Bicycle’s good to go! A Vision R40 outfitted with full camping gear and all the gadgetry for on-the-road multimedia blogging/podcasting.
Speaking of gadgets, thanks to a SON delux dynamo hub attached to a BioLogic ReeCharge power pack (see pics below), I will be generating my own electricity! One bicycle tourist claims to have generated enough from a similar combo to charge an iPhone approximately six times on a single day’s ride with a 26-inch wheel. My smaller 20-inch wheel means more rotations hence even more energy. The power pack can charge anything compatible with a USB plug and detaches easily from the bike so that I can charge a smartphone and all the batteries I’ll be using, save for camera and laptop, in my tent at night. If any of you techies out there can think of a way that I can make an AC plug compatible with a USB port, please let me know. A simple adapter should do it, though I haven’t found one or even know if such a thing exists.
For now, however, I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from biking. I ship the bicycle to Seattle tomorrow, to meet up with it again in early June. In the meantime, I begin a 10-day Centering Prayer retreat at Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Saint Joseph, MN, on Tuesday the 24th, then leave from there to visit family in Florida. On June 7th, I fly to Vancouver, BC, to visit the Servants Vancouver community, among others, before busing back over the border to begin the West Coast leg of the bicycle tour.
Special thanks to the guys at Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis, MN, for building both wheels and custom adjustable-length handlebars, and to the ever-helpful Jessie Bostic and crew at Hostel Shoppe Recumbents in Stevens Point, WI.
Update on the Son Delux/BioLogic Recharge combo, March 3, 2012:
Since a lot of people arrive at this post after searching for “son delux” or “BioLogic Recharge” or some combination thereof, I thought I’d give a brief update on the products. Overall, I am satisfied. They’ve held up for over a couple thousand miles, withstanding rain and wilderness camping without a hitch. A significant fact to mention in this regard is that, because the placement of the battery pack on my bars differs from that of an ordinary upright bike, the connection port for the wire coming from the hub is more exposed, at least potentially, to water entering from rain. Even so, I’ve had zero problems in wet weather (which is more than I can say for my odometer/speedometer, which always takes the first drops of rain as a signal that it’s time to go to sleep!).
I am somewhat disappointed, though, with the amount of charge I am able to accumulate per day. Now, I may be wrong here but I had the impression that my smartphone battery (LG Optimus S) held its charge for longer periods of time and also charged more quickly at the beginning of the tour. I say “maybe” because I wasn’t paying any kind of systematic attention to how much battery charge I was getting from the BioLogic Recharge at the end of the day. This was in part due to the fact that I wasn’t using my smartphone much in those early days. My smartphone use has increased dramatically since then, however, after discovering Words with Friends :p
Now, I estimate that I get a little over 1% smartphone charge, maybe as much as 1.25%, for every mile I peddle. Keep in mind that this is on a 20″ tire, so if you’re using a 26″ or 700c tire, you’re going to get less rounds per mile and hence less charge generated. I would have to bike approximately 80 miles, therefore, to charge my phone completely from 0. This has worked out fine for my purposes but is drastically less than I had estimated from (perhaps misinterpreting) the information I gleaned from the blog post linked above.
I will also add that, not only has this combo proven ultra-durable and rain-proof but also extremely user friendly for bike-camping. The battery back slips off the bicycle handily enough, fits in your pocket, and charges your phone or batteries (AA, AAA) while you sleep.
In sum, these two products combined have met or exceeded my expectations in all areas but one: the amount of charge they’re able to impart to my smartphone per mile. With that qualification, I still highly recommend them.