Sunday, June 17, 2007

Longest trike ride yet!

This past Saturday night I had a gig out at the Nepean Sailing Club, which is about 12km west of my place downtown. Now, 12km is an easy ride on most bikes, but of course a heavy trike with at least 200 lbs. of gear in the back makes it a bit more of an effort!

Once again, this was really only practical due to the electric assist. I have pedaled out to Britannia Beach (10km), but that was with little weight and having a fun ride day with friends, so we could take our time. Saturday night meant not only a full load, but also a specific arrival time. And it was around 30C, so I was going to get a little sweaty no matter what. Fortunately it was a casual gig in the bar, not a formal event with the associated suit to put on (those gigs require me to get changed and wash up and try not to look dishevelled and sweaty for the clientele).

And it ended up being a really nice ride with no hassles whatsoever. And I stayed on city streets the entire route. While there is a nice riverside bike path all the way out there, the trike, while it does fit, is a bit bulky and I'd rather ride a more direct route. And besides, it's fun to get out there and take the whole lane, because I have no choice but to do so! ;)

I would normally have taken Gladstone Ave. for the first leg, but it was blocked by both a street party at one intersection and contruction a few blocks further on, so instead I took Somerset St. and then back up to Gladstone via Bayswater. From there I did the jump from Parkdale to Holland and then onto Byron. And Byron remains my fave westbound route. It's in pretty good shape, the single lane each way is quite wide, and all the main traffic is over on Richmond Road (which ends up running alongside Byron for its westernmost 2km). And once past Churchill there are maybe two stop signs and then it's open all the way to Woodroffe.

Byron continues for a bit past Woodroffe, but through traffic is blocked by a concrete divider, so at that point I got onto Richmond Road, a mostly 2-lane arterial. I followed that until turning onto Carling Ave. and then 2.5km to the Club. Carling Ave. is a major arterial, and I would not have really enjoyed that leg of the trip during a busy weekday, but at 6:30pm on a beautiful Saturday it was fine. Anyone coming up behind me just passed in the other lane, with a few vehicles giving light toots on the horn and waving or giving thumbs-up as they passed. I made the 12.5km trip in 35 minutes, with the assist being used to various degrees much of the time, just to see how quickly I could get there.

The gig was great, folks marvelled at the drummer showing up by bike, and then at 11:30 it was time to head home. I took Carling Ave. directly back to Woodroffe (being west-end suburbia there was almost no traffic at that time of night), and then after turning onto that street it narrowed to one skinny lane each way, so I turned off into the leafy residential area and angled my way NE to Byron, and then retraced the same route I took out. Along the way there were a few people out for stroll or walking their dog, and it was kind of fun to perhaps make their evening a bit more interesting as the lit-up cargo trike quietly glided past them... I was home by midnight, which meant that either the slight route change or the fact that I was going very slightly down-river shaved the time down to an even 30 minutes. That means a rough average a speed for the round-trip of 23 km per hour!

And that would not have been remotely doable without the electric-assist. I imagine that it might have taken almost double the time to make the trip without it, if only because to maintain that speed I would've had to take a few breaks! :P And after an evening playing a show it's no fun to take an hour or so to get home by pedal power, so without the assist I would have arranged for a lift of borrowed a car for this gig. So the assist is a real benefit (I did bring the battery pack's charger along, as I thought it best to keep the pack topped up for the return trip), and the recent boost to 48V and the bigger batteries has greatly extended the trike's functionality - this recent trip really proved that to me.

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