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TDE2019 – Day3: Driving across France

Another great day greets me at 5.30 am. Cool air promises a few hours of perfect TWIKEng across France before the sun heats up the air again.

View from my room at 5.30am

View from my room at 5.30am


 
Today I’ll be driving to the sea and along the coast before heading to a small picturesque village called Cruzy and a stay at a B&B.

Another thing: Today is France’s national day – I suspect I’ll see some festivities this evening and lots of banners and flags out today.

No-one is up when I head downstairs to unplug my TWIKE. As I mentioned yesterday, the charging setup was pretty impromptu – have a look for yourself. TW560 shared a plug with a fridge and a charger that wasn’t plugged into anything.

15.2 kWh flowed through this setup :)

15.2 kWh flowed through this setup 🙂


 
But that’s a lot of energy…how can you be sure not to start a fire? you might ask – yes it is, but it is quite safe if you space it out over 11.5 hours!

<unnecessary tangent on battery technology>

I’m probably not the only one to do this: part of what I think about when connecting my TWIKE to a plug is ‘what’s the minimal current I can charge with to have my batteries full around the time I have to leave?

Why would I want to take such a fact into account? There are three reasons:

  • First, see above. >2kW on such a setup is either going to trip the circuit breakers when the fridge’s compressor starts or it will melt the plastic of the Chinese-made multi-plug.
  • Second, charging slower will allow the battery to store more energy. One of the best quotes to describe what’s going on here is ‘The capacity trails the charge voltage like lifting a heavy weight with a rubber band.’
  • Third, one of the most important factors contributing to cell ageing of Li* batteries is high voltage level stress, which can be avoided when the batteries are fully charged just moments before leaving and being discharged by driving immediately after reaching 100% SOC

(Note: I only charge my pack to 4.22V when travelling – around 10-20 charges a year. To prolong cell life, I configure my DFC3.0 from Dreifels (shameless product plug, I know, but you need one of these if you own a TWIKE!) to only charge to 3.8V and adjust the discharge values accordingly. Given the data available to me, this will prolong the cycle life of my batteries up to 130%.

This is one of the things EV drivers can go on about for days and bore the hell out of anyone not interested in the intricate details surrounding battery chemistry. Think religion/batteries … same level of zealous belief that the intricate things you’re doing are the best.

Interested to know more? Start here – it’s quite the rabbit hole!)

</unnecessary tangent on battery technology>

Sorry for going off on such a tangent on a travelogue entry. Thank you for bearing with me.

Where were we, ah, yes, ready to leave and drive to the French Occitanie coast. Off we go!

We're ready to leave!

We’re ready to leave!

 
When planning a trip like this one, I usually take the time not only to find the optimal path away from big roads but also try to see if there are other things of interest that might make a smaller detour worth while. For today I found not only one, but two geographical anomalies I want to see:

Anomaly 1

Anomaly 1

 
Certainly not a crater but still with serious climbs in and out.

Anomaly 2

Anomaly 2

 
Not quite sure if this will be very dramatic but it looks interesting.

This morning’s temperatures are certainly warmer than yesterday’s 9°C – I decide to take off the canopy from the beginning and am fine with my t-shirt at 15°C. After driving around an hour with hills moodily lit by a fading twilight, finally, the sun rises and throws a deep golden light onto the landscape.

Sunrise in central France

Sunrise in central France

 
Always on the lookout for another iconic TW560 shot, I stop multiple times, attempting to get the right angle. – the next one is my favourite for this morning:

The money-shot

The money-shot

 
Temperatures rise sharply with the sun rising quickly. For a brief moment, I have the sun right behind the TWIKE – time for an image every TWIKE pilot knows. 🙂

Always like the Mickey Mouse ears of my TWIKE

Always like the Mickey Mouse ears of my TWIKE

 
As my first geographical anomaly for today is somewhat off the beaten path, I get to drive along my favourite type of road. Maybe the following picture can entice you to do so yourself someday? Rural France is just magical.

Unreal beauty in rural France

Unreal beauty in rural France

 
Having arrived at my first anomaly, it turns out that it is indeed a special place – the road leading into the (for the lack of a better word) crater takes me up a few hundred metres just to descend back into this oversized dell with a dense forest. Combined with the small one-lane road winding its way along the sides of the formation, this is a real treat!

Pas de Lauzens - really worth the detour!

Pas de Lauzens – really worth the detour!

 
Anyone entering the pass is made aware of the tight bends and overhanging rock formations … plus the fact that it is one of France’s ‘rue remarquable’ (remarkable road). How true!

Very scenic Pas de Lauzens

Very scenic Pas de Lauzens

 
After this first lucky shot, my hopes were high for my second geographical anomaly, which turned out to be … totally not worth the detour. No visible special features, nothing. Not even the locals knew that this place looked this special on Google Maps.

With this, I was back to my road to the sea.

Slowly leaving the hills behind us

Slowly leaving the hills behind us

 
The transition from mountains to hills to flatlands always takes me by surprise. This time over, I suddenly find myself driving through kilometre after kilometre of wine interspersed with small villages and wineries. The Côtes du Rhône wine is fairly drinkable – given some more time, I’d like to explore the various regions making this AOC wine which starts somewhere around Vienne and goes all the way down past Avignon, only to give way to a national park close to the sea.

mile after mile of wine along the "cotes du rhone"

mile after mile of wine along the “cotes du rhone”

 

yet another stop

yet another stop

 
I drive along the Rhône river as close as I can which brings me back to the best type of road possible for a TWIKE.

Unlike Italy earlier this year, I can report that France has invested in their roads – today has been a treat regarding road surfaces! Mostly pristine and new(ish). This is when TWIKEing is fun!

small single-lane roads...again

small single-lane roads…again

 
Getting closer to the sea, temperatures are rising rapidly and given that I’m much further south the sun is beating down into the TWIKE without mercy. Thankfully, there is a way to attach the canopy and leave the sides open. This still doesn’t change the fact that outside temperature is around 32°C.

The Camargue region is known for its salt flats – I love cooking with the fine and still slightly humid salt flakes that come from here – and the slightly pinkish hue of the flats makes for a very nice view from my TWIKE!

One cannot get used to such a view from a TWIKE

One cannot get used to such a view from a TWIKE

 
My head seems to be getting hotter by the minute – why? The black color of the canopy doesn’t really help!

Hot canopy

Hot canopy

 
It’s certainly less hot than this day during TDE2012 – it’s hot nevertheless. Everything black, be it inside or out on my TWIKE is at least 58-60°C!

Anything black is getting super hot!

Anything black is getting super hot!

 
And in extension, my head, too!

very close...a slow roast at 60°C

very close…a slow roast at 60°C

 

Approaching the sea

Approaching the sea

 
At least I’ve finally arrived at the sea and take a short break to stretch my legs and escape from the slow roast of my brain. 🙂

Even here: a TWIKE gets the best parking spot ... and parks for free!

Even here: a TWIKE gets the best parking spot … and parks for free!

 
Ahh, fresh air, a slight breeze and the sea – I’m really looking forward to driving along the coast for another 1000 km!

National Holiday and the beach is still virtually empty

National Holiday and the beach is still virtually empty


 
During my trips I heavily rely on my mobile phone to show me where to go. This because I’m not letting any navigator determine which exact roads to take – I want my roads, windy, single-lane roads that I’ve decided on prior to leaving. This type of route planning with mymaps has yielded spectacular stretches of roads that I’d never would have found otherwise.

Today however, this proved to be a problem –

and it wasn't in the sun!

and it wasn’t in the sun!

 
And the phone wasn’t in the phone holder but in the shade with me…The temperatures continue to rise. Thanks to the many sensors in my TWIKE – 5 of 9 available temperature sensors are connected in my TWIKE – I have a very good idea how the various (and vital) parts of my vehicle are doing temperature-wise.

Just slightly elevated temperatures...

Just slightly elevated temperatures…

 
I’m not complaining – after reaching the sea, I continue to drive along between the see and the endless salt flats at a leisurely pace and a 32.5 Wh/km consumption – thanks to completely flat and silky-smooth roads.

Think TWIKE-Nirvana.

Driving along the sea with a TWIKE - one of the nicest forms of mobility

Driving along the sea with a TWIKE – one of the nicest forms of mobility

 

I don't see a view like this too often when commuting

I don’t see a view like this too often when commuting

 

Very flat - meditative state TWIKEing

Very flat – meditative state TWIKEing

 

Beautiful hues of blue with perfect roads

Beautiful hues of blue with perfect roads

 
Many, many years ago – 25 to be precise – I traveled along the French coast and stayed at a small town called Sète. I was deeply impressed by the in-town port. Beautiful small houses and a generous pinch of ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’. I definitely wanted to visit this town again and see how it had changed – if at all – and if the same feeling was still there.

Spoiler alert: Yes – all of it is still here and I was very sad not to stay here for the night. Sète was 100% booked when I was planning my daily stages for TDE2019. France’s national holiday foiled my plan to re-live some nostalgia – I’ll be back for sure!

It’s the epitome of what a french coastal town should be for me.

TW560 a perfect addition to a perfect scene

TW560 a perfect addition to a perfect scene

 
Only this time, throw a TWIKE into the scene and marvel at how well it works in this context!

Beautiful Sète

Beautiful Sète

 
Enough gushing about southern France. You know me – I’m love being anywhere. 😉

Vegetation is much further along than ours

Vegetation is much further along than ours

 
As promised, I am inserting a selfie every day to prove that it’s me on this adventure … and not some ghost-driver for whom I’m ghost-writing. 😀

Summer suits me well!

Summer suits me well!

 
For the last few kilometres, I drive away from the coast and slightly uphill to my final destination for today: Cruzy.

Arriving at my B&B, I go through the usual ‘hello, this is the electric bike I was referring to when I wrote you about the reservation’ and the very enthusiastic, ‘no problem, here is the plug’, ‘tell us more’.

Only this time, the hosts have an outside table and sit down with me to chat about not only the TWIKE, my trip but also how France is doing, Macron and his ‘gang’, living in rural France and much more before offering me to join them for dinner. All whilst drinking generous amounts of very drinkable Rosé wine until late, very late. I can only recommend staying at Le Grange D’Antan.

Tired, but very happy, I make my way up to my room after checking today’s vital data:

Another good day with TW560

Another good day with TW560

 
TDE2019 Stats:
day 1: 180.5 km / 09729 Wh / 53.9 Wh/km / 00.00 CHF
day 2: 417.5 km / 14669 Wh / 35.1 Wh/km / 00.00 CHF
day 3: 393.5 km / 13528 Wh / 34.4 Wh/km / 00.00 CHF
Total: 991.5 km / 37926 Wh / 38.2 Wh/km / 00.00 CHF

Our place for the night

Our place for the night

 
Good night!

TDE2019 - Day 3 GPS Track

TDE2019 – Day 3 GPS Track