TDP2021: Day1 – Geneva – Thiers – Cold & Rain

Hurray! Today is the day! TDP2021 finally can start.

I was unable to finish off everything still on my plate the evening before work-wise. I also had my second vaccination late yesterday and had already felt some effects during the night. Getting up at 5 was hard – I felt very weird and had some pain in my joints. That’s what living at the edge feels like – first day on vacation is my 2nd-vac-day +1.

At least I’ll be sitting in the TWIKE for a very, very long time today. I’m planning to drive to clermond-ferrand, mid-way through France. This because, apparently, one needs a valid PCR test to get into Spain…even when crossing into the country on land. This is why I went to get tested at 9pm yesterday – this will give me time until Friday to cross into Spain.

With this all sorted, I pack my TWIKE ready for a long-distance trip, as I have done so many times before. This just takes a few minutes nowadays as everything is ready and I haven’t got much to take with me…most of my luggage for my extended staying-on and working in Portugal in August will be traveling with my family and the car on Saturday.

This gives me a few days on my own – and I’m really in need of some decompression. My job has been demanding lately.

What better antidote to stress is there than sitting in a TWIKE for hours on end without all mobile phone notifications or calls muted, just driving along with cruise control engaged and truly nothing to do other than looking out of the window? (I know, I know: this isn’t everybody’s version of bliss 😉 )

All systems are GO – GPS tracking of TW560 is up and running and my TWIKE is ready!

The crazy thing is that the road to Portugal starts right here on my doorstep!

The road starts here

Let’s start first with the stats:

TDP2021 Start stats

Then we’re ready. I say goodbye to my wife and off I drive.

I’ve decided not to take the motorway to Geneva. I have the battery range to do so but find the motorway just too boring and don’t want to be part of the morning commute traffic.

Weather-wise there is a predominance of two things: Rain and Cold. It’s 12° outside – I had to get a winter jacket out to wear over my soft-shell jacket in order not to freeze to death.

Drive-wise there is nothing special to report: utterly uneventful, grey and cold 🙂

Cold and windy all the way to Geneva

Arriving in Geneva, I thought I’d go to a classic recharge-favourite of mine: the freely accessible plug panel in front of the Palexpo…but alas, vandals had broken the panel. No electricity was flowing as a result.

I then headed to the very next place: the airport just across the road. They have recently installed high-troughput Type2 plugs in their parking garage and the Airport has a ground-side restaurant with great views of the runways and docks. I entered the parking garage to find … them not working? No! I found them being all hogged by Teslas!

[irony]

Damn you Tesla! Why did you have to create affordable and easy-to-use electric mobility? When I started driving EV’s 15 years ago, I always had all plugs to myself!

[/irony]

Anyway – I left the garage and instead of doing what every ‘normal’ EV driver would do (whipping out a mobile phone and reserving the next free Type2 charging station on one of the many EV charging apps) – my old habits are hard to kill – I went into ‘loco-mode’ and just drove up to the next garage and told them that this vehicle was too old to charge on “that damn new-fangled energy-industrial-complex driven fat-cat-corporates profit-making scheme” and just needed their goodwill for around 2 hours of a red plug they got a few of in their garage.

And the usual thing happened: Not a minute later I was charging. There was one caveat, however. I arrived at 2 minutes before midday and they would close the garage for 90 minutes for lunch and would lock the TWIKE into the garage and I couldn’t stay inside. No problem for me. We locked the garage and off I went to a nearby hotel I’d stayed in the past and had a coffee there and finished off some urgent work I hadn’t been able to the day before.

Locked-in TWIKE

Coming back to the TWIKE 90 minutes later I discover that the charge was nowhere near as far as I had expected. One of my trusted Chinese chargers was not delivering any power at all! Had it died after a good, long life of 11 years? This turned out to be not the case (whew!) It was just an oxidized connector but this didn’t help much as most of the saturation phase of my TWIKE’s batteries was already over and the chargers were going to cut out soon anyway.

Given that I wanted to drive all the way to clermond-ferrand, I, however needed as full of a charge as possible…this really tested my patience as charging with the main inverter alone with over an ‘virtual’ driving hour worth of charging already missing saw me looking at the range growing at a very stately pace of 1km/2min instead of 3km/min.

Garage open, me still there, charging

At 3.30pm I was confident enough that I would be able to make it with the charge. There were a few things I needed to factor in: Partial recharges are notoriously difficult to calculate. Whilst Dreifels’ TWIKE controller is light-years ahead of the old standard inverter software with regards to the charge and discharge models, neither really envisioned people driving >600km a day. The numbers start to drift apart and the controller does not yet have edge-based AI to factor in temperatures, consumption and charge intensity etc. Furthermore, the topography I was entering was more than hilly. There were a few higher hills >900m with valleys at <100m to cross. This would be taking another toll on my overall average consumption. And last but not least: Rain and wind – both are a major contributor to higher consumption. With this I wanted to have some margin for error built into my 2nd charge for the day.

And with that, I crossed into France without any fanfare or any health checks – nothing at all.

France, here we come!

The rest of the day can be described as fog, rain, wind and feeling progressively cold to the bones whilst feeling more pain in my joints.

This wasn’t made better by the fact that I had totally forgotten how bad French roads can be and how many retched speed bumps there are in residential zones!

More of the same

Up the hills into the fog

My ‘I was there’ pic

With 45km to go, I had to give up. I wasn’t sure if the battery would still be able to get me there (OCV was at around 335V @ 12°C). Also, I was feeling truly lousy and cold to the bones and wasn’t ready for one of my usual ‘down-to-the-last-Wh’ experiments I’m known for.

Last bit before Thiers

Eventually, I found a motel along the road and checked-in. They let me charge and gave me one of the last rooms available.

My place for the night

Tired and cold the first thing after starting the charge was to take a long and hot bath, hoping that things would get better the next day

Not quite 600km…but still very far for a TWIKE in a day

Good night! (Well, at that time I was hoping for a good night)

TDP2021-day1 - GPS Track

TDP2021-day1 – GPS Track

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