Bike Night Out

Bike Night Pam and I rode Bettie to dinner last night and the highlight, besides the romance of riding a bike together, was no parking stress. We rolled up to the new Cactus restaurant without the usual parking search on Alki, ate dinner, and rode back. We took turns sitting on the SnapDeck, used a light in the dark on the way back, and relaxed.

The ride to dinner was one of 6 trips/errands over the weekend that we did without a car and that’s the most liberating thing about Bettie and sport-utility bikes. We’re not stuck in traffic, sitting in a car, wasting our time.

A reader sent us a great article from the Moynihan Institute on bicycle commuting. The Rant n’ Irishman takes Critical Mass to task and also insists that he’s not making a big statement, by poking a stick in the eye of people in cars, but simply taking control of his life. Today the AP ran a story on about going car free and the benefits of arriving at “one’s destination without feeling all tense and angry.” There’s also a book about How to Live Well Without Owning a Car.

For our bike night out, we were in control, not in a car, and having fun.



Like riding with Armstrong’s leg

Switched the Stokemonkey setting to high-mode today on Bettie and flew up Admiral Way for a morning coffee run to Metropolitan Market. The high setting was like having an extra leg, Armstrong’s leg in fact, when you consider the Stokemonkey is putting out 430 watts at a cadence of 80!

I grabbed the coffee, more groceries, loaded Bettie’s FreeLoaders, and headed back home by way of Schooner Exact, where I tasted their latest pale ale. To make sure I condition the battery properly (as Todd told us), I flipped the switch back to low mode and cruised up the hills back home.



Staying on top of the Gear

Todd, the inventor of the Stokemonkey says, “Your timely and appropriate shifting permits the motor to operate within a small band of powerful and efficient speeds at all times. This is key.”

As a roadie, I was reminded of that saying, “stay on top of the gear” and found Bettie’s sweet spot within a few minutes of riding. When the Stokemonkey bogged down a bit, I’d shift, and the motor assist would pick up speed again. After a few longer rides, I could tell how well the Stokemonkey was operating by the vibrations in the seat tube and also hear it cranking away. In the video, I’m rolling up a gently sloped, 5% grade hill.

The “small power band” also keeps you working. This isn’t an electric or gas-powered bike, it’s an assist and going up the steepest hills, I was definitely pedaling at a good effort (not breaking a sweat and breathing hard). On the last ride, I took my Polar and averaged a heart rate like a typical cruising pace, which is a great winter heart rate and a good workout.

So what we have now with Bettie and this project is a great errand/working bike. I used it to get lunch and say hello to Marcus while he brews up Bike Hugger Brown. Later in the day, Pam got a full load of groceries and we didn’t burn an ounce of gas or start the car, and got a nice workout. As Todd warns, a Stokemonkey isn’t for someone that isn’t in shape or isn’t good at riding a bike and shifting. In fact you could probably start a Tuesday night Stokemonkey workout club!

Next week, after the holiday, Pam will commute on it and I’ll post on all the details including the parts we chose, why issues, recommendations, and a wish list.



Bike Hugger Bettie first ride

First ride with a “thrilled” passenger on Bettie, our sport-utility project bike.

And I quote, “it shoots you up the hill at like 25 miles per hour …”



Hook a hugga up!

Today we launched Bike Hugger @Interbike, a blog just for the bike industry’s big show. As previously posted, we’ll be in the media center, on the floor, blogging it all, and hoping for some serious schwag. And not the schwag you leave behind in the room, but the kind like with Eddy Merckx’s autograph! Oh yeah.

Having just ridden Bettie (reports to follow), our project bike, I’ll want to meet all the component manufacturers and talk about what it’s like to ride a commuter that looks like it rolled off the set of Mad Max.



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