Lessons learned

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20150920-0004@2xSo, yesterday we tried out both the e-bike and the Doggyhut for the first time.

For our first ride out, we chose the usual route where we walk the dogs on the voie verte. Normally we join at a certain point and turn either right or left, walk about 2.5km and turn round and come back. We figured that for cycling, we could go twice as far, so we joined at one end, where it was easy to park.

As Steve mentioned in his blog, everything went pretty swimmingly, though I think from his point of view, as long as he’s on the old pushbike, he might prefer to do the uphill section when he’s fresh, rather than when coming back.

But there were a few things we learned along the way too.

  • Firstly, the e-bike is just a bit too powerful to use on the flat: it’s too fast for the dog. I wanted Cézanne to bowl along at a nice trot (after his 10km run, btw, last night he conked out in front of the woodburner and didn’t bring me a single apple all evening). Consequently, most of the time, I turned the assist off and just pedalled along nicely. With its 28in wheels, the Organ is a very nice, smooth ride, even on the crumbly, rough bits of track (which was also littered with broken branches and masses of acorns).
  • Secondly, the bottle carrier has got to go. I am pretty small and my frame size is 45. Every time I dismounted, the carrier hit me in the crotch or the top of the thigh, and I’m covered in bruises today.
  • It would be useful if some people who have bought a fancy toolkit actually brought it along with them on the ride. 😉
  • Both we and the dogs should still wear high-vis even though we’re not on the road. The moment someone enters shade, they disappear entirely, and that is particularly an issue with Zola, since he is black, and too deaf to respond to a recall. Luckily, being the girl scout I am, I had my emergency high-vis gilet in my panniers, so I wore it on the return ride, but one of my orders of business this week is to finish the dog’s high-vis jackets that I’m sewing.
  • Steve needs twice as much water as he thinks he does.

For myself too there were some interesting differences. In the several-week wait for the bikes, I’ve been upping my time on the stationary bike, but the new bike, of course is a different kettle of fish.

  • First, it is a lot higher off the ground and
  • Secondly, it moves! This is kind of scary but exhilarating at the same time and you have to think about, if not worry about, falling off.
  • Also, it bounces and the ground is rough – you can practically hear your teeth rattling.
  • If you go too fast, the road becomes a bit of a blur and you can’t pick out hazards, so slow and steady is the name of the game.
  • There are gears, which the stationary bike, of course, does not have.
  • It’s noisy, with the sound of the wind rushing in your ears (despite my Sheila Moon Eurocap).
  • The road is cambered, entailing some concentration.
  • It gets cold when you’re moving, and it’s windy. Overheating on the stationary bike has been a real issue, even with the window open, but there is no such problem on the real bike.

A 40-minute ride on the stationary bike is as boring as hell, enlivened only by listening to music or reading my Kindle. A 40-minute ride on the voie verte is exhilarating. A 40-minute ride on the road is, for me right now, kind of terrifying but something I need to conquer, and this evening it was both windy and drizzling, just adding to the fun.


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