Tuesday, 13 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.






Tuesday, 4 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.







Sunday, 2 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.









Friday, 31 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



Tuesday, 30 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.



Monday, 29 April 2013

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.




Monday, 22 April 2013

Capital City Trail in a Stylish Rain Coat

The other day Kaz and I ventured forth along the Capital City Trail (clockwise). This is one of my favorite trails, so I was happy to do it again.

I caught the train up to Melbourne a bit ahead of our meeting time as I noticed that one of the supports for my mudguard had come away at the the front. So at 9:00 am on the dot, I went to a bike shop in Bourke St near the station who kindly fixed it for me (for free).


Kaz and I met up at Southern Cross station and headed off towards Costco and then across the street to the least appealing part of the trail. It runs by the side of the Moonee Ponds Creek (I think?) and the freeway. It is smelly and there are often homeless people there who hurl abuse at you as you ride past (though not this day). So we cycled through that part fairly quickly.


From there onto Parkville and down the trail to our first stop - coffee and cake. We stopped at the coffee shop next to Velo Cycles in Clifton Hill - St ALi North. We had a tasty cake each and a regular coffee, but the cost  - $12 each! Very expensive - not sure I'll stop there again.


After coffee, I took of photo of Kaz. I had been admiring her new raincoat all morning.


As you can see she is wearing this fantastic red raincoat made especially for cycling by Happy Rainy Days in the Netherlands. It is breathable and has a flap at the front so you can close the flap if it starts to rain and keep your legs dry. It looked great and I immediately came home and ordered one for myself. (FYI, I've ordered a large, but I'm a bit worried about the the length as I am shorter than Kaz.)


Little Red Riding Hood!

I found that I had to contact Happy Rainy Days via their Facebook page and ask them to email me. Neither their 'info' email address nor their phone number seemed to work. So If you love the coat and also want to order one, I suggest you email Saskia, via this email: Saskia@happyrainydays.nl.   Shipping is 12.95 Euro.

We then continued along the trail. It turned out to be a lovely day, but a bit cold. 



Crossing Merri Creek - love the coat!



As usual, Dights Falls doesn't seem worthy of the name 'Falls'. Kaz suggested 'spillway' and I think this is a bit more descriptive.


Dights Falls - it's no Niagara!

One issue with the Capital City Trail is the 'serious' cyclists. Clearly they are not keen on sharing with people who are just tootling along. Of course, we moved over when people approached and when we heard a bell behind us, but one particularly aggressive rider didn't have a bell - just a big mouth! I guess that like drivers on the road, you get idiots on the trails.

Kaz lost her first bar at about 7 km on the Silver battery and I suggested that she get in the habit of turning off assist when going downhill. (Sean from MySpokes had given me this tip. If you pedal as you go downhill, the bike still tries to assist and you drain the battery.)


We finished the day at Southbank and had lunch at Ludlow Bar. It was $20 including a glass of wine or a pint of beer.We both had the burger, which was OK but not great.




Great view from our lunch spot



Ride Details:
  • Ride about 38 km, flat
  • I used 1 bar on the Gold battery at 24 km, no further bars used.

You can view the ride on Strava here.




Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
68
299





Thursday, 18 April 2013

Pannier update - thank-you Gazelle Australia!

In a recent post 'Problems with the Perfect Pannier', I outlined how one of my panniers had frayed on  the top panel.

I had originally bought these from Pushys, so I sent them an email with some photos of the problem and received this reply:

If you could please send me some pictures of this I can assess this for you and send it to my supplier and see what we can do for you.
Kindest Regards
The Customer Service Team

I had actually sent photos, but I sent them again and received this response.

I will need to get these back to me so I can have a look as this does not look right
Please follow the link below to our returns/exchange form.
Print this, fill in the details and return it with the item in the package.
 Kindest Regards
The Customer Service Team

I then rang and spoke to someone there to see why I needed to send the panniers back. Surely my photos were enough? But they wanted to take their own photos and send them to their supplier. I offered to take more pics, but to no avail. I would be looking at at least two weeks without panniers. 

I felt that this was pretty ordinary, as in the past (with other suppliers), I have had no trouble. So, I'm not dealing with Pushys again. Next time I think I'll just buy from my not-so-local bike store - MySpokes as I know they have excellent customer service.

However, there is a bright side to this story.

I knew Gazelle Australia were the Australian distributor of Basil bags. So I sent them the same photos of the frayed top flap.

The next day Paul from Gazelle rang me and told me that it looked like I had a faulty bag and sent a replacement - which I received Tuesday! What great service! No problems! What a great company!

Thank-you Paul :)





Friday, 12 April 2013

Jules' bike has problems on Merri Creek ride

Last Wednesday Jules and I decided to catch the train to Pascoe Vale, ride along the Western Ring Road and then ride down the Merri Creek Trail to the CBD. (Kaz couldn't make it, so it was just the two of us). Good plan - but as you will see there were a few difficulties.

We met at Southern Cross and caught the train out to Pascoe Vale station without any trouble. I had sussed out a good spot for coffee - Jack and Daisy's - and we were able to ride down some quiet streets to get there. There was a bit of uphill, but not too much.

Jack and Daisy's has good coffee and friendly staff and it rated well on Urbanspoon - but, oh dear, it is let down by the toilets. Dirty, no soap, minimal toilet paper - 3.5/10. Also, it was obviously rubbish collection day in Pascoe Vale and there was quite a lot of rubbish on the footpath that had fallen out during collection near the outside tables. It would have made the place look a bit more attractive if this had been cleaned up.

At coffee we pooled our mapping resources. I had multiple print-outs of Google Maps, my 'Where to Ride in Melbourne' pocket map and a few satellite shot and copies of pages from the latest Melways that I had just purchased. Jules had her Compact Gregory's and a new 'Where to Ride in Melbourne'. This time we would not get lost!

After coffee we set off and joined the Moonee Ponds Creek trail at Gaffney Street. This is a very attractive trail that takes you up to the Western Ring Road.



It was while we were riding along here that Jules noticed a few issues with her bike. 

I should give you a bit of background here. For some time Jules has seen an error flash on her controller when she turned on her bike. It has unfortunately been an intermittent problem and when Sean at MySpokes checked it, the controller did not log any error. Intermittent errors are notoriously hard to track down and we thought at some stage it would become more pronounced. Well it happened on this ride! 

First Jules noticed that her bike seemed non-responsive. It didn't feel like Boost was really boosting  So we swapped for a while, and yes, it was clear that the level of assist on Jules' Gazelle was pretty low. An error 'C4' also kept flashing up.

As we rode a bit further we found that sometimes the bike was not assisting at all. It seemed to come on randomly when riding. Changing gear might prompt it to come on for a bit - but then it went off again. We took the battery out and reseated it a few times, but it didn't help. 

There was a massive hill up from the trail to follow the Ring Road which my bike managed in Boost. But Jules and I had to take turns at riding and pushing her bike to the top. 

This picture doesn't really just how steep the hill is - it was steep!

So we had the decision, do we abort the ride or go on? In the end we decided to continue on and I offered to share the pain of the hills. (However, Jules never took me up on this again  - I would in the reverse situation!)

Annoyingly, Jules' bike later began giving intermittent or no assist up the hills and then coming on just as she crested the hill.

We rode along the Western Ring Road and as usual, despite multiple maps, we made a wrong turn. We ended up by a lake in the Jack Roper Reserve, very pretty, but not where we needed to be.



A quick backtrack and we were on the right path again. But then, we came to roadworks. As anyone in Melbourne will tell you, they are ALWAYS doing work on the Western Ring Road. Well, this work sealed off the bike track and there was no advice on where to detour. However, we noticed that no one seemed to be working, and there were a few bike tyre marks through the sealed-off bit so we took our chances that we could get through.


Unfortunately, this would be the one day that they were actually doing something - not just closing off the road for future works - and a fair way down the track we had to turn back.

Luckily we had every street directory known to man in our packs, so we worked out a route that took us to Merri Creek.

A couple of km into our detour we discovered this sign.  As you can see, they are running well behind schedule.



Strangely for us, we found the Merri Creek trail without any problems. What a great trail! Beautiful scenery, well-signposted and a great trail surface. I highly recommend this trail. 




The trail runs past Coburg lake and the old Pentridge prison (now apartments). 

One of the old prison towers - looked in very poor repair

Coburg lake ends at a weir
Coburg also has a great outside gym! I've never seen anything like this. It must be very sturdy as there was no signs of vandalism and all the equipment worked well. What a great idea. 

Outside gym

Despite having limited assist, Jules loves to cycle!
The rest of the ride was just as interesting. 

Great wooden bridge

We thought this looked like Sleeping Beauty's Castle -
turns out to be a Russian Orthodox Church.
This was quite a long ride and I was trying to use legs a lot in sympathy with Jules. So by the time we joined the Capital City Trail and rode through Clifton Hill, Parkville and down through Docklands we were really tired and felt as if we had really earned our lunch.

We had lunch at The Left Bank in Southbank. $22 including a glass of wine. The food was excellent but the service was a bit patchy. The toilets rated well - 9/10.

Vline service was totally overcrowded on the way home. They had cut five carriages down to three. And one poor lady near me had her baby vomit everywhere! But we had a great conductor who looked after my bike, so I was happy.

I was really tired that night but I think Jules would have been exhausted. I also got caught out a bit with the heat - 27C and I was a bit dehydrated. I need to watch out for that.

Ride Details:
  • Ride about 45 km, some hills. All up I did 48 km for the day
  • Only windy at Docklands
  • I used 1 bar on the Gold battery at 17 km, no further bars used.
  • Jules used 1 bar on the Gold battery at 37 km.

You can view the ride on Strava here.





Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
66
296




Thursday, 11 April 2013

Problems with the Perfect Pannier

On yesterday's ride (more about that in another post), I noticed a problem with my panniers. The top of one side of the panniers had frayed.



If you've been reading this blog, you would know I bought these from Pushys (see Quest for the Perfect Pannier), so I've sent them an email. 

I really think it must be a manufacturing fault as it is on the top seam, which doesn't take any strain.

Fingers crossed that that they agree with me and send out a new double pannier. Anyway, I'll keep you posted.

Update: Pushys want me to send the panniers to them. They will be gone at least two weeks. Apparently my photos aren't enough, they need to take photos and send to their supplier. I'm not sure what to do now, as I will need the panniers, but I'm not very impressed. I guess I was hoping that they might have replaced the panniers and I could have then sent the old ones back. I can see the scenario where I will be without panniers for two to three weeks and then they'll say it's my fault.



Monday, 8 April 2013

Oakleigh to Port Melbourne

And then we were three!

Yes, another rider has joined our ranks - Kaz who is also from Croydon. (She had previously contacted me via this blog about joining our rides.) 

Kaz met up with Jules at the Croydon station and I rode from Southern Cross station and met up with them both at Richmond station.

You could instantly tell that Kaz's bike is new - it was so shiny! I thought I was keeping mine in good condition, but clearly I need to lift my game.


The Gazelle Group!
As you can see Kaz is wearing a RockiNoggins - a 'Blake' I think with one of the accessory flowers pinned onto it. It looks great.

The coffee place in Oakleigh was called The Vanilla Lounge, and while we averted our eyes firmly from the cakes, they had a magnificent selection available. Toilets good and clean, 7/10. The tables outside were in a mall, so it was very pleasant.



Kaz's bike has a silver battery - but I don't think that will be a problem as we never go near running out of charge.

For today's ride I had purchased the 'Where to Ride in Melbourne' map and I also took along my 'Where to Ride in Melbourne' book. (I have edition 1 and I see that there is a new edition out, so I'd better get it. I am determined that we will not get lost!)

So off from Oakleigh we set and we cycled for a little bit down the Rosstown trail. (Sorry, I forgot to start Cyclemeter straight-away so I've missed this bit of the ride.)

Then we tootled through Urban Forest Trail in Murrumbeena and eventually joined the Gardner's Creek Trail. 

Where we joined the Gardiner's Creek Trail
I noticed that there were a number of lights set into the side of the trail and I was wondering if they solar. 


All was revealed later on. Great idea!




The Gardiners Creek Trail is very scenic. At one point there was a massive duck feeding frenzy on the trail.


Then later on, we ended up under the Monash freeway.


At this stage we arrived at the Melbourne CBD, but it seemed a bit early for lunch, so we decided to continue onto Port Melbourne via Southbank and Lorimer Street and then loop back to the City via the Sandridge trail.

On the way through Southbank we saw this great cafe which I assume is bicycle friendly!





Once we had looped back to Southbank, we had a lovely lunch at Il Primo Posto.

I caught the 3:20 pm train from Melbourne to Geelong and once again, VLine were hopeless. They refused to let me lie the bike down, they would not let me try and tie it to a fixture in the carriage, and it appears the bike has been dropped again. Useless!



Ride Details:
  • Ride about 30 km, flat, but with riding to Richmond I did 39 km for the day
  • Very windy around Port Melbourne, but OK everywhere else
  • I used a lot of legs and did 39 km, no bars used on Gold battery
  • Jules used one bar of the Gold battery at 31 km.
  • Kaz used one bar at 20 km and two bars at 34 km on a silver battery
You can view the ride on Strava here.






Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
47
254