My better half surprised me with some R&R that includes e-biking. Since I’m staying at one of the higher elevations as my e-bike starting point, heed this: you’re either going up or your going down any given surface when riding an e-bike in Labin, Croatia. Other than the backyard where you rest your machine, or the beach where you stare at the euro-bikini-chicks (the flat area in the graph below), there’s no surface here that is NOT going up or down. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you’ve got the right e-bike–or if you’re a bit younger and not suffering from too much wine and too many truffles with noodles. With that in mind, hats off to my boys and gals at Riese & Müller–my favourite bike maker in the whole world. And since I’m not the great photo-maker (I am worst-photographer), let me share a few worst-words on what I’ve just experienced.
I just finished the hardest 4-5km bike trek I’ve ever been on. The whole ride was about 17km. Of course, this isn’t an issue of endurance or physical stamina (I have neither), it is instead a testament to what I consider to be one of the most difficult surfaces I’ve ever ridden on and the only bike I’d ever do it on again. As you may (or may not) note in the pics above, the two pics that show the trail and the gravel road are what you must face here if/when you leave paved roads. The trail, btw, (the one with the red sign) I haven’t done as of the writing of this worst-post–but I’ll get to it soon enough. The gravel road, on the other hand, I just finished riding UP. As you may (or may not) note in the pic below, that area where “Rocks, boulders and bears” is indicated is pretty much a pseudo-road filled with baseball and softball sized rocks that goes for about 3.5km… UP! The area approaching the serpintine (see the map) has grades of (I’m guessing) 20% before and after it. I didn’t make it up the front of the serpentine without having to get off the bike due to lack of control on the rocky surface. But I made it up the back after having learned/adjusted a bit how to navigate under e-bike power over the large and loose rocks. The average grade of the entire distance of the hill is about 7-12%. Would I ever attempt this without e-bike power? Only if I stop drinking wine and eating truffles. But then, if that happens, I wouldn’t be in Labin, Croatia. Or?
Although it only took me about half an hour to make it up the hill (Rocks, boulders and bears side of the graph above), and I plan on doing it again for practice, I’ve never before experienced my bike in this type of environment. This bike is so well built that I enjoyed feeling the tires gorging on the edges of rocks. The Bosch CX motor was brilliant in assisting me and not allowing any overcompensation with wild pedal kicking due to the rocky, loose surface. Also, I noticed for the first time how the Bosch computer was telling me when to up or down shift. In fact, for the past 5000km I thought the shifting indicators of the computer didn’t even work because this bike has a derailleur. Goodness knows, the “mountain biking” I’ve done up to now, which has been mostly in and around Wuppertal and Solingen, Germany, doesn’t compare to this rocky Croatian surface. With that in mind, I really feel as though I’ve finally tested my Charger GX to its limits. After riding just under 100km in this area as of this post, the bike is rattling, humming and weirding out on me as never before. But not one thing has snapped off, broke or come loose. Can’t wait to get back on it and find new trails tomorrow.
Note: The pic with my bike and the Adriatic Sea in the far background should provide some perspective on how high we are. The 3-4KM ride is up the side of the hill (cause it’s not quite a mountain yet, is it).
Keep up the good work R&M!
Rant and worst-ride on, baby.
PS The reason the grey Ortlieb bag is strapped to the top of the rear rack is because they jostle and bang around too much when hung on the side. Seriously rough surfaces here.