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…

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, Oct. 16, 10:16 am

As we drove onward during a spectacular Saturday afternoon, Doogie continued to heal from his nearly fatal wound only a day earlier. The heat of the southern California sun provided assistance in cleaning out the rest of the hydrogenated oil from Doogie’s organs. We were running off of a combination of diesel and rice oil. This tank of fuel allowed us to get to our next destination at Lebec, California. There we were staying with Jeremiah’s close friend Karla and her family, who proved to be an invaluable part of this experience. As we drove through the gate of their magnificent house in the foothills of southern California we were greeted by Karla and her parents. Jeremiah had been greatly anticipating this part of the road trip. Jeremiah, Ryan, and Nick were welcomed with the-best-you-will-ever-have authentic Mexican food with a side dish of enthusiastically-entertaining stories from Horatio. It was immediately apparent that we were going to enjoy our time with these wonderful individuals.

We woke the next morning with a full plate of tamales, rice, beans, and a laundry list of tasks to complete for the day. Team BioRide had received an invitation from Mark Crosby, owner of Crosby’s Foreign and Domestic Service (one of our sponsors who created the component that allows us to run off of veggie oil). The invitation was to attend the “Kick Gas Festival” which was an electric car drag race event in Barona, California. We decided that it was necessary to explore this newer area of alternative energy. With Doogie as our shining steed, the BioRide team, along with Karla, galloped down to this event. It truly was an eye-opening experience. We observed electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even Coleman cooler that had been converted to be a mini-bike with wheels and all. We met up with Mark Crosby, who gave us the go-ahead to pull into the ‘pit’ to show off our/his component. We popped the hood and the experience turned out to be a great opportunity to explain to onlookers how Crosby’s component allows us to run directly off of waste vegetable oil. Reinforcing our understanding of the technical aspects of our expedition proved to be quite valuable.

As the sun began to set over the foothills, the group mutually decided it was time to return to the temporary abode to imbibe ourselves on more Mexican deliciousness. The foothills of Lebec, California were treating us well. A long night of sleep was required for the long day ahead of us.

Waking early to the smell of coffee and various spices in the frying pan, Team BioRide wiped the sleep from our eyes. We were eager to see what events would take place in these seemingly longer than normal days. The goal for today was for the team to split up. Horatio was able to draw on some of his connections and get some shop time for Doogie. Thus, Ryan, along with his enthusiastic partner, Karla, spent a majority of the day getting their hands greasy, making adjustments and adding necessary parts to Doogie. Meanwhile, Jeremiah and Nick explored the internal workings of H’ermes Manufacturing, a plant which makes high-end beauty products. There, we had an opportunity to chat with chemists about environmental sustainability and how they address that in their products. The theme was in keeping with our journey.

All the while, there was a raging brush fire in the foothills of where we were. Although roads were closed, and fire trucks aplenty, everyone was just going on with their day, as though this was an everyday occurrence that mattered not to them. It was a strange feeling to think that something that is devastating the countryside, homes, and everything it meets could be ignored by the citizens. The fire was not ignored by Jeremiah and Nick, who happened upon a fueling station with helicopters filling up one after the next. It was an exciting situation to be in. The smell of smoke was prevalent in the air, the sound of helicopters and sirens piercing our ear drums, action everywhere around us. We were soon kicked out of the area by the fire-chief, and preceded on to the next part of our day.

Team BioRide soon met up at the shop where Doogie was getting his improvements. The whole experience reminded Nick of the old Nintendo game “R.C. Pro-am” in which the more you race, the more money you get, the more upgrades you can add to your car. Just like in the game, we were upgrading Doogie to race to our next destination. This was the last night spent with Karla and her ever-to-hospitable and overtly gracious family. As happy as we were in this destination, time was ticking. The next destination had to be met. Next stop: Las Vegas…
Final thought: It has been quite difficult to manage time on this journey. Torn between the updates for the blog, map, website, etc., finding destinations, trying to procure fuel, and having any sort of free time to just relax and enjoy the time spent in each other’s company. Our saving grace has been our persistence. We set out on this journey to complete it. Our resolve hasn’t wavered.

Wednesday, October 15th, 6:30 am

Wednesday morning finds Team BioRide in Las Vegas. As anticipated, but not hoped for, the last five days have been a whirlwind of events. After a great deal of effort from the team, especially Doogie, we made it to San Francisco! After San Francisco, we shot down to Labec, California followed by Lakeside, San Merino, and we currently find ourselves in Las Vegas. Without a doubt, there has been much traveling. Our butts overused, and bodies generally exhausted, this ‘adventure’ has not disappointed.

We arrived in San Francisco just after midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning and the city by the bay treated us quite well. As one of the goals of this adventure was to “crash on the couches of family, friends, and supporters,” we did not disappoint. We arrived just after midnight, and our hosts, Jesse and Brian, provided us food, a place to sleep, a beautiful view of the city, warm showers, beer, and countless laughs. Sleep came easily after our long day.

We abruptly woke to a freshly cooked breakfast burrito being shoved in our mouths. Jesse, pretending to be upset by the multitude of guests, seemingly took some joy from stirring us from our slumber. From that point on, the day passed quickly. We headed over to Mills College, where Brian connected us with the Executive Chef. Mills College had saved over 40 gallons of filtered rice oil for us and we received our first lesson in the filtration process of oils. The rice oil that they used had been filtered and refiltered and used for over 600 meals. Even though it was used, it still looked remarkably better than the ‘poison’ we had filled up with from Jack in the Box. Eagerly filling our barrels to the limit, we subtly celebrated our first large fuel accumulation.

Once again, we started to run off of veggie oil since the ‘incident’ a day earlier. Team BioRide and friends were offered a meal in the cafeteria, which we humbly accepted. If we can’t turn down one thing, it is free food. We shared a last meal and a great deal more laughs with our San Francisco hosts, and it was time to mosey on down the dusty trail. Good-byes are especially hard when you are leaving a beautiful area of the country with great friends. However, we did not begin the road trip in Seattle to end in San Francisco. We were only a fraction of the way around the country. As we pulled away from our friends, Mills College, San Francisco, and the bay area our heads were swimming with what the next part of our journey would bring us…

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Saturday Evening, October 11, 7:01 pm

...Thirty gallons and twenty-five minutes later led to a major breakdown twenty minutes south of Ukiah, California. The temperature was a brisk 36 degrees. The sun was just peeking out above the hills, and had we picked up a bad hitchhiker. Our ‘pure vegetable oil’ that we procured only a half hour previously, turned out to be a hydrogenated horror. Unbeknownst to us and because of the cold temperature, the oil that we had picked up from Jack in the Box had cooled to the point of solidity. Doogie rolled to a morale-devastating stop on the side of the expressway. With our heads in our hands, we all questioned whether we had reached the end of our journey. The tension was palpable. What had happened? Could it be fixed? We piled out of the car, pumped some oil out of the gas tank and spilled a bit of it on the ground. We stood transfixed as we watched the ‘oil’ turn to a greasy icing on the blacktop. The truth stared us hard in the face. Our fuel was no longer liquid. It had turned to snotty jell-o inside of the fuel lines. Not knowing the extent of the damage, we knew we had to get the fuel out of the tank before it cooled into a solid block, thus rendering our hand-pump ineffective. We began extracting the rapidly cooling oil from the tank as fast as possible into our fuel canisters. We raced to remove the oil. Each man took his turn at the half-inch air mattress-esque hand pump to siphon the 20 plus gallons until our forearms burned with the effort. Finally, we had pumped out all of the bad oil that we could from the gas tank.

We stared at the oil in disbelief. How could we have ever been consuming this product or anything like it, when in less than 20 miles, it had brought Doogie to his knees. All of those dead cheeseburgers and french fry ghosts locked eyes with us, and laughed smugly. Ryan summed it up soberly by stating, “If, in 20 minutes it can clog up quarter inch fuel lines, what is it doing to our arteries?”

A tense discussion arose. We assumed the worst and narrowed down all the parts of the system that could have been effected or damaged. An explosive brainstorming session led to all of the different options we had, from fixing it on the side of the expressway to towing it into town to throwing in the towel. This discussion led to the worst case and best case scenarios. Worse case: If all of those dead cheeseburgers had made it in to high pressure injection pump, Doogie’s heart, what would that have done to Doogie? Is there an afterlife for cars? Best case: The solidified grease did not make it past the fuel filter and into the engine. In which case, the tank lines would have to be cleaned and the filter would have to be replaced. Doogie required both testing and inspection. A complete diagnostic was what we needed, but that was not going to happen because we were stranded on the side of the road. With the sun coming up over the foothills, and the level of traffic thickening by the second, we knew we had to get it off the freeway. We decided we needed to find a better workplace and access to electricity.

On the other side of the road, there was an ancient “Rock Shop” featuring a barren cul de sac and a possibility of electricity. The only problem was that though it was across the road, for Doogie to get to it, driveway access was 400 yards of slanted uphill freeway. Ryan and Jeremiah went to shake hands with Mr. Rock Shop and verify that we could push our car there to work on it. Nick stayed back with Doogie and met our first ‘visitor’, a highway patrolman, who questioned how we had “broken down” and what was in all of the canisters strewn about next to the truck. A quick explanation was obviously in order. He seemed to gain some amusement listening to our past 2 hours of hell. His face was saying “dumb shit” while his mouth said “ok, well I hope you guys figure it out, and make sure you clean up your mess”, and he drove away. Thus ending another run-in with Johnny Law.
Ryan and Jeremiah returned and they presented a Herculean task. We had no other option but to push our 9,500 pound friend with 800 pounds of food and gear and roughly 50 pounds of fuel goo in his veins up the road, across 4 lanes of traffic. As Nick steered, Ryan and Jeremiah took their positions in the back, waited for a break in traffic and pushed with all of their might. We made it about four feet before gravity and the angle of the road began working against us. We waited for another break in traffic and vigorously pushed. This task required every muscle fiber in our bodies screamed with the gargantuan effort. As the truck crested the hill and rolled to a stop in front of the rock shop, Rick the owner supplied us with an extension chord to hook up the power. At first, we powered up the block heater in hopes of melting any goo that made it inside of the engine. Thirty minutes later, the engine was cold and the block heater was not working. We repositioned Doogie so that the engine faced the sun in hopes of allowing some uv rays to further warm the engine.

Meanwhile, our Panamanian friend, David had hitchhiked into the nearest town to get some diesel that we hoped would help break down the rest of the bad oil. Approximately two hours later, he returned with three gallons of diesel and a new starter. His contribution was complete.

Using a camp stove, we boiled water, placed the filters in the boiling water, and most of the oil embedded in the filters dripped out. Next we used the hand-pump to push the grease out of the lines. Alhough the entire process was extremely difficult, we had to persevere. We poured in the three gallons of diesel and slowly Doogie began to come alive. He coughed. He sputtered. It was apparent that Doogie needed that good fuel. He turned over, came to life, and it was go time. We needed to get to a gas station AS SOON AS POISSIBLE to fill up on diesel which would help us dilute the remaining goo in the system and burn it through. We DID make it back to Ukiah, and as we, once again, passed the Jack in the Box that was the bane of our existence, we hissed, we scowled, we cussed at it. Even Doogie growled a bit.

Diesel made it into our gas tank, and as we filled up there seemed to be a united sigh of relief. At least we are no longer broke down on the side of the road. There was a parts store within range. It was at this point that we could begin to check the systems, fix the problems, and get some real food. After a few hours of work, we decided to make a ‘run for it’ to San Francisco. The city was a 3 hour drive away, and we felt like Doogie could make it. If we could get there, we had friends, support, and resources.

Afterthought: Days no longer seem like days. Nothing is planned any more. Structuring our time has become difficult, because we have to deal with each event as it comes along. We are not able to concentrate on the future as much as we hope to, because we need to focus on the problem at hand.

More updates to come…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Lengthy, yet educational Thursday

Friday Morning, October 10th, 6:42 am – A Lengthy, Yet Educational Day

A wise man once said, “The secret to life is not timing, it’s learning how to choose the clock.” The past 24 hours have been in true BioRide fashion. A flurry of events have occurred, none of which were ever in our control.

A 36 degree, 5:30 am Friday morning, has found us in northern California, 150 miles north of San Francisco, after several run-ins with local law enforcement, a magnificent drive down the Oregon coastline, and numerous repairs on Doogie. We are pleased to report that we are continuing to receive support from the communities that we are visiting, and the good folks from pig n’ pancake donated 15 gallons of waste vegetable oil, without which, we would have never made it where we are now. In addition to making friends with Kelvin, the manager at Pig N’ Pancake, we also had the auspicious opportunity to be introduced to local law enforcement of Eureka, California, who, after the obligatory identification check, actually turned out to be most helpful by recommending several local sources for waste vegetable oil. Since crossing the border into California, we have found it exceedingly difficult to locate waste vegetable oil (WVO). Plenty of veggie oil receptacles and bins abound in this region of the country, but local biodiesel manufacturers have this area on lockdown. And after checking in with the Eureka police department, several miles down the road, Nick was pulled over again for ‘erratic driving’. It turns out that trying to take a sweater off because you are too warm is not the best practice at 2:00 in the morning when ‘Johnny Law’ are actively pursuing drunk drivers.

THIS JUST IN: After stopping in Ukiah, California, we actually drove thru a Jack in the Box and had an “odd request” for the lone employee that was working for 5 gallons of Veggie oil from their waste containers out back. She asked us how long we would be. Our response, in unison was “10 minutes. Tops.” She complied. Thirty gallons and twenty-five minutes later has found us pushing hard to San Francisco for our first ‘educational stop’ at Mills College.

An update from the mechanical front: Ryan has been pampering Doogie with general maintenance and a watchful eye. Every time Doogie required attention, a brief, but intense burst of inclement weather found us. A small fuel leak in our biofuel component was discovered and confidently resealed with a quick change to a more suitable size of o-rings.

After the initial 30 hours, the moral is strong, and the crew and vehicle are adapting well to one another.
Next stop: The Bay City.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pics from Road


BioRide 2008 – ‘Doogie’s Log’
Wednesday, October 8th – Day of Departure

After beginning this project just over a month ago, we have obtained, fixed, painted, tweaked, altered, and named the vehicle which we now know fondly as ‘Doogie’, our wheels around the country. In addition to that, Team BioRide has managed to gain sponsorship from Cloud Creek Institute for the Arts, Propel fuels, City Hardware, Kavu, The Cellar, Whole Foods, Mona-Vie Energy Supplements, Outdoors for All, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Feathered Friends, Garcia Family Coffee Farms,, and Hurricane CafĂ©. We have also gained support from a number of local companies and individuals. In all honesty, I am blown over by the generosity of individuals.

This is day one of the road trip adventure and we have had some difficulties. T he conversion process was actually quite simple. The mechanical ‘problems’ we have had are because we driving a 1985 Chevy Suburban. Ryan and Jeremiah have spent numerous hours fixing, replacing, and adjusting various parts. We are all learning the personality of ‘Doogie’, our 4th companion on this trip.

Lately, I have had to come to terms with is my expectations for this experience. My ideas of grandeur are consistently met with the hard face of reality. Funding this has been very difficult. I need to do homework for my grad school classes while we travel. I even need to leave the team two times throughout this to fly back to Seattle to attend class. Total Bummer. It will be difficult to concentrate on anything but the here and now of this amazing opportunity.

We even picked up a PANAMANIAN on our first day! I received a call from David Garcia (old roommate& close friend of the group). “Hello, Niick. I haave decided to come with you for a few days.” Now, because David’s presence is welcome, it required us to pick up another seat to install. David’s demeanor and verbal communication really help keep things light, even when a storm cloud approaches. He will ride with us to Los Angeles, where he will then fly back to Seattle.

We are currently on I-5 heading south down into Oregon. The initial excitement of departing Seattle is slowly being met with the onset of fatigue. We hope to get past Portland tonight. Let’s see how that goes. More later…

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Some night shots of the new paint job. Doogie's makeover is coming along!