Yesterday as we had to stop again after just 40 minutes (approx. 30 miles) frustrations were high. As I watched helmets come off, jackets thrown, and rocks out into the open abyss of deflated emotion! This is how we have felt – deflated by the underperformance of what we thought / what we were told we would be able to do. We expected to ride 300 miles a charge…we have yet to get over 90 miles a charge and no more than 150 miles a day.
Here is the breakdown of not just emotions, but the stress that takes the body down with it, and after 6 to 8 hours waiting for charging you are tired again and not really ready to ride – although all you want to do is ride.
So let’s start with our test charging off the diesel generator, that fried one of chargers (a smoke started to come out and was quickly turned off) but it blew one of the regulators in bike 2 so we were not able to read / view the cells of the battery to tell how full they were and it also helps to balance them for their best performance. So we sold the diesel gene and went into Home Depot and got a new one, that has been our main charger for the trip when stopped on the road for charge time. We ordered a new regulator but could not but off the Dalton any longer – season is here and so we rode knowing we would come back to this spot to find a package awaiting us.
We started out from the Arctic Circle of September 11, at 11am, 2016. We had just experienced the most wonderful evening of Northern Lights and were ready to ride the Dalton…14 miles in we had our first stop for a 12v battery issue on bike 1, then another 14 miles we had a flat on bike 2, I remember thinking as we got back on the road and passed the next 14 mile mark-whew. I am bike 3 and thought we were creating a pattern! But it was not much passed that at just 40 miles more we stopped at the Yukon River camp for the evening at 5:15pm to do a full-evening lithium charge (these are our main batteries in the boxes on the back of each bike) – equaling a full day of riding time at just 64 miles.
Day 2 – September 12 we departed Yukon River for an amazing ride on the Dalton filled with challenges we expected (see the blog post – Dalton Baby) like the technical riding of muddy roads on the Dalton Highway. We departed at 10:45am after the last bike finished charging and would ride back into Fairbanks…although we would not reach our destination of Rivers Edge RV Park (where we can use the 50amp to charge instead of generators) until 12 hours later at 10:45pm! For a Daily mileage total of 149. We had four stops: the first was bike 2 went down for a 12v issue – charge time 1 hour. We rode again only to stop 45 minutes later for a mini-boost lithium bike charge and lunch for 1hr 45 min, as we departed we thought this little jump charge would give us what we needed to make it back to Fairbanks but at 5:30pm we were down again with a 12v charge for bike one. An hour later (we also added a 20 min. lithium charge while we were down for the 12v) at 6:30pm we were off determined to make it for a hot shower and the 50amp charging. But then bike 2 went down for lithium with less than 25 miles to our stop in Fairbanks. So at 7:45pm we stopped again to charge until 9:50pm…and deflated we pulled into a gas station with a diner, hooked up the bikes for charging and went in to have pie and coffee! This type of day would have broken many, but crazily enough there is an odd determination about this team and we are keeping it together and when one of us needs a recharge the others are respectful of it!
Let me pause here before I recap the next 3 days of riding – if any of us we presented the opportunity to ride from Alaska to Argentina on Electric Bikes that could no further than 80 miles a charge and that we would spend 6 to 9 hours charging…I don’t think any of us would have signed up. Why do were keep going, here is the thing – we are at the forefront of new technology and we have placed many calls each day into the electric bike designer, engine builder, support team for management system and charging, and the battery engineers… there are many people working on figuring our why this performance is so low. And each day we adjust something in the controls, or in how we are riding to try and get optimal performance. Bottom line is we know these bikes can do better, and we keep riding because we have to get south. Yesterday we crossed the border into Canada and with the performance currently where it is, it will take us 3 weeks to get out of the weather – only to hit Washington state just in time for the roll in of winter. We do have about a week pause planned for there as our management systems and charging creator Manzanita Micro is there and we will be doing some serious work on the bikes before we head further south.
Okay back to our riding, Day 3 (after 2 days at the RV park in Fairbanks, as our new regulator came in while we were out riding the Dalton, we needed to charge the bikes and us, and do some errands like grocery, laundry…) we were back on the road September 15, 2016 as we left Fairbanks to Delta Junction making it just 105 miles. We departed at 10:30am later than we had planned, we thought we would leave at 9am so we started with frustration at late departure and were stopped at 12:43 for a lithium battery charge needed. We charged from 12:43 to 5:45pm and rode into Delta Junction at 6:40pm to take our visitor center photo of getting onto the Alaskan Highway! We made the team decision to find a place to park for the night and start charging. We found an open parking lot and I walked over to get the team the Alaska brew sampler pack! It was that kind of night!
With a nice charge in the night before we just had top-off and eat breakie, we were on the road at 9:03 am – day 4 September 16, 2016. We got a few hours of riding done before we had to stop for a lithium charge at 11:05am to 7:10pm, then back on the road for less than an hour for get to Tok, Alaska around 7:30pm to stop for the night we had just done a large charge just 20 minutes before so we did not charge this evening. For a total daily mileage of 113.
Yesterday, day 5 of riding we departed Tok at 11:15am after a nice diner breakfast and a few more calls and some chargers ordered to be shipped to a stop point of Canada, the team is feeling it this morning as we try to navigate new chargers to improve our performance and watching the lovely sunlight, it is a perfect day to ride….and we are off! And then just 40 minutes later bike 1 lost power, it appeared to be a 12v issue again, once we got to the rest stop and the bike was looked at – it was a blown fuse, but we had already used some charge last night and another 40 miles this morning so it is time for a full charge again with hopes for reaching Canada! At 5:45pm charging was done and we were back on the road, we stopped across the border at 9:08pm (time change from 8:08pm, to now 9:08) We had a few stops for nice photos along the way, and even though we wear communications in our helmets, we rode pretty silent. Yesterday was the hardest emotional drain of our personal power to date…and as much as we all would like to rest, the weather is chasing us and we must ride on – every day is a ride day! We have faith that we will figure out the kinks with the bikes and that our mileage will continue to grow daily. You can always follow the journey through my SPOT tracker and see where we are and how far we got each day!
Total to date: 545 miles