Planning for a 1.000 km route around Belgium

I’ll be honest, despite riding electric I usually don’t plan much ahead. I just pick a charger on my destination or in the right direction using chargemap. The benefit of chargemap is that I can easily filter on connector type or on opening hours. Next I enter that address in my navigation app (Google Maps for me) and I go. If I need multiple stops I’ll just repeat this process as much as needed.

That 485 km route I did a while ago for example, below is the map I created before going on that trip. That is how much planning I did before hand :D. Those purple chargers indicated on that map are some of the chargers that were available for that route. So yes I did take those into account.

The final route looked a little different (no surprise). But the important thing is that I only reached 1 destination that I forgot to check first for chargers (and for sure there were none). The difference with the route I’m now planning for the weekend is that back then it didn’t matter how much we covered or how long we had to charge or look for chargers.

I’ll be joining a facebook event of a 1.000 km ride that day for EV owners. Or at least that was the original plan. They also have a route planned, however I can’t use that one cause it isn’t limited to CCS chargers. It has way more POI like meeting points and toilets and food. It’s not limited to CCS for the simple reason that most EV’s have both more range and bigger AC chargers. Typically a car has around 11kW AC chargers built in. My Energica is limited to 3kW on AC so that is no option for me.

This time charging time does matter cause I want to cover as much as possible in the shortest time possible. So that means I’ll have to plan ahead. I first tried an automated tool like ABRP or a better route planner. The best part of that planner is that you can enter your vehicle and even specify how low you want to go on your battery. After selecting Energica SS9+ (note it states that that is in Beta) and 30% as minimal and 90% as maximum state of charge I got below result.

There are a few flaws though with this route. One is that it does cross borders near the bottom which I’m not allowed to due to covid restrictions. You could probably fix that with some setting somewhere. The other problem is that it takes quite a few detours to reach a charger. Like at the lowest POI on that map. And then it also doesn’t give you backup chargers in case you reach one that isn’t working or is taken.

And it even included 2 or 3 free Lidl chargers problem being that these aren’t open 24/7. I checked and for some reason some are set to be open 24h but I bet that is just a mistake in the system. The picture on top is the best I could get it at, this is the URL for that route.

The numbers is really what I took from this ABPR result. A total riding time of 17u30m and 4u50m charging. My own estimate was set at 1000 km at an average speed of 60 kmh (no highway) = 1000/60 = 16.67 hours riding and for charging I estimated at least every 100 km a 20 min charge so 10 * 20 = 200 or 3.34 hours of charging.

At this point I didn’t have a route yet to drop into my preferred navigation tool and get going. So I picked another approach. I selected the chargers I needed from chargemap instead and wrote down all the addresses. On chargemap I could select CCS chargers that are open 24/7 and then just zoom and pan over the map to write those down that I could use. Adding some backups while at it. That resulted in this list.

I’m still getting a few DC chargers hosted by Lidl shops that I know shouldn’t be listed as 24/7 available. For the top part of our country that is no issue since there are lots of others around. But at the bottom those are the most common chargers found. And the bottom one is in fact a Lidl charger plus I can’t find any alternative. I kept it in hoping I would (and I should) reach that during opening hours. Just to have some alternatives I also made a list of address of free chargers somewhat around that route. I can still see if I’ll use it during opening hours or not.

Next was to get a route planned ahead. I could get going just by a list of these addresses printed on a paper taped on the tank. And then per usual use my phone to navigate between these points. But then I leave too much open for surprises so I think doing so much work collecting these addresses, it makes sense to continue planning ahead and getting an actual route.

So I opened Google maps and started adding all these addresses. There I just select some routing options to stay off the highway and let Google plan a route. First issue encountered is that it wouldn’t allow me to enter more than 10 locations. So I just opened another tab and continued in another maps session with the next 10 lcoations… And then a third tab to get the last locations.

So now I had 3 routes that I could send over to my phone and get going. Again only the lower section is kind of tricky with 3 chargers that are around 88 km apart with no real backups. Making things worse, one of them is that Lidl charger and the other one is on the highway. Lets fix that later on and first look at how I can combine these maps.

A quick google search learns that you can add up to 25 points if you manually update the URL in your browser. 25 is still less than what I already had collected at this point so I started looking at which I could drop so it would at least be possible for me to have this all in one route. For planning trips you would probably plan for shorter sections than 1.000 km so this shouldn’t be an issue. I ended up with this route (yes that is a working URL).

I managed to get it all within 25 points by dropping a backup charger somewhere and cutting the section where I ride along the coast at the top. Oh and by not repeating the starting point at the end :D. So yes you have to live with it not finishing where it started. That is all due to the 25 points limit on Google Maps.

The only “challenge” left for me is that this is a bit too much to cover in one day… I think it added up to 20 hours of riding and 4 hours of charging… Plus that the bottom section is a bit tricky cause of the limited CCS chargers around. I’m still struggling how to overcome those but I might end up riding to the bottom on highway routes first. That fixes that one charger on the highway and adds some more options before the bottom one and will gain me at least 1, maybe even 2, hours of riding time.

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