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Archive for the 'anectdotes' Category

Arrived in Sydney, safe and sound!

Sorry, haven’t updated in a couple of days as the pace of the second last day was quite extreme, and weariness had certainly set in. But the good news is I can post a bunch of photos now!

But firstly, a general update of the last couple of days.

After the deluge coming in to Ulladulla, the next day dawned quite grey, but we didn’t actually get any rain at all until we were about 50km from Wollongong. In a fortuitous choice [for me], Dave’s bike got a flat and I gave him mine, after having a bit of a tough run up one huge hill and deciding that the 90 odd km I’d done would be enough for that day. 5 minutes later huge clouds rolled in, and the drenching began, about 3pm or so, which wouldn’t really stop for the next 2 days, with only brief respites. Now that the bikes had had their circuits rerouted, there were fewer electrical issues, but several flat tyres, including my bike ridden by Dave about 10km out of Wollongong: being so industrial the roads did have random bits of metal which seemed to be the culprit at least on my tyre. Roads were closed as we headed closer [fortunately not one we were taking] and the rain was unrelenting. It was great to be able to see the ride from the persepctive of the rear support vehicle though, and I took alot of photos and video, including some for Christian on the mini DV he had in the glove box.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant that night and I had a wonderful veal marsala and one of the best creme brulee’s I’d ever had: if you’re ever in Wollongong check out “Antics” if you are a creme brulee afficionado!

So the game plan for the final day was thus: if fine, we would ride the whole way, but if the rain was still solid, the hill coming out from Wollongong would be far too dangerous to attempt, and we would take the train a little closer to Sydney and ride the last 50km or so. Guess what? It was still bucketing down in the morning, so it was onto the train. Unfortunately my bike’s electrics started playing up just after we left, and I had to swap bikes.

Fortunately the last stretch was only mildly rainy, and we got a mostly clear run. King St in Newtown was terribly congested, and to get to the arrival point in time we had to leave the support vehicles stuck behind in traffic! We also did a little bit of cross-country in downtown Sydney, fearlessly speeding toward our final destination, Lady MacQuarie’s Seat which has an amazing view of The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

Our arrival was about 2 minutes after 3: just in time for a phenomenal pelting of rain, but we raised our champagne glasses in a toast even as they were watered down and we were beginning to get chilled ourselves. A brief clearing allowed time for many photos with the lovely backdrop, for Stephen to do a couple of interviews, and then it was time to get out of the sodding rain, grab our gear and then head down to The Opera Bar for a celebratory couple of drinks. We did it! We made it, and given the task that had been set, I believe with amazingly few major issues.

Unfortunately, my bike couldn’t get fixed in Sydney before I head back to Perth today, so it’s gone back down to Melbourne where I would have been needing it in a couple of months anyway, and I won’t be taking it to Perth as I’d hoped. Sorry Chris, you may have to wait a little longer to have a go!

Okay, next post will be a continuation of the few photos I’d posted mid ride, but may take a little while to sort out! In a couple of days I’ll also do a general summation of the ride with a little bit of perspective. Stay tuned.

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Half way!

Today we arrived in Eden, having travelled over 500 km in five days! I have to say I am starting to feel a little frazzled, and would love to have a rest day, but the schedule must be kept. Last night we arrived well after dark, tonight fortunately we were fine but tomorrow we have a longer day than any other yet and I am hoping we leave early enough and have no mishaps. The Schwinn had some problems today, seeming to be mainly to do with the battery pack not connecting, one advantage of the eZee bike is that it has the battery connecting at the bottom under the weight of the battery, so gravity is always on your side there. On the subject of batteries, I am starting to honestly prefer the NiMHs to the lithiums! A strange choice you might think, but on a ride like this I am finding the discharge pattern more workable: while they make you work harder as they run low, I vastly prefer that to a flat cut off. This is helpful because each sudden change slows the group down. Time for bed now, more tomorrow!

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Bairnsdale

We have stopped for lunch, now in day three. Only the third real stop today but I am worried about the length of time it is taking to get moving again, if it continues like this on the harder days we are going to have a tough time arriving before dark! In more positive news, I got to ride the Schwinn today! It’s a lovely smooth ride, very well engineered bike, but the motor lacks sufficient power on the hills. This is the international version though: the US domestic release should be a lot more versatile, but this one is a real pleasure to ride on the flat, and the motor is much much quieter than most of the eZee bikes [though these seem to vary abit, some being whinier than others]. Ok got to go now, still half a days ride to go today. Also could someone please comment on one of the last three entries, I have not been able to get near a computer and I am posting from my phone, but I am not one hundred percent sure these are getting through! Ta!

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Day 2

So today we rode from Warrigal to Sale. Yesterday was overcast the entire day coming out from Melbourne: today was sunny with only a few clouds in the late afternoon, making for a lovely day’s riding. A lot less technical difficulties than yesterday, and the group has been getting more accustomed to riding together, we are getting tighter and more aware of the bikes capabilities and our personal space on the road. New seat is lovely and comfy and have had no issues at all today, the battery life is good and I think I am becoming even more efficient with my throttle technique. Getting probably close to forty km on a charge, probably a bit more as I have not totally depleted a battery yet. Big tests will be the bigger hills in a few days time! Lovely scenery too which I am told will get even more beautiful. Have been getting a lot of state media, tv and radio especially. Honestly not even slightly sore yet really, but give me a couple more days I may revise that!

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In Warrigal

Hey folks, have had no luck getting photos through so far but will keep trying! The launch went really well, and the ride yesterday was slower than hoped and free of any major drama! I am feeling bright and sparky after almost a hundred km yesterday too, proving so far that it’s a lot easier than a regular bike ride. My bike had a couple of issues: a blown fuse that was fixed very quickly, and my seat lost a spring so was replaced at the next pit stop. Many of the bikes had minor problems, Stephen even re-attached some wires that had come undone while we were stopped at traffic lights! Also one of the Red Cross relay team girls, Esther, is from Perth and did Bollywood classes with me! Dinner last night was lovely and we just had breakfast in bed. Tonight we will be in Sale. Gotta go now and get ready, will be trying to update more often now I can at least post even though I’ll only be able to post photos when we stop somewhere with Interweb.

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Ooh! PREZZIES!

ebikeHey folks, I have arrived safe and sound in Melbourne. Yesterday I went down to the warehouse where the bikes have been stored, charged and in all manner made ready for the trip, to meet some of the guys, and to pick up mine! It is a gorgeous thing of beauty indeed. Here’s what she looks like over to the right. The motor has a bit of a whine to it, but I have been informed that has alot to do with the speed limiter. Rides wonderfully, soooo comfortabuls and very sturdy. The dynamo which I initially poo-pooed is actually quite good too, and didn’t feel like too much resistance when riding at night. I will be riding it a lot more today, so expect another update if I get time to get near the Interweb.

The other rather cool thing I got was a brand spanking new Crumpler bag – they are sponsoring the ride, and each rider gets a Crumpler to show off! In typical style I got a black one. It’s big enough to carry anything I’d need on the ride, and very comfy too. YAY CRUMPLER! Below is a pic of Christian, who will be making a documentary of the ride, unwrapping his shwanky million-pocketed Crumpler camera bag, while being filmed by Stephen, and Ilka watching on. Plus you can see one of the very cool cruiser eZee bikes in the background too:

Crumpler

We also had a small meeting in the evening last night for most of the riders to meet and get together. It was pleasantly informal. Unlike the launch; which looks like it’s going to be HUGE: Peter Garrett is confirmed to do the honours, which is a great show of support, and Kate Ceberano will be putting in a guest appearance to support her brother Phil who is playing at the launch and doing the whole ride! Stephen says in the last week media interest has gone through the roof and it seems like critical mass has been reached in regarding people believing in the event. Huzzah!

Have had some random intermittent problems with sending email from my phone [grrr] so updates may or may not happen directly from the launch tomorrow. Will see how we go! Wish me luck!

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Not all eBikes are equal!

One huge beef I have been having about ebikes is how badly they have been portrayed in the media, and the rather negative, daggy impression most people have of them, if they know anything about them at all in the first place. I mean, I went to the UWA Sun Fair last weekend, and the only ebike there was this monstrosity:

Bad Ebike! Bad!

Seriously – would you be caught dead on this thing? Cos I sure as heck wouldn’t. I didn’t get the ugliest angle of it though, which is directly side on, where you can see the hideously bad line of where the SLA batteries are stored. UGH!

But this was a direct example of the kind of uphill battle we have, and that I have had recently over at Treehugger a couple of weeks ago. Firstly I was pissed off at the type of bike linked to in the article: not far off this thing, ugly as sin, no design aesthetics, and practically begging to be discredited as anything a sane healthy person would want to be getting themselves about town on. But the author had fallen hook line and sinker for the [understandable] prejudice and tarred all eBikes with the same brush! Not all ebikes are equal.

I’m pleased to say that my argument was sound and the next ebike article by the same author referred to my challenge and his corrected stance. We have the technology and the Intarweb links, we have been reading and researching for a long time now indeed, and we have also had enough experience on the road to know why these things rock for everyone and for the planet.

The most exciting thing for me about the S T ride is that ebikes are going to be getting a whole bunch of completely different press, hopefully catching some serious attention: because we ain’t going to be looking like grannies or invalids or socially challenged nerds. We are going to be looking daaaaaaaamn sexy. Just you wait.

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Dun Dun DAAAAA…. in CARS? [part II]

Thankyou everyone who responded to my little poll so far. I would like to make a few comments regarding responses. I have been gathering some very interesting information overnight, and this evening too.

So. It seems there are very few cyclists in our midst, with the majority of folks either driving or taking public transport for most of their commute.

It is great to see people using public transport instead of cars [though in some cases, because there doesn’t appear to be any other choice ie no license, no money for a car. But there IS another choice, in some cases] But I don’t use PT more than once every few months, and haven’t for a long time: too expensive & too slow. My scooter is much cheaper than public transport, and about 1/5 cost of a car to maintain. But it still spews pollution [nasty nasty pollution at that] – so I will sell it very soon. But it’s been a good transition! My ebike is about 1/5 of the cost of my scooter, probably less: and is faster for most of my daily trips. It will be faster than PT for most bus trips I’d be comparing it to, and if you add walking time, will win all out in nearly all cases. The only time I’d consider PT now is to go to the end of a line, or take my ebike and extend range from those points. So for most points I refute for cars, consider the ebike advantages over PT too.

So.

One of the major reasons for using a car for commuting is that it is faster than other forms of transport:

Over half of you travel less than 10km each way. Did you know than an ebike will get you a full 10km of distance, in about 20-30 minutes even on busy roads? This would be comparable, and in many cases, faster, than a car for the same distance. Even for longer distances, depending on traffic conditions, congestion and speed limits, an ebike would very likely put you in front.

And this is before we even begin to get into the area of “effective speed” – which examines how fast you are really going, when you take into account how much time you need to work to earn the money to pay for your transport, as well as your own personal maintenance time, if any. Here [pdf] is an excellent analysis of the effective speed of various vehicles for commuting purposes. Cars: between 12 – 23 kph, depending on model. Bus: approx 21 kph. Cycling: approx 18 kph. Ebike??? … not on that report, but taking the data I know of from my own use, I calculate it to come out at about 25 kph.

The other main reason for people using cars, is that people are just plain lazy.

Did you know you don’t even break a sweat using an ebike if you don’t want to? You can go up to 30kph easily using no pedalling at all. It’s hilarious doing no work and passing all these sweating hardcore cyclists with ease. Seriously – it’s so much fun.

Also, I have been reminded that safety is a really important issue too, and a big reason why people aren’t using public transport, and just have to use their cars. Sure, I would agree about public transport late at night, and I myself don’t recommend using PT at late hours, if I can avoid it. So…. supposedly cars are the only option for late night travel, or indeed safe travel at any other time? Wrong. Bikes are probably not as dangerous as you have been told. You are significantly less likely to die cycling than in a car for the amount of time spent doing either, and the more people who ride, the safer it gets. You are also, surprisingly, safer cycling at night, as long as you are using lights and following road rules [the reason statistics show night cycling is more dangerous is because many accidents happen at night due to lack of lights or bad cycling]. Why are we constantly told cycling is more dangerous? Because the car has ruled the road and anything that requires extra attention on the part of the motorist is removed if possible. But we are now aware of the very serious risks we run by continuing current practise, and continuing to use fossil fuels even when there are better alternatives. Plus ebikes improve safety over bicycles as they reduce the speed differential, and give you extra acceleration capacity to get out of potential trouble.

Of course, other people responded the reason they use their car is because of health issues. Do you realise that the sedentary lifestyle encouraged by car use is responsible for about half of the life-ending health issues in typical “top 10 cause of death” statistics, including heart disease, lung disease, strokes, diabetes and suicide – all causes of death which may have been prevented by exercise. Do you know that, despite it being possible and at times desirable to be lazy on an ebike, because of the likelihood of owners using them far more often than regular bikes, they end up exercising more, without really trying, and thus get fitter? If your health reason for driving is because of your inability to sit on a bicycle seat – there are recumbents which have seats similar to car seats. If you have balance issues, there are etrikes. If your health reason for driving is because you can’t pedal – as stated before, on an ebike – you don’t have to.

Just another wee note. Carrying stuff. It’s a great excuse for taking the car instead of a bike. But did you know you can get great trailers, kid-seats as well as panniers, bike racks, baskets… there’s a huge range of options for tranporting things, and people, on an ebike.

So. If you want to get there safer AND faster AND be lazy AND be healthy AND carry stuff, an ebike is the answer! *nod*

nb. I know there are situations in which an ebike is not practical. But think carefully about your situation. There is probably a greater than 50% chance it would be a better choice for you for commuting, and you would be healthier, happier and have more time and money to spare, if you were using one.

[Goodie Goodie Yum Yum]

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To the land of sandals, spoon-benders, and yoghurt-fanciers.

Last night I picked up my new Lithium battery from Chris for my ebike: it is about 1/4 the size/weight than the SLAs I was borrowing from him, and so far is going well! It’s great having a teeny battery. Fits nicely in a saddlebag: would even be able to put it in my handbag! … Technology is amazing. Apparently these have been run about 2000 cycles [read: 5 years or more for average daily usage] and still show 80% charge. Whee! Now I just need to put together a new ebike with the GL2 hub motor, so I can get to know both styles of ebike really well.. and have a loaner to convince anyone not yet convinced of how cool they are and how you NEED one ^_^

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Bike cont.

Top speed this morning: 45.8 kph. Time to work from driveway to laneway: 12 minutes. ^_^ Distance is about 8km, so that’s ummm… let’s see – .66 kilometer per minute, which makes average speed approximately 40 kph. Unless I did the math wrong. If it’s 7 km, it’s more like 35 kph average speed. I’ll have to double check the distance. Also, it’s downhill more into the city than home, so going home should be a little slower. But not by much.

*edit* distance is 6.7km, so that makes av speed 33.5 kph. If I want to get down to a 10 minute commute, I need to be averaging 40 kph. What’s funny is that on my scooty it would usually take about 20 minutes to get in due to traffic and route required. Heh. *hugs electric bike*

I am very much liking the geared motor. It has a learning curve similar to using a geared scooter or motorbike: as I haven’t ridden one of those regularly for years [though I used one in NZ for 4 days] it’s reminding me it requires a different riding style, and a measure of skill, familiarity with the gears and also preferably the route. When I have done this for a few weeks, I expect to be able to get my commute down to around 10 minutes and thus have an average speed of about 48? Nah, I don’t know if that’s possible. Though – maybe my velometer is a bit out? It’s certainly possible, if not actually likely! I will check the figures some more, though I am going on my velometer to tell me how far the distance is I suppose I should check my scooter odometer and compare them.

But I don’t want to bother picking my scooty up from the shop, even though it’s fixed – I’m going to sell it soon for sure. Electric bikes FTW!!

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