UniLife Magazine received sponsorship from Gette in return for an article on their new electric bike. In order to add some interest to that article we decided to have a race between myself on the bike and Liam Mannix on public transport. The article was one of our most successful of the year, despite some text in the print version being slightly mangled in production. Having argued with the rest of the team that students want to read sillier articles mixed in with the serious stuff, the popularity of this article was a nice vindication.
As a firm believer in honesty and openness, UniLife Magazine would like to make it clear that Gette are a sponsor, and the use of the bike for this review was part of this sponsorship.
The Tools’ Methods of Transport
Liam – Public Transport
Angus – Gette Sportif Electric Bike
The person who takes the longest to travel from Lincoln College in North Adelaide to UniSA’s Magill campus has to buy the winner coffee.
I figured I’d beat Angus. No worries, mate. For starters, he’s a girly-man. Tiny shoulders. Brittle, thin arms. Plus, he hadn’t ridden the bike before – and he was going to ride it on the road. Chances of him getting knocked off by a truck: very high.
I also had a bit of a secret weapon – my recent investment, a shiny, shiny iPhone. It had a GPS, Compass and I could also browse Facebook. My win was assured. Also, it takes notes in a cool little app thingy called ‘notes’. The following is a transcript from that application.
Minus 5 minutes Angus locks himself out of his dorm. He goes to fetch security. I find a reflection so that I can do my hair.
Minus 3 minutes Security lets Angus in. He needs to go to the toilet, apparently.
Minus 1 minute Angus tries to get me to put my penis in between his spokes. I politely decline. I also notice that Angus’ fly is undone. I neglect to tell him.
3 minutes Running down (up?) O’Connell Street. Two buses race past me before I get to the stop.
4 minutes I catch the 229 from O’Connell Street. It came almost as soon as I reached the stop, which is nice I guess. Displayed on the front of the bus is ‘Full – Sorry No Pick Up’. The bus is empty. The bus driver smiles at me as I get on.
11 minutes Arrive at the corner of King William Street and Currie Street. Angus says I need to catch a 106… but from where?
11 minutes 30 iPhone says ‘transfer to 106’. Transfer where? At the stop I got off from?
12 minutes Cross the road. Must mean the other side.
13 minutes But it says ‘transfer’, which must mean stay on the side I was on. Cross back.
15 minutes Walk down King William Road, away from North Terrace, looking for a 106 sign. Get about 200 metres.
16 minutes I know the 106 goes to Magill… so wouldn’t it be on the side with all the traffic going to Magill? Cross road again.
20 minutes Walking down King William Road, looking for a 106.
21 minutes A bicyclist zings past me. Not meaning to generalise, but MOST IF NOT ALL CYCLISTS ARE JERKS.
22 minutes Numbers are gradually getting lower. I must be getting closer.
23 minutes The numbers have started over again. I feel like I’m in an episode of Lost. But without Evangeline Lilly.
23 minutes See a police car. Consider asking them for directions.
23 minutes 40 I don’t think the 106 comes down King William. Angus has given me fake directions. ANGUS YOU JERK I WILL CRUSH YOU.
24 minutes I’m at the corner of King William and North Terrace. No 106 signs on King William. At all. I’ve caught the 106 before… outside City East Campus (Frome Road). Fine. I’ll head there. GRR ANGUS YOU LIAR
33 minutes I’m almost at Frome Road, about 400 metres from the stop. A 106 grinds past me. I break into a run.
33 minutes 10 Keeping pace!
33 minutes 15 Traffic lights. Red!
33 minutes 40 Well. I missed the 106. Ran onto the intersection while a red man stared angrily at me. Car came around corner, saw me, slammed on brakes. Skid marks everywhere. Was awesome. I stood there for a moment, deer in the headlights, then ran back to the pavement. Far off, the 106 pulled away. From behind, buses look really smug.
35 minutes 5 At stop L1, on North Terrace. Waiting for a 106. Considering calling it quits and getting in my car.
35 minutes 50 Science demands sacrifices of us all, even those with the least to give. I shall persevere.
40 minutes 23 Cute blonde sitting at my bus stop. Is she giving me the eye?
40 minutes 40 No, she is not.
41 minutes 102 arrives and blondie departs. I will love you always.
44 minutes 104 arrives and departs.
52 minutes 17 106 arrives. YUS.
52 minutes 30 It’s full of 17 year olds. I am forced to sit in the wheelchair seat.
54 minutes Two of the adolescents are doing babytalk to each other. I try to use telekinesis to kill them.
55 minutes Not working TRY HARDER.
57 minutes The guy across from me has lots of red cuts on his arms. They are probably needle marks. He is probably a crackfiend.
57 minutes 30 Is it garlic or silver bullets you’re supposed to use on crackfiends?
1 hour 1 We stop outside a house with a boat. I consider jumping ship…
1 hour 8 Get off 106.
1 hour 16 Sit down next to Angus at Magill. He wants me to buy him an iced coffee. I grin and reach for my wallet. DIE YOU MEXICAN GOBLIN.
While most people know how buses work (generally poorly), the electric bike is a new technology to most. This was evidenced as I took off from traffic lights without the use of the pedals, blowing the mind of the child in the car next to me. There are a few different designs, but the Gette Sportif Electric Bike I used in this Top Gear Style Lawyer-Baiting challenge looks pretty much like a normal push-bike, with the exception of the black canister underneath the frame. This houses a small but powerful motor which turns hills from soul-and-ego-crushing pests to a chance to have a break from pedalling.
The Sportif has plain old pedals and eight gears should you choose to not use the motor available. There is also a middle ground setting where the motor helps to make the pedalling easier. The final option is a throttle, simultaneously fulfilling all of my mysterious-stranger-with-a-motorbike fantasies. This means you can put your feet up (not literally) and let the engine do the work. This is slower than pedalling and also drains the battery housed above the rear wheel, but when you need a break it’s excellent.
As I feel that was grossly misrepresented in my comrade’s article (my shorts had no fly, and any bulges were mine), I shall also use his rather simple format of constant updates. Do not worry dear reader; my writing will not ever descend to this level again.
T Minus 1 minute Feel pretty proud that I was chosen as the fittest member of the UniLife Magazine team to be a part of this challenge.
0 Minutes Glance behind me to see Liam running in the correct direction. This seems to be the only time this happened all afternoon. The bike is much heavier than a normal bike of its class, making the take-off a bit slow. Once you get going the double suspension kicks in and it’s a smooth ride.
1 Minute Am terrified that I am the fittest person in the UniLife Magazine team. Our society is screwed.
2 Minutes Hit the Frome Road bike lane. The light at the bottom of the hill turns green which is fortunate because I’m passing cars at this point. This is going to be easy; I might not even use the throttle.
3 Minutes Reach flat. Use Throttle.
5 Minutes Reach the hill part of Frome Road next to City-East. Look incredibly fit tearing up this hill. Pity it’s only small children instead of hot med students who see this. Still on the bike path.
6 Minutes Become part of real traffic for the first time. Stuck in Bus Lane with bus bearing down on me. Use the motor for a burst of speed to get out of this situation. This is really handy in heavy traffic.
8 Minutes Dickhead in a hotted-up car drives past me so quick and so close that I could sense the sexual frustration seeping out of the car. Flip him the bird. Thank you Oscar Wilde.
10 Minutes Hit Magill road and its kind-of bike lane. This is only a bike lane for a few hours a day, with cars allowed to park there for the rest of the time. This means that for every parked car there’s a look over the shoulder to see if I can get on the road, and a small moment to ponder whether I’ve achieved all my life goals.
15 Minutes Magill Road begins to slope further upward. Am using the motor more. In this challenge I really pushed myself to beat that redhead bastard and so a more leisurely rider could do the same trip in 35 minutes. This is still quicker than the buses’ average time of 45 minutes and not only keeps you fit but doesn’t cost you in Multitrip tickets.
20 Minutes Have been trying to take photos while stopped at traffic lights to document my journey. This usually consists of me getting my camera out, followed by “shit shit shit the light’s gone green.”
25 Minutes Make the turn-off into Uni. There’s a downhill slope so I get into the highest gear in order to arrive in style.
26 Minutes Arrive in sweaty style. Lock the Sportif up and run towards the Caf.
27 Minutes, 0 Seconds, 56 Milliseconds Sit down and stop the timer. Send a modest victory text to Liam of BOO YEAH!
Eternity Wait for Liam. Use this time to discover meaning of life.
76 Minutes Liam arrives. Victory Iced Coffee is delicious.
The downhill trip back took about 15 minutes. I had it in high gear the whole way and except for the fact that it was peak hour by then and the craze and aggression of the drivers making sure they were home in time for MASH had increased, I barely raised a sweat. I felt good enough to head straight from coming home to the footy training I was late for.
This technology is still being developed, with the weight of the Sportif making it better for long trips than a quick jaunt to the shops. It is the ease with which you can negotiate traffic, as well as the extra burst of speed to avoid cycle-hating loonies that makes this handy for anyone who wants to save some money on petrol or public transport.
Next week North Adelaide to Mount Gambier. Car vs. Bike.