Ok, wow, it’s been a while since my last blog post! Sometimes I get in quite the funk and fail to post any updates here or on any of the social media sites. I’m a very introverted person, to begin with, so sharing doesn’t exactly come easily to me, but it has been a long time between updates, even for me!
In January, I stepped on the scales to find that my weight had climbed to a whopping 265 pounds and I knew I’d had enough. I started to watch what I was eating, and to try to eat healthier, and by February, I’d lost 5 or so of those pounds and was fluctuating between 257 and 260 pounds. I knew that I’d pretty much reached the limit of the weight I was going to lose with the way I was eating, and I don’t do diets well at all, so I decided I needed to vastly increase my activity levels if I was going to see any significant weight loss. That’s when I started thinking about getting on a bike.
I had a bike in my garage that I hadn’t so much as glanced at in over 5 years. I fudged around with it a bit, tried pumping up the tires and seeing if I could clean it up, only to discover that both tires were pretty much shot with slow leaks. I also remembered the last time I’d ridden the bike and how difficult it had been at the time.
I have always had pretty strong legs, but ever since I was in college, if I overworked my legs, I’d get really nauseous and have to stop whatever it was I was doing. Bike riding would do that to me very quickly, I’d found, so I was never that into it as an adult.
Then one day while I was browsing YouTube for my normal photography channels that I follow, there was a video suggestion in my feed reviewing something I’d never even known existed until that very moment: an e-bike or an electric bicycle. The fact that I’d never even heard of them will tell you how little I paid attention to the bike world.
Enter the RadRover 5 from Rad Power Bikes. The video I saw on YouTube was an independent review of this bike which is apparently one of the biggest-selling e-bikes at the moment. I liked what I saw. I liked the way it operated, with various pedal-assist levels to make biking uphill or against the wind easier, as well as a handle-bar mounted throttle that would allow the bike to reach speeds of up to 20 mph without having to pedal at all! (But where’s the fun in that?)
There’s been quite the run on bike sales since 2020 thanks to the pandemic. People all over the world were apparently coming to the same conclusion I was that a bike might just be the answer to getting healthier. Somehow, and I still have no idea how I lucked out in this regard, Rad Power Bikes just happened to have RadRover 5’s in stock at the time I was looking to buy one. And about a week later, I had this very large box waiting for me in front of my garage.
Since the end of March (or slightly less than 2 months as I’m writing this), I’ve lost just a bit under 20 pounds, my FitBit tells me that my resting heart rate has gone from 75 beats per minute to 61, and my blood pressure has dropped from 152 over 88 to 114 over 70!
I ride the bike using as little battery power as I can, to get as much of a workout as I can without triggering nausea from overworking my legs. It’s very comforting to know that if I’m climbing a hill and I’m about to run out of gas in my legs, that relief is just a button push away. So far, my longest ride has been a bit over 40 miles. I’ve started riding 20 miles a day on average.
I’ve added a few upgrades to the bike in the form of a rear rack from which I can hang the bags you see in the picture above (called Panniers), a bracket that allows me to hang two water bottles on either side of the head tube under the handlebars, a spring system under the saddle to soften the ride a bit, a rear-view mirror and a handlebar bracket for my phone.
My new bike has spurred an interest in the potential for combining my photography with what is known as “bikepacking”, which is basically loading your bike with everything you need for a trip lasting from a simple overnight camping trip to a months-long journey across the country. While the RadRover 5 with its limited range and limiting weight, isn’t the bike for such excursions, I’ve set myself a weight-loss goal (I want to get back to 190 pounds) and when I reach it, I’ve promised myself a new bike specifically for bikepacking. In the meantime, I’ll be using the Rad as a testbed of sorts, learning how to ride with camera gear, learning about the benefits and drawbacks of various types of bike drivetrains (chains vs. carbon belt?), etc., etc, to help me be well-informed when making a decision on a new bike.
The picture above was taken on Ride Your Bike to Work Day which was Friday, May 20th, and was the first time I’d ridden with a camera kit in one of the panniers. I had a small tripod bungied to the top of the rack between the panniers. Some of my longest rides to date have been along a rail trail here in Northern Virginia called the W&OD trail. I love riding between my town of Leesburg and the town of Purcellville at the western terminus of the trail and I’d noticed a few spots along the way that might make for a nice scene in which to photograph my bike. So, I rode my bike on Ride Your Bike to Work Day to do some work and take a picture of my bike!
The image is a 15-image multi-row panorama shot with a Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless camera and a Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 lens. I needed to use the multi-row panorama technique as I couldn’t fit the silo into the scene with a single image.
Wish me luck on my weight loss journey, and keep checking back for more updates. I’ll try to do MUCH better at posting than I have lately! Oh, and that other bike in my garage? It’s a Jamis Durango mountain bike. I’ve fixed it up and I’m currently trying to find a better saddle for it. I take it out from time to time to check on how strong I’m getting. When I get my bikepacking bike, I’ll likely donate it so someone else can get some enjoyment out of it.