A Travellerspoint blog

Day one; Mountain River to Glenorchy

Vince's Saddle, do or die.

Day 1

On this 5 day e-bike tour, my first, it gradually became apparent that the bike would manage approximately 50 kms comfortably on the hilly Tasmanian terrain without recharge. However, when I started off from home I was worried that the long climb out of the Huon Valley over Vince’s Saddle at 495 meters would drain my battery completely, I had no way of knowing. That is why I stopped at “My Slice of Pie” a little cafe on the shortcut from where I live in Mountain River to ask them whether I could top up the battery before I climbed the saddle.
Unfortunately, this was the only venue on my trip where the owner said “That’s not what I’m here for...only in an emergency.” Even when I suggested that she might well get more customers like myself to recharge and spend a little cash. So that left me a coffee and cake lighter in the wallet and even more nervous than before, thinking that I may not get a good reception in other places and this whole venture was going to be a debacle.

‘I must save as much power as possible’ I was thinking as I began to climb, so switched to the TOUR power setting which meant putting in a lot more effort. [My little computer display has power assist settings of ECO, TOUR, SPORT and TURBO which is more descriptive and much cooler than numbers]. It turned out to be quite doable as the gradient on the highway is not very steep and I was at the turnoff onto the old Huon Road into Longley much sooner than anticipated, without taking a break. ‘Should I stop? Nah, I’ll have my break on the way down.’

This is a delightfully quiet and varied road snaking along the edge of the Wellington Range through bits of forest and with wonderful views over numerous lifestyle properties.
Even more delightful was that I knew there was a great pub at Longley where I could replenish my liquid reserves and hopefully electric ones as well. As it turned out the battery was not even half empty but would definitely need to be topped up to reach Hobart. When I asked for a recharge the barman was most enthusiastic, it turns out he was thinking about starting e-bike tours on Bruny Island himself. As you can imagine I was over the moon [well, over the Saddle anyway] about my prospects now. The battery and I had coped very well.

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With more wonderful views, waterfalls and cool, shady forest, the road swings towards Fern Tree where there is another nice pub. [Charging fine as long as you buy some food or drink]. Past the turnoff to the Kunanyi [Mt Wellington] summit. [Cyclists ride up almost every day for a bit of training, and I know someone has done it on an e-bike, he just made it on a charge. Mind you from Fern Tree it is only another 850 meters to the top at 1270 meters so if you fancy a bit of a view...be my guest].

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With an euphoric sense of relief on the descent into Hobart, it felt like flying at 53kms/hr, the fastest yet on my bike. It was just as well the brakes were hydraulic as the heavy bike has a lot of momentum. I slowed down a bit as I suddenly realised I was breaking the speed limit. Then plunging into the heavy traffic through the city centre, I tried my hardest to catch the sequencing of the green lights through town, but dammit the cars were snarling up and slowing me down. You do have to ride at 40km/hr at least so I guess I was a bit ambitious. I had some shopping to do so did not continue through to the Intercity Cycleway like any sensible cyclist would, to curve north along the river at the Cenotaph, but instead turned towards North Hobart to have a late lunch.

In cities there are too many venues to mention who would likely charge your battery; cafes, restaurants, pubs, bike shops and even libraries. [Try using one of their computers for a bit of blogging whilst your battery is charging nicely]. One could even ask at cinemas or museums where you could get some entertainment or education while your battery was sucking up electrons. Often a city or town would be a final destination where your accommodation would provide the power point at night.

The destination for my first night was to be the Hobart Showgrounds Campsite in Glenorchy which I reached via the Intercity Cycleway, not easy to get onto from North Hobart incidentally, there’s a maze of suburban streets to negotiate and only one entry point in this area, so if you miss that you will have to do a a long detour. I's not the most scenic cycleway in the world, with long sections of walls and fencing and endless warehouse with their ugly backs tuned towards you. I'm glad there is a bit of colourful graffiti to cheer you up. Not complaining mind! It's good to ride away from traffic and you get there fast. Poor Hobart, they're so proud of this, but when you compare it with Holland...

Although the Showground does not have powered sites you can easily charge up at the communal kitchen for free. It is by far the cheapest campsite around Hobart, right next to the cycleway and has excellent new shower blocks.
In the evening I cycled back to North Hobart to see a film at the excellent State Cinema. “Lion”, about a young Indian boy who gets lost and adopted by a Tassie couple. True story, at the end there are shots of the real grown up boy being re-united with his mother in India, which really tore me up. But then, I always cry at the cinema. Why do I always forget the tissues!

Posted by takinitezy 05:20 Comments (0)

Tasmania; My first Trip

Steep Hills and Learning Curves

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Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to encourage cycling in Australia for those who are no longer fit enough to cycle any distance. Since their introduction e-bikes have evolved to the point where millions of them have been sold in European countries and elsewhere in the World. Older people have taken to their bikes once again in droves. The benefits are huge to health and wellbeing, the environment as well as the economy. It feels so good to be out in the fresh air, cycling a few kilometers to pick up the milk and papers rather than taking the car. You can say hello to your neighbours with a smug eco-grin on your face and smell the flowers as you pass them by. Or you can go on a mini adventure on the bike as I have and will be doing for as long as I am able.
I hope one day that this blog will become an interactive website or part of an existing one where anyone can contribute to the information therein.

In 2016 when we came back from the Netherlands, where we had been spending the Tassie winter on our little sailboat cruising the canals and lakes and of course cycling the excellent bike routes, I missed our bike trips so much I decided to buy an electric bike. Electric because I am over 65 and the many hills in Tasmania are not condusive to easy bicycle touring. Tasmania is a very bumpy place.
My bike is a Gepida Reptila step-through frame with Bosch motor, 4 power settings and very slick automatic Nuvinci gearbox which calculates continuously to determine the most efficient gear for the minimum effort.
I must admit I was bedazzled by the novelty of not having to change gears and always being in the right gear at traffic lights, so bought this bike after a short test ride around Hobart.
The bike was to be used for commuting around the Huon Valley without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and this model does that job very well indeed. But, being a restless soul always on the lookout for opportunities to travel and explore, using any means of transport available from kayaks to sailboats to bicycles [and I have been known to use shanks pony as well], I soon began to wonder whether I could go further afield on my e-bike. I know that there are perhaps better e-bikes for touring and climbing hills but this one comes close to the best. I will leave it to you to do the research and decide on a bike that suits you, since performance, range and load carrying ability are improving all the time.

Successful e-bike touring depends on several variables that are interdependent on one another;

  1. Weight of the bike, the rider and the stuff you carry.
  2. Changes in elevation of your route.
  3. The capacity of your battery or Range.
  4. Location of recharge facilities for your battery [and your body].
  5. The Power of your motor [and your body] to get up very steep hills.

The cumulative variations of these factors seem infinite, but gradually average values would emerge of the bike’s capabilities and mine as the trip progressed. In short, I had no idea of what I was getting into. By relating this trip now, rather than listing a whole series of dry statistics and details, you will get a better idea of how I was improvising and learning, probably in much the same way as you will be doing when you start to tour on your e-bike. I don’t think you can ever be entirely certain of battery range, the variables are waiting to catch you out, so the answer is, be conservative.

Camping or B&B?

Because the weather was still good, I chose to go camping on this trip, but on other tours will be staying in cheap accommodation along the way too. I also chose not to take food or cooking facilities along with me in order to save weight and space. Frequenting cafes, tearooms, foodstalls, restaurants and pubs along the way is a lot of fun and perfect for refreshing one’s body and batteries.

For camping there are a number of apps, but I must say that WikiCamps Australia is unbeatable, providing all the information you need as it includes many cafes, picnic spots and pubs too. And Google Maps is of course great for navigation using their bike routeing icon, although they often only give the shortest route which may well be along main roads. I have tried to avoid main roads as much as possible, it’s so much nicer and safer [most of the time] to follow the byways. A map [most convenient and lighter] or tablet is therefore also necessary, as it’s much easier to plan your route in advance.
In the true spirit of carefree drifters, I planned my route the night before, it gives you something to do, but don’t get trapped in a cul de sac where the only recharge facility is back the way you came.

Staying in B&B and other accommodation will be more expensive, but there are advantages of course;
• You do not need to carry tent, sleeping bag or sleeping mat so the bike is lighter, goes further and is easier to unpack. On my bike I simply unclip both panniers and carry them inside as hand luggage complete with the battery.
• You check in and step straight into a shower and change into comfortable clothes.
• You get to meet the hosts and other guests.
• You charge your battery in the room.
• You get a much better sleep, especially when you’re my age.
Besides, you can offset the cost by subtracting camping fees. On this trip my camping fees were exceptionally cheap grace of looking them up on WikiCamps, but they can be substantial.
There may be tours in more remote areas where you will need to camp anyway in between accommodations, which means a heavier bike. For longer remote trips I intend to buy a second battery which will have to be carried together with some food.

Posted by takinitezy 01:55 Tagged tasmania campsites touring recharging battery e-bike bikeroutes Comments (1)

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