Sunday, August 2, 2015

Albany Trip I: Departure

EVT: Boston to New York on a single charge!

I just realized we never got to publish the blog posts outlining our trip to Albany, now over a year ago!  It was such a great trip and big moment in EVT history, I wanted to make sure that we at least had a post about it.  I tracked down our mile by mile notes that included a lot of great details over the course of the trip, and here's my four part, full narrative summarizing the team's final trike adventures!

Saturday, Aug 2, 2014
Day 1: Cambridge, MA to Florida, MA (130 miles)

The final week leading up to the big trip was spent making all of the necessary last minute preparations.  

We made sure to get extra safety gear, a bluetooth headset for the motorcycle helmet, and walkie talkies between the vehicles.  The van was packed with all the necessary spare parts and tools.

Joey and Hanna got the Xbee communication up and running so that the passengers in the chase car could wirelessly monitor the trike's battery pack.

Everyone went on a big team shopping trip the night before to get groceries for the weekend. John had to become the team dad and make the rest of us get our vegetables.  Joey stuck around for a couple of last minute tests and packing the van.  Jacob and Jarrod were up late reviewing the route one last time and preparing maps for each leg of the trip.

After a late night, we all ended up making it back over to N52, in one form or another...


John, Jacob, and Jarrod rounded up the vehicles the day before, with everything waiting in the garage.  The trip was only intended for one way, so we recruited Alban to come on the camping adventure with his pickup truck to haul the trike and trailer back to campus after we were finished.   Ten team members came on the trip, with the following driving arrangements: one person riding the trike, two people in the truck, and seven people in the passenger van.  The insurance for the rental agreement required the driver to be 21, so John and Michelle shared the driving responsibilities.  Alban drove his truck, and we rotated riding the trike in pre-planned 20 mile shifts.

The vehicles had been mostly loaded up the night before, and we put the remaining equipment in Alban's truck.  We prepared to roll out, with the trike waiting in the garage charged up and ready to go! 

The first day accounted for the bulk of the traveling, and we intended to cover 130 miles in order to reach the campground in Western, MA.  The driving was split in 20 mile shifts, with Roberto, Erich, John, Jarrod, Hanna, Joey, and Jacob going in order.

With a quick morning meeting, we discussed the itinerary and day's agenda that we put together the night before.  Jacob and Jarrod had traced the route on google earth and listed viable stopping points every 10 miles in addition to the 20 mile checkpoints.  Everyone got a packet of papers with the list of stopping points, maps and directions for their leg of the trip.  We also reviewed the Smith System for defensive driving and talked through the necessary safety precautions on the road.

Our sponsors Hugo from Beantown Tacqueria and Dave from Geoby also made an early appearance at the shop to see us off!

Not only had they shown support for the team throughout the trike project, but it was great to see them right before departing!  We were happy to have their logos prominently displayed on the trike cover!  

Slightly behind schedule, but still in great shape, we rolled away from N52 at 6AM with Roberto leading off on the trike.  

6:00, 0Ah - Roberto Leaves N52

We had put a lot of thought into organizing the pit crew in the van, hoping to keep everyone busy and engaged and to make sure that everything went smoothly along the way.  In addition to the van driver, one person was going to navigate and make sure we were on course, one person would be on their phone communicating with the trike rider, one person communicated with Alban in the truck via walkie talkie, the next rider in line would be studying the maps for their route to prep for their turn, and Jacob had his laptop to read the Xbee wireless transmission and monitor the battery pack live data.

It seemed like a good plan, but with the crew exhausted from the busy week and early morning, this was instead the resulting scene in the back of the trike...

It turned out to be a good thing, and everyone was well-rested in preparation for their driving shift, and the necessary jobs were covered.

6:50, 5Ah - A123 Facility

The first shift went as smooth as possible, with Roberto putting down a quick 10 miles to bring us to the A123 facility in Waltham.  A123 is one of our biggest sponsors and donated the battery pack used on the trip, originally used on the Isle of Man motorcycle in 2011.

Roberto tagged out, and Erich was in to take it the next 20 miles.  We took a quick break for breakfast, eating some awesome food that Jacob cooked for everyone!

Erich suited up, and we made sure to take a team picture in front of the A123 facility!

With that we were back on the road with Erich leading the way.  We encountered a bit of rain, but no major problems and a quick pit stop verified that the waterproofing was holding up fine.  He encountered a minor throttle problem midway, but resetting the controller resolved any issues.  Otherwise, Erich pushed West out onto increasingly rural country roads, and 30 miles were in the books.

8:26, 32.07 Miles, 18.4 Ah - Nashoba Regional HS 

Erich took the trike into Bolton, MA where John took over.  There was still a slight rain, but no major problems other than losing cell service in the rural towns, making communication to the trike helmet slightly more difficult.  

There were some problems with receiving the battery data, and Jacob resorted to just checking the battery data during the pit stops.

Otherwise, John's careful driving made for a smooth shift with no stopping, and the last of the rain passed during his shift.  Great weather remained for the remainder of the trip.

10:00, 53.11 Miles, 31.67 Ah - Princeton, MA
John pulled over into a small farm stand, and Jarrod was up next.  Everyone was up and out for a full pit stop, and we checked everything to make sure the trike was holding up over the opening legs of the trip. 

We had the pit stop checklist down from previous testing, and our schedule accounted for 5 minutes at each stop.  The gang usually took a bit more time to hang out and regroup but managed to stay roughly right on schedule.  The next driver would hop up, suit up with the helmet and gear, and sync their cell phone to the Bluetooth headset.  Someone would check the temperature on the motor, controller, and batteries.  We checked the battery data and recorded the energy consumption and time.  Someone checked the tires and tire pressure, and everyone else checked everything over looking for loose nuts and bolts.  

It was still early in the morning, but team morale remained high!  Alban, Roberto, and Alvaro held down the fort in the truck, blasting Reggaeton and giving the Tacoma the new name of Reggaetruck.  

10:45 chain derailed, 65 miles
Jarrod’s shift saw the first slight problems, but everything was fixed appropriately on the road.  Some roads turned out to be in unexpectedly poor shape, and increasingly hilly and pothole-ridden roads shook up the trike a good bit.

The chain ended up getting derailed, forcing a quick emergency pit stop.  Jacob made quick work of tensioning the chain, while the rest of the team had an opportunity to check and tighten up anything else that had managed to work loose.

We were back on the road in no time, with noticeably fewer cars on the road the further West we pushed onto smaller back roads.  Cruising along at 25mph turned out to be quite relaxing with no other cars on the road and the rest of the gang following along behind!  

11:32 tape mirrors

There was another quick stop, just to reset and fasten the components attached to the handlebars.  The phone holder, mirrors, and shifting levers had a way of rattling loose on some of the rougher roads.

Otherwise, the trike was holding up fine, handling stretches of gravel road with no problem.  Driving conditions couldn’t have been any better, a comfortable temperature, no more precipitation, and nearly no other traffic on the road.  Should there be any problems, fearless leader Roberto was always ready…

11:50, 72.15 miles, 42.26 Ah - Quabbin Reservoir
As we reached the 70 mile mark, Jarrod passed it off to Hanna in New Salem, by the Quabbin Reservoir.  

Aside a couple quick stops between the 50-70 mile marks, there were remarkably no other major issues considering that we hadn’t tested the trike under those conditions before.  The test run to Providence had only been about 70 miles and seemed like an exhausting day, but now we were just getting started.

After another quick pit stop and reviewing the map, we sent Hanna off and we were gone, just over halfway to the camp site.

We quickly found ourselves in an increasingly rural and scenic setting, surrounded by lakes and ponds.

The crew was keeping it together in the party van, and Joey was the designated sandwich maker for the day.  Having all the food in the van made it easy, and we were able to just keep pushing forward while eating on the road.

Hanna ended up running into a bit of a problem as we continued moving.  We ran into a series of unimproved dirt roads, and with no alternative routes, we had to see how the trike fared off of the asphalt.

Jacob and Jarrod had made sure to plan the route mile by mile, but somehow there had been no indication on Google earth that these roads were dirt.  In any case, there was no hope of reaching New York with the addition of any major detours, and we had to continue down the winding dirt roads.

12:45 push at dirt road
At a couple points the trike lost traction on the loose terrain, and Roberto and Jarrod had to hop out and give a push to keep Hanna going through the hills.

It was okay though, Roberto continued to save the day in the bright yellow suit...

1:30, 88.6 miles, 51.73 Ah - Lake Wyola, MA
Hanna managed to keep the trike under control through some incredibly rough roads, and brought us to a lake recreation area. 

Travel was a bit slower on the dirt roads, making for a long shift.  We all took a break to regroup at the lake, and checked over the trike to make sure that everything was still in good shape. 

At 90 miles in, it was great to see the waterproofing of the trailer holding up.  The fiberglass fairing on the Providence trip had let a mess of salt and sand sneak into the battery compartment, but the new and improved cage passed the Johnny quality test!

2:10, 97.58 miles, 54.95 Ah - Scenic Overlook, Sunderland, MA
Hanna continued, taking the trike near the 100 mile mark before passing it off to Big Joe in Sunderland, MA.

3:10, 114.1 miles, 66.71 Ah - Flat tire by farm, Ashfield, MA
Joey took the trike up to 115 miles with minimal problems!  His run was so smooth that there weren't even any stops along the way, and we regrettably don't have any pictures of him!
However, his run did end with a flat tire, but overall we were in great shape.  We were prepared with the necessary tools, and the sight of us fixing the tire attracted the attention of some new fans driving by!  We kindly declined their offer to race their truck with the trike...

We replaced the tire with plenty of time left in the day, and Jacob was up for the last round.

3:40 - Leave Farm, tire fixed

We were steering back into a more populated area as we approached Pittsfield, but the camp site was a mere 20 miles away!  Last up on the schedule was Jacob, who had been sitting all day and was itching to take a turn on the road.  Nicknamed ‘Crazy Jake’ after a series of stunts that included rolling the trike during testing in the parking garage earlier that summer, Jacob was ready to prove that he could bring us home and close out the long day’s journey!

4:22 - Savoy, MA

The team was still enthusiastic, although ready to reach the campground and finally get out of the car.  The repairs on the fly had gone as well as we could have planned, but everyone hoped to not need any more.  Exhaustion was beginning to set in as Roberto stared at the road.

5:11,135.3 miles, 79.97 Ah - Savoy Mountain State Forest, campground

Day 1: 58.2 Wh/mile
As the roads snaked through the mountains, Jacob brought the trike up to the camp site.  

After a number of full-time UROPS for the team and countless hours spent working on the trike, Jacob had put as much time as anybody else into the trike project.  As we were about to round off a successful first day of travel, we were happy to conclude part one by following Jacob to the Savoy Mountain Reserve.  A mere 50 miles from the final destination, we finally had time for some much needed resting and regrouping.

Full trip outline and details here

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