I often ride to Starbucks; if I have a choice, I take the bike. I take the long way and get there at right about 5 miles, and then take the longer way home. It’s a heck of a lot more fun than driving, in spite of the idiots driving around here who seem to think bike lanes are a suggestion and have no clue that bicycles are allowed to use the roads.
My favorite toy has an electric motor; I have another bike, a standard step-through 8 speed road bike, but because of reasons, I’m not comfortable taking it far from home. Hence, it lives in the spare bedroom on tp of an indoor trainer and I always take the pretty pink bike. A while back, I got to Starbucks and started to lock it up, but when I went to turn the controller off, it was flashing an error code.
Because the Internet is a thing, after I got online and whined about it, and then posted to a Pedego FB group, I got the answer I needed and was not stuck there all day waiting for the Spouse Thingy to come pick me up. But I did whine about it BECAUSE OF COURSE I DID THAT’S WHAT I DO, which set off a IM conversation that would have pissed me off if I hadn’t known it was tongue in cheek.
Dood: Electric. That’s cheating.
Me: Electric. That’s fricking FUN.
Dood: Cheat, cheat cheat, cheat, cheat.
Me: Says the guy with an electric skateboard. And an electric wheel.
Dood: That’s different. Those are for fun.
Here’s the thing… a lot of people–a lot of a lot–think riding an electric bike is somehow cheating. A “real” cyclist pedals using nothing but body power and sweats like a whore in July, developing massive quads that can crush small children and delicate women with zero effort. He was teasing me because he knows I’ve heard that grunted in my direction: “yeah, it’s a nice looking bike, but she’s cheating.”
If you ride a regular bike, more power to you. The Spouse Thingy does; he likes his bike. I like mine. He uses his gears to adapt to changes in the road grade and surface. I use different levels of pedal assist. It’s basically like using the gears, which I have but have never changed, but I save a lot of wear and tear on my knees. And I’m not young anymore. I like the idea of saving that wear and tear.
The motor isn’t a heart-rate curbing device, either. If I take the road bike a mile, I get my HR up to about 130. If I take the electric, I get my HR up to about 130. The difference is I get there faster…so I go further. If I take the road bike, I might ride 3-4 miles. If I take the electric, I might stop at 10 but I’m just as likely to go 15, and often 20. My longest ride is 30, and I only went home because I was hungry and had to pee.
Road bike = 20ish minutes at 130
Electric bike = 60-120 minutes at 130
For what I want…it’s not cheating.
But here’s the kicker. I don’t only ride the electric because it’s more fun for me. I ride it because a couple of years ago (hell, maybe 5-7 at this point) I was pedaling my merry way home, and a quarter mile short I started feeling super nauseated and light headed. And then I passed out. I was damned lucky to not be going at speed when that happened; I was able to get off the bike. The only thing that saved my asterisk was recognizing the symptoms of over-heating combined with a blood sugar crash.
I don’t always recognize it when it happens. Most of the time I do (ask the Spouse Thingy how many times I’ve just stopped and told him I need to eat. Like RIGHT NOW) and deal with it. But afterward it feels like a ton of ick, and getting back on a bike I’d have to pedal very slowly is not the best idea in the world.
Because the bike has a throttle, if I get into trouble, I can get my asterisk home without having to pedal. I can get to food, or sugar, or a/c (and seriously, I now know the distances between just about everything in this little town, at least the places I would need to reach quickly. All hail 3 Day training.) Riding an electric gives me freedom I don’t have otherwise.
So no, it’s not cheating. I get more exercise, and I feel a hell of a lot safer on it.
It doesn’t even matter if that safety is my own perception. I FEEL safer. Thusly, I get out and ride when I can. And isn’t that the point? Ride safe, ride over drive, have some fraking FUN.
And older folks…this is an awesome way to get back into activity. If you can’t ride anymore, an electric might make it possible. If you can’t balance, there are electric trikes. Pedego has some seriously great options.
So, yeah. I don’t wanna pass out on a bike.
I want to have fun.
So I do.