Sunday, 2 February 2014

Provence by eBike

I think I mentioned that in September Mr Aggy and I did a fabulous trip in Provence by eBike.

We booked the package tour through Sun ebikes. They were really helpful and Maxime of Sun eBikes customised a tour just for us. I really recommend this company.

The tour left Bonnieux in Provence. Maxime had organised a pick-up from the Avignon train station and this all went smoothly. At Bonnieux there were rows of Peugeot eBikes set up for day tours and two bikes set aside for Mr Aggy and I. Note that the Peugeot eBikes have seven gears like the Gazelle, but they use a derailleur rather than the Hub gears, so I had to make sure I was in the right gear when I stopped.




Sun eBikes have a great model for eBiking. They give you two batteries and a list of places with fresh batteries. You simply change your battery over around every 20 km. It is so easy and you never have range anxiety.


Day 1: 48 km

The first day we stayed at Bonnieux and then rode through Lacoste and Menerbes. (If you have read 'A Year in Provence' by Peter Maille then you might be a bit disappointed with Menerbes - it has changed a lot since the book was written!)

Mr Aggy and I were enjoying our eBikes as the route was very hilly and we were continually riding up and down. We ended up at a lovely town called L'Isle-Sur-La Sorgue which is surrounded by water. Our room at Les Terraces Du Bassin overlooked the river and a small bridge where we had dinner. The people who run this hotel were lovely and even lifted out heavy (locked) ebikes inside when it started to rain.


Nice spot eh?

You can find the Strava details of our ride here.

Day 2: 48 km

Poured with rain on and off - but luckily every time it rained we were inside! We rode to Roussillon today via Fontaine de Vaucluse (the source of the river Sorgue) and Gordes one of the prettiest villages in France at the top of a hill. 


Mr Aggy with Gourdes in the background

The hotel that had been booked had double-booked itself but Maxime found us some marvellous alternative accommodation. We ended up in a 'room' with an upstairs bedroom with toilet, downstairs bathroom with shower, separate toilet and spa bath; outside our own private terrace (on the second floor) overlooking the valley and a heated outdoor spa! 

You can find the Strava details of our ride here.


Day 3: 55 km

We started the day with a walk around Roussillon. This area is famous for its ochre buildings and ochre sands. We also tried to go down an ochre mine, but we missed the French tour and the English tour was too late. 

However later that day we rode to Colarado Proven├žal which has fabulous landscapes due to the over sands and lots if red rocks that looked a lot like mini Ayres Rock.



Got lost going into Apt, but eventually found our accommodation - an old convent. Very quirky, but lovely. (You pay what you think the drink is worth at the mini bar!)

We really enjoyed the eBikes, they were perfect for the terrain and the Sun ebike company's organisation was excellent.

You can find the Strava details of our ride here.



Day 4: 79 Km (bit longer than the itinerary!)


78.5 km today over massive hills and into a terrible headwind. Good old eBike! 

Our destination of Lourmarin was quite close to our departure point, but we went the scenic route! 

Mr Aggy at Col de L'aire Alt 696 m!


The view towards the Giant of Provence


One of the many pretty villages

Unfortunately on this final night, Sun eBike were let down by their choice of restaurant. The hotel restaurant was closed and they arranged for us to eat at. Restaurant No 9 in Loumarin. Food was terrible! If you have a chance to eat in Loumarin, don't eat here. The souffle was like a pancake.



We have a couple of suggestions for Sun eBike:

  • The two batteries tended to rattle, so we wrapped a coat around them. It would be better if they had a piece of thick rubber between each battery. 
  • Also, each bike had a large basket on the front. This is OK for day-trippers, but if you are riding all day, it would be better to have two panniers on the back. They are more stable and can hold a handbag and a coat and all the rest of the stuff you need.




Friday, 24 January 2014

Showcasing Geelong

How exciting! Another Gazelle owner, Elena, contacted me via this blog about riding with our little group. So after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing via email, a ride was duly set up in Geelong. (If you have read the previous entry you will know that Jules' Gazelle's is in Geelong at the moment.)

Then another friend, Tracey, decided to commandeer her sister's electric bike and come along as well. (Tracey and I often ride together on our non-electric bikes.)

Before the ride

Tracey's sister's bike (soon to be Tracey's bike, I think) is not a Gazelle but a Flight bought from Goldcross. This seems an excellent bike. It is the previous standard eBike so it has a throttle, but it has hub gears and a torque pedal sensor plus a good battery (LiPo I think). Handy centre stand.

Bought at a run-out sale by Goldcross at well under $1000 - bargain!

Flight Bike - looks like a Gazelle!
 
Flight Controller - two assist settings and three bars for the battery.
I've had a look at the Goldcross site, but I don't think they sell electric bikes any more.
 
Anyway, the four of us set off mid morning on a lovely sunny day. I had decided that since Elena hadn't seen much of Geelong we should do a Geelong 'showcase' and do a loop that included the Geelong waterfront and the Barwon River.
 
First stop was the Eastern Gardens to look at the hundreds of fruit bats hanging there. I think they came to Geelong when they were evicted from the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. (I haven't taken a pic as I didn't think it would turn out very well - but take my word for it, there are lots and lots of bats.)
 
After that we rode on to the waterfront and had a quick look over Eastern Beach. This is a really nice area with Art Deco kiosk and two swimming enclosures - the smaller one for children has just been renovated.
 
 
We decided to coffee at the Sheraton - nice setting but extremely slow service. I can't really recommend it - but it does has nice toilets! (8/10)
 
EBikes outside the Sheraton

After the coffee stop, we rode for some time along the Geelong Waterfront. If you have a look at the Strava feed, you will see that there is a wonderful shared cycle path that runs right along the water.
 
We then went to look at the Mill Markets - a large store with an eclectic mix of junk - but it was CLOSED! Mid week! Fortunately there was similar shop right next door so we got to browse a bit and speculate on who buys all this stuff.
 
From there we had to negotiate a bit of the road to get to the Linear Trail that runs from Douro St up to the defunct Cement Works. There is a steep downhill on the road from there to get to the Barwon River.
 
The river route was lovely and we ended up detouring off the river and cycling to Pakington Cottage for lunch. Nice lunch in the garden there at a reasonable price. (However I don't see too many positive reviews on Urbanspoon!)  I'm not too keen on the toilet (one shared for the whole venue) probably 5/10.
 
Finally we took the long route via Breakwater along the river to the new Little Creatures Brewery in Swanston St where we finished up for the day.
 
Little Creatures Brewery is a huge new venue in Geelong with a very trendy feel and slightly too loud music (to my old ears anyway.) There is a great beer garden and a large inside area. Very bicycle friendly.
 
Well worth a visit if you are in Geelong. But be warned - get there early on a Saturday or Sunday or else you may have to queue.
 

 


 Ride Details:
  • Ride about 39 km, flat
  • Mainly bike trail
  • 1 bar on the Gold battery at 18 km, 2 bars at 36 km
  • Riding with no regard to battery conservation.
FYI, Tracey's bike didn't lose a bar and she rode 41 km all up.
 
You can view the ride on Strava here.



Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
230
729


 

 
 


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Geelong to Queenscliff and Back

Well,  sorry about the long lapse in posts, but I've been busy!

In August and September, Mr Aggy and I went overseas and did four different cycling tours. Three required the full use of legs, but the last was a four-day tour in Provence on electric bikes. Fabulous! Mr Aggy thinks this needs its own post, so I will give you the information later.

Then when we got back to OZ, I hopped on my normal Trek and promptly fell off and hurt my ankle. (Worst thing was I was still in my own driveway!)

So anyway, it's a new year and more rides are planned. Those of you living in Melbourne will know that the suburban trains are having lots of upgrades in January and VLine is its normal disastrous self, so Jules has left her bike here with me in Geelong.

I've always wanted to see if we could get to Queenscliff and back on the one Gold battery. Mr Aggy and I had previously ridden to Banks winery and back, so I thought it should be possible.

So a couple of Wednesdays ago we set off. (Mr Aggy works from home on a Wednesday, so he promised to pick us up if we ran out of juice.) Wednesday was a lovely day, but with a very strong Easterly wind. This meant we were riding into a strong wind all the way along the Bellarine Rail trail to Queenscliff.

I had ridden my bike around Geelong a bit before the trip, but Jules hadn't ridden at all. So a few kms into the ride we noticed her back tyre was a bit flat. Now I have to confess here that neither Jules nor I have ever pumped up a Gazelle tyre. So we took off the pump and Jules had a go - unsuccessfully. So unsuccessfully in fact that the tyre ended up completely flat. There was no way we could get it to pump up (especially since I told Jules to put the valve in the wrong way around!) Anyway we had to ring Mr Aggy who trundled out with the big pump and fixed us up.



So, slightly delayed we set off again. Our first stop was Banks Road Winery and the Bistro at Banks. This is an easy ride up the road from the Bellarine Rail trail. We both had a glass of the Banks Pinot Gris - delicious. 

This place was packed for lunch, the staff were extremely friendly and nice and the toilet was a 10/10. I read that they have a seafood night on a Sunday night, so I'd like to go back with Mr Aggy sometime. At this stage we had done 28 km and lost one bar.

Jules with the Banks Pinot Gris

Once we left Banks, it was just a short hop to Queenscliff and a late lunch at Charlie Noble cafe. We had dips and shared a pizza - really far too much food. Excellent value and the staff were really nice. At this stage we had done about 42 km - two bars down.

So we started back quite late in the day. The wind had turned a bit, so it wasn't directly behind us - typical! Another issue is that Jules' bike is still not quite right. Her Boost is like my Normal setting and her Normal is like my Eco. So we swapped for a bit on the way back in order to try and make the distance.

As it turned out, we made it easily - two bars left on my bike and one bar left on Jules. (As she had supposedly boosted all the way the Queenscliff, clearly something is not quite right.)

All up we did about 79-80 km (I didn't start or finish the Strava record at my house, so we did a couple of kms above what it shows.)


Ride Details:
  • Ride about 79-80 km, flat
  • Trail - in poor condition in spots, but mainly OK
  • 1 bar on the Gold battery at 18 km, 2 bars at 33 km, 3 bars at 55 km. On Jules bike, the fourth bar dropped off at 75 km, on my bike I had 2 bars left.

You can view the ride on Strava here.


Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
224
718





Monday, 12 August 2013

Quick car replacement km update

Sorry about the lack of posts - I have been riding my bike around town, but I haven't been on any group rides. (Incidentally the Happy Rainy Days coat has kept me very dry through some really bad weather.)

I thought I would update my replacement car trips counter. This records the number of times I have replaced a car trip with a bike trip. For instance, if I replaced a drive to the supermarket and back, this journey would count as two trips. I basically count it as a trip if I would have had to park the car and get out.

As you can see, the distance is getting up.


Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
200
633



Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bright Brewery and Boyntons Winery

Day 3 In the Victorian High country

On Day 3, a ride into Bright was planned. It was another lovely day and the paved trail made for easy riding. About halfway we had a rest stop at Eurobin station.

Eurobin Station


The ride into Bright - lovely!



It is about 30 km into Bright from Myrtleford and we had a very enjoyable lunch sitting outside at the Bright Brewery.  It was particularly nice as it was non-smoking outside, so for once we could have lunch without being surrounded by clouds of smoke. 

Bit of a cheat here - we took this  photo the next day!

After lunch it was about a 10 km ride back along the trail to Boyntons Winery. This is a really lovely winery with an outside eating area.  


Looking over Boynton's vines


The terrace outside

The view from Boynton's outside terrace

Finally a quick ride back to Myrtleford along a mostly flat track. Easy riding.


Nice views on the way back too - great weather!
Ride Details:
  • Ride about 59 km, flat
  • Paved trail
  • 1 bar on the Gold battery at 40 km, no further bars used.
  • Used boost a bit on the way back as I was stopping to take photos and then I boosted to catch up.

You can view the ride on Strava here.






Monday, 3 June 2013

Bus-a-Bike, Stanley and Beechworth

Day 2 In the Victorian High country


Quite a long ride was planned for our second day in the Victorian High Country.

The Stanley Pub has a great reputation for it food and Janet had organised lunch there for our group. The only catch is that Stanley is about 22 km away straight up! (From Strava, the climb seems to be about 780 m.)


I was a bit worried that the Gazelle might find this a bit steep, so I caught the bus-a-bike instead. This is a great service that lets you load your bike onto a trailer and ride in comfort to various destinations. Myrtleford to Stanley was $90 between five of us. (Cheap, I thought compared with riding up that hill!)


The Gazelle on the bus-a-bike trailer


The bike is secured at the front and also by placing the pedal into this slot
 - quite clever
The lunch at Stanley was delicious and very convivial. Janet had done a lot of work beforehand and had organised a great menu. And after two filling courses and a few wines, I felt like taking a nap, not riding onto Beechworth. But on we went. 

Stanely Pub - very picturesque.

Beechworth is a nice touristy town and a good place for a stop. There was no winery there, but some of the group went to the Bridge Road Brewery.

Interesting mix of products in Beechworth!

After Beechworth we rejoined the trail and had a very enjoyable DOWNHILL ride. Yes, it was downhill for km after km on the trail from Beechworth until we reached the Myrtleford section of the rail trail at Everton and turned LEFT - or at least all but two of us turned left. The other two ended up in Wangaratta and had to be collected by car. (This despite many signposts indicating Myrtleford getting further and further away!)

Hard to see the downhill, but it was downhill for ages!

The way back from Everton seemed to take a long time and it was dark by the time we arrived back at camp. Fortunately the Gazelle has built-in lights, so I just switched these on. There was only one major hill at Taylor's gap which we approached from the other side to the ride on the previous day.

Ride Details:
  • Ride about 54 km, mostly downhill as I used the bus-a-bike for the uphill section
  • Paved trail
  • 1 bar on the Gold battery used at 38 km, no further bars used.
  • Riding with little regard for battery conservation, but there was a lot of downhill

You can view the ride on Strava here.







Saturday, 1 June 2013

Myrtleford to Tarrawingee

Day 1 in the Victorian High Country

Recently Mr Aggy and I went to the Victorian High Country, staying in Myrtleford. We went with our riding group and had some excellent rides and lunches planned by Janet - thanks Janet. J

You will notice a bit of a theme to the rides - they all include a pub and a winery stop!

I took both bikes on this holiday with the intention of riding the Trek on at least one day, but the lure and comfort of the Gazelle was too much, and I rode it everywhere.

Our first ride was on the
 Murray to the Mountains rail trail from Myrtleford to the Tarrawingee pub where we were meeting up with some other members of our cycling group for lunch. We estimated the ride to be about 40 km, and as a return trip seemed a bit much,  Mr Aggy and Brad (Mr Janet) went up early in the day and left a car at the Pub so we would only have to ride one way.

I hadn't been up this part of Victoria much and it was a beautiful ride. The leaves on the trees were changing colour and the bike track was excellent. It is paved all the way and very easy to ride (especially on the Gazelle!). There was only one major hill at Taylor's Gap, which the pedelec handled easily.  


Janet, Brad and I on the rail trail -
as you can see it is sealed and very easy to ride. (Hmmm, it looks like I wasn't using my legs much - they are in short sleeves and I have my jacket on!)


The view from the trail.

The ride from Myrtleford to Tarrawingee takes you past the now disused Everton Station where there are public toilets available. (I didn't use these, so no rating.) 





The trail is also well sign-posted, so you should not get lost.



We had to ride the last few km on the road to get to the pub, but this was along a quiet road, so it wasn't a problem. 

Although it was only 43 km, we were happy to get to the Tarrawingee pub (called The Plough Inn) and extremely pleased with our foresight in leaving a car there as we didn't want to ride back!. FYI, the Tarrawingee pub is nice and the publican is very friendly, but the food is a bit overpriced in my opinion. I had the scallops dish and had four scallops on the plate! Not much for lunch.


Some of the cycling group at the The Plough Inn.

On the way back from the pub we stopped at Gapstead winery. (I did say all rides included a pub and a winery!) Very relaxing sitting outside there with a glass of wine on a beautiful autumn day.



Ride Details:
  • Ride about 43 km (one way), one big hill
  • Paved trail
  • 1 bar used on the Gold battery at 23 km
  • 2 bars used at 39 km
  • Riding with no regard to battery conservation

You can view the ride on Strava here.









Thursday, 30 May 2013

Wish list for the next Gazelle model

Apologies for the delay in posting readers - life has gotten in the way a bit. 

I have still been riding as you will see from my replacement car trips. In fact, I have saved a fortune in parking fees this month as I have been in and out of Geelong CBD quite often. (Parking is outrageously expensive - $2 per hour.) I've also done a bit of riding up the country, but more of that another day.

In this post I thought that I would mention some of the features that I would love to see on the next Gazelle model  - XT Plus? Don't get me wrong, I love my Gazelle, but there is always room for improvement.

The Battery

  • More battery divisions - five is not enough! I'd like ten, but I would settle for eight. It just means that my range anxiety would be a lot less. When I'm down to 1 bar, I feel quite worried.
  • A Platinum battery that works with the XT. (I lust after more range!)
  • Quicker recharge would be handy too.

Gears

  • More gears would be helpful. I'd like additional lower gears for getting up hills as I like to use my legs where I can and I'd like some higher gears so I can keep up the with 'normal' bikes going down hills.

The Controller
  • I'd love a clock on the controller - I don't wear a watch and I keep having to check the time on my phone.
  • A raised button on the control pad would be good so I know when my finger is on the Mode button without looking.

Water bottle holder

  • They may not need to carry water in Holland, but we sure need it here.

Lights

  • I'd like a flashing rear light as standard and I'd like the ability to put the front light on flash too. Lights are good ways to attract attention when you are sharing the road with cars.

'Walk' feature for steep hills.

  • Sometimes, I just don't have the legs to get up a steep hill, even with maximum assist. So I have to get off the bike and push it. Well, the bike is heavy and the incline is great, so it's hard work. At this stage I long for a 'Walk' button - just a bit of unpedalled assist to help move the bike.

Well that's all I can think of at the moment. Any other suggestions?



Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
93
356



Monday, 29 April 2013

Happy Rainy Days coat problem

Hmmm, I thought I'd better let you all know that I am having a few issues with Happy Rainy Days.

I received a tracking number the other day (25th April), but today I received this email:


        We received your return in good condition. Thank you.

        We will take care of it within 7 working days.

        Have a Happy Rainy Day!


I haven't  received my coat and I certainly haven't returned it! I'm not sure what is going on and they are out of the office today for 'Queens Day'.

I checked the tracking number and it looks as if something was wrong with the export documents.

I have emailed Saskia and will keep you posted.



Strava blog links

I usually try and map my ride on Strava.

However, Mr Aggy has pointed out that if the person reading the blog does not have a Strava account, all they see is the ride profile.

So I will  try and paste up the abbreviated Strava map as well as the link to my Strava account. (I have added these to my last few posts.)

However, if you really want to check out the ride and zoom in on the map, I suggest that you create a free Strava account. I have had one for a year now and it is really useful. I don't think I have received any spam due to being a member.