Day 5 – Yuma, AZ to Dateland, AZ – 70.17 miles – Elevation: + 748 / – 502 feet
I woke up to the spectacular Yuma, AZ sunrise. We rode through America’s salad bowl where approximately 90% of America’s winter greens are grown. I had the opportunity to watch cauliflower being picked, cleaned, washed and packaged right in the field to be shipped directly to the market. The ride was over 70 miles long today and ended with my third flat tire as I reached the camp grounds.
Day 4 – Calexico, CA to Yuma, AZ – 63.49 miles – Elevation: +650 /-502 feet
Today is the last day in California and the road surface was dreadful. I think it rattled a few of my fillings loose. It was unbelievable! I had the opportunity to stop for lunch and view the exhibits at the Official Center of the World in Felicity, California.
Day 3 – Live Oak Springs, CA to Calexico, CA – 62.89 Miles – Elevation +1,158 / -4,583 ft.
Started the day with another flat tire. Two flats in three days is not a good sign. So I had to bite the bullet and change out my rear tire and tube. The day was a new experience for me in temperature extremes. It was about 39 degrees when I crawled out of my tent but quickly climbed into the 90s as we rode along the US border fence. We had a nice 6 percent downhill coast into the desert.
The first picture today is of the US Border Fence.
While there doesn’t seem like there is much life in the desert, when you look closely the desert is the home to some critters.
Alpine, CA to Live Oak Springs, CA – 31.7 miles – Elevation: + 3788 / – 2394 ft
Today starts with the second largest elevation gain of the ride. Luckily the mileage was a bit shorter than yesterday at 31.7 miles. I was slowed down with my first flat today. I am sure it’s the first of many more to come. Why didn’t I put new tires on my bike?
The picture is from the start of the climb today looking back towards San Diego and yesterday’s climb.
Day 1 – San Diego, CA to Alpine, CA – 41.5 miles – Elevation: + 3969 / – 1547 ft
My excitement and anticipation didn’t help me sleep last night. We will perform the ritual rear bike tire dipping in the Pacific Ocean this morning. This ritual ends with a front tire dip in the Atlantic Ocean when we reach St Augustine, FL 52 days and about 3,000 miles from now. We’re off to conquer the largest elevation gain for a single day of riding! I am hoping the adrenaline rush will help me get through the day.
How you plan to use your e-bike may leave you little choice on the class you select. For example, I live near the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail where I put as many miles riding on the trail as I do on the road. Since the only class allowed on the trail is a Class 1, my only choice in is a class 1 if I want to continue using the trail.
On the other hand, if I used my e-bike as a commuter where assistance up 28 mph would help me ride safely in traffic, and I wasn’t concerned with traveling longest distances on a single charge, a class 3 bike might be my only choice.
Finally, if you want a bike that doesn’t need to be pedalled, a Class 2 bike is the only one that would fill the bill.
Initially, when I was shopping for my e-bike I thought that the most important factor to increase my range would be the size of my battery. So I wanted the biggest battery I could find, in my case 840 watt hours. It only made sense to me that the bigger the battery the farther it would take me.
While it’s true that a higher capacity battery would take you farther if everything else remains constant, the vast majority of a battery’s power is used to move the air around you unless you’re climbing a steep hill. To make matters worse, as speed increases the power needed to overcome air resistance increases with the square of the velocity
Since the power needed to increase speed is not linear,
For example, based on data from Cycling Power (road-bike.co.uk) and other sources, it takes about 120 watts to ride at 15.6 mph. However, it would take about twice the power (250 watts) to increase the speed to 20 mph and more than six times the power (about 750 watts) to reach 28 mph.
In terms of range,
Increasing speed from 15.6 mph to 20 mph will reduce range by about 50%.
Increasing speed from 15.6 mph to 28 mph will reduce range by a staggering 85%.
Before choosing what e-bike class is right for you, consider if speed or range is the most important factor to you. You can’t have both. If range is the most important factor, I would opt for a class 1 over a class 3. This will optimize your range and reduce the temptation to be seduced by speed. If speed is your biggest concern a class 3 is the only bike that will provide assistance beyond 20 mph.
In the world of cycling, faster is better! Right? So when I started shopping for an electric bike, I instinctively focused on the fastest e-bikes I could find. That mindset immediately narrowed my search to class 3 e-bikes. Class 3 bikes are the only class that provides assistance up to 28mph. Class 1 and 2 bikes only provide assistance up to 20 mph.
I never really considered how often I actually ride at 28 mph. In reality, unassisted I generally only reach 28 mph on the downhills. Even then, that’s about the speed I start thinking about gently applying my brakes to safely maintain control of my bike so I can maneuver around obstacles I might encounter on the roadway. I know I’m not alone here. After checking Strava, I found the median cycling speed is somewhere around 15 mph.
In addition to not feeling natural riding at higher speeds than I normally ride, there was another unexpected consequence I hadn’t considered.
While I’ll admit it was a thrill to pick up my speed to 28 mph on a safe straight section of road, I feel that the class 1 bike rides at speeds closer to the speed I feel most comfortable riding and that drivers can more accurately judge my speed to safely interact with me on the road. So when choosing the e-bike class that is right for you, consider how fast you ride now and if you would feel safe riding significantly faster.
Choosing the e-bike class that is right for you is a huge consideration when purchasing a bike. That said, while U.S. bike manufacturers and suppliers have agreed on the three e-bike classes below, not all states have. So, before buying a bike check your state’s laws and regulations first. A good place to start would be with MOVING E-BIKE LAWS INTO THE FUTURE.
THREE E-BIKE CLASSES:
CLASS 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, andstops assistance at 20mph. CLASS 2: Bicycle equipped with a throttle operated motor and stops assistance at 20mph. CLASS 3: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and stops assistance at 28mph.
In my case I ride on both roads and trails. While a class 3 might be a good choice for the road, most of the trails I ride only allow class 1 bikes. So if I want a bike that will do it all, a class 1 bike is the only choice for me. On the other hand, if I want to use my e-bike for commuting and not on trails, a class 3 bike might be the better choice.
Let’s face it! Road cycling suffers from innovation constipation. Thank goodness for mountain biking. If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have tubeless tires, thru axles, disc brakes, more compliant bikes frames etc. in road cycling. So why is road cycling so slow to adopt innovation?
I think it is because bicycle manufacturers and shops use road racing as their model for marketing road bikes. How misguided is that? That’s like car manufacturers and dealers saying every driver wants a NASCAR race car, while in reality most drivers want utility, work, economy or luxury vehicles. Fortunately, the auto industry realizes that performance cars are only a small portion of the market.
Let’s take it a step further. What do you think of when you think of a road racing cyclist? I think of digging in and enduring pain to gain a competitive edge. In fact, many racing cyclists call their indoor training area “pain caves.” Who thinks that’s fun? It’s just what you have to do to be competitive. So why is the industry using racing type bikes to draw people into cycling?
Come on! While the industry is incestuous, with many former racers drawn into the bicycle industry, not all buyers are wanabee racers so don’t view them like they are. There is a resurgence in cycling now and the new buyers aren’t inspired by racing. Don’t blow it! Cycling needs to be fun and exciting. So sponsor fun and exciting events for everyone rather than mostly competitive ones. Sponsor rail trail openings, community rides, e-bike events and even endurance events that offer cycling opportunities to former noncyclists. Get innovative in your product and marketing. Look at Zwift.com for example, and find more cycling events to interest Americans in cycling rather than new forms of cycle racing. Or die a slow and painful death.