Normally after a successful group ride, the plans for the next ones make it of a similar or slightly longer distance. Abandoning all pretense of that, the SoCal electric motorcycle group got it in their heads that their next ride should be over twice the last distance in the same amount of time. Whether or not it's a good idea is something only time will tell. What I will say is not only is it over twice the miles, but twice the riders are scheduled to attend. Welcome to 550+ electric miles through hills, valleys, deserts, and forests.
Oh yeah, and I'm throwing my hat in the ring as well.
Daren* - 2020 Energica Ego+
Gabriel - 2021 Energica Ego+ RS (tentative, bike still in port of Oakland)
Adrian** - 2020 Energica Eva Ribelle
Robert** - 2020 Energica Eva Ribelle
Ed - 2020 Energica Eva Ribelle
Edwin - 2021 Energica SS9+ RS
Morgan - 2018 Energica SS9
Alan - 2017 Energica Eva 80
Diego - 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Mike - 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Patrick - 2020 Zero SR/F Premium
*1st place in Cannonball Run to Vegas
** 2nd and 3rd place in Cannonball Run to Vegas
Unlike last year's Vegas run there are several distinct routes, each presenting their own unique challenges. The Western routes, Highway 5 and Highway 99, are fairly similar. They also offer the most charging stations with literally over a hundred on 99. Highway 5 doesn't have quite that many but is the exact same distance to Reno which may prompt some people to choose it for fear of overcrowding at select charging stations. After all, some are more preferable than others.
Both of these routes start off with rather steep elevation climbs over the infamous "Grapevine", an immediate and abrupt 4000 foot climb and descent. From there both are actually rather unremarkable roads, filled with dusty farmland towns, tired commuters traversing the state, and trucks. So many trucks. The sun will beat down on people, the wind will buffet them, and batteries will start to get toasty.
After Sacramento, the road turns East towards Lake Tahoe and the astronomical 7,000 foot climb over Donner Pass which has an absolutely fascinating backstory if you're not familiar. By my estimations, riders choosing this route will start the ascent late in the afternoon or early evening. Temperatures drop, and there's a chance of snow on the roads. Charging stations are still plentiful, but fatigue is going to set in. I estimate that most of, if not all riders choosing this route will find lodging for the night somewhere after Sacramento and resume bright and early the next morning.
The riders had a Zoom meeting to discuss logistics and it was stressed over and over that, while racing and winning is fun, safety first. If you are fatigued you are greatly encouraged to pull over and find lodging for the night. We all want to make it, and more importantly make it home safe. I had specced out the charging station locations with my trusty go-to, PlugShare back in March and determined that 5 and 99 were the only reasonable routes. Then, seemingly out of nowhere in mid April, several key stations appeared along Eastern route Highway 395, making it a potentially feasible option.
Not only does this route shave over 40 miles off the trip, it also eliminates the Grapevine and makes the climb into the Sierra Nevada range much more gradual.
Charging is sparse, to put it mildly. It was impossible before with the largest voids between stations being over 150 miles apart. Key locations in Bishop and Independence have dropped the maximum distance between DC stations to 90 miles. Oh, and they're single outlet stations. If it's occupied when you get there, you'll have to wait. Oh, and that 90 miles? Yeah there's a 4,000 foot elevation jump in there with several subsequent hills after that. That being said, there are level 2 J1772 and Tesla Destination stations peppering the route. It would be, in my estimation, fairly risky, and only attempted by someone incredibly overconfident in their own abilities.
Obviously Daren is considering the big gamble. I'm tempted, myself, but I think the only way I'd be able to do it is by booking a hotel for the night at one of the places with the Tesla level 2 and letting it to a full 3-4 hour charge, then continue the next day. Even then it's dicey.
This brings us to the main focus: Alan Smith and his streamlined Eva 80.
Alan is no stranger to distance riding for a purpose. A multiple-year winner of the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge, Alan has been working on streamlining his bike for the last couple years. It works. With a 2017 Eva 80 and the 13.4kWh battery pack, Alan can easily get 100 miles of range at 70mph. Due to the thermal management of the 13.4kWh Energica packs, Alan will be able to fast charge in 30 minutes literally all day long and never overheat. In short, he's going to win. I consider that a foregone conclusion. Proper aerodynamics can easily double your range. Keep spreading the good word, Alan!
Next up: Diego and his LiveWire. He really didn't get to stretch his legs on the Vegas run because it was only a couple stops, and the new Energica+ models were still able to keep up with the heat of the day and fast charging. While the LiveWire's range isn't as long as the new Energicas, his 1-hour DC charge will remain constant because of the bike's impressive thermal management.
As the day goes on and batteries get warm, Energica charge times will approach 1.5 hours per session. While they get more miles between charges, Diego's LiveWire will be utterly consistent with its 1 hour charge. The Energica+ model riders will all take an early lead, but Diego will be able to, with shorter charge times, catch up and pass them one by one. I'm mentioning Diego specifically over the other LiveWire owner, Mike, because Diego is a more experienced tourer at this point. I believe the LiveWire is Mike's first motorcycle, actually. Diego may decide to be chivalrous and escort Mike instead of racing ahead. He's a nice person like that.
And then there's me. On my 2018 SS9, I will have the shortest range at highway speeds. However, because my bike also doesn't overheat, I will have the shortest charging times. Consider it a more extreme version of Diego's LiveWire. I may only get 50 miles per stop, but I will be fully charged in 30 minutes.
I also have, at this point, a fairly good grasp and breadth of experience with riding EV bikes all day long.
So there you have it, folks. Other than the foregone conclusion of Alan winning, you now have about as much information as I do regarding this trip. How do YOU see it playing out? I'd love to see your thoughts in comments below. Also, you better believe there will be a writeup with lots of video after the dust settles.
p.s.- Any suggestions for places to ride in Reno?