Yes folks, this is my 250th Blog Post. I suspect there has been a bit of repetition happening with too much Norfolk Plains in the last couple of years. But, just as we think about heading further afield – Omicron arrives – so I suspect there will be more Plains stories yet !
Not around the Plains for this post though.
Last week we travelled south to visit some friends in the Huon Valley.
I packed the Bike E in the hope of a ride with Ken and his friend and musician, Andrew. Andrew has an off-road One-Wheel. And a 360° camera. What did that all add up to – watch the video!
Oh yes, a one wheel, two wheel and three wheel in line riding on top of the world. Thanks for the video Andrew and his Ubute One-Wheel YouTube channel.
The video was taken during the downhill section of a gravel road ride we did in the Huon Valley. You will have noticed – not much pedalling needed.
Our tent is the brick shaped item to the right. Two days were like the above and two days were a bit wetter. We arrived back home with a lot of wet “canvas”. Par for the course this year – a nice day followed by a wet day. This is set to continue over the summer as headlined in our local paper –
“Tasmania set for more rain as Bureau of Meteorology declare La Nina weather event“
Sunday : a NW Group ride
I hadn’t ridden this area after a terrible trip quite a few years ago. I tried to ride the Tasmanian Trail between Railton and Sheffield, got lost in the pine plantation, came out on a narrow, windy lane with cars asserting their dominance. Generally I found the riding around Sheffield impacted by fast and aggressive driving.
So it was with some reluctance I turned up for the ride to Crackpot (yes – really, well, sort of) after being assured the roads to the west of town were OK.
I parked on the exit to town where I found a spot to leave the car plus trailer without causing problems. Ernie felt good as I cycled back up the hill into town to meet the group. The sun shone on us as we gathered and completed the Bicycle Network ride paperwork. Then it was a gentle roll out and down to turn towards Gowrie Park and Mt Rowland. Almost at once the mountain became a backdrop to the ride – stern, craggy and imposing.
Ernie was holding our place well. We had to slow on one downhill though as filled-in pot-holes and a gusty sidewind made riding a bit twitchy over 40kph. Then there was a bit of climbing but at gentle gradients. There would be a lot of climbing today with over 600 metres to be ascended. I had some concerns over how the electrics would work – a balance of speed needed to keep with the group and power needed to climb – so I rode carefully.
We arrived at Gowrie Park crossing the Dasher River (great name) on the way. According to census data, a total of 32 people live at Gowrie. Generally though many more are around, accommodated in the Wilderness Village and general camping. It’s one of the start point for walking tracks up Mt Roland and the associated peaks of Mt Van Dyke and Mt Claude.
Ernie the Muppet is standing on the shoulder of Gowrie IronMan. I don’t know what they talked about while we had a rest. One rider without electricity was finding the going a bit hard and she also knew what was coming up. I didn’t. Neville’s son stopped by to offer Dad some verbal support and agreed to take the non-powered bike plus rider back to Sheffield in his Ute. That was a bit of luck.
We returned to the ride and almost immediately the going was up. For several kilometers we went up and up. I will do this ride again one day when I have tightened the Mountain Drive and can use the lower gear range. For today though I had to stay in the high range, which gives quite a high bottom gear and just use extra motor on the steeper bits. Even level 5 was selected once I felt comfortable that I had enough battery capacity left to get home. Levels 1-4 each provide a gentle push, each a bit more than the last. Level 5 though is another thing. I can see over 400 watts on the display and feel a good push as it kicks in. Why there is such a difference between 4 and 5 I don’t know. I did find a YouTube vid of a guy explaining all the Controller settings but nothing explained why level 5 is so powerful or why all levels are limited to 25 kph.
As the climbing eased off we arrived at Tazmazia. The name suggests ‘Maze’ and that’s what is here – several mazes (mazii?). Within the mazes is the miniature town of Crackpot. I took one look at the entry fee and decided I would not be going to the town.
We lunched, sitting outside in the sun. Two extra riders turned up. They had not wanted to cycle the loop and had elected to come out to Tazmazia direct from Sheffield instead. Lots of chat and bicycle banter later, it was back to the bikes.
The road back to Sheffield had several decent descents. I was interested to find that Ernie tended to start a descent slower than a diamond frame bike but, at the 2/3rds down the hill was catching the DF rapidly. After braking and staying behind the DF when the rider began pedalling towards the bottom, I was still rolling and going at a similar pace – for more than a few metres. Maybe the Ernie riding position, while not really recumbent, is enough to cut through the air better than a DF rider. Maybe the riders in front braked more! Too many variables for a quick answer.
Enjoying the downhills, we were soon back in Sheffield and, after saying goodbyes, I rode back to the trailer.
While we were down Hobart way I called in to see Phil and got hold of the special socket needed to tighten Ernie’s Mountain Drive. It seems the socket is in short supply in Australia as I have tried to buy one. The best bet seemed to be to organise one from Germany (with a freight cost of approx $125). Eventually I found a supplier in WA who is about to place an order for some spares (from Germany) and will include my order with his. Thus we share the freight! I was also able to get a couple of the shift buttons from him and they should be here next week.
The shift buttons.
There are two buttons – one on either side of the shaft that runs through the drive. The rider can change from high to low range or vice versa by kicking the appropriate button with their heel. The effect is the equivalent of a dual chain ring, without needing a derailleur.
I lost a button somewhere on the Norfolk Plains and had one work loose on the Brompton. It was unclear how these things were kept in place but I have it all sorted now. Inside the button is a tiny 1.5mm Allen key grub screw. You wind the button onto the spindle and then tighten the grub screw to hold it in place. The company recommends to a specific torque and are willing to sell you a driver set at the correct torque : “We guarantee you will not lose a button if you use this driver”. Yeh Right – $130 plus freight! With arthritic fingers you just use a standard 1.5mm Allen key and tighten the grub until the finger goes “click”; an inbuilt torque wrench – much cheaper!
My problem today is that I replaced the missing button prior to the Sheffield ride and tightened it with a newly purchased 1.5mm key ($4.50 for a set of 6). Made in China, as the key tightened the grub, the key rounded!! I now can’t remove the button to start work on tightening the bottom bracket assembly to stop the whole thing rotating when low range is engaged!!
Bugger. Got to find a better, stronger 1.5mm key now.
Anyway, that’s it for today
’til next time ……………….