Tuesday 23 August 2016

Is it a bike tour or a cool transport?

So I want to be able to cope on my own for as long as possible once out on the road. Hence the solar panels. And the multifuel burner. And a cooler! Compressor driven, to save energy. The smallest I was able to find on the market was the Waeco Cool Freeze CF-11 so I called Dometic and talked to Martin Sandell who thought the trip was an excellent idea and of course I would get a good deal! On a true sinus 12/230 V converter too, no problem.

So I happily got my stuff and placed the cooler in the bike trailer:

It's huge. It is made for a car and in the backseat it probably looks great but a bicycle trailer is so small...

But thou shall never give up! Contemplating the problem and playing around with different solutions I realised the axletree was screwed to the frame. That means wheels can be lowered (or the frame lifted) and suddenly things looked better:
Looking at it from the other side:

Monday 22 August 2016

Qi gong power

At Acorn we each year conduct a physical test at Aktivitus which gives a good measure of the current health state. Last time I did the test running but this time I biked instead. So, the status before the adventure starts is as follows.
Note the lactate measured - they were quite surprised! Also note that I have done no crossfit since April, longest run in the last two years is 3x400m (crossfit) and the longest bike ride was 40 km, 20 years ago. Qi gong power, that's all I can say, so thank you European Zhineng Qigong!
  • Blood pressure  129/76 mmHg (down from 138/78)
  • Hemoglobin 156 g/l (down from 166, but well within the 130-170 range)
  • Glucose 6,3 mmol/l (up from 5,8 but within the 4-7 range)
  • LDL 2,5 mmol/l (down from 3,19)
  • HDL 1,6 mmol/l (down from 2,07, worse but still >1,0)
  • Total cholesterole 2,9 (up from 2,6 but still <4,0)
  • Triglycerides 1,0 mmol/l (down from 1,32)
  • VO2max  47,6 ml/(kg*min) (down from 56,6 but apparently running and biking give very different results)
  • Absorption of oxygen ability 4,0 l/min (down from 4,73)
  • Max pulse, estimated 190 bpm
  • Max pulse, measured 185 bpm (up from 183)
  • Anaerobic threshold 160 bpm (down from 170) or 210 W or 2,50 W/kg
  • Aerobic threshold 145 bpm (down from 155) or 160 W or 1,90 W/kg
  • Lactate, max measured 15,5 mmol/l (up from 10,5)
  • Body fat 22% (an "acceptable" level)
Biking for days on end I must keep below the aerobic threshold of 145 bpm. And I'm pretty sure the body fat will go down, maybe even to the "fitness" level below 18. (The "athletic" level is below 13 which is probably impossible loving cream and cappuccini as much as I do!)

Thursday 18 August 2016

I'm no Jesus after all

The idea of an e-bike tour came to me when I saw that Ikea was about to launch the Sladda e-bike in August. I thought about having Ikea sponsoring the tour and it would be about saving the planet, helping the refugees, being some kind of Jesus spreading the word of the post-patriarch society that is to come.

As I got home I soon realised my Jesus-potential is somewhat limited. But I am an engineer! So, at least for now I am focusing on the equipment and the biking. That saving-the-world stuff will come when it comes. If ever. But maybe a this will help save the world! A tiny step is also a step.

The stove

The plan is to be independent as much as possible during this trip, not having to get to a shop or a hostel or a restaurant every day. So, a stove is a must.

I want to be sure to always have fuel, so a multifuel stove feels natural. MSR is well liked in the USA but Swedes also like Primus (especially the stores in Gothenburg) so I first thought of an OmniLite with a silencer (these stoves are noicy). Digging deeper it turns out there are stoves where you don't need to change jet (for different fuels) and there are also some having a built in needle (for cleaning). After all, small things will be lost eventually. So more and more my eyes was drawn to Optimus' Nova and Polaris stoves.

Optimus is owned by Katadyn which is Swiss, which feels conservative but high quality and their cooperation with the Swiss army felt like reliable so the question became Nova or Optifuel. Optimus Polaris Optifuel became my choice as it can run also on gas. When it turns out my hardcore outdoorsy friend from the Finnish army, Stoffe, has used Optimus for the past 15 years and Bergfreunde.se had it on sale, it was a done deal. I needed a fuel bottle too, and found the 0,6l Optimus bottle on sale at some dodgy internet outlet. Every penny I save is another kilometer on the bike, after all! :)

The bike

After very much research and trying every e-bike I could find around Gothenburg, I came to the conclusion that it would be a front suspension bike, and Crescent was the best. They had a good mountainbike equipped with the Bosch e-bike system. (This was just before Shimano came with their mountainbike e-bike system.) All other bikes were too weak (Skeppshult, EcoRide etc), didn't feel as solid (Batavus etc) or had an old-style system (like Specialized having the engine on the back-wheel).

The bike I decided for was called Crescent Elgar. If you search for that now on Crescent's homepage, however, you'll find an e-bike with full suspension but otherwise like mine. Which probably makes sense because they should have a hardcore, full suspension bike and my front suspension was, I guess, a half-arsed attempt...

What I miss the most on my old Elgar are screw holes for mudguards, bottle holders, carrier etc. Now the mudguards are fastened with cable ties, the carrier is a Thule one that doesn't need screw holes but isn't totally relieble and for the bottle I found a really fancy holder that is fastened on the saddle. But in all a lot of work that could have been done in the factory. (And is, in all new Crescent e-bikes.)

I am very happy with the bike, though. It is fast, it is stable and it feels strong and reliable. And it is quite nice to ride even without a battery. The handlebar is quite wide which add to that powerful feeling. Put the engine in turbo mode and you feel like Terminator!


One day as I was testing bikes I wore boots. Boots are not good for biking. Another day I was wearing my comfortable Brooks Puregrit 4 but they were cold as the wind went right through. Not good.

I don't want bicycle shoes as they are too stiff, making the foot weak in the end and totally useless. The argument that "you can lift the pedal" is not valid as elite cyclists do not do that. And I have never slipped off a pedal, not even on a ladies' bike and these new pedals have claws gripping the shoe! (Well...)

Probably low shoes with goretex, I thought and went to my favourite shoe shop Löp & Sko here in Linné, Gothenburg. As always they had the perfect shoe: The Asics GEL-FujiTrabuco 4 G-TX.

One reason I like the shop is that if you ever have any problem with any shoe they make sure to take care of it, fix the shoe or even give you a new pair. Now I have had problems with a pair of Rockport shoes (the heel turned out to be a thin layer only of rubber with plastic underneath, not like the classic black Rockport shoes I have) so they gave me 30% off. That's good service.

As I've travelled some 700km I do like the shoes but the fact they are quite well-ventilated also makes them cold when the temperature drops and the wind increases. Not sure how to tackle that problem, though. I still think well-ventilated is better than not...

First piece if equipment - a bike trailer

Deciding on a bike and setting up a solar system takes time but when it comes to bike trailers there are not that many options. And besides, it feels like a good start to set the boundaries. In Sweden Thule is the major brand of quality bike trailers but they only make trailers for carrying kids, not stuff. Reading and searching the internet it turns out Burley is the shit. And as I feel I need to cover the electrical equipment I prefer a covered trailer rather than an open one. So, the Burley Nomad is my choice. It can carry 45 kilos and if need be you can attach an extra cargo rack.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Just follow your guts

Some people say Follow your guts! Others say Listen to God! Some say listen to Mother Earth! Others still say Listen to the Universe! I say follow the qi field.

Every summer I spend 18 days in a village called Nossebro in Sweden where we practise Zhineng Qigong from morning until dawn. It is a wonderful experience every time and it makes you see the world with new eyes, every year. This year it became clear to me I was going on an e-bike tour.

I had already applied for a leave of absence, signed a deal with Acorn and told the tax authorities I wasn't going to earn any more money this year so it was all set! Then a friend said she needed a place to stay (after a year of adventures around the world) so I said Move in with me! All I need to do now is to get all the things needed for a solar panel-powered e-bike tour and off I go!