Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Holidays

Ladies and Gentlemen Team Bioride2008 once again would like to thank everyone who participated in the project - this story would never have unfolded without you! We are very pleased to announce the happy completion of our journey.

A lot has happened since that first week in September and though the plan was constantly in a state of revision we can sincerely say that the Bioride2008 project was a great success.

Doogie is now in the capable and deserving hands of the American Red Cross and we have just moved onto the next phase: editing and post-production. We look forward to unveiling the full story in all it's cinematic glory after the New Year!

Have a very Merry Christmas and may the coming year bring you and yours wealth and peace.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Over the past few days Team Bioride has become involved in nearly every facet of ranching life here at Cloud Creek Institute for the Arts. From stocking the wood pile in the face of on coming winter to caring for horses and rebuilding hurricane damaged chicken coops - the Team is developing and honing skills and learning to appreciate a lifestyle that is closer to the natural world.

It is not surprising to learn that an understanding of alternative energy and biofuels is an inherent part of the subsistence and rural lifestyle. And while the people living in these settings may lack the scientific lexicon to describe these concepts they are extremely savvy to the processes, requirements and affects that alternative energy and biofuels play in their lives. Fire wood creates energy when it's burned and heats homes and in many places provides the energy needed to cook, brew and produce a myriad of products essential to daily living. In addition, agricultural waste, grass, saw dust and wood chips can be pelletized and turned into a much simpler, and convenient, solid fuel. This is not a new technology for the rural communities of the world it's simply how things are done.

And of course the concept and usage of alternative energy goes hand in hand with the practice of recycling. At Cloud Creek Ranch the Team has learned that nothing goes to waste. Manures are gathered and mixed into the compost, only trees downed by storms are cut and used as firewood and everything is scrutinized for it's re-usability before it is deemed "garbage" and transported to the Yellville recycling collection point.

Recycling, 'Leave No Trace', and environment compassion are the driving principles and inspiration behind the BIOIRIDE2008 Project. Everyday on the road the Team learns a greater appreciation and understanding of these values and the skills that are required to incorporate these principles into our lives. Every community and family that we visit displays an understanding of environment impact and it is heartening to see that everyone, in their own way, are making strides to ensure that that impact is as positive and sustainable as possible.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our new portable biodiesel reactor is nearly complete! Essentially we've taken a 55 gallon oil drum and converted it into a giant blender. The first step was to cut the bottom third off and flip the barrel upside down. We are using the two pre-existing threaded holes as drain points.

Ideally a domed or concave bottom would be best but supplies, tools and most importantly money are in short supply. Access to a welding machine and torch set would have been extremely helpful for this fabrication but Team Bioride continues to happily march on to the tune of "more with less."

Once the barrel was cut down and the edges bent and folded for safety lift points were drilled and mounted and the pilot hole for the 2000 watt heating element was cut out. The addition of lift points on either side of the barrel will make storage and setup a flash and of course the heating element is crucial for the transesterification process.

After wiring our heating element to an appropriately rated plug we'll mount the element to the base of the barrel with a sandwich of washers, nuts and rubber gaskets. Hot oil is the last thing you want spilling out all over the place! The mixing of the oil, methanol and lye will be accomplished by a fixed hand drill mounted to the top of the barrel and fitted with a paint mixing attachment.

A quarter inch thick steel step provides our reactor with a little height and allows us to access the drain plugs on the bottom of the barrel. This will allow us to drain the glycerin followed by the biodiesel from the bottom of the tank - as opposed to scooping or siphoning from the top.

During the past few days our stockpile of oil has had a chance to settle and it is now ready to be cleaned. Tomorrow we will finish construction of our reactor and begin the biodiesel brewing process! Titration, a test for free fatty acids in our waste vegetable oil, will be the first step in our brewing procedure. The test only takes about a minute and will tell us how much Lye we will need for each batch.

Things are coming together and it won't be long until Doogie hits the road again. While we've been "grounded" the Team has adhered to a strict maintenance schedule of morning and evening engine warming sessions and Doogie's block heater has been handling the cool Ozark nights well. Bioride is ready to hit the road and the anticipation is high, but taking a few days to plan and prepare will be key for the successful completion of the second leg of Bioride2008's journey.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If Bioride has one common element or theme than it is most definitely the people that we've met along the way. Everywhere we've been we have made new friends and Arkansas has been no different. The people, families and businesses of the Ozarks have treated us with an easy and generous hospitality.

And at the fore front of that wave of hospitality we found Gwen and Larry Brody - our hosts here at the Cloud Creek Ranch. Road weary eyes and empty bellies wear no match for the fresh linens and fully stocked refrigerator that we found awaited us at the Ranch. In addition to the luxury of hot food and showers - Larry has been providing much needed creative direction for the Bioride2008 Documentary.

Everyday the Bioride2008 Project evolves and changes. And we are pleased to announce that several new companies, both local and national, have expressed an interest in Bioride. We received the inquiries almost immediately following the printing of our article in the Baxter Bulletin.

So to everyone who's befriended us and to all those new friends just waiting to shake hands - thank you. Working with you is what Bioride2008 is all about. Bioride2008 is still an independent grassroots alternative energy project. And we owe that to all of you!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Doogie received all sorts of attention today!  The Team installed a new thermostat rated to 195 degrees Fahrenheit that will keep Doogie and his fuel warm and running sweetly now that colder temperatures have found us.  A fresh change of oil and oil filter will keep Doogie nice and limber and we are more than pleased to report that the Baxter Bulletin of Mountain Home, Arkansas paid us a friendly visit this morning.

Always a ham for attention - Doogie brushed himself off and smiled pretty for the camera.  Too much more attention like this and Doogie is likely to develop a big head!  While Doogie is busy being cooed over the Bioride Team is scrounging  for supplies to fabricate a portable biodiesel reactor.

In the interest of eliminating bad fuel and fuel related mechanical issues the Team has decided to refine their waste vegetable oil (WVO) to a cleaner state.  A one tank reactor design was chosen for it's ease of construction and portability.  This new addition will allow the Team to produce their own biodiesel from WVO.  With biodiesel in his belly Doogie's overall performance will be increased - especially in colder temperatures. 

And on a more entertaining note - stay tuned for the soon to be released teaser-trailer of ALONG FOR THE RIDE    

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


After several mechanical set backs Doogie has finally arrived in Arkansas to a warm welcome at Cloud Creek Institute for the Arts.  Yesterdays departure from Colorado was bittersweet.  Our prolonged stay in Boulder, Ft. Collins and Genoa, Colorado resulted in many new friendships.  

Specifically, Team Bioride owes a sincere debt of gratitude to Emily and Sasha.  Not only are they the proud owners of the friendliest and softest couch in Ft. Collins but Emily's banana pancakes are hands down the best way to wake up when you're stranded with no end in sight.  

And speaking of stranded, if you are ever in need of automotive advice and find yourself in Genoa, Co I truly hope you have the good fortune to bump into Jeff, Taylor and Pauly of Jeffy Lube - the only Garage/Pub in town.  These three roguish Genoa fixtures will keep you laughing and get you back on the road before you can say, "Hey Bartender....."

To Melissa and Rebecca: Ladies your bathroom has never been cleaner and anytime you'd like to host another Chili cook off you just let us know.  Your patience and charity should be the standard.

And of course we can't forget the boys from CU Biodiesel who were the true facilitators of our Colorado excursion.  To all our new friends we say thank you.  Our hearts, doors, cupboards and couches will forever be open to you!

Unfortunately we have the sad duty of reporting that two members of the Bioride Team have returned to Seattle.  Prior commitments and personal obligations have forced Nick and Ryan to return to Washington.  The boys might be gone but their spirit remains - we'll see you in Sea-town boys! 

After a brief refit and refuel in Arkansas, Doogie and Team Bioride will continue South toward New Orleans and then East across the bottom of the United States.  So we're back on the move and once again it's business as usual for this BIOFUELED adventure!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Update from the road

Date: Thursday, October 17th, 12:29 pm

Boulder, Colorado is going to be achieved TONIGHT. We left Las Vegas at 6:00 pm and did not look back. The Bio-convention at Colorado University at Boulder starts this weekend. We MUST be there. Doogie needs a good scrubbin’ too. Who would’ve guessed that white paint gets soiled easily…?

Las Vegas was best summed up by Ryan, who had never been there before, by stating, “I cannot even begin to describe Vegas. It’s surreal, depressing, irritating, and anxious with all the flashy buzzers and noises. I feel like I’m going to have a seizure at any minute. I’m just too slow for that place. I’m glad I got to see it though. Check that one off the list.” While in Vegas, Team BioRide was down to two members, as Nick had to fly back to Seattle for 15 hours to attend class at Seattle University, and if he did NOT return, he would fail that class. That did not leave many options for him.

As Team BioRide split up for the day, Ryan and Jeremiah went to the Bellagio, drank a beer, blew a dollar in a slot machine, and went back to the hotel room to watch Cool Runnings. Their Vegas tour also included spending 4 hours at the local Schucks fixing up some minor parts on Doogie (running lights, speedometer, changing filters, & fixing squeaks). Early the next morning, Jeremiah challenged Ryan to a friendly eating-contest at a casino diner. Both of them agreed that the biscuits and gravy SEEMED like a good idea at the time. However, the biscuits and gravy resembled the ‘poison goo’ that had to be pumped out of the lines in Ukiah, California. Not letting this stop them, Ryan and Jeremiah not only finished their plate, but had seconds…. And thirds…. Ryan was affected by this the duration of the day, as shown by his sloth-like movements and pallid expression on his face.

Fuel was exceptionally difficult to find in Sin City. As Team BioRide reunited with Nick at McCarran airport, finding oil we could use was number one priority. Cell phones were drawn from pockets. Every restaurant in the Las Vegas area was phoned. One of two things happened. Either the oil was already picked up by a Biofuel company, or the oil was hydrogenated, which was no good for us or Doogie (refer back to previous postings). Finally, we found a possibility… the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

After contacting UNLV’s catering company, we were put in touch with someone who could help us. This contact gave us access to some of the waste vegetable oil in the bins behind their commons area. We decided to thoroughly check the oil before taking any of it. This new batch that we had access to seemed like it was going to work. We had to filter it, put it into our gas tank and start driving. Boulder was quite a distance away. We were facing about a 14 hour drive. Step 1: Stop at Starbucks. Step 2: Purchase a box of coffee. Step 3: Consume.

Doogie was running well. Until we hit the mountains. Driving a ¾ ton truck takes a large toll on the engine. We had to stop in a few different locations to allow the engine to cool down. Getting over these mountains was going to take some patience. Team BioRide was feeling stressed. This journey was turning out to be much more difficult than any of us originally thought. We just wanted to arrive at a destination without any problems for once. It did not help that we were supposed to be in Boulder at 9:00 in the morning to hook up with Josh and “Ester”, Colorado University’s BioDiesel pet project. We persisted. It was difficult to get over those mountains, but eventually Doogie was successful in getting to the peak at Vail Pass, elevation 10,603 feet. We finally conquered a mountain in more ways than one. We did not end up arriving in Boulder until after 2:00 pm. Though it was later than we had originally anticipated, we had made it. Now, what to expect in Boulder…