling project. She seemed interested and invited me to attend a meeting for the “Healthy Aging” group which I did on Tuesday. The response was enthusiastic! I’ll be again with one of those attendees next Friday to discuss further.

I’m hoping to see some progress as we move into spring. I suspect that agencies such as these move much more slowly than I’m hoping for but we’ll see. Certainly funding for larger project infrastructure would be gotten through grants which would likely be longer term tasks in the 12 month range. But I think shorter term tasks and goals might be achieved more quickly. I suspect the county Extension might be involved on some level which would be excellent.

My guess, based on Tuesday’s meeting, is that the next step is just sitting down to further discuss the needs of the community and how project goals would fill those needs. Basically the first steps in setting the parameters of a project that will need funding. I’m eager to get started and looking forward to creating a list of goals, tasks and a timeline.

Next Stop, 400 Miles!

1/13: 12 miles
1/14: 20 miles
1/15 23.4 miles
1/16: 4.5 miles

I took off a few days between the 9th and the 13th due to rain. A lot of rain. But I’ve had some great rides the past 4 days. Well, yesterday’s ride was a very short one due to the day being taken up with errands, family visits and a few work related tasks.

The forecast for the next 2 days is snow, freezing rain and rain so I’m doubtful I’ll get any ride time. That said, were we to get a couple inches of snow I’d love to go out for a couple miles of snow riding. Not so much if it’s covered with a crust of ice though! But chances are it’s mostly going to be rain. Followed by some pretty cold weather. Then more rain. So, sadly, my ride time in the next week or two will likely be diminished.

In any case, in the nearly four weeks with the bike I’ve got in just a bit over 300 miles and I’m looking forward to the next 100 and beyond. Woot, woot!!

One Hour Adventure

Today’s ride was a pretty fantastic one hour adventure. 1 hour and 11 minutes to be exact. I’d mentioned to my friend Russ a week or so ago that I was thinking of exploring County Rd 219 but was a bit reluctant. My primary concern with this particular route would just be lack of cell service and the unknown dog factor. Being the great friend that he is he offered to ride along on his motorcycle and it was an excellent ride. Much faster and a bit more difficult that my usual ride of 217 to town which is mostly flat and all paved.

We did 20 miles, 10 miles each way. The plan was to ride to Womack which would have been 25 miles round trip but my battery was at 55% so we turned around just 2.5 miles short of the planned turn-around. This was super hilly terrain. It started with pavement, then went to gravel for about 30% of the ride. I was riding much faster than my normal speed since Russ was there on his motorcycle. Average speed today was 17.1 mph with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet.

So, really hilly, lots of gravel and increased speed all add up to the funnest, most adventurous ride yet. This felt much more like mountain biking. To be clear, it was a road and not a trail, but due to recent storms some of this gravel was rougher than the a normal gravel road.

By comparison my usual ride is fairly flat, recently paved and is very casual at about 14 mph using pedal assist 2.

After the ride I did an additional 2 miles to a nearby lake south of our place and then the mile to my cabin for a total of 23.4 miles for the day. Battery was at 20% so I probably could have done another mile or two. Given the speed of the ride, the gravel road and hilly route I’d say that range is excellent. Were I to do the ride using pedal assist 2 at 14 mph I’d likely have a range of 35 miles. Total miles on the bike now at just over 300!

There’s nothing better than a dirty bike after a fun ride!

A last note, at the increased speed of today’s ride the bike handled very well on the rougher terrain and hills. Also, after today’s ride I’ve decided to stick with knobby tires.

20×4 Fat Tires

As I start this post I’m in the middle of my continuing e-bike/cycling obsession. Funny, a couple nights ago I actually dreamt about the bike shop I worked at in Memphis in the late 90s. Been having little flashbacks of that time period during my waking hours too. Was such a great time in my life, daily emersion in bicycles and bike culture.

Anyhooooooo, back to the point of this post! As I’m riding and outfitting the Lectric with accessories I’ve also begun thinking a bit about tires. I should be fine with these for awhile though I suspect that if I continue riding as much as I have I’ll need new ones within a year. Alternatively, I could put some new ones on now and keep these as back-ups. The stock tires aren’t bad but they’re not the best on pavement as they don’t have a consistent center bead which is provides less rolling resistance. On our 1 mile rock road they’re perfect. But the 6.5 miles to town is paved so there are other options that would likely be at list a little better. That said, I’m finding there 20×4” tire options seem limited and thought I’d write a post that I can add onto in the future to track those options as a reference.

So, the primary considerations are knobby or slick? Secondary are wire bead or folding bead? Wire beaded tires hold their form on their own and tend to be thicker and heavier. Folding bead tires are lighter, foldable and finer threaded (higher TPI, threads per inch) for a smoother ride as well as more expensive. I’m not sure I have a preference other than I’m looking for the most durable, puncture resistant and with a thread that does well on pavement but won’t be dangerous or unstable on our gravel road.

All in all it seems like the selection for this sized tire is very small. And many of the places that do offer the tires listed below show them as being out of stock. My thinking for the moment is to continue riding the stock tires for the next few months. If I continue (as I expect I will) with lots of pavement mileage I’ll switch over to the Kenda Kraze unless something better comes along.

Here’s what I’ve got thus far.

Kenda Krusade – $35 at Rad Power
Wire bead, 30 TPI casing
Has Kenda K-Shield, puncture resistant layer. Has a better center bead than stock though still gapped. Reviews of this tire on Amazon are not great though, quick tread wear mentioned by several.

Mongoose Fat Tire – $36 at Amazon
Wire bead. The center tread is slightly better than the stock tires as pictured but customers report a different tread, hard to say if this would be an improvement. Some reviews report poor tread life. I’ll avoid this one but wanted to list it.

Vee Tire Mission Command – $55 at Amazon
Folding bead, 120 TPI

Kenda Kraze – $35 at Rad Power
Wire bead, 30 TPI casing
Requires 4.25 tube, $15.
Has Kenda K-Shield, puncture resistant layer.

Vee Tire Speedster Junior Fat Tire – $60 at Amazon
More tread than the Kenda Kraze but still smooth. Folding bead.

Low rider Tire Duro 20×4.25 – $64 at Amazon
Like the Kenda Kraze will also need 20×4.25 tubes. Tubes are in the $15 to 20 range. Wire bead.

Sunlite Tire – $35
20×4.25, needs 20×4.25 tube too.

240 miles

Apparently I’m making up for lost time!

1/6: 20 miles
1/7: 19 miles
1/8: 21 miles
1/9: 6.5 miles (rain!)

So, that’s about 240 miles in the three weeks of having a bike again. That’s all pedal assisted, mostly in pedal assist mode 2, some 3. Average ride time in January is 69 minutes. I know this because I have a spreadsheet. I have a spreadsheet because I am a nerd.

Being on the bike has me remembering back to my cycling in Memphis and it’s every bit as fun as I remember. I’m happy that at 50 years old I want to be on the bike as much as I wanted to be on the bike when I was 28.

I’m feeling pretty good about my knees. No pain or discomfort after 3 weeks. The electric motor is doing most of the work but I pedal constantly and, based on my heart rate and the battery level after my rides, I’d estimate that I’m adding in between 30 and 40% of the energy moving the bike forward. It’s not 100% as it was before but that’s still significant. My heart rate is consistently averaging 135 bpm during my rides.

A last benefit to mention would be mental health. I can say with certainty that, simply put, cycling makes me a happier person which seems to contribute to an interest in the wellbeing of the people around me which is to say, more social.

As I write this I’ve been off the bike for two days due to rain. 4” of rain in one night and persistent drizzle over two days. That’s not to say I won’t ride in rain and e-bikes are okay in light rain and small puddles but I’m less likely to ride in those conditions if I don’t actually need to. Anyway, the next few days look good.

Madison County Cycling Proposal

A few days ago I started to wonder what a cycling program in Fredericktown might look like. What would be helpful in this setting and for the citizens in this county? I made a few mental notes and then sent an email to the director of a local county health agency who I know. Here’s what I sent with some edits to make it a better blog post:

I hope you are doing well in the new year! I’ve got a project idea that I wanted to mention as I think it might fit well here, possibly a larger cooperative project with the county or city. In recent weeks I’ve been cycling again. I cycled for 10 years in Memphis until a knee injury. With e-bikes it’s now possible for people with joint problems to cycle with less stress on the knees, it’s fantastic. Anyway, as I’ve been cycling again I’ve also been watching and reading more about community cycling as it relates to individual and community health. For example, here’s a TED talk regarding just one such example

The more I read and watch I’m impressed by the potential in increasing health and happiness for people. Being in a small town we actually have very safe cycling built in by virtue of the fact that most of our town roads are low traffic, slow and safe. This is the basis for a safe cycling environment and we already have it!

A few additions, elements of encouragement that might go a long way in increasing people’s interest and awareness in cycling for fun, health and transport:

  • A visible advocacy program
  • Bike racks around town
  • A marked route to City Lake and a walking/biking bath once there

These three would be a great start. The first two would be the least costly and easiest to get started I think. The last would be a fantastic addition to our community I think. It’s already fairly easy to cycle to city lake from town but there’s no path around the lake (that I’m aware of). That would be a fairly large investment/project but I think it would be an amazing asset to the community. A shame that we’re not currently taking advantage of such a nearby and beautiful lake.

More on YouTube…
Anything from this channel is very inspiring! Here’s one.

Many of these are about city planning for cycling which we don’t really need to do. But I think they’re worth watching just because they really underscore the overall feeling of walking/cycling towns. These people seem so happy and healthy!

A few more helpful YouTube links.

Aside from the health benefits of course is the financial savings of cycling as transportation. Bikes can be great fun but they’re also viable transport for getting places, shopping, etc. I lived for years without a car and in much of Europe that’s also the case. I’d think that, given the general poverty of Madison County, that many would stand to benefit from bikes as transport if it were encouraged.

I’d be interested in volunteering to help get a project like this started.

I’m not sure what, if anything, might happen as a result. I did hear back from her today and she seems interested and is going to discuss it with relevant local agency staff at a meeting next week that I’ll be attending. I’m sure I’ll post something about it again if something moves forward. I’m looking forward to the possibilities.

14 Days of E-Bike Fun

I’ve had the bike for two weeks and I’ve ridden almost everyday. It’s been fantastic. Since my last ride update on 12/26 here’s a list of rides:
12/31: 14 miles
1/1: 13 miles
1/2: 12 miles
1/3: 19 miles
1/5: 13 miles

180 miles in the first two weeks. That’s all pedal assisted, mostly in pedal assist mode 2, some 3. Average ride time in January is 67 minutes. I missed a few days due to heavy rain and some work I needed to attend to.

I’ve added the Thudbuster suspension seatpost and that’s made the ride much more comfortable. It looks like I’ve got three or four days this week before rain comes in so I plan to get out a good bit.

Also worth noting, I’ve now got my baskets and locks so I expect I’ll begin transitioning my shopping to the local grocery store for most of my groceries. I’ll still be doing my aunt’s weekly shopping at Walmart via the car but it’s a step!

I’ve had a chance to explore a few corners of town that I’d not seen before and looking forward to seeing more. Small town cycling is really very nice as the traffic on the the small side streets is usually very low, almost non-existent. When there is traffic it’s just one car at a time and usually slow moving at 20 mph or so. I’ve got took keep watch out for loose dogs but that’s about the only thing I find concerning.

The bike continues to perform very well with more than enough battery capacity for my needs. After 20 years away from the saddle I’m looking forward to making up for lost time!

1 Point 5

1 Point 5: The sad truth about our boldest climate target

We’ve waited too long. Practically speaking, we are heading past 1.5˚C as we speak and probably past 2˚C as well. This is not a “fact” in the same way climate science deals in facts — collective human behavior is not nearly so easy to predict as biophysical cycles — but nothing we know about human history, sociology, or politics suggests that vast, screeching changes in collective direction are likely.

All those problems are going to get worse. We need to grapple with that squarely, because the real threat is that these escalating impacts overwhelm our ability, not just to mitigate GHGs, but to even care or react to disasters when they happen elsewhere. Right now, much of Australia is on fire — half a billion animals have likely died since September — and it is barely breaking the news cycle in the US. As author David Wallace-Wells wrote in a recent piece, the world already seems to be heading toward a “system of disinterest defined instead by ever smaller circles of empathy.”

That shrinking of empathy is arguably the greatest danger facing the human species, the biggest barrier to the collective action necessary to save ourselves. I can’t help but think that the first step in defending and expanding that empathy is reckoning squarely with how much damage we’ve already done and are likely to do, working through the guilt and grief, and resolving to minimize the suffering to come.