This is going to be a hard post to write. I’ve been mulling it over for many weeks. What might be a simple statement of fact for some, can feel like a shameful confession for others. But some things can’t be kept secret, for example things that have to do with your identity. In this case I’m talking about my identity as a cyclist.
Janos and I have been going on bicycle tours together for over ten years. We travel fully loaded, i.e. with panniers and often with camping gear, which makes quite a load. In cyclist circles, this is no great feat, but it’s not the way most people spend their vacations. We, on the other hand, can’t imagine not traveling this way. Actually, the older we get, the more determined we are. During the winter months we impatiently await warmer weather so we can get back on our bikes. Every year we become more impatient. We are running out of time.
We are both in our seventies. I know there are plenty of cyclists who are still going strong at our age. There are also many who have already given up cycling. We are somewhere in between. We want to go on bicycle tours and we still can, but it’s getting harder. We’re not traveling the distances we did a few years ago, wind and hills are more discouraging than they used to be, sometimes we are just too tired at the end of the day to honestly say we’re enjoying ourselves. But it used to be fun, we know how it feels and aren’t ready to quit quite yet.
I decided it’s time to swallow my pride and look into help in the form of an e-bike, something I derided not too many years ago. Interesting how one’s perspective can change! Now I’ll probably be the object of other cyclists’ scorn for cycling with a motor. Yikes, cycling with a motor, that sounds terrible. Let’s just call it electric support. Of course, I’m hoping some people are going to understand my decision, maybe even be encouraged to do the same some day.
Let’s not forget the ecological factor. As an ecouraging fellow cyclist and friend wrote: “If you’d had to stop, you’d have been less happy. You’d have carried on travelling, perhaps, but by car or in a coach. That wouldn’t have been the same and it would have added to the troubles of the world in general and of other cyclists in particular.”
I feel the need for a little more self-justification: After some research, we discovered a form of electric support that can be installed on our present bikes. It’s a tiny motor that gives you a boost up the hills and takes the edge off the headwinds. The electric assist kicks in proportionally to your own pedalling, if you don’t pedal you get no support. They say it’s like riding with a built-in tailwind. I imagine it to feel like a kind of fountain of youth. So, wimpy or not, we’re gonna try with a little help …
Spring is here and our converted bikes are ready to ride.
p.s. Our first tour on our e-bikes was from Passau to Vienna, here’s the journal.