My VEB Cafe thread. (1st Year Recap: post #83)

christob

Well-Known Member
Forgot to log my key 2018 year-end results here in my tally thread.
Based on these results, some 2019 goals I'm looking at, which I might as well commit to writing:
-- Accumulate 5,000 miles
-- Complete 130 office commutes
-- Continue weight loss / fitness improvements (lose another 25 pounds & then re-evaluate)
-- Make an earnest effort at doing more grocery shopping by bike
-- Complete a W&OD Trail round trip ride (89.4 miles)
-and then consider forcing in 11 more miles that day to make it my first century

4,032 miles -- total biked miles for the year (6,488km)
1,161 miles -- car miles eliminated (biking to work)
600.2 miles -- highest monthly total (Jul.)
403.2 miles -- avg. monthly
180 days ----- with a bike ride, between Mar. 2 - Dec. 31
109 ---------- office commutes made
95.8 miles --- avg. weekly
61 pounds ---- weight lost (as of 1/1/19)
51.4 miles --- longest single-day riding
38 days ------ riding >30 miles
27.8 miles --- highest avg. daily miles in a month (Sept.)
23 days ------ greatest number of biking days in a month (Jul.)
22.4 miles --- avg. daily miles
17 ----------- greatest number of office commutes in a month (Oct.)
 

christob

Well-Known Member
My first full year of bike ownership & riding wraps up tomorrow night, March 1, 2019; my bike was delivered March 2, 2018.
Since tomorrow is forecast for snow, then rain, I don't think I'll get bike time... So, some final figures, observations and thoughts:

4,598 --- total miles for the 365 days (7,400km)
1,355 --- "car miles" eliminated by biking to work
600.2 --- highest monthly total miles (July)
378.1 --- monthly average miles for 12 mos
211 ----- days with rides, out of 365
128 ----- office commutes by bike
92.4 ---- weekly average miles, of weeks with biking
61 ------ pounds of weight lost (winter held fast, no new losses)
51.4 ---- longest single-day mileage total
22.1 ---- daily average miles, of days with rides


Surprises along the way:

Not riding a bike in 25 years (and very infrequently then) and the last 10+ years as a too-sedentary couch-potato lifestyle, I’d never have imagined I’d take up bike riding, nor ride this much, nor ever dreamed I’d ride through a winter. So I’m thrilled all that actually happened, and stunned that tonight, February came in 7th-best, mileage wise (407mi), beating out Aug, Nov, May, Jan and Mar (ranked 8 – 12, respectively).

Through biking, I found a new-to-me farmer’s market hosted by a nature conservancy group. (They focus their efforts on a Potomac River tributary paralleling my commute; Four Mile Run.) I joined their recent “volunteer clean-up day” and it was fantastic to help remove 1,200 pounds of trash! (Sadly, all from a short stretch of the overall waterway.) I even tried out the market's free 1-hour yoga stretch session, and plan to continue doing it.

I joined a local biking forum (BikeArlington) and made some new friends as a result. While their membership majority is non-ebikers, only a few seem really anti-ebike “on their trails”. (I try to be an unassailable ambassador for ebikes when I meet up or ride with anyone.) Through the forum I found another volunteer clean-up opportunity on M.L.K. Day, along the Potomac; so much broken-down Styrofoam and plastic utensils, I stopped using all plasticware at work the next day. With that same group, earlier in the winter I spent 6 hours helping shoveling 8 inches of snow from parts of our popular Mount Vernon Trail -- a National Park, and the snow was during the {insert adjective here} government shutdown; so normal trail plowing would have ever happened!

One of the forum members posted an excellent idea at Valentine’s Day; carry empty grocery bags on every ride and stop to pick up trail litter for just a few minutes, until your bags are full. They fill surprisingly quickly here… she called the idea “quick-picks”; vs. waiting for a group to organize a bigger clean-up event.) So simple… so easy… so accessible to all riders…! Imagine if every biker did this, even 1 bag per ride. I’d love to think the pedestrians and cyclists who pass me during these quick-picks, absorb a “pay it forward” vibe. (I found $11 bucks once during a quick-pick, and paid it forward as a donation to the conservancy.) I have now wholeheartedly embraced her idea along my commute route and have picked up 32 grocery bags full of trash since Feb. 15. (One member who rides the same trail describes me as having “a vendetta against trash on ‘my’ trail.” I rather like that!)

I joined a 20-mile themed group-ride & tour and enjoyed it so much I decided to plan and organize one; I will be leading my first group-ride in March. (An hour’s ride through D.C. to Washington National Cathedral, with a few brief stops tying in to the cathedral’s history. I’m a volunteer tour guide at the cathedral so the ride ends with a guided tour.) I’m tickled to find myself slipping into this new expanded “real” social network; I’m not on any of the digital social platforms, and I’ve always felt comfortable being sort of solitary.

With sensible eating changes and the exercise from rides (vs. my zero-exercise state before) I’ve taken more than 80 garments to GoodWill as I’ve shrunken down out of them. I’m wearing L-sized shirts from the depths of my closet, vs. the XXL shirts I was wearing last year. I’m aiming to drop 30 more pounds this year, and that should get me down into the surviving M-sized shirts I somehow kept from years ago.

My biking to work spilled over onto someone else and inspired 1 coworker to try bike commuting last summer; she managed several commutes on nice days... I'm not sure the habit will "stick" with her, but since she actually went out and bought a bike and helmet so she could try it, hopefully that means as warm weather returns this spring, she'll give it another chance!

Bike; gear & accessories, repairs:

I’ve outlined earlier in this thread the details of mechanical/electrical issues that befell my first Cafe ebike. Suffice it to say, once the manufacture (the awesome team at Vintage Electric Bikes) resolved them (including sending a new Cafe last June, then later a new rear hub wheel to resolve a surprise bad-spokes problem on that replacement bike) it has been 100% smooth sailing since. No new issues have arisen, nor have any repairs been needed; just routine maintenance (new tires, brake pads, etc.) Fingers crossed, but never a flat in all this time.

I had 1 wreck over the year, this past December; sliding out when the rear wheel passed over a wet manhole cover during a turn on an empty street. A very hard fall, but no bike damage (the Mirrycle Mirror took a direct pavement hit and survived) and no broken bones; the huge knot on my upper shin (where the battery housing slammed hard into my leg on the ground) has finally subsided, though is still discolored.

I’ve had to add a good bit of gear (“So then, I had to buy xyz” – always good for a chuckle!) to get me through winter; mostly in staying-warm gear. A great investment was the Gore windstopper jacket on sale in January. Other notables were my 3rd pannier (using it 99.99% of the time now) after trial-and-error on two earlier bags. Clip-in pedals + shoes (make a huge difference!) were a great upgrade. The jury is out on whether I’ve settled my saddle (currently on saddle #4, but for a good long while now.)

I still think I would love a bike with suspension – I’ve avoided riding one because I don’t want to risk falling in love with that and then feel compelled to buy a new bike; but I have many tree-rooted buckles in the paved paths of my routes. Beyond that, I have no complaints about the bike and love its great looks as much as on first sight.

The bike has more power than I realistically need; I now rarely go out of Level 1 (of 5) on my regular rides; Level 2 pops in for some hills, or strong winds, or at the end of a long ride, to “relax”… but mostly I want to ensure I get exercise benefit from the rides, yet have an exit strategy in the wings when I don’t want to work so hard! There’s no throttle, and with judicious (conservative) use of Assist, I once managed 87 miles on a single charge over 3 days of rides; that still left 2 bars on the gauge before I opted to recharge for the next commuting day. The current battery (came with replacement bike, early June) has 103 charge-to-full cycles on it now. I do a full charge whenever I’m getting “fairly low”; I’m very much in the “don’t fret over it” camp.

It is a common theme expressed here in the Forum; how transformative ebikes can be on your life… As I wrote this summary and reflected on my first year (including the touch points on my weight, fitness & health, socializing, bike & community engagement, positive environmental impacts…) that transformation concept really was driven home all over again!

My couch on the other hand, in a fit of jealous pique, isn’t speaking to me anymore… but I can live with that.
 

ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
LOVE LOVE LOVE this report! Amazing! It makes me wish I were also a record-keeping type!!! :)

It's wonderful also how well you adjusted to bad weather riding, so that a Winter month's total mileage exceeded a month with nice weather!

Thanks so much for sharing! :)
 

shiruba

New Member
Update: While it took me the first 23 days of ebike ownership to accumulate 100 miles (lots of lingering winter weather in that time), I ticked over my second hundred today, 11 days later...
I'm on my 3rd consecutive bike-to-work day today (proud that I talked myself into it this morning, despite the 35f temperature!
I find that slightly cooler weather is actually better, because you start to build up body heat once you get into the swing, assist or not. When it's cold it takes more motivation to leave the house, but it feels better to have cool air once I get into the swing of things.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
I find that slightly cooler weather is actually better, because you start to build up body heat once you get into the swing, assist or not. When it's cold it takes more motivation to leave the house, but it feels better to have cool air once I get into the swing of things.
I’d agree to a point. Slightly cooler being the operative! Since that post last year, I’ve had morning rides down to 24 and that’s probably my limit now... I skipped out on several days this winter below 20. At 24 I go straight to work (5 mi) with no additional detour... but above 32 I’ve taken to adding an extra mile or two, if it isn’t crazy windy. Mid 40s are pretty pleasant.
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
I hear it's been a pretty cold winter for Washington this season Chris (and still is) Get the W. Post here in the UK everyday (old habit, from stationed in Washington)
 

christob

Well-Known Member
I hear it's been a pretty cold winter for Washington this season Chris (and still is) Get the W. Post here in the UK everyday (old habit, from stationed in Washington)
Cold and wet... sick of it! Hoping this weekend is our last sustained dregs of winter weather... (I’m sure we will get another brief cold snap before deep spring). Sunday will reach mid 60s (but again, wet.)
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
Cold and wet... sick of it! Hoping this weekend is our last sustained dregs of winter weather... (I’m sure we will get another brief cold snap before deep spring). Sunday will reach mid 60s (but again, wet.)
Sorry to hear that, ours here in the UK has been the opposite. Very mild, lots of sun and very dry. Already forecasting possible water restrictions for coming summer month's. Anyway Chis, you're an early riser despite the miserable weather.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
Another update... today’s ride tipped me over the 6,000 mile mark (9,656km), cumulative biked miles, since Mar. 2, 2018. (5,150 of that is on the current VEB Cafe frame; 850 came from the first Cafe.)
In other updates, I had to put new tires on this summer; Schwalbe Fat Franks are what come with the bike and what I’ve stuck with. The front tire gave a solid 5,000 miles, while the rear tire (hub motor) seems to give about 2,500 miles before balding. Knock on wood, but no flats so far!
Additionally, I had to have a new bottom bracket installed (April) — the original gave me about 4,200 miles before getting “wobbly” or “sloppy” and sort of “crunchy” feeling... I sorta feel like the BB should last longer than that (?) but I have no prior experience with torque-sensing BB’s; I’ll definitely be watching closely when I approach the 8,400 mile mark, to see if the replacement BB exhibits the same wearing-out...
I’ve taken to doing more and more riding in Level 0 assist, to work harder... I think I’ve gotten slack in my diet/food habits this year, and so my weight loss has been stalled at the same place for about 7 months now... I want to try and use this summer and fall to restart it; still would like to drop another 40.
 
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Jaxx

Well-Known Member
Another update... today’s ride tipped me over the 6,000 mile mark (9,656km), cumulative biked miles, since Mar. 2, 2018. (5,150 of that is on the current VEB Cafe frame; 850 came from the first Cafe.)
In other updates, I had to put new tires on this summer; Schwalbe Fat Franks are what come with the bike and what I’ve stuck with. The front tire gave a solid 5,000 miles, while the rear tire (hub motor) seems to give about 2,500 miles before balding. Knock on wood, but no flats so far!
Additionally, I had to have a new bottom bracket installed (April) — the original gave me about 4,200 miles before getting “wobbly” or “sloppy” and sort of “crunchy” feeling... I sorta feel like the BB should last longer than that (?) but I have no prior experience with torque-sensing BB’s; I’ll definitely be watching closely when I approach the 8,400 mile mark, to see if the replacement BB exhibits the same wearing-out...
I’ve taken to doing more and more riding in Level 0 assist, to work harder... I think I’ve gotten slack in my diet/food habits this year, and so my weight loss has been stalled at the same place for about 7 months now... I want to try and use this summer and fall to restart it; still would like to drop another 40.
I swap my tyres around Chris on a regular basis. Full marks though, well done.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
I probably should wait until Sunday to post... but... today's commute to work triggered two "milestones":
1. June 2019 now has 24 days of biking -- my personal highest count of any month so far. (In my tracking, a "day of biking" is a day with more than 2 miles ridden.)
2. June 2019 total miles moved into 2nd place out of all 16 months I've been biking. Just 71.1 more miles will push it into 1st place, at 601mi for the month.
Hoping I can make it! Unfortunately, I've got a full Saturday of engagements that prevents any biking that day :( So it isn't a shoe-in that I'll get those 70 miles by Sunday night; but I'm aiming for it! Compounding the situation -- last night on the ride home my assist started acting up, cutting in and out during the ride... I'm worried I've got a crimped wire somewhere, and that it will be hard to diagnose, and harder to quickly fix...
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
I probably should wait until Sunday to post... but... today's commute to work triggered two "milestones":
1. June 2019 now has 24 days of biking -- my personal highest count of any month so far. (In my tracking, a "day of biking" is a day with more than 2 miles ridden.)
2. June 2019 total miles moved into 2nd place out of all 16 months I've been biking. Just 71.1 more miles will push it into 1st place, at 601mi for the month.
Hoping I can make it! Unfortunately, I've got a full Saturday of engagements that prevents any biking that day :( So it isn't a shoe-in that I'll get those 70 miles by Sunday night; but I'm aiming for it! Compounding the situation -- last night on the ride home my assist started acting up, cutting in and out during the ride... I'm worried I've got a crimped wire somewhere, and that it will be hard to diagnose, and harder to quickly fix...
You are giving it all though Chris. Well done.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
Mission accomplished! Today’s 25mi ride resulted in besting my prior record for a month’s total miles (600.2, set last July in my first summer biking) by 10 miles! (Today was mostly manual effort as I seem to have crimped a wire from the torque sensor BB and my assist now pulses in for a little bit then disappears entirely for awhile... new parts being delivered in early July to address this...)
I was regularly using a fair bit more assist last July than I have been using lately (ie, even before the wire crimped 5 days ago!) — so this record of 610 miles was, in my view, much more work than last July.
And this month became my month with most biking days, at 27 (all 27 days greater than 12 miles each, and 7 breaking 30 miles each.)
 
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christob

Well-Known Member
Update regarding the assist cutting in and out in my prior post.

V.E.B. has sent a new torque-sensor BB and new controller, under warranty. The new BB is a different make/model (Thun X-cell RT2.) Not sure of the make of the original BB... "TDCM" perhaps, if that is even a brand name and not just an acronym? Anyway, when the original BB started showing signs of bearing wear (April 2019, after @4,200 miles) it was replaced with a new one of same make & model. That is the BB in place until the June 30 issue, above -- only accumulating about 900 miles before the issue appeared.

The new Thun BB sent is not compatible with the old controller, which is why VEB sent a new one of those, too. Apparently the new system has some handy new features such as bluetooth connectivity to allow reprogramming / updates of the controller. So it is all at the LBS now, awaiting installation.

So -- I've been basically bikeless for July (I opted to stop riding the Cafe on 7/3, because the intermittent short bursts of assist were totally unpredictable, and without assist, our hot, soupy summer is just too much in the mornings to ride to work; I arrive a soaking wet mess!) Thus, I decided it was time to explore buying a 2nd (pedal-only) bike as a back-up bike, so I could ride in the evenings whenever my ebike was "offline" for any reason. Spent an afternoon at the shop reviewing some Treks & Specialized basic models; figured I'd return a week later for test rides. Then Monday, July 8, my area had bad flash flooding, and the lowest level of my condo building was flooded for the first time ever. I'm on a higher floor thankfully, but one flooded unit is uninhabitable now. I offered the owner my condo storage locker to store some of his stuff -- and when I went to go clean it out (I hadn't opened it in 10+ years) -- I found my original bike, long-forgotten, sitting there!

A Bianchi Advantage 21-speed "cross-terrain" hybrid, probably a '91, '92 or maybe '93. I swore I sold that in a yard sale when I moved into the condo, 15 years ago! But no, there it was -- the same bike that always left me miserable in my 20's because I rode so infrequently then (and each time I would decide to ride, I'd usually ride too far for my level of stamina/fitness -- hence EVERY ride ended in misery and it would be months before I'd try again!) I'd guess I rode that bike fewer than 12 times, total. So it is in immaculate condition (other than aging rubber components, etc. from being stored, unused for easily 20 years.) It is now at the shop, getting new tubes & tires, pads, and a tune-up. (Shifters need some attention; not all gears shift right now, but they think they can restore that.)
So - I'm officially a 2-bike household (as everyone with a bike has assured me was bound to happen) -- just turns out I've actually BEEN a 2-bike household, unknowingly, ever since the ebike arrived! ;)
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Glad you made it through without flood damage.

N+1

NCTE make the Thun X-Cell torque sensor and Justin's page on the NCTE sensor he sells mentions something you might need to consider when you begin riding your ebike again: "When you pedal with the left crank it registers a full torque signal, but when you are pushing with the right pedal the force goes straight to the chainring, it doesn't couple through the spindle...for most riders it means a delay in power assistance coming in if you start pedaling with the right leg." Source: https://www.ebikes.ca/product-info/advanced-pas-kits.html#torque-sensors Let us know if this is accurate when you get your bike back.