Boys like toys. I could empathize with Ralphie in A Christmas Story for wanting that Red Ryder BB-gun. And boys don’t seem to grow up.
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine called me over to his place to check out his new toy. An E-Bike. Much like an E-book, this thing is a modification of the standard object. It has all the usual things that a bicycle would have but also has a battery that powers a motor that can either let you sail along, throttling it like a motorcycle or set it to call in electric power when your legs are not quite doing the trick.
It was a delight to ride. He gave me a brand new helmet that he had that was not a good fit for him but fit me perfectly.
Now I had the helmet, all I needed was the bike.
Last weekend I picked up my very own “official, red, folding, EMMO double action six-speed, dual-braked hybrid electric bicycle with a kickstand, bell, rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a Starbucks cup holder right on the handlebar.” I am going to call it my Red Rider.
I had been thinking of getting a bike this spring but the whole exercise thing was just a little more than I was looking forward to. It would have been OK on the flat but when there is a hill – well, my old joints and muscles are just not up to it. But this E-bike seemed perfect. If I get tired, I can just throttle up and ride. Easy stuff, right?
Well, initially I had to get used to the controls. The throttle, I found, is sensitive. As I was walking the bike through my underground garage I had, unwittingly (the word unwittingly may come up more than once here) left the key in the on position. I accidentally gripped the throttle and the bike took off, wheelie-style, toward a neighbouring car. Luckily I was able to stumble along side and eventually realized that if I just let up on the throttle things would be OK. A close call and I was not even out of the garage.
A ride on the street was in order. What fun to put the bike in boost mode, sit beside a car at a stop light and when the light turns green, give minimal pedal power and have the bike shoot off the mark like I am Lance Armstrong on steroids. I’m sure they were thinking “Who is this old guy on the bike that can beat me away from the corner on his bike?”
All went well – my crotch will get used to the seat, I hope – until the next day when my sacroiliac joints were complaining and my calves ached. I had not counted on using those muscles which had been sitting (literally) dormant for some time. I realize that this is a good thing in many ways – the bike is not completely a wimp thing – but I also thought that maybe I should do some stretching before I set out the next time.
I looked online for stretches for bikers. The nubile, 20-something woman that was demonstrating the stretches looked very good. But I soon recognized that I couldn’t get my maturing body contorted into the stretch position she was showing. I tried. It made me dizzy.
On to another YouTube page of stretches – this time done holding the bike. I watched the first minute which involved straddling the front wheel and holding onto the handlebars to stretch. Given my parking lot experience with the throttle, I decided immediately against that one.
Eventually I found a stretch where you just lie on the floor and bend your knees up to one side. I will adopt this pre-cycle “stretch” although I am not sure it is stretching anything but the time.
The Red Rider folds up and weighs less than 50 pounds. It has a battery that will, apparently, take you up to 40 km. It folds up and fits in the back of my car. I can take it anywhere!
I am waiting anxiously now for warmer weather to arrive (it is still cold here in Ontario). I have fantasies of eventually getting my muscles accustomed to the new activity and heading up to the hill on Fort Henry on a June evening to watch the sunset. I can hardly wait to smile innocently as I peddle effortlessly and cruise past others who have given up and are struggling to push their bikes up the hill.
To everyone’s relief, I have decided not to purchase lycra bicycle pants.