Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Last week I told you that my wife Deb and I are travelling across America in an RV. Our two dogs Huey and Nugget are along and three bicycles, a road and mountain bike for me and an e-MTB for Deb. If you follow me on Strava you’ve seen my rides in different locations almost every day, which is the wonderful thing about this kind of road trip.
For those of you interested in RVs, we’re in our 24-foot Lazy Daze Class C. If you’d like to see it, I did one of my first YouTube videos about it. Also, if you’re thinking of getting into RVing I’m happy to answer any questions. We’ve had several rigs and learned a lot.
With the pandemic there’s been a huge surge in the demand for RVs. On every road we’ve taken on our way to New Hampshire we’ve seen more trailers, motorhomes and campervans than ever and we’ve both been campers since we were kids. What this means is a scarcity of available campsites for travelers like us looking for a safe place to stop every day.
Many Walmarts, Cracker Barrels and Cabela’s locations allow free overnight parking, which we have occasionally used. But for this trip we wanted to stay in quieter, safer and more scenic areas than where giant shopping malls are situated.
To address this problem, before we left we joined a relatively new camping group/resource called Harvest Hosts. For about $100 (annual fee), you have access to thousands of farms, wineries and breweries that have joined the group and agreed to host RVers for a night (I believe golf courses have or will soon be part of HH). The only nightly fee to camp is buying some of the goods the host provides.
Meet Hanna Elshoff
It was at one of these Harvest Hosts that I met the inspirational cyclist I want to introduce you to today. Her name is Hanna Elshoff and she owns a lovely farm in Chatfield, Minnesota (we bought a huge bag of vegetables, just-picked raspberries and some freshly baked breakfast muffins).
From her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Hannas-Dream-Ride-771762409598544 and business card, I learned that she sometimes goes by the nickname Hanna Banana, which I think fits because it was a lot of fun talking to her. She’s constantly smiling, has wonderful stories to tell and is full of life.
Hanna told me she was born in Germany in 1943 and at 18 years old decided she wanted to move to America to join her brother who had come here earlier. With the post-war situation in Germany at the time, even though her parents thought she was too young to go out on her own, they believed it would be safer for her in the USA than in Germany and they allowed her to leave.
Hanna’s older brother had purchased the land Hanna’s farm is on today. She told me that her parents were so proud of her and her brother for establishing new lives in America and that they loved the farm. But they couldn’t stay here and her parents had to return to Germany.
Fast forward to when Hanna was in her 60’s and she started dreaming of a way to thank the American president she respected the most, Jimmy Carter for “saving her life” – because she was able to come to America and create an entirely new life for herself. And she decided to ride there on a bicycle – a very special one called an ELF.
Hanna’s ELF e-trike
It’s an electric-assist fully-enclosed tricycle with a built-in solar panel on the roof to charge the batteries. Hanna told me the company went bankrupt but they still have a website where you can learn more about the ELF: https://organictransit.com/ .
I took some photos to give you an idea of what Hanna would have looked like rolling down the road. She told me she never had any concerns about safety even though her trike is much wider than a regular bike and slows on steep climbs holding up traffic. She said some drivers would even slow down and cruise along talking to her out their window to learn what she was up to.
Besides the solar-charged twin-battery electric assist, her ELF has a Nuvinci infinitely variable transmission https://www.fallbrooktech.com/nuvinci-technology/, triple disc braking a hand-operated windshield wiper, headlights and taillights, a full-support seat and a rear trunk.
Hanna’s Dream Ride
Hanna decided to ride first to Washington DC and then to Georgia hoping to meet President Carter and thank him personally. She told me that with choosing her ELF trike and getting in shape to ride it, it took her 6 years to prepare for her big ride. She was 72 when she hit the road.
I didn’t learn enough about her trip to share more details with you. I thought it might be on her facebook page but didn’t find much there. She did tell me that she was able to meet with Jimmy Carter in Georgia fulfilling her dream to thank him in person, which I think is pretty amazing. It shows how committed Hanna was and how considerate our former president is, too.
Hanna also informed me that she’s written a book about the adventure. That is mentioned on her Facebook page if you’re interested in learning more about her and her ride. Or, if you are into RVing or about to get into it, you might want to join Harvest Hosts so you can stay at Hanna’s farm and hear her tales for yourself. It was a great thrill for me to meet her and quite a nice surprise.
Ride total: 10,060
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s cycling streak ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.
Pete Royer says
Great story. Glad you enjoyed MN. Too bad you didn’t ride more on our great bike trails. You were not too far from Lanesboro where the bike trail saved the town and area.
Dave Koontz says
Your trip sounds like great fun. My wife & I are planning on getting an RV & we will be taking our bikes on most trips. In a future article, can you write about how you are deciding where to ride safely. Continued good luck with your amazing streak. Be safe.
Jim, This was a fascinating article. I really enjoyed it. Hanna is another of my heroes!
We are returning from three weeks of trail riding between San Diego and the northern Cascades and camped just south of your home tonight. We love our Lazy Daze more each trip!
Have a fun and safe trip.