Tag Archives: Bike

The Big Europe Trip: Val de Travers

13 Aug

The original plan for this day was to hike to the Creux du Van (a natural rock amphitheater in Val de Travers), then hike back and take the train to the town of Motiers, birthplace of absinthe. However we woke up feeling pretty exhausted from the previous day, and while James was having his morning shower, I decided to rent bikes so we could cycle there instead of walking. Genius!

It was convenient because the bike rental place was right at the train station. The start of the bike ride was through some nice flat farmland, where James was very excited about these sheep.
MVIMG_20190502_094538After the nice flat farmland we then climbed 2263 fucking feet. Even with the electric assist it was brutal.

It was overcast and when we reached the Creux du Van it had started to rain. The view of the amphitheater:
IMG_20190502_113326The view looking out:

The rain and cold made the bike ride back pretty excruciating. I was shivering nonstop and my hands were so cold I couldn’t feel them.

Also we got lost – like, really lost – wheeling our bikes on a mountain bike trail in between fallen trees, cow pats and patches of snow kind of lost. And it was still raining and still so, so cold. Finally we came across some sort of mini brewery or vineyard and I was able to ask for directions (in French!) and get us back on track.

We returned the bikes and took the train to Motiers. We were freezing and wet, and both of us independently considered just heading back to the hotel. Luckily we persevered because it ended up being really fun!

We looked around the absinthe museum (free with the Swiss Travel Pass) and did some tastings at Maison de l’Absinthe. They were insanely cheap – $6 for three tastings.IMG_20190502_165614 The lady who worked there was so lovely and helpful. James was curious about another absinthe and she just poured an extra tasting for him.

The wall of absinthe – we could pick any three to taste. We each did a traditional green absinthe, a blue one, and one that was high in thujone.IMG_20190502_170524James tried the stronger-tasting absinthes:
IMG_20190502_165507 And I tried the milder ones: IMG_20190502_165337James bought a couple of high-thujone absinthe since you can’t get those in the US. The lady also gave him an absinthe spoon (he could pick between the glass and the spoon and figured the spoon was easier to transport).

Sitting inside and drinking really warmed us up! It was definitely a tougher day than we were expecting, but now (having forgotten how cold and painful it was) I look back on it pretty fondly. =D

Melbourne Bike Share

11 Nov

Last Sunday instead of walking to the gym, James and I decided to try the Melbourne Bike Share bikes. Actually the original plan was to have tried it the week before, but when we went to the 7-11 to pick up helmets they didn’t have any available. The bike station at the Melbourne Uni gym has a helmet vending machine so after we walked to the gym we picked up 2 helmets ($5 each, but returnable to a 7-11 for a $3 refund).

Then the following Sunday we swiped James’ credit card at the Queen Vic Market station and picked up our 2 bikes.

It was $2.50 each for the whole day – it would have been more if we’d kept the bikes for longer, but the ride to the gym was under 30 minutes so it was free. It was a good route because it consisted entirely of riding on bike/pedestrian shared footpaths.

Unfortunately I was too short for the bike, even with the seat all the way down. Embarrassingly enough on the way there I needed James to wheel me along at the start because I couldn’t push off with the giant bike.

I get extremely nervous when I can’t even touch the ground on tippy-toes, and the back wheel made a particular whirring noise that kept tricking me into thinking another bike was tailgating me. I was pretty much in a state of mild panic the whole time, and my death-grip on the bike handles meant that when I arrived at the gym my forearms were killing me.

This was me on the way back. Is that how helmets are supposed to sit? It looks like a blue mushroom on my head.

I regret that we didn’t get any action shots because I think I looked adorable perched on the huge bike. Despite being downhill, the ride back was less stressful than the ride there. Maybe it was because I was more mentally prepared for the giantness of the bike. Maybe it’s because I was braking the whole way home.

Overall I don’t think I’d repeat the experience – I’m not against riding bikes but I wasn’t a fan of these ones. It didn’t save any time  because we had to backtrack a little to get to the bike station, and it took time to get the bikes set up and put them back when we arrived at the gym. Plus $5 is okay to spend as a novelty, but I wouldn’t want to pay that every weekend for no real benefit.

Actually I think in general I don’t have much use for bikes as a means of transport. If somewhere is close I walk, if it’s far I drive, and if it’s in between I take public transport. And I’m too jittery to ride on the road (Cat collided with a car at pretty much the lowest speed possible – she was stationary and the car was just starting to drive off – and she was injured for months. Also her friend’s uncle lost his leg in a bike accident!)

I’m glad I tried out the Melbourne Bike Share though, because I learned that the bikes aren’t really suited for my transport situation. I also learned that the bikes aren’t short-people friendly. Oh yeah, and I learned that Kalo saw me riding the bike and laughed for 10 minutes. At least he didn’t see James wheeling me along at the start like a parent teaching his kid how to ride a tricycle.

Week 1: Made vanilla extract
Week 2: BJJ day camp
Week 3: Used Myki and went to Beatrix
Week 4: Tried new skincare
Week 5: Competed at the Pan Pacs
Week 6: Joined Kiva
Week 7: Tried durian and frog fallopian tube
Week 8: Attended a chicken auction
Week 9: Graded for my BJJ blue belt
Week 10: Went to Isthmus of Kra
Week 11: Makeover at Mecca Cosmetica
Week 12: Tried the Melbourne Bike Share