Wednesday, 25 September 2013

There She Rides discovers the secret of cycling at 50mph

A boyfriend once took me to see a rally for owners of Honda Goldwing motorcycles. We went our separate ways soon afterwards, it having become readily apparent that there was a yawning chasm between our respective notions of what constituted a good time.
 
As I looked around that gathering of vast, plush, sofas on wheels, I remember wondering what would possess someone to buy one of these machines when they so clearly would have preferred a saloon car. There was even - I kid you not - a Goldwing pulling a caravan.
 
I've always felt a bit like that about electric bikes. Why would you buy a bicycle, if what you really want is a taxi? I'm terrible on hill climbs. Really dreadful. I can be overtaken by pedestrians. But when I reach the top, I know that it was my stubby little legs that powered me and when I fly down the other side, I've earned the free ride.
 
An electric bike seems to take all the challenge out of cycling. The whole point of bicycling is to be self-propelling. It's the ultimate in sustainable transport, as long as you carry sufficient inner tubes and energy bars.
 
But then I saw this video.
 
And now I really...really...want an electric bike. But it has to do 50mph. And the engine has to be cunningly concealed.
 
 
Isn't that brilliant?
 
Throughout my childhood we had a Morris Minor Traveller (the ones with the wooden frame). At that stage they hadn't attained the status of cherished icon of motor engineering. They were just old. Ours produced its own crop of mushrooms along the rear windowsill and was covered in so much moss that it was effectively camouflaged.  My dad nursed a secret ambition to remove the engine in our Moggie and replace it with something with a fuel injection. His plan was to don the obligatory tweed hat and pootle along a stretch of dual carriageway towards a hill. Then, just as the boy racer behind him prepared to speed past in his hot hatchback, the aged motorist would press Hush Puppy to the floor and leave the lad standing.  
 
My father never got to pimp his Morris Minor but if I added an engine like that to my bicycle, I think I'd make him smile.


7 comments:

  1. Problem is, 15mph is the legal limit for an ebike in the UK :-(

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  2. Is it really, Toby? That's interesting - so at times (ie with a following wind and a downward-sloping road), I can go faster on my pedal-bike than the legal limit for an electric one? Well, as I am a bit old to embark upon a life of crime, I suppose I'd better stick to my current model, then. But if they ever lift the limit...I would SO love one of these. Hey - I might even overtake you on Ditchling!

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  3. You'd definitely be able to overtake me up the Beacon on a UK legal ebike.

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    1. Have you entered the ballot for next year's Ride London 100? I understood that Box Hill was the biggest challenge on that route but from what I read on blogs from last year, that's a roll in the park compared to Leith Hill. I am not sure whether my fingers are crossed that I get a place in the ballot, or that I don't!

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  4. I have entered the Ride London 100. I was unsuccessful last year.

    I've not ridden Leith Hill but Box Hill is definitely easier than Ditchling Beacon. I am under then impression that Leith Hill is tougher than Box Hill.

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    1. I don't know if my Plan B would be any use to you...I spoke to Sports Tours International and they said that their packages of places plus accommodation would be available to UK cyclists, as well as those from abroad. I would need to arrange accommodation anyway, so that's an OK deal, especially as you have to register the day before. If you would be planning to drive in, ride and stagger home, then obviously that's no use to you. Sports Tours haven't got their packages available yet and don't seem to be in a position to say when they will go live but it could be worth watching. I'd rather get a place and have plenty of time to train, then raise sponsorship under my own steam, for a project that I care about. I'm put off getting one of the charity places because you've got to raise such a big sum and I'd be terrified of letting them down if I didn't make the pace.

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  5. I plan to get a lift up there on the day if successful.

    They announce the results of the ballot in February so you'll have 6 months to up your training. That's plenty.

    I'm with you on charity places. I could have easily got one this year with the British Heart Foundation but I didn't want to make a promise I couldn't keep.

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