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





Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Westgate Punt to Williamstown

Mr Aggy and I have been keen to try the Westgate Punt.

The Punt is a small boat that takes people and bikes across the Yarra river between Spotswood and the Melbourne CBD. During the week it only operates during peak times and is subsidized - $2 per crossing. However, weekends and Public Holidays, it operates from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and charges $7 return or $5 one-way.


Mr Aggy and I had been to Williamstown recently and had struggled at that time to find a cafe that served a light lunch at a reasonable price. Most establishments we looked at seemed to be a overpriced. So rather than hassle around in Williamstown again, Mr Aggy and I decided to park in Williamstown, ride to the Melbourne CBD for lunch and catch the Punt back. (Any readers of this blog that can know a good spot to eat in Williamstown, please let me know.)

There was plenty of parking along the foreshore at Williamstown, even for an XTrail with the large Thule rack on the back. As you can see, lots of swans were hanging around where we parked. I had had a bad experience with one of these in Geelong when my kids were little, but these didn't seem aggressive.





We rode along the foreshore and checked out where the Punt would land on this side of the river. It's opposite Scienceworks in Spotswood.



Mr Aggy checking out the Punt landing in Spotswood.

From here we rode up and looked at the Westgate memorial. Hard to imagine the bridge collapsing - all those people killed.





And just a hop, step and a jump away from the Westgate memorial, we came across the start of the Maribrynong trail, well-signposted!


We followed the trail for a while and then left it to go up Hyde St, where there is a bike shop, PS bikes, with a great sign. Unfortunately it wasn't open on Easter Sunday.



All of this part of the ride was on a bike lane on the footpath and quite safe, although during the week there might be a problem with cars exiting businesses and side streets.

From there Mr Aggy and I skirted the docks and then basically reversed Jules and my ride of last week along Footscray Road. 


We had lunch at the Riverland Bar near Flinders Street station. Jules and I went there a while ago and it was still just as good. However, it started to rain, so we didn't linger.



Riverland Bar as seen from Princes Bridge
Over Princes bridge and a nice ride down Southbank. I have made a mental note to eat there next time as some of the places looked very inviting.

Next, we headed to Station Pier down the Sandridge Rail Trail to Station Pier and from there continued along the waterfront to Todd Road.

Looking out to sea at Beacon Cove

At this point we lost the trail to the Punt. We had meant to go through Westgate Park, but lost the trail. There were quite a few markers to the Punt on the footpath, but they fizzled out.



Anyway, more by luck than good management we found the Punt. And lo and behold, the Punt pilot had an electric bike. He said he bought it a few years ago as part of a buying group and he rides from Hawthorn to the Punt at Port Melbourne most days. His battery will do about 50 km and he has no trouble. 

He recognised the Gazelle as there is a lady in Williamstown who regularly brings one on the Punt.



Battery under the back rack



Motor on the back wheel hub
It looks like this might be a French bike - not sure if I've found the right link here.

The Punt took about 10 minutes - excellent value  - and then were back in Spotswood.


The Punt at Spotswood

A quick cycle to The Anchorage restaurant for coffee and then back to the car. 

A complaint: The restaurant had a nice coffee bar opening onto the bike track. However the tables were full of smokers. Why does every outside area have to be smoking? I would sometimes like to sit outside in the fresh air. We luckily had our coffee inside, but only as it was quite late and the restaurant was almost empty.


A nice fun day - easy riding and although we had a bit of rain, it wasn't enough to get us very wet.



Ride Details:
  • Ride about 29 km, flat
  • Not windy
  • Used one bar of the Gold battery at 24 km.
  • Rode quite a lot on Eco setting.
You can view the ride on Strava here.



Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
44
235




Monday, 1 April 2013

Want to ride?

I'm quite excited!

I have had a comment on my blog (it comes to me before it gets posted) from someone who is interested in riding with Jules and I. I haven't published the comment as it contains this person's email address, but I've sent her an email back, so hopefully we can catch-up.

But this did get me thinking - what if someone else is reading this blog and would like to come on rides. No problem!

We are more than happy to have other ebikers and pedelecers ride with us. So if you are interested, please shoot me an email. 

I'm a bit paranoid about getting spammed so I'm going to 'write' my email address, but of course, you need to replace 'at' with @ and remove all the spaces.

Hope to hear from you soon.

aggy at pedelecing . com