2023 - Our Rides in Words, Photos, Maps and Videos

Its actually snowing here at 12.30am.
Weather is drunk atm
Heard about the break in the English weather. I hope at least Tuesday (today) would be dry here so I could at least try and bring the "new" Vado with my (by car). I need to use the car as I have to transport not only the e-bike but also the broken frame (for official scraping it) and the old motor (to possibly repair it as a spare).
New bike day! I ordered this bike in February of 2022 and it is finally in the shop for me!


The Limetime Pearl paint job is awesome. The bike: Co-Motion Siskiyou with 18-speed Pinion Gearbox.
Ma Nature is concentrating on pounding California on the west coast right now, so the east coast (being 3,000 miles away and ignored for the moment) snuck into the unattented early Springtime bag of weather and stole 3 days of sun and warm temps for our region.

My neighbor, G, called as I was heading home from some errands, and asked if I was up for a ride. I had just enough time to grab lunch, grab a bike - the Vado which had been sitting forlornly in the corner unused since it's new motor had been installed - and head over to her place for a 17+ mile half gravel/half paved road ride. I had just enough time to stop along the way and chat with another neighbor before I needed to get back on the road to be at G's on time.

We had a lovely ride, both of us on matching Vados. It really seems to make a difference in us maintaining the same pace and pedal stroke, and it is nice to ride side by side, chatting away, with our bikes in sync.

No pics, unfortunately. We were too busy riding and talking. But I can provide a mental picture - imagine quiet gravel roads undulating along every rise and fall of the natural landscape, as smooth as the finest pavement from endless car tires squishing the gravel into the rain softened road bed until not a speck of gravel is to be seen above ground except for the gravel that had been pushed to the sides of the road, away from any traffic. Imagine the countryside still held by the gray hand of winter - bare trees in various hues and shades of brown, short hibernating grasses inhabiting lawns and fields, all laying dormant and not being fooled by the non-winter temperatures into standing up to put on some greenery. Imagine the other cyclists out enjoying the peace and tranquility, zipping past in a quick flash of form-fitting black clothing as if they were trying to blend with the landscape even as they flew past with no other goals except to ride as quickly as possible from Point A to Point B. One and all raised a hand in greeting, a smile as well, a brief salute to acknowledge our shared comradary in passing on this glorious not-winter day.

Of course, if you insist upon a picture, here's a random shot, or two:



I saw pictures on the internet and news later of the 7' banks of snow out in California. Not for us! We have two more days of blissful weather before Ma Nature turns her attention, and her garden hose, back on us. Two more days of cycling weather to enjoy. G will be foxhunting tomorrow while I do a solo ride with the Gazelle, and then we'll get together with our Vados for the 3rd and final day. And then the rains and cold move back in. I finally have my trainer set up in the Living Room for just such an occasion.
Highway Star 6.0!

Oh, I had to drive to Specialized Warsaw today. A car was necessary to bring the old frame and the damaged motor (could be repaired perhaps).



Ladies & Gentlemen: Highway Star 6.0, or my "big" Vado 5.0 reconstructed to become the current version 6.0!

As you know, I endorse Specialized. Now, the best example why I do this. Specialized Warsaw took my broken Vado in and:
  1. Found and fit a new 6.0 frame, size S in the original colour!
  2. Together with a suspension fork (the original e-bike had a rigid fork)
  3. Added a new wheel and a new thru-axle to fit the new fork
  4. Bought a new Kinekt 2.1 suspension seat-post, 450 mm to compensate for the frame smaller than the original
  5. Installed a new 1.2s motor
  6. Assembled the e-bike from the scratch, using the parts from my old Vado.
I only paid for the motor as it was post-warranty. I did not pay anything for the rest or the labour: all covered by Specialized because of the "life-time warranty on the frame". These guys made a miracle! They even measured all the angles of the handlebar grips and restored the e-bike to the shape I had to adjust nothing, even not the mirror!!!

That was the second "warranty upgrade" by Specialized. Before, the older BLOKS electronics was swapped for the Vado 6.0 TCD-w (speed) system including the Supernova M99 Pro automotive headlight.

Yes, Specialized is expensive. Yes, Specialized has the best warranty in the market (and I hope I could prove it). I was shocked to find out Mission Control immediately connected to the "new" Highway Star as it were the existing e-bike, only the Odometer was at 0 km! And yes I got the old frame for scrapping and the old motor, too. I'm delighted.


I immediately set off for an off-road ride in the neighbouring Kabacki Forest. 10 km, no slightest issues!


As soon as I drove back home, I rode out for some COOKIEZ :D 37 km.


Poppyseed Cheesecake & Flat White at Klimatyczna Cafe.


The night and the power! Motor, lighting...

It was enormous pleasure to ride the full-power Vado again! Oh, how much I needed the second, powerful e-bike in my stable...

P.S. I did not expect the Suntour NCX-E25 suspension fork would be that good! Yes, now my Vado weighs 26.3 kg (was little over 24 kg before) but how cushy my rides have become!
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It was enormous pleasure to ride the full-power Vado again! Oh, how much I needed the second, powerful e-bike in my stable...
Congratulations on getting your Vado repaired to better-than-new and back to operation. Hope your new motor didn't cost the arm and a leg that my imploded motor cost me.

I left my Vado at home today when I headed out with the Gazelle for a 20 mile tour of the very wet countryside (yeah, it rained in the morning which was a surprise). This was a solo ride as my neighbor G was busy with her builder and architect on her house renovation, otherwise she would have joined me. I decided to stick to the few paved roads we have because our gravel roads had turned into muddy quagmires with swimming pool sized puddles in all the wrong places.

I hadn't been on these roads since the summer, so it was a nice change of scenery.


I was barely a mile from home and stopped to snap a picture of the adorable pony in his very expensive turnout with his two horse companions. I had just taken the picture when a big truck pulling a massive horse trailer rolled up to me and stopped, windows cranked down so that my neighbors within could call out a hello. They were just coming back from foxhunting with a hunt whose territory was on the other side of the mountain, so we chatted about the hunt, the hounds (who had run a coyote right off the bat which exhausted everyone by the time the hounds lost the scent - coyotes run a straight line at blistering speeds while foxes run in a big circle, the scent often bringing the hounds right back where they started), the footing ("very deep" my neighbors both said at the same time together), and my cycling. They made me promise I'd drop in at their farm, soon, for a glass of wine and a visit. We said our goodbyes - them to trailer home, unload the horses at the barn, and retire to their house with their feet up, tired from a long day in the saddle, while I threw a leg over my Gazelle and settled in my saddle for a 20 mile ride through the countryside, sans hounds, foxes, or coyotes.


The roads were still wet from the morning drenching, my tires sounding exactly like sizzling bacon in a pan on that wet tarmac, greatly amusing me.


The paved roads followed the profile of many exquisite estates, most bordered by the ubiquitous black painted post and board fencing so familiar to Virginia while other boundaries were earmarked by endless lines of perfectly erected stone fences. You have to admire the artistry and dedication portrayed in these precisely stacked monuments to human endeavor.


The back gate to this estate framed a beautiful vista. I know the lady that owns this property, and had hoped she would make an appearance as I paused at the crossroad next to her farm, debating which way I wanted to go. Left on the paved road, or right onto the gravel road. It would have been lovely to see her and stop for chat. Alas, it was not to be, and so I turned left and pedaled on.


My direction of travel took me on a loop that encompassed some of the most impressive rolling terrain we had in our area. These were some serious rolling hills which got me almost to 40mph racing down each slope hoping to slingshot up as much of the following climb as I could manage. The rolls were endless, one after another. This picture was taken from the top of the very steep, final roll before I hit the small enclave of Philomont, about 13 miles from home. I was already drenched in sweat from the constant up and down, my legs tiring even as I kept the Gazelle in Turbo mode.


Just outside of Philomont Fire House is a Smokey the Bear sign with the current fire hazard. The "Burning Permitted" addendum was for the brush pile burns that each farm was allowed to conduct during the winter months. Come summer a ban would be in effect until the following winter, and the building of the yearly brush piles would begin all over again. Our farm usually accumulated enough brush for two piles which we would light afire on the first calm day after the ban was lifted. It was a yearly tradition for the most part. If and when the brush got to be too much to pile in the field, usually after a wind storm, we would just pile it all on the flatbed and truck it to the landfill to be chipped into free mulch.


I whipped downhill past this house, then turned around and slogged back up the hill to take a picture as this was the sole place I've seen that was still fully dressed in Christmas attire. They certainly are getting their money out of those decorations. I suspect January will have given away to February before the decorarions are retired.


The road I was cycling had been a turnpike a century prior with much history to call its own. At one time, years ago, the white pump had stood at the end of a junction about a quarter of a mile north of this sign. I noticed a while back that the pump had disappeared from the original site, but hadn't known until today that it had been moved to reside next to the historical marker.


The pump looked a bit sad and downtrodden, as if stuck in the ground as an afterthought. In its prior life it had perched atop a very nice pedestal, proud of its heritage. I hope whoever stuck the pump in this new location takes the time to recreate the pedestal. I suppose time will tell if that happens.



The older, still existing houses on this route are uniformly farm houses set close to the road. Well built and impressive in their day, many are still maintained as residences, a testimony to quality construction that easily spans a century.


Others are not so lucky. I have watched over the years as this abandoned house on this busy road has slowly settled from something that could have been saved into something now a complete ruin.


In 1957, according to the county archives of aerial photographs, the house (the square black dot pretty much dead center) was a sturdy residence, proudly positioned along the road, unencumbered by trees and commanding beautiful pastorial views out every window. Time and human neglect would mark its slow fall from grace over the next 70 years.


I parked my bike off the road and struggled through the tangle of thick vines and pricker encrusted underbrush to the sagging front door for a peek inside. The remnants of human habitation were in a suspended free fall into piles of old broken and rotted wood. A bed spring on its side formed a fence blocking the interior. Whether on purpose or by accident, it served it's purpose.

I didn't go inside, but remained outside where the only hazard was the undergrowth which threatened to trip me at ever step. I backed away carefully after taking my photographs, almost stepping on a broken ancient artifact disguised among the leaf litter underfoot. I had no idea what it was. A radio, judging by the pieces? A small reminder of someone's past life. I wondered what they listened to on it. News of WWI, the Great Depression, Roosevelt's speeches for the New Deal, the battles of WWII. All that is left now is rusted pieces, the transistors forever silent.


Behind the house a new electric utility box had been erected on a construction frame. Someone had purchased the property (for $5,350,000 I would find out later) and was in the permit process of building a new home. A million dollar home, like the gated property across the road, which will probably be the death knell for the dilapidated ruin near the road .


I looked at the surrounding properties, all sporting million dollar mansions that may well tell their own stories a century or more from now, just like the old abandoned house behind me.


I left the old place to its memories, and headed down the road towards the mountains in the distance. I wasn't going that far, at least today. Maybe another time when it was warmer. I was getting a touch chilled having stopped to photograph the house, and now all I wanted to do was turn in the direction of home.


My adopted road intersected the turnpike road, so I turned and headed south. I was about 5 miles from home, but chilled from the cool air sneaking into my parka onto my damp sweatshirt. Despite my personal discomfort the views of my less populated countryside did not fail to bring a smile to my face. It was nice to see the farm ponds filled to the brim with sparking clear water after a precipitously steep decline in the water levels this past summer when most ponds were little more than banks of dried mud anxiously surrounding a sad foot or two of algae choked water.


The rain, now long gone, had dropped enough moisture to form an inversion layer in the valley at the foot of the mountain chain where the warm air below met the cooler air midway up the slopes. A paint brush swipe of ethereal white across the intense blue of the mountain. Very artistic and quite enchanting if you ask me.


In the farm across the road from mine, someone had driven along the end of the field on the old farm road leaving a mud track to mark their passage.


I parked my bike for a final picture as the sky cleared itself to present the most amazing palate of blue I'd ever seen. It was a fitting end to a lovely ride.

A few seconds later I was headed up my driveway towards home.

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Hope your new motor didn't cost the arm and a leg that my imploded motor cost me.
It is exactly 1000 EUR for the 1.2s motor now.
Jacek claims a replacement motor-drive-belt can be bought and installed for the fraction of that price.
It is exactly 1000 EUR for the 1.2s motor now.
Jacek claims a replacement motor-drive-belt can be bought and installed for the fraction of that price.
That sucks. Mine cost me $700 to replace. I tried to finagle getting my broken motor back but wasn't successful. The bike shop told me Specialized wouldn't allow it to be returned to me.😐 I'll bet because Jacek is dead right that replacing the belt or gears can be done inexpensively.
In my case, the Specialized distributor was only involved in accepting the warranty repair (probably with a budget assigned to the case). The Warsaw guys seem to have just ordered the new 1.2s motor right from the warehouse (they told me the stock had been 50). They agreed to return the damaged motor to me as it was a post-warranty paid repair, and they must have decided the old motor rightfully belonged to me. Good guys in Specialized Warsaw they are; always for the customer!

Fancy in how hopeless situation I had been: three expensive U1-600 batteries and no compatible e-bike! That would be a real waste (not saying anything of the disposal issues).

Now, I need to decide how to scrap the old frame and deregister the old e-bike. Official junkyards are not willing to spend time and effort on scrapping several kg of aluminium and do all the paperwork. I will certainly have to pay for the scrapping, too. Otherwise, I would have to pay the insurance fees until I'm dead; and would be unable to do the MOT! (The VIN has changed).
My destroyed motor was just outside of the warranty period, too, but the bike shop was firm on not returning it because Specialized had said "no". If I hadn't been stuck with two expensive proprietary batteries, similar to your situation, I would have cut my losses and sold the bike for parts. I am glad, in retrospect, that I did elect to have the motor replaced. It is a nice bike.

Wishing you luck with the old chassis disposal.
Was the message of my laconic brother when I messaged him I would visit him for maintenance of my Highway Star 6.0. He meant "It's raining cats and dogs" :D Nevertheless, I had to see him for the swapping of the current Vado 6.0 tyres for Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus 50-622 (he kept my winter tyres in his storage). The return of the winter is forecast, so I had to prepare my powerful e-bike for the season! And yes, it was raining...


Jacek not only swapped the tyres but also dropped the handlebars of my Vado 6.0 as low as possible, to enable me riding in a more forward position. It is the maximum he could do without replacing the stem (the latter could be a tricky operation because of the "Specialized integration").

Worthy to mention the KoolStop Tire Bead Jack tool I brought with me turned out to be very useful! Jacek had a big problem to pull the bead of the Winter Plus tyres onto the rim, and the tool helped! Worth every cent! And... It looks Specialized fetched a brand new front wheel for the upgrade. As well as a new TCD-w (speed) display!

Back to the raining... I just don't care when it rains; it is unpleasant but I typically wear adequate clothes; and avoiding traffic jams makes my e-bike rides really fast. However, this time only my torso, head, and hands were protected. Legs were not. Fortunately, Jacek owns a diesel fuelled air heater/dryer so I could dry my cycling bibs properly before returning. Nothing could be done to my boots though...

My bad foot simply started freezing out!


Eventually, I could make a longer stop at a large BP service station, removed the boot (allowing blood circulation to the cold foot), and was having Winter Tea one cup after another until the foot pain relieved!

When I reached home, it turned out my thick socks were just soaked! No wonder I suffered so much on my return ride...


A 55 km ride. I could do it on a single battery with the effective charge of 550 Wh. The average assistance was 57%. (The battery got discharged from 100 down to 5%).
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I’m afraid that I don’t have much to offer up other than more snow pics of my ride today. As long as the mild conditions hold up, I’m fine with it. I certainly can’t complain about how nicely packed the singles are and the superb snow conditions on the XC ski runs at Riverbend are ‘sugary’ which is the only way that I can describe them.

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Third in a Row

Yesterday my neighbor, G, sent me a text.

1 or 1:30?

That was it. No explanation. None was needed, however. I turned to hubby sitting next to me in the car. It was just pass noontime and we were on our way home from a morning of shopping, the car's outside thermometer reading a warm 53°f, (12°c) the skies open, blue, and inviting. "I'm going riding at 1:30" I said to him, and then voice-to-text the same back to G.

Right at the stroke of 1:30 I was riding the Vado up G's driveway. She was waiting for me alongside her Vado, zippering up her new battery heated vest that she was trying out for the first time. Smart of her to try it on a tempid day because if it failed to live up to it's on-line reputation, and the hearty recommendation of her builder currently doing renovation on her house this winter, at least she wouldn't freeze to death on our planned 27 mile ride.

G and her new heated vest halfway through the ride:

Once again, the entire ride was a chat-and-pedal with us too busy talking for me to stop for pictures. G had spent her morning schooling her foxhunter in the ring (which she said was more exhausting than riding a bike - her horse being the type to be completely uninspired by endless circles and jumping the same fence again and again). Our ride was a welcome respite, she said, and the last we were going to squeeze in before less agreeable weather rolled back in 24 hours later.

So it was talk, talk, laugh, talk, laugh, and talk even more as the miles rolled under our wheels. A great way to close out the warm mid-January afternoon, cruising back home as the sun was sinking in the sky, the air giving way from the early afternoon warmth to the cooling chill of the late afternoon.

We had begun at her driveway, and parted way at mine after a wonderful ride on our favorite loop. Glad to report her new heated vest was a resounding success. She loved it. Hopefully next ride I'll be able to try out my new heated gloves. They have been waiting since Christmas for me to give them a go.