Yes indeed, after five months, Kevin Koski is once again headed out into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains on another bike tour. This one will take me to some states I have never cycled in before: Nevada, Louisiana and Mississippi. But this time, I’ve got a little help.
My last trip ended in Merida, Mexico in January. I loafed around Mexico for a few weeks, then returned to Denver in February, where I worked a few months for DoorDash delivering food to people as well as teaching English online. As I mentioned in my last post, I was considering getting an electric bike, or e-bike. After a lot of research I finally decided on a system that seems to work. It is an electric motor mounted to the bottom of the bike near the pedals that drives the front sprocket. It is powered by a large and heavy battery. I’ve taken a number of rides and it really works well. Uphills, if I start to struggle I just push a button and voila, it feels like someone is pushing me up the hill. Here’s photo of my setup.
Here is a view of the display and controller.
The e-bike will give me a lot more flexibility. On my last trip through Mexico I had a couple really tough days climbing hills in the heat or fighting a headwind. This caused me to go super slow and use up a lot of water. With the e-bike, if I ever run into that situation I can just turn on the motor and get to the next water stop without so much pain.
It also allows me to find better camping spots. When camping, I have to leave the road I am on and many times bike for a mile or two to find a good spot. This is tough at the end of a long day. With the e-bike I can go farther when tired to find that nice camping spot.
Finally, I can just ride more miles. I had to change my route a few times last trip because the distance between water stops was too great. Now I can click on the motor and go 80 miles a day if needed. It also helps with bad weather. If I get caught in the rain I can turn on the juice and cruise at 25 mph to the next town to get shelter. What a great invention!
Now, just because I have the motor does not mean I will just be coasting the whole time. First, I want to conserve battery power for when I really need it. Second, I do want to get some exercise. In fact, the motor will shut off if I stop pedaling, so I intend to ride as much as possible with the motor off or on the lowest pedal assist. Even with gradients of 5% I can still pedal uphill on the lowest setting. I expect to only use the higher levels in cases where I need to be somewhere quickly, such as if a storm is approaching or I am low on water and need to get somewhere fast.
The plan is to cycle from Golden, CO through Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Jacksonville, FL where I will check up on my poor boat to make sure she is still in one piece. The approximate route is shown below.
This route is about 4000 miles and should take me about five months to complete.
Besides the e-bike I have reduced weight and bulk in a number of other areas, mainly my tent. I bought a small one person tent and sold my 2 person mansion that I bought last year, saving about 4 lbs. I’ve reduced weight in other ways too: fewer tools, fewer clothes, and dropping things like my thermocell mosquito device, water filter and high absorbent towel.
But the motor and battery together add a whopping 34 lbs to the entire setup so the total weight, including bike, gear and everything will be around 145 lbs, with 75 lbs gear and 70 lbs bike, motor and battery.
I expect to be camping most of the time, with occasional hotels to charge the battery. Some highlights should be the Rocky mountains, Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. Here I am testing out my gear.
That’s it for now. I’ll be leaving Denver in a few days. Next post from the road.