Monday, June 3, 2013

Rainy Day Ride into the Office

This morning's ride was really the first one where the weather would be considered "rainy".  I waited until the rain slowed before loading up the saddle bags and climbing into the ELF.  A quick wipe of the windshield to remove the big raindrops and I was on my way.

I'm sure it was raining off and on during my entire trip into the office but I really couldn't tell.  Certainly the first part of the ride on the gravel bike trail made a mess of the back window and although I stopped to take off my jacket, I didn't bother to clean it off since that would have required dumping a bunch of water on it to avoid scratching it.  Besides, I really don't look out the back window through the overhead mirror much given that it's so small.  Mostly I use the side mirrors.

The ELF did fine through the various streams running across the muddy bike path and since nobody was out I was able to cruise along relatively quickly.  When I got to the light at Connecticut Ave. I had to back off the side of the road to avoid getting splashed by the cars and buses whizzing by.

I decided to turn on the running lights for the run down the hill on route 29 but there really weren't very many cars on the road so it was probably a waste of electricity.  As I started up Lockwood, it seemed like maybe the lights were having an influence on the power of the motor so I switched them off.

As I turned left from Lockwood onto the service road behind White Flint, there was a car coming the other way and one coming out of the service road so I sped up to make it in time.  I was surprised by the front wheels as they went into a skid as I made the turn.  If I had been going much faster I might have spun all the way around.  But, instead I recovered quickly and continued on my way.

By this time I had remembered to turn on the new speedometer app which seemed to be doing a pretty good job of reporting my speed.  My average speed for the last 2.4 miles of my ride in was 13.9 and the maximum speed registered 31.2.  The nice thing about this app is it also registered altitude so I can compare the house to the office to see how much of a climb I've been doing.  It's going to be interested to see how fast the ELF really goes, but from the little bit I've already seen, it's definitely able to go faster than 20 mph on a flat surface.  I saw that even going up the very steep hill at the end of my ride I was able to get it up to about 16 mph and I wasn't really pushing it. 

When I arrived at the office it was raining lightly so I got a little wet unpacking the saddle bags.  I had wrapped my computer in a plastic bag since I suspected it might get wet from the bottom where the back wheel is visible at the bottom of the storage compartment.  Sure enough, both saddle bags were wet on the bottom.  I hadn't wrapped my clothes inside their saddle bag and the shoes were at the bottom so only one sock got a little wet.  I wonder if anyone in the office will notice I'm wearing one biking sock and one black sock :p

When I removed the battery I noticed that the second battery bay was full of water.  I might need to drill a small drainage hold into the bottom of it so that water doesn't accumulate under the battery.

The sun came out for the ride home and the temperature was just perfect.  There were still a bunch of puddles around but the roads were mostly dry.   When I pulled up the the light at Georgia Avenue the driver in the car to my right rolled down his window to ask if the ELF was purely pedal or had another energy source.  The lady in the car on my left rolled down her window to take a picture just as the light turned green.   At least one other guy rolled down his window just to say "I like your bike".  It happens so often I really can't keep track of the number of times someone complements the ELF.

The iPhone speedometer gave me a better idea about how fast I was going.  When I was going down the hill on Lockwood I got going up to about 30 mph.  Going up the steep hill on Old Columbia Pike pedaling and with the throttle all the way down I got up to about 18 mph.  When I crested the hill the speed was more like 22.  I didn't really get a good measure of the maximum speed on a flat surface while driving with just the motor, but it seems like the 20mph limit is about right. 

This evening I spent some time cleaning the dirt and sand off the ELF.  The body and windows are really easy to clean with just a spray bottle and soft cloth.  Most of the dirt and sand that had been on the rear window after the morning commute had already been washed away by the hard rain earlier in the afternoon so all I had to do was spray and wipe away the remaining dirt.  There was some dirt spray on the front and top of the storage compartment behind the seat which I saw the last time it rained too.  This time there was some sand accumulated on the square frame just in front of the back wheel but it had dried so I was able to just push it off with the rag.   I wiped the dirt off the wheel rims and the aluminum frame behind the front wheel which had a light amount of dirt. 

I also applied some Finish Line Dry Lube to the drive chain by rolling the ELF back and forth about 6 feet at the top of my driveway.  Then I pedaled backward to apply the same lube to the pedal side chain.  After that I wiped off the dirt and excess oil from both chains which weren't terribly dirty given all the rainy riding. 

Now the ELF is ready for another sunny day tomorrow and will look great for all those folks checking it out on the road :)

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