Thursday, 31 January 2013

Suspicious keys

I'm not sure if you know, but the Gazelle comes with its own built-in AXA wheel lock. This is extremely convenient and is another thoughtful feature provided by Gazelle to make the bike more user-friendly. If I am somewhere where I can see the bike, I just use this lock.

Lock up.
Lock pushed down and locked.

 As you can see it locks through the wheel. 

Considering the amount of air between the spokes, it is surprising the number of times I have to rotate the wheel as the lock is directly over a spoke or over the inner tube valve. Fortunately Gary from MySpokes warned me about this when I bought the bike because otherwise I would probably have broken a spoke!

If you want extra protection for your bike, you can lock it with the AXA cable lock that conveniently fits into the bike frame.

The same key also unlocks the battery.

Now I am hopeless with keys. I put them down when I go into the house and immediately forget where they are. So while the Gazelle comes with two keys as standard, I was sure that at some stage - probably far, far, from home  - I would misplace a key.

So I decided to order two new keys from Gazelle. This is pretty easy. You simply go to the Gazelle Australia site and click on Support (or click here.)

I duly ordered and paid for two keys and they arrived pretty promptly. But have a look at the package that arrived (below).

Clearly something suspicious was flagged at Australia Post. I wonder if they thought it was odd someone would just get keys or if the sniffer dogs detected some trace of cannabis from those liberal Dutch! 

Anyway, they got through and now I am planning on putting a spare key in each our cars and have another spare at home. Hopefully I will never get stuck too far from a key with a locked bike.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Gone with the wine

Last Saturday was Australia Day and Mr Aggy and I went for a long ride with our riding group. I was on my Trek and was consequently wrecked for the the rest of Saturday. I also did nothing on the Sunday part from walking to the supermarket for chocolate. 

So on the Australia Day holiday on Monday Mr Aggy and I thought we had better bestir ourselves and go for a ride. I was fairly keen to see if the Gazelle can make it from Geelong to Queenscliff, but as this might have been a bit far, we settled on a shorter circuit.

We decided to target a winery, Leura Park, which is just off the Bellarine Rail Trail. This also serves lunch, so I booked a table for two and off we set.

The trail is quite flat and I was determined to ride very conservatively as I wanted to see if I could get to Queenscliff and back on another day.  

There was a bit of a headwind, but at least this meant an easy trip back.

We arrived at the Portarlington Road turnoff at around 11:45 am. I had lunch booked for 1:00 pm, so we decided to continue on to Drysdale. This is very close to the highest point on the ride, so it is a good test for the battery.

If you are going to ride to Drysdale, be warned that there is a very bad road crossing as you enter Drysdale. There are no lights nearby so you just have to try to cross this very busy road.

Bad road crossing
However, it's worth the angst. Over the road is the Drysdale station for the Bellarine Railway. We arrived just as a steam train arrived. Lots of kids were having a great time!

At this stage of the journey we had ridden about 26 km the Gold battery was still on the first bar. I'm starting to think that Queenscliff return might just be possible.

Back to the Portarlington Road turnoff and onto the road. The ride along the road here is on a very wide bicycle lane and feels quite safe.

Leura Park winery was great. First we had a wine tasting and then we had lunch under a tent in the garden.

How good does this look?
Lovely surroundings, good wine and food - we'll be going back. 

Unfortunately on the way back the wind had changed again and we had a headwind again - very annoying. Again, I was trying to ride conservatively, but I had to use 'Boost' a couple of times. 

Mr Aggy and I rewarded ourselves for getting out and about with a bottle of Leura Park Estate Pinot Chardonnay on the deck at home that night. Pretty much a perfect day!

Ride Details:
  • Ride 46 km on trail, mostly flat
  • Windy
  • Riding to conserve battery, mainly Eco or off.
  • Ticked over second bar on Gold battery at 46 km as I arrived home. 

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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Basil Beauty Shopper basket- wicker vs rattan review

As I mentioned before, I purhcased the Basil Beauty Shopper in wicker for my Gazelle. It is a great little basket although at the moment I am having a bit of a problem with it rotating on the handlebar stem. I have spoken the the ever-helpful Sean at MySpokes, and he is going to put in a spacer next time I am there.

However, I thought I should mention the rattan-look Basil Beauty Shopper. In my opinion, it is quite inferior to the wicker version as it has a mesh bottom. I assume that there is some sort of rationale for this, but I can't imagine what. 

As you can see from the above pics, anything little would fall straight out.

Contrast this with the wicker shopper. 

The wicker basket has a solid base.

A much better basket!

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Pedelec versus road bikes

This week I decided to try and keep up with the road riders on our Saturday morning ride. This is a ride I would not normally attempt as it is a bit too far and at too fast a pace for me on my unassisted bike.

The Gazelle went really well, but as expected I could not keep up with the road riders on the flat; although I did make up some distance on the hills. As you can see from Strava, my average speed was 24.2 km/hour over 41 km. Pretty good I think. (I was quite puffed.)

FYI, I actually did a slightly longer ride than indicated by Strava as I rode from home, but only started the GPS at our meeting point in Belmont.

I have been trying to track my heart rate on rides to see how much exercise I am getting from pedelecing. For this ride the heart rate monitor indicated an average heart rate of 156 which seems very high. Further investigation revealed that my resting heart rate was around 130, which also seems very high as I believe it is usually in the 70s. So while I was pushing myself for most of the ride, I think there must be a glitch in the data. If there is no glitch, then make the most of these posts because there may not be many more!

Ride Details:
  • Ride 41 km on road, some small hills, mostly flat
  • Riding to conserve battery on way out.
  • Ticked over second bar at 40 km.

You can view the ride on Strava here.

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Croydon To Jells Park Return - Basket Problems

Last Tuesday, Jules and I did our first ride by ourselves.

Our plan in the morning was to ride to Croydon to Carrum and back, but as you can see from the title of this post, we only made it to Jells Park.

We started off on the Taralla Creek Trail and then joined the Dandenong Creek Trail. We had a lovely ride through bushland and felt like we were miles from civilisation. 

At one point, the Eastlink Trail and the Dandenong Creek Trail diverge and we had to backtrack a bit to keep on the Dandenong Creek trail. This involved going past the tip (yuck, cover your nose) and along the boardwalk.

Then problems! I turned around to see Jules make a spectacular leap off her bike and land about the metre down in the shrub off the boardwalk. We had both been having difficulties with our Basil Beauty baskets rotating on the handlebar stem. On the bumpy boardwalk, Jules' basket had rotated around causing her to unbalance. Rather than fall half onto the boardwalk, she leapt off the bike to land cleanly. (It was a spectacular leap!) She was quite shaken up and a bit jolted but OK.

The basket has rotated quite dangerously.

Fortunately, Mr Jules had supplied a couple of occy straps, so she took her basket off and attached it to the back of the bike for the rest of the ride. I jammed my handlebars forward and managed to keep the basket mainly in place. But we can see a trip to MySpokes coming up.

We arrived at Jells Park at about noon and found a great spot under a tree for a picnic overlooking the lake. (Sorry, forgot to take a photo, but we had a great lunch of picnic pies, muffins, cheese and wine.)

Jells Park has a carry-in, carry-out policy, so there are no bins in the park. (There is one, however, near the kiosk and cafe... I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.) 

There are also toilets at the cafe, my rating 5/10. They need to be cleaned more often.

The bikes parked outside the cafe.

We decided to ride back via Eastlink and the Mullum Mullum Trail, with a detour to test the bikes on some steep hills in Ringwood. (I mucked up the GPS here, so the rest of the ride is gone.)

Tip: There is a great coffee shop off the Mullum Mullum Trail called 'Torrente'. You wouldn't know it was there from the trail, so look for this sign:

Turn up this path and go right at the road..

The pathway to coffee!

Ride Details:
  • Ride 52 km on gravel and paved trails
  • First 20 km, downhill, no wind, 0 bar (The trip to Jells Park was mainly downhill and most of the time we didn't have our bikes switched on.)
  • Next 32 km, mainly uphill, 3 bars

You can view the ride on Strava here.

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Friday, 11 January 2013

The Warburton Trail

Looks like it is the week for long rides.

Jules has now received her Gazelle Innergy, so Mr Aggy, Jules and I decided to do the Warburton (or Warbie) Trail. Not the whole lot, because we weren't sure of the battery range, but most of it. The trail starts at Lilydale and goes to Warbuton (about 40 km). We decided to start at Wandin North.

As the Thule Europower was going to have Jules and my Gazelles on it, Mr Aggy installed 'Bike Inside' in the back of the XTrail and put his bike inside the car. It was then a longish drive to Jules to load her bike and onto our starting point. We were taking a picnic, so I unpacked my food, picnic packs (and wine) into my panniers and off we set.

But disaster - my bike wouldn't work! The battery LEDs would light up, but the Gazelle would not turn on. I thought that perhaps I had not installed the battery correctly as I had charged the battery off the bike for the first time on the previous night.

But we all had a try but, no dice, no power. L

In desperation, I called Sean at MySpokes who told me to bring the bike in. Fortunately we were pretty close to Mooroolbark, so I left Jules and Mr Aggy at Wandin and went to see Sean. He put the bike on the computer and it seemed I had a faulty battery. (Unlucky to get that battery, but so lucky that the fault occurred on this ride, not miles across the country!)

Sean being such a great guy replaced my battery with another Gold battery and all was OK. (I really can't praise MySpokes too much. If you want a Gazelle, buy one from there!)

Back I went back to Wandin, where it had just started to rain. No problem, we set off anyway.

Now the views along the Warbie trail are lovely. It is a nice, rural ride. However, I am pretty much a city girl. I love the city trails. I like paved trails and never being too far from a coffee shop or restaurant. So it was a bit of an adventure for me to go onto the Warbie trail and it was great that the pedelec made the ride so easy. (Poor Mr Aggy had to rely on his legs alone.)

However, we all felt the Warbie trail could do with a bit of maintenance. The trail has lots of loose gravel and you had to make sure you cycled in the well-worn paths, or you could lose your bike.  The bridges are in very poor repair and need a major make-over.
Also, my advice is to ignore the sign to the bakery unless you have a mountain bike and are considerably more daring than Jules and I. The trail up is very steep and has had a covering of large stones. Jules and I detoured up there but we ended up pushing the bikes to the top and walking down.

Once at Warburton we had a very tasty picnic lunch by the river washed down by a glass of wine.

If you are looking for a great picnic food, I recommend the Coronation Pies - easy to make and delicious.

Coronation pies

Toilet tip:
  • Don't use the toilets near the river - unisex and very grotty. My rating is a very generous 1/10.
  • Use the toilets at the visitors centre - Jules' rating 9/10.

Unfortunately, a strong head wind blew up on the way back. And despite the rain in the morning, the dust got up. It was really dusty. And quite unpleasant. 

One highlight was stopping at the Home Hotel at Launching Place. It has a very pleasant beer garden and they have thoughtfully provided a bike rack on the trail. It also has clean toilets - 9/10. 

Look for this on the Warbie Trail
A welcome rest

Great courtyard

After leaving this oasis, we found the headwind was getting worse, not better. It was really making the ride very hard work and the pedelecs had to be on boost. (Poor Mr Aggy, at least we had boost.

Jules and I both had one bar remaining on the battery and were starting to feel a twinge of range anxiety. 

Disappointingly our final target of the Carriage Cafe in Seville for a coffee had closed at 3:00 pm and we were too late. So it was just a dusty slog back to the car.

It is interesting the difference a trail ride with a headwind makes. Yesterday, a 32 km ride on a paved, hilly road with quite a lot of 'boost' used one bar (probably close to using two bars). Today, a 56 km ride on gravel and we were well into the fifth and final bar.

Ride Details:
  • Ride 56 km on gravel
  • Mostly flat
  • Virtually no wind on the way to Warburton, two bars gone on the battery
  • Very bad head wind on the way back to Wandin North, lots of boost and four bars gone on the battery. I was getting about 8 km per bar.
You can view the ride on Strava here.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Great Ocean Road Pedelec Ride

Last Monday, I went for a very pleasant ride along the Great Ocean Road with Mr Aggy and two friends, Big A and Little A.

We left early in the morning because the traffic on the road picks up after 8:00 am, and we decided to park a bit out of Lorne because I wasn't too sure about the bike range on the hilly terrain. Our actual route took us from about 8 km out of Wye River up to Cape Patton and back.

Feel the serenity!

The scenery was fabulous and I could actually enjoy it as I wasn't slogging it up the hills. I was the only one on a pedelec and I felt a bit sorry for the others (but only a bit.) This is a ride that I would not normally have done on my Trek - too hilly - so the pedelec enabled me to participate.

The riding group

Big A (who is very fit) and I also raced a few times, and while he is much quicker over short distances, the pedelec easily bested him on the long climbs, (not really a fair race, but what the heck!)

On the way back we stopped for breakfast at Wye River. There were quite a few bikes already there and more coming as a large pelaton set out from there earlier. They are obviously used to lots of cyclists at the cafe as the service was really fast.

Ride Details:

  • All up the ride was about 32 km on hilly, made roads
  • Used one bar on the Gazelle's Gold battery. However I think I must have been fairly significantly into the second bar as I used Boost quite a bit.

The ride on Strava can be seen here.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Strava (and Cyclemeter) revisited

On re-reading my post about Strava, I thought it could have a bit more detail about this app, especially as I am now using it to track my pedelec rides. 

So to explain a bit more...

First, some background. I use Strava to record my rides on my Trek. For those of you unfamiliar with Strava, you set it up on your iPhone (or other device) and it uses GPS tracking to record where you have ridden. It also lets you define 'segments' along the way and you can compare your time on the segment with others. If you have the best time, you get 'King of the Mountain' or KOM. Best female time gets 'Queen of the Mountain' or QOM.

The KOM title seems to be pretty competitive and is keenly sought after. In my case, it seems very few females use Strava on the routes I ride, so I have some QOMs by being the only one! Hooray! (Further to this, if you are desperately after a KOM, you can define a segment that ends in your back yard - thereby guaranteeing that you will be KOM.)

KOM and QOM, are, of course, on unassisted bikes. If you want to use Strava on a pedelec, you must either mark the ride as 'Private' - then only you can see it - or change it to generic activity such as 'workout'.  This takes you off the leaderboard. (See

Now I didn't want to confuse my unassisted Strava rides on my Trek with my assisted Strava rides on my Gazelle, so I decided to have two Strava accounts. The downside of this is that to keep my two Strava accounts separate, I had to log into my iPhone under the right account name before I set off on my ride. This is a bit of a pain, and frankly, I am hopeless at remembering passwords.

So, instead I now use Strava on my iPhone to track my unassisted Trek rides, and Cyclemeter on my iPhone to track my assisted Gazelle rides. When I have finished an assisted ride, I email myself a GPX file from Cyclemeter and import it into Stava. I then change the activity to 'Workout'. Simple! You can see one of my rides on my pedelec here.

This all seems to work well. I can crop out start and finish points for privacy, and it looks like I can define workout segments, so I will be able to see if I am getting any fitter by trying to beat my own times on these segments. Also, one of the best things about Strava is that it gives you grades of the hills. This is particularly good for pedelec rides, as it is nice to know how steep a hill it can climb.

A word of warning: GPS tracking really depletes the iPhone battery. After nearly losing the data from a long ride, I bought a Mophie Juice Pack. The iPhone slots into this and uses the Juice pack battery first. When this is depleted, the iPhone reverts to its own battery. So you can really extend the length of GPS tracking.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Putting the Gazelle through its paces

Well today I thought I would see how well the Innergy XT handled two of the biggest hills in my area.

The first one I went up is know locally as 'Cementies'. 

A bit of history, as told to me by my father, so I can't vouch for its accuracy...

In days gone, horses used to pull bags of cement up Cementies hill, so named because of the Cement Works at the bottom. The hill was so steep that some of the horses had heart attacks while pulling up the heavy loads. This prompted the building of 'The Deviation' - a less steep, more winding route.]
So, you can tell this hill is steep! At one point the grade is 19%, and the average grade according to Strava is 7.5%. The distance is about 0.7 km.

Incidentally, my problem with cycling apps has been solved. Strava has told me just to mark my rides as a 'Workout', and all will be well - so simple!

Anyway, I put the Gazelle on 'Boost', and up I went. I won't pretend it was easy. I dropped down the lowest gear, and I was really puffed up the top, but I got to the top without stopping. I have never been able to get anywhere near the top before. And according to Strava, my average speed was 15.1 km/h - really fast! You can see the ride here.

I was also interested in the battery drain. After this climb, the Gold battery still had all five bars showing. It dropped to four bars when I had cycled about 18 km overall on the battery (5 km before this ride).

 Later on, I went up Queens Park Hill. Those of you who have seen the 2010 UCI World Championships in Geelong might be familiar with this climb as it formed part of the course.

This climb rises for 0.5 km and has an average grade of 8% and a maximum grade of around 14%. 

Again, I was pretty puffed buy the time I arrived at the top - but I did get there without stopping! I used 'Boost' all the way and ended up in the lowest gear. My average speed was 9.4 km per hour. Much, much faster than I could achieve without assist! You can see the ride here.

I am still on the same battery charge, and to date it has done 24 km, including Cementies and Queens Park Hill East. The Gold battery is still showing four bars. Pretty reassuring, I think.

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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Cycling apps and ebikes

I have been trying for some time to find a cycling app for my iPhone to track my pedelec rides so I can share them on this blog. I think it will be useful to have a list of good rides for electric bikes and ones where the Gazelle users can be confident the battery can handle the range. For instance the ride I did on Saturday involved lifting the Gazelle over a locked gate - not a ride I would recommend! 

I also thought that I would use the heart rate monitor on the rides and this would let me know if I was really getting some exercise, or if the 'assist' was doing all the work.

However, most cycling apps are designed to let cyclists compete against each other for the best times on particular segments of the route. There is a lot of competition for King (or Queen) of the Mountain. So clearly using a bike with assist on these routes would be cheating. (Although even with assist, I couldn't beat some of the posted times.)

I use Strava with my Trek and have clocked up a few km on it. However, I can't use Strava for the pedelec as it requires electric bike rides to be marked as 'Private' to avoid posting unrealistic times. All very well, but then no one else can see the route, so this defeats the purpose of sharing the ride.

I have also bought an app called 'Cyclemeter'. This seems to be quite good, and I used it on my first long ride on the Gazelle. However, I didn't realise that you can't crop out your start and end points. As I started and finished at my home, this wasn't great for privacy.

However, Cyclemeter seems to be best I've found so far. I'll just have to remember to start it after I leave home and stop it before I get back. A bit of a pain.

In the meantime I've emailed Strava to ask if there is some way of sharing electric bike rides and excluding them for the leaderboard.

Anyone using an app with their electric bike?

Incidentally, no more short rides due to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, so the tally is unchanged.

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Update 2 January 2013: I've had an email from Strava telling me that if I make my rides 'Workouts' then other people can see them, but it does not alter the leaderboard.