Today I’m going to push the envelope what a TWIKE is capable of covering in a single day. Sure, I’ve driven halfway across Germany and pushed the envelope whilst driving through Russia but today I’m going to go for 650 km in one day not hypermiling!
It was very hard getting up at 7.30 AM today. I left my cousin’s birthday party at 1.30 AM and was in my bed at 2.10 AM…
After a very nice breakfast, my uncle and aunt saw me off at around 9.20 AM and I was more or less ready for my longest distance driven in a TWIKE 🙂
Today’s entry will consist mostly of pictures from my TWIKE of Austrian Alps and me driving along some motorway…plus a bonus in Italy which proved that one never has finished learning things… There is no spoiler, as I make it to my Agriturismo (Farm B&B) late this evening.
With a fully charged battery and no hypermiling target for today, I just drive along without much concern after the first 50km when TW560’s regen brakes start kicking in normally. It’s always weird when the inverter just refuses to feed energy back into the batteries and offers no braking at all…
At least with TW560 this threshold is extremely high. With TW231 or 741 this level is unacceptably low at about 402V whilst with TW560 small amounts of Regen are already available at 412V.
Today I’ll be driving southwards more or less all day long.
The drive takes me towards the Austrian Alps – There isn’t much to say except it was a beautiful day and I was able to take off the canopy pretty quickly and enjoy the sun whilst driving what seemed an eternity towards the Alps with them getting higher and higher but me not actually crossing them…yet 🙂
…still driving towards the Alps…
After some not very serious climbing I reach the highest point for today. Also, it was somewhat anti-climatic as the Gasthaus there was closed and I could have done with a drink and a bite to eat… but alas.
Even with more and more snow everywhere, outside temperatures are very nice and TW560 and I are very happy.
After the plateau, I drive down the Tauern-valley towards Spittal an der Drau with Seeboden as the place I’ve chosen for my recharge today – it was chosen explicitly because it still has a three single-phase CEE 16A charging station in the village centre without any payment required. TW560 and I will commandeer all three of these plugs at the same time for a TWIKE-style quick charge.
Having arrived in Seeboden, I was disappointed to learn that the charging station in the centre of Seeboden had been dismantled and moved outside of the village.
After arriving at the newly created charging facility, I was impressed: 1 multi-standard quick charge, 3 normal 11kW stations…and many bicycle plugs. All of this glory was not for free, but FINALLY, FINALLY(!!) all payable with a normal credit card at reasonable rates.
However, and I maintain that this is and remains one of the main problems of charging infrastructure today, I was unable to start the charge as the charging station’s user interface was unresponsive. AGAIN: Why wrap such a simple technology in layers of unproven IT that is unfit to survive extended temperature ranges in summer and winter.
After calling a support line and finally getting through to the tech guy, it turned out that he was only able to reset the charging station chargers but not the controller which was where my problem came from.
The solution to my problem was when the tech guy opened the charging station and let me charge for free.
A little more than 90 minutes later I was back on the road. From here I will drive on the Austrian motorway and Italian Autostrada until my final destination slightly south of Venice. My estimations see me arriving at my Farm B&B around 9 PM with a completely empty battery pack.
Off we go!
Driving on motorways outside Switzerland is always an interesting thing to do. All the incredulous looks and thumbs up are always a boost.
I’m in no hurry and with TW560’s cruise control engaged, I drive along the motorway for literal hours at around 85 km/h.
After entering Italy, it’s time to pay for the Autostrada – which is always a special thing to do in a TWIKE.
Night falls and I’ve still got more than 200km to go.
At least, finally, I’m in the Pianura and with my battery’s voltage dropping continuously, TW560’s max. wattage available is also dropping fast.
Combined with me not being 100% sure I’ll make it at all, I drive along at cruise-controlled 75 km/h, the highest speed maintainable at around 320V and TW560s level 1 acceleration.
Just a few km after taking this picture, it was – unexpectedly – time to learn something new…
A police car overtook me and instead of the usual thumbs up the police officer wound down the window and using an illuminated paddle signalled me to pull over.
The officer then got out and instructed me to follow them.
They pulled off the Autostrada at the next petrol station and drove to a well-lit part where they both got out and came towards the TWIKE.
There are moments where I’m not quite sure that me being able to speak fluent Italian is an asset. This was one of them. The officers walking towards my TWIKE were visible annoyed that they were probably going to be forced to speak English with me and probably not being able to make their point.
That’s why I smiled and said in slightly stilted Italian – hello, how are you. May I practise my Italian with you or do you prefer to speak German? (grin) To which they visibly relaxed and started with questions around why I had chosen to learn Italian and I thanked them for giving it a try. With the ice broken they proceeded to tell me that my vehicle was not allowed to drive on an Italian Autostrada…and besides all: what in God’s name is this contraption?
I’ve been driving throughout Europe on motorways and was very surprised to hear that I was driving on the motorway illegally. I asked them if a vehicle allowed on motorways in its originating country wasn’t automatically allowed in other European countries, too? Answer: a) Switzerland isn’t Europe (true) and b) not true, every country’s regulations can overrule any mutual acceptance of regulations.
The rules my TWIKE breaks were designed to keep APE‘s off Italy’s motorways. With it’s 65 km/h top speed it would just barely be allowed on the motorway but as the regulators knew that the 65 km/h were wildly optimistic and not considering any load, they defined a minimum weight for vehicles allowed which was higher than the maximum allowed weight of a fully-loaded APE and still lower than that of a FIAT nuova 500. This turns out to be 465 kg…around 170 more than my TWIKE weighs (except when used as a party supplies vehicle)
The interesting part was that the Italian police cars and processes don’t believe in electronics. The full Italian road code (a 600-page fake-leather bound opus) is housed in a custom-built holder and was shown to me with great care. The officers then proceeded to calculate the fine for entering the motorway with an unauthorized vehicle – many hundreds of Euros. Furthermore, I had not put my grey card back into the vehicle after TW560’s rebuild and had left it at home in Switzerland.
It took me a LOT of smiling, saying sorry and proclaiming my eternal love to Italy (which is absolutely true and genuine!) to talk myself out of the unauthorized-entry fine. I wasn’t, however, able to talk myself out of my second fine for today – not having valid documentation for my vehicle with me.
The fine was at a very acceptable €29.71 (got to be precise!) which I paid immediately, but there was another problem: I was to present myself to an Italian police station within the next 30 days to produce the missing document or be subject to another, much higher, fine. Asking how I was to do this if I wasn’t planning on going back to Italy within this time-frame, I got the most Italian answer possible: ‘buoh – che ne so io?’ (which roughly translates to ‘meh, your problem’). I was then escorted off the motorway and with a new route which was about 20km further than the one on the motorway found myself truly wondering if I would be making it to my B&B tonight.
Eventually, with an OCV of 303V and much later than planned I arrived at my B&B. The last 2 km were non-paved roads in the middle of nowhere and my mapping solution didn’t really help much to find the farm. At least at the farm there was no question regarding where to charge – all CEE variants were readily available and I connected TW560 with a blue CEE plug and set the charge rate to 9A – TW560 should be done charging just in time next morning.
Wow – what a day! 650km in a TWIKE with one recharge – my newest personal record! Looking forward to my next stage to Terni tomorrow…it’s only 412 km 🙂