Tuesday, June 21, 2016

EVmoto Roadtrip Pikes Peak Part 1: Highs, lows and facing fears.

                The biggest ride of my life so far in miles to ride, time on the road, time away from home, and complexity began with a visit to a friend.  It wasn’t just any visit, but specifically the kind that no biker really wants to make.  Lisa loves to ride, and I say that in the present tense because she will always be a biker, even if she never regains use of her legs.  I know this because I’m the same way.  There is something out there for everyone that drives them forward, that makes them look forward to the next day.  Even when I’m not looking forward to going to work, I can relax a little knowing that my motorcycle will take me there.  No day can be too bad if I can ride afterward, but what if I couldn’t?

                I had seen the pictures, but pictures aren’t the truth. They are subject to lighting and framing, contrast and color balance.  It looks bad, but it can’t be that bad right?  No, the pictures were better.  They didn’t carry the emotion of standing in the room with your friend with most of her body in braces and tubes running into a contraption over her mouth.  I watched as her chest moved up in down in perfect time and observed the never changing readout from the machines.  She’s stable, she’ll make it, but right now I wonder, is she feeling anything at all?  Should I talk to her, should I try to wake her up?  I didn’t do either.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just stood there for a moment a long moment, perhaps too long a moment.  Finally I said “what would Lisa do?”  She would ride.  And so I did.  Get better friend.  Maybe someday we can ride together again.


Day 1:    (or night I suppose, it did start at 5pm)
   Last night I did something I’ve always been terrified to do.  I hooked my bike to the charger connected my accessory charger, covered myself in so much bug repellant it stung, and laid down on a bench.  I’ve never slept in public.  I don’t trust people. I don’t want to be vulnerable near them, heck I don’t want to be vulnerable period, but we all need to sleep, and Florence doesn’t have any rooms.  Seriously, there were no rooms under 100 dollars in the whole city.  This put a kink in my plans for the evening as the nearest charging station was 30 miles away and in a grocery store parking lot with no lodging in the area.  After the longest ride ever on my Zero, 88 miles, I pulled into the Fry’s parking lot with 3% left in my battery packs.  I accidently proved to myself that the bike was capable of handling the longest stretch of this trip, so that’s one fear down.  It took about 3 hours to get the state of charge high enough to make it to the next station.  It turned out that due to the Florence incident I was ahead, both in time and distance so when I arrived at the next station there was still 40% or so on the battery.  The blink charge station was located at a McDonald’s/ Shell gas station in North Phoenix, but there was this guy there, circling the block, driving fast through parking lots and just generally looking sketchy.  He later picked up two guys, was gone for 15 minutes came back and dropped them off in the middle of the street, yes he dropped off people from the left turn lane.   By this point I had become concerned that maybe I wasn’t in the safest of places so I headed for the Blink chargers at Honeywell.  That location was perfect there was literally no traffic and it was far off the street.  For the first time in my life I laid down on a bench and woke up 1 ½ hours later to the sunrise and chirping birds.  I was also ahead of schedule, having not spent 8hrs in Florence.  Not a bad start.


Day 2:
   I’m finally out of Phoenix!   Cooler temperatures await.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The ride up to Cordes Lake was a blast.  It was only about 40 miles or easily within range.  What this translated to sportbiker: “There is absolutely no need to ride conservatively.  So I did not.  Even with an extra 70 pounds of charger, cables, adapters, electronics and their accessories the Zeros torque made quick work of those steep uphill roads.  For those of you that have not made the climb from Phoenix to Flagstaff or Prescott, I-17 is notorious for breaking cars.  There are even signs warning to shut off the A/C as to not overheat the car.  The Zero had no problem.  I click it into sport mode and zipped around cars, accelerated where others were losing speed and still made it to Cordes Lake with around 40% remaining.  Today is a good day. 

                I plugged my bike and chargers into a Nema 15-40 to 4x Nema 5-20 adapter and charged off the RV parks 240 and 50A power.  For those of you used to Blink public chargers, this is actually more powerful.  If you ever need a charge between Flagstaff and Phoenix keep them in mind Quail Ridge RV Park, it was $5 dollars.  I came out of the clubhouse fresh and ready to go only to find my bike losing it.  Every warning light, ever possible readout and all the numbers were flashing on the dashboard.  I thought I broke it, seriously for days I thought this.  In a panic I looked up the nearest Zero dealer which was only 10 miles away and rode it there.  There was a Veterans event taking place and they were busy, really busy, but the service manager still took the time to listen to my problem.  He asked me to demonstrate, so I plugged the onboard in, and the bike charged, just fine.  I hung out at Grand Canyon Motorsports for the next few hours waiting for the bike to act up again.  I talked to the Zero marketing director who happened to be there, talked to some tough looking Harley guys that were open enough to come over to the Zero display, had something to drink (soda,) checked out this cool 2 wheel drive sidecar called a Ural, and had a bit to eat.  I came back to the bike to find that it charged fine.  It was now at 87% and could easily make the next stop in Sedona so I headed that way.  Btw Jerome is AMAZING!!!! It too some architectural and engineering creativity to build this mining community in a place with absolutely no flat land.  To say it’s built literally on the side of a mountain is not an exaggeration.

                Assuming the previous malfunction was a fluke, I connected the bike the same way I had in Phoenix, I went for a walk, watched a few videos on UX design and came back to the bike freaking out again.  I was devastated and made a depressed giving up style post in the Zero motorcycle group on Facebook.  Terry Hershner (Electric Terry) responded and we ended up talking on the phone for a long while about how to still finish the trip.  Good thing, it got better but not right away.  The night ended with a fun blast up to Flagstaff, a full KOA, frustrating trying to find a charger open to the public (if anyone knows how to use the ones at NAU, please comment,) before finally giving up and getting the 3rd cheapest hotel I could find (the reviews didn’t say stay away like the previous two) that actually turned out to be one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed and had wall outlets all over the parking lot.  I had a good, too good (I overslept) night of sleep and started out for my biggest day yet.


End of Part One.  Stay tuned.


Computer issues prevented uploading of pictures and link.  Expect a new and improved version soon.


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