I’m probably getting old … for two reasons: Didn’t sleep too well after staying up until way after 1am and having a few drinks whilst chatting with old friends and my body wasn’t at all impressed by me wanting to get up at 5.30 am instead of my usual 5 am and saw me super-awake at exactly 4.58 am.
Which is why I decided to get up right away and prepare for an early departure since my trip for today would be very long anyway and would give me some more time to enjoy the drive.
After a quick shower and a light snack for breakfast, I started packing TW560 at 5.20 am and left shortly after that.
Before we can start the travelogue for today, there are a few things I’d like to add:
- This is an exercise in extreme hypermiling – this is not how to use a TWIKE on a regular basis
- There will be many pictures
- If you want to do something similar, you will have to like/love sitting in your TWIKE for a very long time
- I like talking about efficiency and how to achieve it – reduce to the max is my mantra
- Don’t be bored by me droning on about how beautiful France is
- Quite some planning went into today’s part of the trip – if everything works out, I shall arrive at the top of the last pass with a more or less empty battery which – with recuperation on the way down – will allow me to get to my final destination. Should this not work out, I’m in for lengthy coasting down the hill back to the last village for a recharge.
- TW560’s current (super low) consumption levels are not only down to my drastic, dogmatic and frankly OCD-like hypermiling techniques – my TWIKE has been tweaked over many iterations again and again to deliver this kind of efficiency. Speak to Andi from ksenotek if you want to know the levels of detail we’ve gone into to make this happen (and how insistent I can be if I have the feeling we can get another 0.7% more out of any given setup!)
With that out of the way: we’re back to Saturday morning 5.23 am. It’s actually a good thing to be on my way this early as I might get on the Lötschberg car train before the big rush.
At 9°C I’m happy to have taken a softshell jacket with me – the canopy will stay on, too. With a battery that has been charged to a maximum 422V (4.22V per cell) and an open circuit voltage of 419V I’m ready for some serious long-distance TWIKEing fun.
Due to the fact that the inverter will not accept any recuperation energy until the battery is at about 408V (…and I’m lucky it’s that high!) I will have to adapt my driving technique drastically, if I want to avoid using the breaks and destroy kinetic energy by using normal brakes … (roll, baby, roll!)
Nevertheless, I make good distance towards Thun and feel very cold in my TWIKE whilst thinking to myself that I’ll be having the exact opposite problem for most of the rest of my trip 🙂
Climbing up to Kandersteg the clouds get denser by the minute until I’m driving in an even colder grey drizzle, not happy at all. Let’s just hope that the usual ‘weather in Wallis valley is always better’ comes true!
Having arrived at the Kandersteg car train check point with my pre-ordered ticket, I breeze past without having to wait even a minute and am on the train within one minute with a departure within 3 minutes – it doesn’t get any better than this! (except for the grey drizzle)
I never get bored of driving onto and on a car train!
On the other side it is indeed true: Weather is always better in Wallis. Very slowly and gingerly I attempt to get as much energy back into my batteries whilst descending to the valley. Going slow will keep the voltage lower and will allow me to get more Wh back.
Very happy with the result:
Only thing that makes me worry now are the strong winds blowing either from the side or even as strong headwinds – see for yourself!
Wind is one of the things that can cost a lot of energy and can put a serious dent into your range – as it for example did in Hungary. (That was the worst weather I’ve ever driven in with a TWIKE…ever!)
Except for the wind, things are perfect. Cruise control engaged, I listen to some of my favourite tracks and start unwinding.
With the sun out I’ve decided to drive with an open canopy – temperatures are just perfect.
Something else to enjoy here are road surfaces. Swiss over-engineering is extremely visible in this case – no bumps, no cracks – just silky-smooth perfection which is replaced as soon as any sign of wear is detected.
Time for a quick check of my TWIKE’s vital signs:
And how are we doing on the consumption front? Did the wind have any major impact on our overall range? (…need to make that last pass at 408km without recharging!)
Luckily, I’m more or less within the range I calculated for this part of the trip!
I’ve already been up the Col de la Forclaz in 2016 – TW560’s odometre ticked over to 200k then.
It’s a very nice climb and the views are spectacular on the Swiss side.
This time over, there is nothing special to report except for the fact that the weather was getting better by the minute and I was loving driving my TWIKE. How to drive efficiently up and down hills and mountains is something that EV-drivers and TWIKE pilots alike can spend evenings discussing 🙂
I arrive in France and am looking forward to spending some days there – chatting with people and eating good food.
Chamonix is reached quickly – the village itself is nothing to write home about. Rather small and fully geared towards summer and – above all – winter sports guests.
This saturday, there seems to be some kind of efficiency race where bikes are allowed to add energy capturing during the stages to get a better overall consumption.
There were about 20 teams with either bikes, recumbent bikes or other experimental vehicles which all were covered in solar panels in some or the other way. Very interesting!
Climbing up another hill after Chamonix, I am back to my usual ‘my, this is just beautiful’ and must say that France looks really nice today 🙂
Since my route for today is more or less following the usual mantra of following a virtual line as closely as possible, I get to drive along smaller roads and cross a few hills that are typically avoided by larger roads and traffic.
Cruising along a the Isère valley, still listening to my favourite tracks, I’m in a very deep state of relaxation. Hard to describe and not everyone’s cup of tea.
Let’s see how my consumption looks like 250km into the trip, shall we?
So far so good. All the hypermiling has been paying its dividends.
One thing I don’t like about my trips at all is that it’s usually me taking the pictures – only if I actively ask my co-pilot to take a picture I get to be in one. Today it’s all up to me, as there is no-one to take any pictures. I’m conversant to the modern photography style of photographic self-portraiture – this is my ‘it actually was me driving this TWIKE through France’ picture.
Arriving in Grenoble, just before the last, long climb, I’m interested to see if I was able to push TW560’s consumption down even a little more…
YES! Sub-35Wh/km consumption makes me very proud!
In Grenoble itself, I get to drive a very interesting take on how the city is tackling too much traffic: just open the storm drain system to normal traffic! I felt like in an 80’s movie where they were driving in LA’s storm drain concrete dream. 🙂
After that, we’re back to the ugly business of trying to get up the hill from 200m up to 1254m without killing my consumption! Hint: slowly.
The ascent takes me from plateau to plateau and through very nice scenery.
In this gorge I was overtaken dramatically by the first electric car i saw in France – a Renault Fluence.
My final destination for today was chosen purely on the basis of its name: Die. Scroll around in central/southeastern France on Google Maps on nearly any given zoom level and you will see this town. I wondered: What if I go to Die? How would that feel and look? 😉
I’m going to find out today!
The rest of the climb is breathtaking and the roads small and mostly free of traffic.
Still driving up the mountain pass, at about 2-3 km before the pass itself it became obvious that the charge would be sufficient to make it there, regardless of how steep the last part would be…which it eventually was!
At the temperatures today and the higher currents during the last few kilometres, TW560’s battery was at around 35°C – which lead to a much better open-circuit voltage after 14,8 kWh energy consumed. At this level, I estimate that there is still about 1.2 kWh in the battery – very good!
The pass itself is called Col de Rousset and a favourite for owners of faster cars – after leaving the tunnel crossing under the mountain peak, a parking lot and a very nice view beckons me to stop for a moment. Pulling over, I stumble into a selection of Caterhams, Lotus Elise & Super7 etc. – around 20 cars.
All owners are out of their cars, admiring the view. I pull into the first available place and are immediately surrounded by car enthusiasts asking many questions.
As always, it pays to like to talk about TWIKEs 🙂
Finally, one of the owners asks me if I wanted a picture together with my vehicle – he also usually drives alone and never gets to have such pictures – said, done!
Soon after that, the owners of the sport cars decide that it’s time to fill the tunnel with some exhaust noise one by one. Everyone is entitled to their pleasures!
With all space left, I move TW560 a bit and get it ready for one of these typical ‘made it to the top of yet another hill’ pictures.
Looking down, I’m probably looking forward to the road ahead as much as the other drivers looked forward to the ascent: For me it is lots of energy waiting to be recuperated! Will I be able to make it to the valley without using the friction-based breaks?
YES! It’s such a good feeling to get 100% of the kinetic energy back into the batteries!
Entering the valley Die is located in, many blooming lavender fields add a fragrant base to the air, as if there was a giant air-freshener somewhere.
Just a short while later, I arrive in Die – a cute small French village and locate my Auberge for the night. The owner helps me to locate a plug. Taking out my extension cord I realize that there will be no charging before the broken plug is changed…
10 minutes later, the new plug is attached – industrial quality, see the difference!
Ready for many, many more TWIKE adventures!
With the charge set up, I check-in and then decide to wander around Die.
Small French villages are just magical – people keeping things well maintained, gardens and plants well tended-to and small restaurants serving up inventive food made of local ingredients.
With TW560 munching on tasty French nuclear electrons, I feel like eating something. I find a very nice small restaurant and enjoy some locally sourced and hand-made food…typically French, this comes in multiple courses and I get back to my Auberge rather late but happy.
Let’s see how the consumption was for today:
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
Total: 518.0 km / 24398 Wh / 47.1 Wh/km / 00.00 CHF
Let’s see how the temperatures are:
The battery will be at a perfect temperature by tomorrow. 🙂
Good night! Getting up very early tomorrow – looking forward to a full day’s driving in France!