Converting to eBike


I have been seriously riding bicycles for most of my local transportation since 2007. This was part choice and part necessity as I began to have problems with my knee in 2006. The purchase of my first Trek Navigator was in April of 2007. Since I was told by my doctor that walking would be a challenge and bicycling would be a good alternative…I took it.

I have many pages and posts about my bicycling on this website, but I felt like this deserved a post of its own. There was a real struggle in my brain over the idea of an eBike. In some ways it just feels like cheating. This bicycle, in particular has been my choice of transportation when I go visiting to cities and riding to baseball games. A recent visit to San Diego basically prompted this change. I rode up a hill…and it was a modest hill according to Google…and I was so out of breath that I began to get concerned for my health. Although I did catch my breath and enjoy breakfast and the ride back to my hotel…downhill…I knew that San Francisco at the end of the month would be even more of a challenge.

The additional challenge is that I have been interested in getting my wife to join me for rides for many years now. She has even bought her own bicycles and gone through a Townie, Trek FX, Trek FX+, and finally a Pedgo eBike. Her constant complaint is that she had to ride behind me and therefore couldn’t enjoy the rides because I outpaced her. So, I bought a Trek T900 Tandem bicycle so I couldn’t outpace her. She didn’t enjoy the ride staring at my backside and feeling out of control. I attempted to add a front wheel drive to the Trek FX and when that failed I purchased an identical size FX+ which incorporated a Bionx battery system and it failed within two weeks and they are out of business and now I can’t get it fixed.

She is very happy with the Pedego eBike and recently I got the experience of what it is like to ride significantly behind another person who is “better equipped” to do the hills. I finally decided that one of my two bikes would become an eBike as I had been exploring power conversion for some time. I took the plunge…notwithstanding the anxiety I had over previous failures.

I had bad experiences with both front and rear hub drive motors so I settled on a mid drive conversion kit. The knock on these kits is that they are very complicated to install. Still, it seemed like the best fit because I could keep my wheels and the replacement cost would be minimal for the wheels. As a matter of fact, if you look in the picture, the bicycle has a different wheel on the conversion because I encountered a busted spoke close to the conclusion of the install. I simply swapped out the wheel with an extra wheel that I had in my garage and I was off to the races in a matter of speaking.

Early in the removal process of the pedals…step one in the conversion process…I struggled mightily. In recent years I would have taken my bicycle to Joel’s bicycle shop. This was one of those places where the aspiring do it yourself-er could visit and get help when they found that they couldn’t do everything themselves. Sadly, Joel died and the business closed. The remaining employees recommended another local bicycle store with a shop and I went there and here is where I heard those Rocky bells. I explained what I was attempting to do and he responded with a snarky “I’m sorry to hear that” comment. From that moment on whatever he said was not helpful. I left without a purchase and an increased determination to do it myself. It took me five days and several additional Amazon orders, but I did it myself.

The cost of my wife’s new Pedego bicycle was over $4000.00. I’ve paid less for cars. The cost of my eBike conversion so far is just a little over $800.00. The process allowed me to understand every aspect of my bicycle. I had never worked on the pedals before and now, with the kit, came complimentary tools and I could now take off any pedals in my fleet of bicycles. Coincidentally, on our way to church on Sunday when I was riding my unpowered bicycle, my wife crashed her bicycle into a pole and then the bicycle dropped to her feet. She told me that her brakes were not grabbing in the rear. They were disc brakes and since I had not ever worked on them before, I stopped by the Pedego shop earlier this week and the mechanic told me to drop by and she would check it. She indicated that they were hydrolic brakes and she would take care of fixing it.

My argument for bicycles is that they are relatively simple. They can be fixed by anyone who just studies YouTube videos and has a few special tools. They are great transportation alternatives particularly when you are just transporting yourself and few things. You can park them just about anywhere. They will get you around cities a lot more efficiently. You don’t have to pay tolls. It is great exercise. The idea that you might have to top off fluids on your bicycle is just a little disquieting.

The person who dismissed my choice and my project worked at a store that is part rental fleet of eBikes, part sales of eBikes and regular bikes, part coffee shop, part bar, part restaurant. I suppose the diversification might lead to a mechanic who is conflicted. Why would I want to help you with your bicycle problem if i could instead, sell you something new that would require servicing from the store that sold it to you.

In conclusion, after my first actual commuting ride on my new eBike, it is safe to say that I gave up very little. I no longer have gears on the front to help with hills but that is what the motor is for. I no longer have a light weight bike but with all the extra things that I put on my bicycle it was never that light. I have a more complicated ride now and it may be more of a target for theft. Still, I have been able to keep my lobster lock on the frame with an additional U-Lock on the frame, my original bicycle computer that had the non eBike mileage on it and now the new odometer related to the motor. I kept my flats kit on the back and my handlebar bag on the front which helps conceal all of the wires.

I am now in the process of reducing my bicycle fleet. I have two great Trek FX 15 inch bicycles. I took the wheel off of the FX+ and replaced it with a Bontrager Racing wheel and the bicycle is super light now. I also have a Trek T900 Tandem for sale. Let me know if you want any of these bicycles.

Phone Dope

I forgot my phone the other day. I was gong out to work at a school as a substitute teacher…and I forgot my phone. Instantly, I tried to decide if turning around would be a good idea. Initially, I was feeling so good about the day but now, I was in a cold sweat over the entire issue. Finally, I determined that I could survive the day and went on into school.

I am sure that others have experienced this type of a situation. It is almost as if you “have to get your phone back into your possession right now or you will die.” When you think about it, this is just silly. It doesn’t change the feelings though. This is a dangerous sign about the psychology of our relationship to our devices.

In the 90’s when the mobile phones burst onto the scene, they quickly got into the hands of people far too young to appreciate the responsibility. This was when the primary function was calling. Then came the texting. Now this device was becoming a distraction, particularly in schools. The logical answer was to banish them. Whether or not they disappeared entirely, they certainly had an effect on the school culture. Pay phones disappeared from school lobbies. It was accepted that they would be on the person…just not used until the end of the day.

The evolution to Smart Phones came quickly and yet, even today, we live with the same paradigm. The phones are not accepted in class up to middle school, tolerated in high schools to a point, but their responsible use has never been “taught” beyond the admonishment to “use them responsibly.”

When will schools actually teach what is relevant?

Smart phones, chrome books, iPads, and even that old reliable PC at home have become so commonplace that people don’t even consider the ways in which these devices have access to the most base emotions in our psyche. We scroll, we click, we comment, and then we complain about being hacked, used, or victimized because we have never done the responsible thing and actually taught how these devices access our behaviors.

Even if we take classes in psychology, we never seem to get beyond the knowing to the doing. It is for this reason that politics and fringe groups speak in sound bites, short videos, and images evoking fear and anger that move you from “your” agenda to “theirs”. Why did we have an insurrection? Maybe because we have never taught people to be independent thinkers.

Our scrolling, stopping, reverse scrolling and interacting with posts are recorded and being used to feed more items that we “like” in order to access more dopamine in our brain. The feel good hormone is the same one that was identified in the 60s and where we coined the term “Dope Addicts” for drug users.

Are you a phone dope or are you in control? I can’t really even answer it for myself, but…awareness definitely the first step. Can education on this issue be any more urgent? I don’t think so and schools and government better get on the stick.

Health Insurance Makes Me Sick

Having just come through the Pandemic, more and more people are concerned with healthcare. It’s always been a political issue. You hear it every election that healthcare is unaffordable and how people need insurance. In the recent weeks I have become aware of a couple of things. Illnesses are rampant and health insurance sucks.

In the last month my wife and daughter have been fighting respiratory viruses that seem to last forever. Their symptomology requires them to go to the Urgent Care Clinics because their own doctors are reluctant to see sick patients that can’t wait 4 to 6 weeks for an appointment. These centers have websites that list what insurance that they accept. The problem is that they change their minds without changing their website and you don’t find out for several weeks.

I don’t usually have much need for a doctor but recently I had fallen off of my bike and broken my arm at the elbow. I went to the local ER and spent 6 fun-filled hours around the sickest humans on the planet. Since the incident happened in the last 60 days, I am bracing myself for the financial dust to settle for this visit. My wife and my daughter had the identical problem and they tried to charge $600 and $400 respectively to them personally because their insurance decided that they Urgent Care was out of network. I can just imagine the cost of a real broken arm with, as of this moment, 3 X-rays and office follow up.

In the book The Rainmaker by John Grisham, a story is told of an insurance company who had a policy of denying every claim that came in on every policy. In court they claim that their responsibility is to their shareholders. Therein lies the problem. Health Insurance is there to perpetuate the Health Insurance company. The government cannot and should not make it their business to make sure that everyone can afford health insurance.

Our health should be our responsibility. We should have a way of paying for our own healthcare and also be protected from catastrophic costs associated with healthcare. Since I am retired and covered by insurance in the retirement system, I shouldn’t have to worry about the costs of health insurance premiums…only getting the company to pay on the claim. Still I am curious.

Since I am retired and my wife isn’t, I still go in and do substitute teaching so I have some humans to talk to during the day. I have done it so much that the school district is being forced to offer me health insurance at a cost. They have offered the Bronze plan for $595 a month. Mind you, this is a group policy. It is with the same Insurance Company that my wife has and I am listed as a spouse for coverage as well. Still, I would have to work four full days just to get that cost covered and Bronze will still require me to pay far more out of pocket than what I want when hearing the word insurance.

There is a solution. No networks. No denials. Affordable, comprehensive, inclusive, accessible healthcare is within reach. The steps are easy and I go over them in detail on my webinars. See the schedule at the top of the website.

Losing My Widgets

It has been a fun year to be a sports fan in Philadelphia, particularly a fan of the two big sports playing in south Philadelphia. Alas, I have moved from home and now I must be very creative to get to watch my favorite team. I love wearing my Phillies red to Dodger games and Giant games and Padre games and a little less for Diamondback games…because the Phillies don’t do particularly well in Arizona.

Just the same…it was nice to see the teams doing so well this year. In addition to subscribing to MLB.TV, I have been displaying with some degree of pride the current standings on my website by taking the appropriate divisions and displaying them for all to see. (Well, mostly me to see). Now, I noticed a little extra printing from the website feeding my information for my beloved teams. It will all come to an end on January 1. Happy New Year to me, I guess.

I will accept this slap in my face if, somehow, we can democratize how we show out of market games to fans who have moved in the NFL. I don’t want to get the stupid streaming service for just this need. Alas, getting the Eagles games in La Quinta, CA is like getting a Wiper Fluid Cap for a 2015 Jeep Renegade. (Yes, this is a plea to try and get one of these too.)

If anyone knows another streaming service other than Baseball Reference dot com, or Pro Football Reference dot com…I would really appreciate it. You can just comment here with the answer as well as a place that I can get an actual cap for my Washer Bottle so I can stop splashing fluid uselessly off the road.

To all who read this…I send you the best wishes for a prosperous New Year.

Passive Income vs Residual Income

What is the better avenue for additional income today? Well, that depends. It depends on your risk tolerance. Passive Income is derived from income on assets that you own and quite often are leveraged so that there is significant recurring costs. Residual income comes to you from value that you create in your life and the lives of others through products and services.

Clearly, both avenues are valuable and can be used by the same individual who is interested in a diverse supplemental income stream. It may be necessary to get involved in one before you get involved in the other. The startup costs for passive income from real estate is very high and so are the maintenance costs. The startup costs for residual income opportunities are much smaller and depending on the avenue that you choose, you can start making profits quickly.

The really exciting thing about residual income is that in most businesses that offer residuals as part of their compensation plan, the idea of teamwork and sharing is an integral part of the operation. No one is alone.

Here is the schedule. Bookmark and visit soon. Remember…it’s free.

Fear and Opportunity

These two seemingly opposing concepts are at the heart of a lot of decissions that people make. In reality, the strongest concept is that of fear. Fear is a paralyzing force that prevents many people from even recognizing and acting on an opportunity, yet is the same reason for acting on the same. I’ll explain.

I trade stocks in the morning. Yes, when the market opens, I spend about a half hour in that harrowing experience known as intraday trading also known as Day Trading. If you just watch the stock market you can see that it moves up and down all day long. For me, I just need to know which direction and catch the move much like a surfer catches a good wave. The move is usually short lived and can turn on a dime. Why does it turn? Fear. Why does it move fast in one direction? Fear…of missing out. FOMO.

In the market…you live to trade another day. That means you protect your account. You must have some confidence in what you are doing before you take a position on a stock. Then you protect against serious losses. You also must remember to take your profits along the way. Those who think that there may be a shortcut to winning will lose big and reinforce the fear.

The key to conquering the fear is to have a good mentor and a disciplined approach. If you have that, fear can be your friend and protector. If you don’t it will paralyze you and keep you from your ultimate potential.

I write this, not to be preachy…but to be teachy. I need to be reminded of this everyday. BTW I know that teachy is not a word…it just fit the context. No FEAR.

Engagement on Social Media is Free Advertising

I have seen several people who have objected to my comment that if you support the events that took place today that I wish you to unfriend me. Normally, I don’t hold a person’s political views against them. I believe myself to be more conservative than liberal. I would be happy to continue to engage you with your opinions off of social media but I firmly believe that we got into this situation because of the algorithms built into social media that amplify this disagreement and contribute to divisiveness. Today, in lieu of trying to be “diplomatic”, I have purposely tried to draw out the people by giving my unbridled opinion. This way, my feed will not contribute to the ongoing virus that plagues America and I am not talking about Corona. Social Media started this mess and my social behavior will no longer tolerate it.

I have been following Donald Trump on Twitter only to know what and when he is tweeting. I believe his tweets are akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater which is illegal. I’ve seen him create the crisis and take a simmering dislike and bring it to a boiling hate. I am not participating in it. I have seen him use Christianity to achieve his own political goals and weaken Christianity as a faith. This is disgusting particularly when Christians are lining up right behind him and champion him forward.

If you want to debate this for real…do it here. If it appears on my social media, you can count on me deleting your comment and blocking your access to my life. This is for the greater good.

What Can I Do For You Today?

Harvey McKay relates a story about Lou Holtz where he said that the legendary coach of Notre Dame never ended a conversation without asking the question “what can I do for y0u today?”. People always appreciate help and encouragement and yet we seem to neglect just offering the help. I don’t know why but we do…at least I do…or I did.

Among all of my new years “resolutions”, I think that if I keep this idea in mind it will keep me focused and energized for today and make my tomorrows more compelling. Isn’t that just what we all need is a compelling tomorrow? I think so.

I won’t deny the virus or what it has done to our way of life. I also won’t let it paralyze me and cause me to have fear for the future. I will stay safe, smart and vigilant but I will also use my creativity and energies to improve the lives of others and therefore improve my own.

I hope you all have a great new year. Now…how can I help you today?

Who is to blame?

Faced with another lockdown due to out of control virus spreading…and all I can hear is blame. Blame of the government over reaching with their power. Blame the congress for not bailing us out. Blame the president for letting this go on. Blame blame blame.

Blame has a tendency to weaken us. It is the opposite of credit. Credit the government for trying to control the virus. Credit the congress for forcing us to step up as citizens. Credit the president for…well…that may be a tough sell but he credits himself enough for all of us.

Once you get past the blame and realize that you have to be creative…a lot more possibilities area available to you. Our problem seems to be our lack of creativity. I think that it has been schooled out of us. As a career educator, curricula and the mindset of pushing everyone to college has created a group of people who are stuck in the credential pit. They have their credential that they will be paying on for a long time…but now, their livelihood has gone.

Times like these call for far more creativity than we’ve been trained to execute. Perhaps this is why we blame. It is far easier to blame someone else than to step out and try something new.

Dad

Gerald Francis McCausland was born on March 4, 1932.  He took his last breath on October 6, 2020.  During those 88 years of life, he had many roles.  He was a son to James and Florence McCausland.  He was a brother to Kay, Sally, and Jimmy.  He was the husband to Joan and the father to Jerry, Michael, Kevin, Mark and Mary Kate.  He was also an uncle to countless nieces and nephews as well as a grandfather to Ryan and Kelsi.  

When I was growing up, his primary role was that of the provider.  He worked many jobs associated with computers.  When he finally retired, he shunned anything to do with computers.  The modern day computer and what it has done for society is foreign to him and an annoyance.  When I asked him why he didn’t like it he said that he wasted enough of his life with computers.

You see, my dad was a farmer.  He believed in life.  Every year he would plant the seeds in the indoor nursery, grow them to a healthy germination, prepare the soil outdoors, and plant them where the sun was plentiful.  He would nurture them at the conclusion of his “workday” and pull the weeds and defend them with ever increasing and elaborate fences.  When the harvest came, sometimes there was so much fruit that he needed to tie up the plant to keep it from breaking.  

I had the privilege of knowing my father for 58 years.  He took me to baseball games, watched me play baseball, and was even my coach for a day. No matter how bad I did…and I was pretty bad…he was there encouraging me all the way.  He even forced himself to sit through school plays and musicals when I knew that he didn’t really love to do those things.  I took my love of music with his support to college.  I made my career teaching music.  At my first concert, he was there.  

He did the same for my brothers and sister.  My dad shared the skiing experience with Jerry and Kevin.  He became the defacto owner of dogs that were originally his children’s and both Tempo and Melody became his best friends.  His two youngest children have remained close in both proximity and importance.  They both spend countless hours in what has been the family home for over fifty years.

Probably one of his greatest joys was being grandpop to Ryan and Kelsi.  He encouraged every aspect of growth in both of my children.  He was the first to hand Ryan a pair of drumsticks.  He was host to my daughter in her time as a sales person in Princeton after her graduation.  Dad and Kelsi also shared their love of dogs and now she works with dogs all the time and Ryan is a professional drummer.  Dad planted the seeds and was there to nourish the dream and the harvest has been good.  

Since my parents’ retirement, I have seen what a true love story is all about.  Dad and mom would switch roles as caretaker when the other needed them.  Still, we needed them just as much.  Recently, it has been my father who needed more care and my brothers and sister  have had the opportunity to give back.

Regarding my father’s spiritual journey, it is difficult to say.  He was a private man in those regards and although at one time he was on a path to priesthood, he is now far removed from his time at church.  I am likewise being challenged in this regard particularly in these uneasy times but I am going to make an argument for where I believe his spirit is in the context of Christianity and I am going to mix a little politics in for good measure.  Don’t worry…it’s Biblical politics.  

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is being questioned by legal scholars.  Their goal was to discredit him.  They asked Him one question…and he gave three answers.  

What is the greatest commandment?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength and the second is like it.  Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.  

My father clearly loved his neighbor.  This is clear evidence of the first commandment which is very personal.  The law and doctrine and prejudice and judgement must be viewed in the light of this statement by Jesus.  I believe he has evaluated his spiritual life accordingly.  

Finally, at times like these, we take measure of what we have lost.  A great man who has connected with so many people has finished his time on Earth and we are sad.  I choose to take measure on what we have gained by having this man in our lives.  

I love you dad.  I hope I continue to make you proud.