Monday 28 September 2009

Biking in Berkshire

My electric bike arrived last week. Dubbed 'the Mercedes of bikes' the Kalkhoff Tasman is no lightweight piece of equipment even with the battery removed. Surprisingly I haven't photographed it yet but then a bike is a bike is a bike . . . even if it is super-duper.
I must confess to being very unsure about the whole enterprise. I have had beautifully engineered bikes before and liked riding them on the flat but was exhausted at the mere thought of climbing even the tenderest of slopes. Pedalling uphill hurt my knees. There was nothing physically wrong with my leg joints but I didn't enjoy the burning sensation engendered by working to travel up gentle inclines. Anything steep caused me to get off and push, frustrated and embarrassed that I couldn't keep up with Barry. He always encouraged me but I felt I was holding him back and spoiling his pleasure.
We were talking one day about cycling. The exchange followed a well-worn route.
Barry: (brightly)You like cycling, don't you?
Me: (dubiously) Ye-e-e-s but only on the flat.
Barry: (patiently) What do you find difficult about hills?
Me: (frustrated) I can't cycle up them. I have to get off and walk.
Barry: (gently) But you'd get used to them - just take it gently. I know you - you always go at things like a bull in a china shop.
Me: (somewhat defensively) Uphill cycling hurts my knees. It would be all right if there were something to help me up the hills.
The well-worn route went off at a tangent.
Barry: (even more brightly) Ahh! Electric bikes.
Me: (perplexed) What - you mean like a moped?
He shook his head (a trifle impatiently, I thought) then opened his laptop and started researching. A short while later, triumphantly, he showed me reviews and articles about electric bikes.
Barry: (encouragingly) What do you think?
Me: (cautiously) H'mmm - they look very interesting but you know what I'm like - I'm very enthusiastic to begin with and then, well, it's all too difficult. I wouldn't want it to be an expensive mistake.
Barry: (decisively) You only live once.
At this point I realised he had made his decision and an electric bike would soon be taking up residence in our garage. All we had to do was decide which model would be given that privilege. So then I started reading reviews and I was impressed. I was particularly taken with the video clip of a (young) man riding effortlessly up a steep mountain. We haven't got any of those in Berkshire but we do have some quite testing gradients. I began to visualise myself on just such a slope. Could it really be that easy? I was getting quite animated about the idea now.
I always assure myself that nothing goes to waste in our house and that if ultimately I couldn't or wouldn't use it Barry certainly would. On that premise I ordered the bike and began to anticipate its arrival and the ease with which I would henceforth travel on two wheels.
I was nervous to begin with as it's a year or two since I cycled anywhere. I worried about falling off. That's my son-in-law's fault. Paul has a mountain bike and rides it fast through forests, occasionally flying off after he's hit an obstacle. I didn't want to do that. I went over the handlebars of a bike some years ago and though I didn't break anything I was badly bruised and sore for some days. That's not so bad but I had a three-month-old baby and life had to proceed as normal for her. Bethan is now 27 and my bones might not be so forgiving now!
Gradually the skills returned and with them came greater confidence. I am delighted with my bike - it is absolutely amazing and has completely transformed cycling for me. Travelling uphill is incredibly easy and it's a great joy to see the dogs stretching out to keep alongside. I actively seek out inclines and zip up them with great pleasure.
On Saturday Barry and Callum, our eleven-year-old grandson, and I took the dogs out for a run.
Callum was very impressed and has decided he'd like an electric bike. It was quite an eye-opener for him that his grandmother could outpace him, particularly uphill!
Naturally, I have a helmet. Barry dislikes the 'chicken carcase' style (the sort worn by Tour de France participants) and persuaded me to buy a Yakkay helmet and a Tokyo cover. Then he insisted on taking photographs of me wearing it. I do not like having my photo taken and pulled all sorts of faces. The shots shown here are the best of a bad bunch but give some idea of the look of the head gear.
The brim is supposed to turn up at the back and down at the front . . .
. . . but it looks more like a flower-pot!
I like this photograph best - can you think why?


  1. Oh I want one! And the hat too! This sounds like the perfect solution-still getting the exercise but without the pain.
    I juat popped in to let you know you have won a set of post box stamps! Now you can cycle to the postbox on your electric bike. I realise I don't know your name so if you would be able to send me that and your address I will send you the stamps.

  2. I am so pleased that you are now enjoying speeding up inclines on your electric bike Janice!I think the headgear is really quite trendy!Best wishes x

  3. Sarah - ooh ooh ooh - and I didn't even enter a competition - thank you so much! Gosh, really overcome here and I'm old enough to know better . . . ;-)
    sylvia - I see you started a blog in July - so come on now, more info, more input, you know you can do it (groan - once a teacher, always a teacher . . . my poor family - LOL!!)

  4. Now that hat is so much more flattering than the usual style. I know what you mean though, Bill and Ben do come to mind!

    Looking forward to seeing you on the bike.

  5. LOL Gennasus . . . weeeeeeedddddd? Don't hold your breath for a photo of me on my bike - and I don't think the Scottish Highlands are calling to me yet!!

  6. I want one of those too and that hat! Gregg has been talking about getting a bike but I know my knees are not up to those hills. I'm going Internet surfing for one of those electric bikes when the time comes, and by the way I think you look lovely in your helmet :)

  7. Denise, you won't be disappointed if you do get one. Thank you for your compliment.


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