Durham News

72-year-old pedaling to ex president on Durham ELF

Hannah Elshoff rides around 40 miles per day on her solar-powered ELF, stopping at local Lions club chapters to raise money for the Lions’ Leader Dogs for the Blind program.
Hannah Elshoff rides around 40 miles per day on her solar-powered ELF, stopping at local Lions club chapters to raise money for the Lions’ Leader Dogs for the Blind program. contributed photo

Organic Transit welcomed Hanna Elshoff to its headquarters in Durham last month. At 72 years old, Elshoff is on a two-year cycling trip that started May 1, 2015, using her solar-powered ELF bicycle.

Originally from Germany, Elshoff immigrated to the United States when she was 18 years old. She heard on the news that former President Jimmy Carter was a farmer. Inspired to vote for him, she began the process of becoming a citizen. However, her citizenship paperwork was not finished in time to vote.

When the paperwork arrived with former President Gerald Ford’s signature instead of Carter’s she made a goal of one day receiving Carter’s signature. This goal inspired Elshoff’s cross-country bicycle trip.

She rides around 40 miles per day on her solar-powered ELF, stopping at local Lions club chapters to raise money for the Lions’ Leader Dogs for the Blind program. She accomplished her goal of receiving Carter’s signature on January 31 of this year when she met him in Plains, Georgia.

Elshoff returned to Organic Transit’s headquarters in Durham on Tuesday and was welcomed by local Lions Club members, Organic Transit staff members, and ELF enthusiasts.

Launched by a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, Organic Transit designs and manufactures the ELF, a solar- and pedal-powered trike. CEO Rob Cotter started Organic Transit to fill the space between a bicycle and a car. The ELF (which stands for Electric, Light, Fun) can travel up to 20 mph using only the electric motor and up to 30 mph when combined with pedaling.

Each ELF can prevent as many as six tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually if it’s used in place of a car. Over 700 ELFs have been sold in 10 countries.

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