Attentive readers of this blog may have gleaned the information, if they read carefully between the lines, that our house is on top of a bloody big hill. I would be lying if I said that this doesn’t occasionally weigh on my mind when I’m planning my day’s activities, even if it does loom rather larger in my head than it actually ends up being on the road. I’ve tried various tactics over the last year to make getting up the hill easier – from attempting to distract myself from what I’m doing in the hope that I will look up and suddenly discover I’m almost home, to, recently, just going for it and attacking the climb to try and get it over with. These have had mixed success, and at the end of the day (and it usually is at the end of the day) the hill is still there and it’s still a bugger to get up, and I’m still in a muck sweat by the time I arrive home and collapse over my handlebars gasping for oxygen, with a little cloud of flies circling my head because that’s how slowly I ride.
So I am officially e-bike curious and when a friend from Old Nearest Village posted this on her Facebook timeline, I knew I was going to have to have a go.
As it happened, I had a meeting out west this morning and I was getting a lift from another friend who wanted to go into Bigtown shopping on the way back, so I took the Brompton, and was dropped off at the road end. That meant, by happy coincidence, I’d be riding right past her door so I arranged for a little test jaunt…
There are dozens of reviews of e-bikes out there, much more comprehensive than I can report on after a quick go up and down the nearest hill, but for what it’s worth, I can confirm that they’re a lot of fun, and that it genuinely is like having a permanent tail wind. I actually found myself out of breath as I tackled the hill, which surprised me, but then I looked down and realised I was going at over 14mph. My friend is finding that for her it smoothes out the hills and makes them all but disappear, but my instinct had been to accelerate when I felt the motor kicking in and just power up it. It was only when I eased off a bit that I felt that wonderful sensation of the bike pushing willingly on, like a horse that knows its stable is just around the corner. I can see how welcome that would be on a long and grinding hill. Well that, and blowing the cars off at the lights in turbo assist mode, of course.
The bike has many other nice features, from a wheel lock to ‘walk assist’ which is useful for pushing it up hills and ramps. I’m hoping to get another go, this time on our actual hill, just to see what it would be like, and to see whether it’s possible to take it steadily enough that I’m not a sweaty mess at the top. I think that I’m not quite ready for an e-bike yet, if only because I know that once I’ve got one, I’d never ride any of my other bikes again, and I love them too much to do that quite yet. But it’s good to know that the option is there, and that it’s opening up cycling to people who otherwise couldn’t ride a bike, because one day that person will be me.