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Day 36 Valpariso to Kendalville, IN – 114 Miles through flat farmland

22 Jul

114 Miles through flat farmland

MapMyRide Stats:   114 Miles  |  Time:  6:27   |  17.6 Mph

This was an excellent day for cycling.  The temperature was in the high 70’s with a slight tailwind.  The sky was blue all day and there was a zero percent chance of rain.  The cycling through Indiana was flat with lots of soybeans and corn.


Sunrise in the cool, misty morning

Kendallville is a warm town who welcomed us with a dinner with the Mayor, W. SuzAnne Handshoe.  The Parks Department and their board of directors made us dinner and breakfast in Bixler Lake Park.  Their hospitality was gracious and generous.  They made us feel like family.


Kendallville is very patriotic. They have many soldiers who serve our country.


The flat land in Indiana is used for growing lots of corn and soybeans.

Battery report:  For those of you who want to know about how the electric bicycle handles this high mileage, here are some details from today’s ride:

Battery 1-35 miles

Battery 2-30 miles

Battery 3-40 miles

Battery 4 just started when we reached our destination — the county park.

At this point in the trip, we have accumulated about 2500 miles and the battery life is hovering around 35-40 miles per battery.  Each day, I try to completely discharge the battery before changing it.  Each night, I run three chargers with three batteries.  I carry three on the bike and keep one in the mechanic’s truck in case it is needed in an emergency.  The extra battery on the truck is available every day if I think I am running low on power.  I am riding the electric bike with the power assist at levels 2 and 3 most of the time.  After 36 days on the road, I have only used four batteries twice, and both days were over 100 miles.


Soybeans….lots of soybeans



Bicycle Touring in comfort – 85 miles a day without hot spots

12 Jul cathy

Bicycle Touring without pain or “hot spots”

Now that we have completed the first half of the Big Ride Across America and are at the 1800-mile point, I cannot believe how comfortable I am every single day.  No sore butt, no need for chamois cream, no hot spots on my body. I am incredibly comfy…why?

1.  My Bike Shorts   These Aero Tech Elite shorts are amazing.  I do not have any need for chamois cream–in fact I gave it away.

The bike shorts from Aero Tech Designs are the best shorts I have ever worn.  The grey Elite chamois pad is a carbon fiber with silver ion threads, which prevent bacteria from building up on the shorts (bacteria is a major cause of saddle sores).  The pad has engineered layers of padding that put different densities of thick and thin padding where needed.  The shorts fit snugly, holding the Elite chamois tight to the skin so there is no bunching.  There are no seams anywhere in the rub zones, thus removing all opportunities for abrasion.

2.  My Saddle

The saddle is a gel-filled seat that is designed for women.  A woman has wider ischial bones than men, so naturally a well-designed women’s saddle would have a wider area for these “sit” bones to rest.  There are gel inserts at the exact location where the bones rest.  Between the gel saddle absorbing shock, and the Aero Tech Women’s Cycling Shorts smoothing out the abrasion issues, the comfort is amazing.  Since I am an old lady, this wider saddle with gel inserts is the perfect complement to my bike shorts.

3.  My Upright Position on the Pedego Interceptor bike

The upright position…different?  Yes, but amazing.  I have been a bicycle geek all of my life.  I love cycling and am a former racer.  So, for most of my life I held the tightly regarded “racer position” for all of my bikes.  I rode for years in the aerodynamic dropped positon.  This is how a serious biker should look and any departure from the “look” means you are not a serious cyclist.  All serious cyclists have that look…dropped down.

If you don’t have to fit the mold, I recommend the upright position.  Again, since I am older, I do not succumb to the peer pressure to fit the “serious cyclist mold” any longer because I don’t care about all that tradition.  I am in it for the JOY and nothing more.  I ride upright and I love it!

No more Neck Pain – Previously in the dropped position, I would get a serious hot spot on the back of my neck, that started to burn after about 35-40 miles, from keeping my head cocked up to see the road.  I do not have that hot spot in the back of my neck now.  This painful cycling issue is completely eliminated by riding in an upright position. I just love the Pedego Interceptor for the way it fits my body.  My neck is completely pain free–even after 100 miles!!!

No more Numb Hands – I used to have numb hands after riding long distances.  The upright position has taken all of the weight off of my hands and the median nerve.  I wear Aero Tech gel padded cycling gloves, which also help to reduce the vibration on my hands.  Previously, this discomfort would cause serious, numbing hand pain when riding in the dropped position.  In the upright position on the Pedego, I have ZERO numbness in my hands.

No more sore butt – The upright position puts all the weight of my body exactly on the ischial bones (where nature intended).  The gel saddle and the excellent Aero Tech Elite bike shorts have eliminated all aspects of the sore butt.  It is truly an amazing contrast to previous tours where I rode in the traditional “dropped” cycling position.  My butt is perfectly comfortable–every day!

Bicycle Riding in Upright Position is very comfortable for long rides.

The upright cycling position is ideal for long rides on a bicycle tour

4.  My Visibility is high so I feel safe.

My clothing from Aero Tech Designs Custom is fluorescent yellow which is the most visible color for motorists.  The jerseys have two 3M reflective tabs sewn into the back pocket.  I have two different fabrics that I  have been using: one is the Coolmax branded polyester and the other is the Aero Tech Standard Wick-Away material.  I prefer the Aero Tech fabric; it is very breathable and feels cottony soft next to the skin.

My Lights – I use a white blinking headlight and red blinking tail light for the entire time we are riding.

My Bike – The fluorescent orange paint on the Pedego Interceptor is amazing.  I get so many complements on the bicycle because it is beautiful, and different.  Just one look at the bike excites people, especially young boys who often shout “nice bike” as I pass by.  I added the orange Ortlieb panniers to carry extra battery power for the Pedego electric bike.

5.  The Ride Organizer – VeloSante – The Big Ride Across America is enhanced greatly by great product choices, outstanding food for energy and a well-planned route.  The food served for the Big Riders is sensible, well-planned and delicious.  The route each day is carefully planned in advance and we are given a cue sheet with the day’s directions.  There is about 20 miles between rest stops where there is plenty of water, isotonic drinks, high-end food and snacks.  The routes are safe and there is a tightly orchestrated  daily routine to keep all riders on the road with support and sag services.  It is really nice to have all our luggage and supply needs cared for by an outstanding team of people.

The bottom line is that comfort rules when you are bicycle touring.  We are seeking more joy in our lives and I cannot find anything negative about this experience.  I am riding each day with utmost regard for our planet Earth and the people we meet.  Every day I open my eyes, I thank God that I am alive and healthy enough to experience this dream come true.  Riding Longer.  Feeling  Stronger.



Day 19 Newcastle, Wy. to Rapid City, Sd. – 81 miles

5 Jul
Bike Ride through the Black Hills

Bike Ride through the Black Hills

Beautiful Biking, Clear Skies, Friendly Riders….We are happy!

The ride from Newcastle was 81 miles to reach our destination for the night.  We stayed in a former elementary school that was air conditioned.  The staff was very warm and friendly and we felt welcome in the center.  The day was challenging with some great climbs and descents through the Black Hills and Custer State Park.  We had several buffalo sightings and will keep looking for more tomorrow.


We spent the night at this former elementary school that was converted into a Senior Center. The staff was very hospitable and served up a wonderful homemade dinner of lasagne, salads and home made pumpkin cake. Yummy.


The people from South Dakota value their industry like this refinery. Even though it is stinky, ugly and noisy, it means “jobs” to the locals.

Sunrise in Wyoming

This is the sunrise on the start of our day at 6 am.

custer state park

The roads between Newcastle and Rapid City had wide shoulders and very little traffic – making it easy to enjoy the views.


State #5 on The Big Ride Across America


Insect clouds were so thick that the bugs collected on every part of our bodies. These insect patches were all through the Custer State Park.  The forests were lush and moist.


Lush pine groves in the Black Hills National Forest

Black Hills National Forest

Black Hills National Forest





Day 17 Sheridan to Gillette – 112.3 Miles Plus: Bicycle Dashboards

3 Jul

This is proof that it is the “Big” ride Across America….112 miles is a “big” ride!

112 MIles

112 miles on the range.  Long rolling hills, lots of wind and very few people.

We rode out of Sheridan and into the sparsely populated state of Wyoming. This day was ideal for a long ride.  The weather was completely clear blue sky, the heat was tepid in the 70’s and the land was gently rolling with lots of epic views and scenic countryside.

While riding on this century tour, I found the Pedego Interceptor e-bike to be incredibly inspiring as I did a study of bicycle dashboards (see below).  I needed a fourth battery for the mileage and mountains.  The 112-mile ride took about 7 hours to complete.  We stopped several times, plus lunch.  It was really fun to break out and let the electric bike do its thing.  It was a pleasure to ride and the electric assist was incredibly fun.  The electric bicycle was first in camp on this long day.  The fastest bike is the Pedego Interceptor!

The cycling jerseys I have been wearing are working out incredibly well.  I have been wearing only long-sleeve jerseys to protect my skin from the sun.  The Aero Tech Designs Custom Jersey is amazing in that it’s very cool to wear and holds all kinds of stuff in the back pockets.  I am really happy with the Elite pad in my shadow bike shorts, too.  I have no need for chamois cream or other chafe protection.  The shorts alone are awesome and I am very comfortable.


Cathy’s Pedego Interceptor electric bicycle

Bicycle Dashboards on The Big Ride:

DSC01034 DSC01033 DSC01032 DSC01030  DSC01000 DSC00999  DSC00967 DSC00964 DSC00963 DSC00960 DSC00932 DSC00931 DSC00930 DSC00929  DSC00927  DSC00925 DSC00924 DSC00923


My Electric Bicycle – Touring Coast to Coast

24 Jun

Everyone wants to know about the electric bike…

I am probably the first woman to ride an e-bike coast to coast.   I absolutely love the electric bike.  The Pedego Interceptor bike is the most wonderful bicycle I have ever ridden. People ask me why?  Well, most people have never ridden one, so they don’t know what they don’t know.  To shed some light on why the e-bke… there are some details below.


I have been an avid cyclist since age 12 when I rode my brother’s spider bike at Girl Scout Camp for bicycle touring in 1968.  I remember while cycling…this is what “happy” feels like.  This is where I fell in love with cycling.  I love to ride because it makes me happy.  I have bicycle toured all through Europe.  I have done several long tours, the longest from Tampa up the east coast to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  While riding all my life, I have slowly given in to the inevitable – old age.  I have three adult children, and have retired from my job as a school teacher.  As an old lady, the e-bike has breathed new life into my cycling aspirations.  I can keep up with my husband.

The e-bike is a great equalizer, we ride at his pace and he never has to wait for me at the top of the hills or when he has a burst of speed.  I am always there.  We both love it!!  At big rides, I love being the old lady who passes all the racer dudes.  Ha Hah!  We all want to be the fastest, the stronger rider in the group…right?  It is the cheater method to speed.  It is thrills-ville for me.  My husband thinks it is the transportation of the future.  Efficient, fun, and fast.  My husband said “It is the renewable transportation alternative” he thinks the e-bike is fantastic and is just as thrilled as I am.  It is a transportation alternative for people who live in hilly cycling areas (like my home Pittsburgh – in the Allegheny mountains).   What is the carbon footprint?  I will have to find this answer, but I know it is low-maintenance and designed with options like pedal assist and hand throttle – both of which are good for different purposes.

I own many bikes:

  1. 1974 Schwinn Varsity
  2. 1978 Schwinn Paramount (SECOND BEST EVER)
  3. 1979 Schwinn LeTour
  4. 1981 Terry Precision Road Bike
  5. 1984 Nashbar Mountain Bike
  6. 1992 Nishicki Tandem
  7. 1996 Specialized MTB Tandem
  8. 1999 Giant Cruiser
  9. 2009 Powabike 1 & 2 (first e-bikes)
  10. 2011 Crappy e-bike
  11. 2012 Pedego Interceptor – Orange
  12. 2014 Pedego Interceptor – Fluorescent Orange  (BEST EVER)

For the Big Ride Across America, I am set up to carry 3 batteries with me on the bike.  I am averaging about 45 to 60 miles per battery depending on the terrain and mileage.  In all I have only ever used the 3rd battery once for a night time ride while the other two were charging.

The Big Ride Across America - Three Batteries

The Big Ride Across America – Three Batteries

The battery:

  1. Volts:  48
  2. Type:  Lithium Ion
  3. Weight:  about 8 pounds
  4. AMP Hours:
  5. Watt Hours:
  6. Top Speed:  25 (cuts out at 25)
  7. Avg Speed:  13-17  depends on terrain and ride partners
  8. Range:  40 – 60 miles
Nightly Re-charge

Nightly Re-charge

The battery takes a long time to charge when fully discharged – about 8 hours or less.  On this Coast-to-coast bicycle tour, I carry three batteries and have only needed two.   With each day being between 85 – 100 miles, it is important to both my husband and I that we are self-sufficient and try to carry what we will need for the entire day.  We chose Ortlieb waterproof panniers to carry the two extra batteries.

Controler - MPH, Mileage and Mode (pedal assist levels 1-5)

Controller – MPH, Mileage and Mode (pedal assist levels 1-5)

To ride an e-bike requires a certain amount of cycling skill.  The throttle is the easy way to get started on an e-bike it is pretty much like you would imagine.  You pull the throttle and the bike moves forward.  It could be a lot of work to pedal the heavy bike from place to place.  The throttle helps you catch up, gives you a boost up the hill and makes multilevel terrain more tolerable.

The pedal assist setting on the controller is another story.   I have had pedal assist on a previous bike, but never really liked it till now.  I was surprised how much I like the Pedego power-assist setting.  My husband (riding partner) really likes the pedal assist because I can pace him and a steady speed and cut the headwinds with my upright position and create a vacuum behind me for him to ride with ease.  He also can help me control the level of pedal assist between levels 1, 2 and 3 depending on how fast he wants to ride.  Level 1 is about 8 mph (up steep hills), Level 2 is about 14 mph for flats, Level 3 is about 17-18 mph and good for pace-lines and tailwinds.  He sets the pace and lets me know when to pace him at a higher or lower level of assist.  I can pull the front for most of the ride and push a higher speed than we might otherwise ride.  The pedal assist is very steady and wonderful for pulling through a headwind.  It is heavenly!

Motor and Cog set

Pedego Interceptor motor and cog set

The front and back wheels have disk brakes which may get a little squeaky, I keep them clean with an alcohol wipe that helps keep the squeaking to a minimum.  The brakes are very responsive and soft, as we descend some of these mountains.  It has 7 speeds which pretty much meets most of my needs, I guess I would prefer a double chain ring in the front for a greater range but that isn’t an option right now.   I haven’t found a hill I couldn’t climb with the range of gears on hand so I am very satisfied with the components.  I replaced the click shift on the second day of the tour with a Shimano click shifter because I dropped the bike and broke the plastic parts inside the original click-shift component.  I have been cleaning the chain weekly and have had no trouble with the components.

I would like to apologize in advance to all of you cycling “purists” who fight against the e-bike.  I know the hard-core bicycle industry people are having a hard time advancing this type of bike.  Just know that for me, it is the ideal situation to get me back on the road, having lots of fun.  Thanks Pedego for making it possible for me to ride my bicycle across America!

This is me…in control…yay!

My Control Panel

My Control Panel