Monday, 3 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.

Saturday, 25 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



Sunday, 19 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