Cycling in Portugal

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cycling on solar power

When preparing for this trip I made a rough calculation that I would need 3 panels to power my bicycle. At each stop I would set up the 3 panels aim them at the sun collecting between 120..200W (total output of 3 panels) depending on the suns intensity. While cycling I still collect some power from the top panel but this energy is only a very small portion (20..30%) of the total energy needed for the trip.

On average the calculation worked out well but it is still a challenge to get the most out of the available daylight. In optimum conditions (crisp blue sky, flat surface, straight path and no wind) 4 hours…

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Travelling with a recumbent bicycle

In France, Spain and Portugal people often react very surprised when they a see a recumbent bicycle. Leaning backward on a recumbent, looking at the scenery and waving at all the surprised people is fantastic.

In comparison with a normal bicycle there is less stress on wrists and bottom. No special pants are needed. The only disadvantage is its reduced manoeuvring capability and not being able to look back without a mirror. That disadvantage is felt most in narrow streets of a city where there are frequent stops.

It is also…

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Camping in Spain

A typical Spanish camping often looks like the satellite image above. You will be close to other people and not very close to nature. I was happy to find some nice exeptions which I have listed below:

 

  1. Camping Arizitigain in Sunbilla. A beautiful grassy camping. Cycling from Irun to Pamplona it is a good place to prepare for crossing the Pyrenees. There is good food and a small shop.


     

  2. Camping Camino de Santiago in CastroJeriz. The camping was pleasant to stay and I had some good laughs…

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Cycling in Spain

I was a bit afraid of cycling in Spain after what I heard : “there are no cycling paths and Spanish drive like crazy”. Well that's not true. The cities do have cycling paths and Spanish are very cautious on passing cyclists. Another pleasant surprise: there are many good roads that hardly have any traffic because there is a motorway going in the same direction. With so little traffic it is like cycling on the widest and best cycling path ever.

 

There are also some roads to avoid in Spain. One of them…

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Battery-assembly

Johan recommended to increase the size of my battery and I was glad I listened to him. There were those days that the sun just did not appear and I wanted to escape from places where I did not want to be; like overcrowded campings. At such moments that extra energy is very welcome.

My battery is made up of a 100 type 18650 cells. The 18650 cells format is the most common on the market and are used for laptops, bicycles and even cars. 10 cells in parallel and 10 of these banks in series. Such a configuration is sometimes called 10p10s.

Example 3p2s:

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Camping in France

Camping in France

Painting an ideal camping for me would need mostly green colours and very little white (caravans, chalets and campers). But when you are cycling long distances you cannot be too picky. In France I have found that the close at a beach campings can be quite expensive and offer less comfort. The best campings I found were at the farm. They offered everything I needed and often you can buy fresh ecological food. You can find these farms on the website : www.accueil-paysan.com




 

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Cycling in France

It was big surprise to me that there are so many long distance cyclepaths in France. I estimate that about 3/4 of my trip through France I was om cycepaths separated from motor-vehicles. Often these cyclepaths run along old railway lines or rivers and have moderate inclination and lots of shade. 

When cyclist do have to share the road with the cars there are traffic signs like this:

The only time I was nervous was crossing over a bridge in LeHavre where there was only a very narrow shoulder and many…

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Solar panels

Unlike panels that are normally used of roof of buildings the panels that I use are lighter and can flex a bit. The individual cells , encapsulated in very stiff plastic (ETFE) are made of Silicium, which is a material like glass thsat can break.

When this flex panel has no rigid underground it will break easily by for instance by hail stones. The result is very much reduced output. Johan experienced this. To inspect a panel for micro-cracks put a bright light behind it in a dark room and view the panel from the front. When you see micro cracks it is not good news for the panel. You may stil…

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Climate change

"We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making"

The above text is copied from Extinction Rebellion website  https://rebellion.earth/, an international organisation calling for a rebellion against climate breakdown.

You may think they are dramatising a bit just to get our attention. Personally I fear that they may be right and during my trip I have also seen evidence of climate change.

(image below, august 2019)  Loire river in France is almost dried up.
The locals never saw it this low before...

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Tojeiro

Tojeiro is a small hippie village in the mountains of the West Algarve. Rudolf and Katharina started their project in 2009 on idealistic ideas inspired by books like "Wu wei":

Rudolf explained to me that human kind has been living in small groups of up to 30 individuals for hundreds of thousands of years.This way of social living is still in our genes. Men and woman and children as a group, everybody takes care and does what he or she is best at.

He considers the traditional family an artificial invention from the…

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Navigation system

The ideal navigation system for me would select the best and safest roads without distracting my attention from the traffic too much. Unfortunately I have not found such a system yet.

I started my journey with a Garmin Origon 700. This device enabled me to plan trip ahead on a laptop using Garmins planning software : Basecamp. Each day I would recharge two sets of AA batteries and connect the device to my laptop for loading routes that I planned.

It seems Garmin is phasing out Basecamp because the software…

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Cycling in the Netherlands

In june 2018 I tested my vehicle for the first time cycling to Friesland in the north of the Netherlands

foto : Areal Promos  https://aerialpromos.nl/
 
Friesland is also famous for its 'Elfstedentocht' (Eleven City Tour) which is a large ice skating event that can only be held when the natural ice is thick enough to carry thousands of people. Unfortunately for all that love this event, it becoming less and less likely that it will repeated ever due to climate change. The Frisians however are adapting and are now organising tour of road vehicles and boats and even swimmers. Only vehicles that are driven without fossil fuel may participate of course.
 
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Johans Solar Trike

Johan is a friend who build his own solar powered tricycle. This is his personal contribution to my blog:

40 years ago Sir Clive Sinclair, an English inventor, was far ahead of his time with his 'C5'. He designed and manufactured a single person vehicle that was driven by an electric motor combined with muscle power. The basic technology that was available to him was not as good as it is today. He had to use lead batteries instead of Lithium batteries. A 1kWh in a lead battery would weigh about 25kg, while today the same energy can be stored in…

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The vehicle

* AZUB Six recumbent bicycle. Reason: A recumbent bicycle is very comfortable and lets you enjoy the scenery instead of the tarmac

* Schlumpf speed drive front gearing enabling intant gear shifting by a ratio of 1:2.5.
Reason : being able to shift gear instantly enables me to maintain speed instead of swaying over the road in that wrong gear. So increased safety.

* Gearless hub motor in the rear wheel. 500 W, Brand: MXUS XF39 XF40. The motor has a large diameter for higher torque performance

* Lithium battery pack : 36V / 35 Ah, which equals about 1.2 kWh of energy


* 3…

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