My 2019 cycling challenge is/was to cover 6,000 kilometers in the year. By 30th June I was half way there. Then things happened!
The first was that June and then July were poor cycling months. For different reasons but the net result was the same – cycling hours went down. The second was the purchase last week of the Magnum XL with electric motor (“is this cheating?” I think to myself).
So, what to do? I thought about it while getting to grips with the XL this week.
I took the XL out for a few short rides early in the week. These rides were used to help me settle into the riding position and to test out battery usage. The battery charger (the one I left in Melbourne – as reported last week) was picked up by a Courier on Monday but would take until Thursday to get to Tasmania. In the meantime I pushed the riding distance on the initial charge out to 75 kilometers – including riding to the Ferry last week. This was all on flat terrain and, by the time the charger arrived, it seemed there was plenty still left in the battery. This is most promising.
The rear gears are in the nuVinci 380 hub (not a 360 as I reported last week). The controller of the CVT gearbox has a graphic of a little cyclist either climbing a hill or going along the flat towards a downhill section. Not that you look at it much.
Thursday = battery charge day.
Friday saw me take the XL to Deloraine for the weekly River Road ride in order to check out it’s abilities and battery usage up hills. I decided to fold up the trike and see if I could get it into the back of the X-Trail on my own. I did, just! Very awkward and my problem shoulder didn’t like it. I have x-ray and ultrasound scans lined up for next week and it will be interesting to find out what’s going on in there.
At Deloraine, Colin helped me unload and three of us set off to cycle River Road. The usual numbers for this small riding group have been reduced by winter’s Tasmanian ‘Cold and Cough’ and by others being interstate. It was a cool, damp ride but not actually raining. The bush smelt great – well, bushy. Recent rains had the weir on the Meander River overflowing well and it was quite noisy as we prepared the trikes.
I kept the XL generally on Pedal Assist level 1 (PA2 on hills) and, although I felt it was not going well, Colin pointed out I was actually travelling quite a bit faster than him on Red Magnum. I think my problem with it is that bottom gear is quite high and I don’t spin like I used to on Red Magnum – so it feels like we’re plodding. Also, if I increased PA to 3 I expect it would buzz up the hills OK – but that would mean leaving Colin to a solitary ride. Um .. which I did a bit anyway. Sorry Colin.
After coffee we returned to the cars and I decided to see if the trike would fit in the back unfolded. The X-Trail rear seats were folded flat and I stuck the trike in having first removed it’s seat. It fitted!! In fact it seemed to have slightly more room around it than Red Magnum. That was unexpected and a bonus. I was all smiles as that will make carrying the trike to ride starts much easier..
Next was a Norfolk Plains ride out through Bishopsbourne via Armstrong Lane.
I wanted to complete this ride without recharging the battery after River Road. There are a few hills out this way and River Road had a few too so let’s find out how will the battery cope. I decided to use PA1 most of the way but using PA2 and PA3 as needed to get up the hills. Once we left Longford it was obvious quite a strong westerly was blowing too – in the face for much of the ride out.
How did it go? Well. My normal average speed for this ride on Red Magnum was in the 13s – 13kphs. Today it was 16.3 travelling mostly on PA1 and with headwinds of some sort for ¾ of the course. The battery moved a bit off “top” but not too much. Experience with various car fuel gauges had me waiting for the point when suddenly the needle heads downwards quickly after being stuck on full for 150 kilometers. The two rides were a total of 60k, several hills were climbed, a headwind tackled and the battery appears to be maybe ⅓ used up. Wow ! This is looking really good. There has been some significant motor/battery development since the electric bike I rode to work in Hobart 11-12 years ago.
Finally. Sunday was an after lunch ride from Turner’s Beach to Penguin on Tasmania’s north coast.
We met neighbour Cher for lunch at La Mar, Turners Beach. It was cool (10°C), sunny and warm enough to sit outside so Oscar, the small brown dog, could sit with us. I had a very tasty Soul Burger, a vegetarian delight, and a good coffee. That was enough to set me up for the ride.
Starting along the beachside road (cars have a 40kph limit) I cycled down to the start of the shared pathway to Ulverstone. Not sure how busy it would be I was pleased to find small groups of cyclists and careful dog walkers – but not too many. Over to the left were some dark grey clouds and a spot or two of rain fell onto my glasses.
Here we start to cycle through the Ulverstone caravan park. This is the overflow area filled to busting in summer and empty now.
After the overflow area the track leads to a quiet backroad to continue riding alongside Bass Strait. I travelled past the caravan park proper, a large water slide (not in use today) and along to the Leven River.
In the above park there are memorials to several Royal Australian Navy ships of the past.
Cycling on I followed footpaths that seemed to be OK to cycle on but there was no information to confirm this. Anyway, I got through to the bridge over the Leven and crossed.
A shared path leads up and onto the bridge, down the other side and runs down the river towards the mouth where it exits into Bass Strait. Just before the end I turned left and crossed over to the road to Penguin.
The windy road running along to Penguin is a tourist route and there was quite a bit to traffic today. Generally the cars and I managed to be polite except for one red hatchback that came awfully close on passing. Someone who doesn’t know their car width?
It started to rain a little and I was glad to see Penguin in sight. I took a quick picture of the trike next to the Penguin. Then I loaded everything in the car and headed in for a coffee.
OK. What about the Challenge then?
Well, I have decided it’s perfectly OK to ride an electric assist trike when one is in one’s 70s. Out there in “Net-Land” people in their 50’s and 60’s make similar comments to justify “Going Electric” so I reckon I’m OK. The challenge remains. I have a bit of catching up to do but that’s OK.