Monday, January 28, 2008

New Snugg post

My latest post in the practical pedal electric commuter blog.

In the last 24 hours the Snugg has twice saved me from making a bad decision. The first time was last night. I had just gotten back from Bridger Bowl, Bozeman's local ski area. I was telemark skiing all day, and I was tired, and I mean the kind of tired that makes sitting on the couch kind of a chore. Whilst getting some much needed steak and potatoes prepared I get the text, there's a little get together, am I coming? Well of course not, I'm sitting on my butt in front of the T.V. I'm certainly not riding a bike across town. To top it off, there's a fifteen mile headwind the whole way. If I do go, I'm driving my car. Then, it occurs to me, there's an electric bike in my garage, it's not like I actually have to work really hard to get anywhere. So, after arriving at Molly's in fine style by passing a couple Suby's on my 28 mph sprint down Main Street, I promptly had a few beers and feel asleep on her couch instead of my own.

The second time the Snugg kept me from behind the wheel of my car was this morning. I woke up, showered, dressed, went downstairs, and opened the garage door to this.

Hmmm...that doesn't look like a lot of fun, maybe I'd better put on another layer.

Now I consider myself a fairly dedicated cycling commuter, but that much fresh snow is a lot of work to ride through, just laying down enough power to keep the front wheel tracking straight is quite the effort. And remember I've got to do it with the sore quads and hangover that are my reward from the previous days activities. Nonetheless owing nothing to my strength of will, I swung a leg over the Snugg custom Surly Cross Check and headed off through a veritable blizzard. The bike performed flawlessly on my trip to work, the steering was a little squirrely in the packed snow ruts, but the power of the electric assist kept my momentum more or less forward. On a normal bike, I would have simply spun out as I lost forward momentum and the front wheel tracked off to the side. With the Snugg I could simply maintain upright balance and let the motor power through. It required some agile steering, but it was doable. Tragically, my judgment was not so well dialed and I headed out without my usual facemask...cold.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Lectric Bike

This is a copy of the post that I wrote today for the Practical Pedal Electric Commuter Blog

Now that I’ve had the Snugg prototype for a few days, and put thirty or so miles on it, I have some thoughts. These thoughts, fortunately, are quite contrary to some preconceptions I carried into this experiment. One of those preconceptions, given the weather of late, was that I would not be working much on the bike, and would therefore feel cold. Another was that riding something with a motor would be the equivalent to riding a scooter or a small motorcycle, which while not completely antithetical to my philosophy about transportation, still not my first choice. I am after all a cyclist, not a motorcyclist.

Fortunately neither of those concerns turned out to have any merit, essentially for the same reason. This bike feels like exactly that, a bike. When I take off in the morning I have the exact same feeling as if I were riding my xtracycle, I’m riding a bicycle to work. The only change is that it is much much faster than a conventional bicycle. Now granted, I could if I chose, put it in a low gear and pedal the modicum rate that would engage the motor, and therefore let the motor basically push me down the road at around 20 miles an hour. But the emotion evoked while riding the Snugg commuter is the same as while riding a good downhill section, or home from the bar with a brisk tailwind. That extra sensation of speed is so exhilarating that I find myself pedaling much harder than I normally would unassisted. Now, instead of increasing my cadence to catch and pass another cyclist that has turned onto the road a block ahead, I am trying to chase down that Escalade, and more often than not, I catch it. Because now I can maintain a speed for several blocks that is greater than the speedlimit in most instances. I therefore arrive at my lab every morning, slightly out of breath, sweating just a bit (even this last week with temps in the single digits, that’s well below zero for the Canadians and Europeans out there), and with a small smile on my face that I lack on the few and regrettable days that I drive my car. Cuz I just rode a bike to work, I just did it in about half the time it would normally take.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Riding in January?

Being winter and all, most residents of the Gallatin valley are focusing more on the fresh snow at Bridger Bowl than the possibility of getting in some epic trail rides. However a small group of Bozeman cyclists have been doing just that. By 'small group' I basically mean John and I.

John has set up a blog strictly dedicated to trail conditions around Bozeman. In the months ahead you can expect that more and more posts will pop up there detailing what is open.

For now, Pipestone is 100% ridable, and Sourdough and Southcotton wood have that well bootpacked snow that is a blast to ride...even if the skate skiers prolly want to kill us.

There's also always the daily commute, which at times is some of the best riding one can do. For the next week or two I've taken over the Snugg electric bike prototype and will be blogging about my daily rides on their blog electric commuter.

So, while it's still cold out there, just keep pedaling. As I found out on Sunday, even mountain biking in temps as low as eight below is warm if you hammer. Enjoy the short time that you can ride and not sweat like a pig :)