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eBike blog – personal experience with sustainable transport for the new millenium

Bike bus – a great idea!

Posted recently on the CM-Melb list was this great idea which is getting some Sydney media: The Bike Bus. It seems to be a particularly Australian and even more Sydney-centric idea, which is understandable as Melbourne does tend to have much better bike lanes than Sydney so the need would not be as great. In the US and the UK, the term seems only to refer to a bus that takes bicycles, which is cool, but I like the bikebus concept here: it means a scheduled group bicycle commute.

One particularly strident argument I hear against cycle commuting is the danger inherent in riding in heavy traffic during rush hour on roads with no bike lanes in areas where traffic is not friendly towards bicycles. I am thinking of some major arterial roads in my own city, but even more so in many parts of the USA. Safetly in numbers is definitely improved, and taking up a full lane, while it does slow down traffic to a degree, is something traffic other than bicycles should be getting more accustomed to, because research has proven [pdfs] that the more cyclists there are on the road, the less accidents happen.

I would love to see this idea grow. If you are in an area where you think you might want to start one, there’s some guidelines on how to over here. I’m lucky, I live along a rail line with an excellent bicycle path for 90% of my commute, but many people are not so fortunate, and this could be a great way for individual cyclists to ride more safely and also more socially. And with ebikes, the weaker riders can easily keep up with the stronger ones, keeping the overall speed higher and more competitive time wise for those who don’t want to ride at a slower “social” pace to get to work.

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Random ebike meetings

So rode down to Fremantle today to see my accountant. Had planned to ride back via a supplier on the south side of the river and visit a friend but the accountant took so long I ran out of time.

Nearing Fremantle I rode past not one, but two, petrol powered bikes, they had stickers on them and I got the impression they may have been hired, but I was in a hurry so didn’t stop to ask. I got to Fremantle in about 4.5 AH, and in about 40 minutes from the CBD [20km distance= average speed 30kph, which means I must have been cruising at around 35 to account for traffic lights & other stops/slowdowns]. Not bad eh! 🙂

On the way home I managed to run into a guy on the corner of Barrack St waiting for the lights to change who had an old currie chain drive [I think?] on his rear wheel. Hi random ebiker if you are reading! [I gave my blog details ;)]

Not only that, but who should ride into view just as we were chatting? Chris! He had a replacement charger for me too, so it was a most fortuitous and exciting meeting – there are so few ebikers in Perth still, and it’s truly exciting meeting any others randomly. I complained about the petrol powered bikes, and lamented the difficulty of getting friends to even borrow a bike to see what they’re like. But we are agreed that electric bikes are aaaaaalmost at that critical point of becoming adopted widely in western countries 🙂 We just have to get people to try them!

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Bike news

Picked up a new ebike today – well, new to me 🙂 Chris decided he wanted to sell one of his, and instead of getting a new bike and having him spoke in one of the GL2s he has lying around, given that I won’t be here for too many more months, I thought I may as well take the easy option with a cheapie bike. As the batteries I’d ordered before I even put my hand up for the Suitable Transport ride had just come in on Friday, Chris tested and put everything together so I could pick it up this afternoon. Yay! Now on the ST ride I did notice a difference in the performance of the NiMHs versus the lithiums: I liked that the NiMHs didn’t have a cutout and go kersplatt dead on ya, but they didn’t have quite same vavoom when fully charged. Not a huge difference mind: and would make less difference on my old bike being a direct drive and only 24 volt as opposed to this 48 volt baby :))) Very impressed with the improved torque over when I borrowed it with NiMHs a couple weeks ago. Shame the lithiums are quite so expensive, but I think totally worth it 🙂

The GL2 is so smooth and climbs hills so well I am thinking it’s probably got a touch more torque than the eZee Torq… but I’d need to compare them side by side to be sure. Maybe I will take it over to Melbs, or get the Torq shipped here so I can do just that! 🙂

Sorry… haven’t posted specific pics and commentary on the ride, work has swallowed me up. If you were on the ride and you’re reading this, where are your pics??? 🙂

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Random pic:

Somewhere around Bega….

Just a random pic taken before the rain began on Day 8.

More commentary & selected pics tomorrow or soonish after. Have uploaded all pics to the gallery, but they are not all sorted, nor do they have captions. If you were on the ride, you won’t need them, and if not, well, you can extrapolate for the meantime.

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It’s been a week…

… and I’ve only just got around to downloading photos from my phone to my pc! I couldn’t do any pic uploading easily in Sydney, and as soon as I returned home work engulfed me, so this has been the first moment I’ve had to look through everything and start to try and take stock and process.

And it’s made me realise that it’s taken me a week to re-adjust and think about the ride in a rational way.

We really did an amazing thing. As I scroll through my photos I am having moments of memory far more vivid than on other trips or journeys. Everything in retrospect is framed with an aura of hyperreality. The trip exhausted me far more than I expected, and I know for at least the second half I was really dog tired every day, and my mind was far from its’ best. But looking back I am reminded of what we achieved and how important I think the event will come to be in retrospect. I really look forward to the doco coming together.

But in the meantime, I’ll be uploading all the pics I can to a new gallery here, and start uploading to youtube as well, with more blog posts to follow with my favourite pics and perspectives of the trip. First two vids are up, from the launch:

More on the way!

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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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First rain

As the title suggests, today was our first day of rain. James was there in the morning for a lovely breakfast, had a little go on my bike, and we headed off into a very light drizzle. That soon cleared, and we made great time to Bateman’s Bay, But about five km out we were subjected to a huge deluge of torrential rain. Locals were saying it was the most they’d seen in a long while. We were beyond drenched, and the eZee bikes have a safety cut off which stops the motor functioning if the brakes are too wet, so we lost function in most bikes. This is the kind of rain most people wouldn’t consider riding in, but this has been no ordinary ride! Some bikes were still fine so Steve continued with Phil and a spare bike, but after half an hour Steve was on his own on the Schwinn, and made it to Ulladulla well before dark. We had been ferried down earlier to dry off and rest. Sad as I had done the whole way til that point on the bike: the only person except Steve who had, if only by a few km, it was still disappointing to know I will not have done the whole way now. Tomorrow is our longest day, 144km, so time for bed!

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Narooma

Today has been both awesome and the most physically challenging of the ride: as I am now the only girl riding full days and fitter than some former weakest links, the race picked up substantially, though possibly not as much as expected. We passed through Bega which was stunningly pretty and full of cows! Bikes mostly doing well but the Schwinn was down today, repairs were difficult. Hills toward the end of day [and some earlier] were of very steep gradient, so I did finally sweat a little – honestly so far I have hardly perspired at all! My lovely friend James drove over from Canberra to hang out tonight which has been awesome! Time for bed now, am exhausted. Bye!

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Leaving Eden

Morning! It’s become a regular frustration in dealing with a large group of people, that everything happens at a very slow speed. I had vague hopes that this morning we might actually leave on time, but we are still having breakfast and bikes are still being fixed. Given that today is our longest day so far, and on our 130 km day we were riding in the dark for half an hour, I really wish things we more organised in the mornings. Fortunately the bikes really are going the distance, and I continue to be amazed at how physically good I feel, just a bit sore. The real tiredness is mental, from concentrating on the road and looking out for the less experienced riders. And now I am the only female rider except for the family, for the rest of the trip, argh!

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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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