Me and my e-bike
(But there's an early 'niggle')
I'm rooting around in the kitchen cupboard looking for a bandage. I've got a nasty scrape on my hand..........let me expain....
I'd sent my friend, Nigel, a photo of Columbanus. He's a year or two older than me and recently moved to Spain where cycling weather is more old-git friendly. He is also a very expeienced cyclist, despite having had (at least) one ankle fused. He's a useful man to know. When he buy's something he does his research so this is not the first time I've sought his advice (solar panels and motor car were others). Of course, I don't have to accept his advice.
'Don't like those extra-wide handlebars,' he emailed back.
'You're a dinosaur,' I tell him, from the safety of another country. 'This is how they are in the modern era.'
The bike is pretty heavy. About 24 kilos. That's a bag and a fifth of smokeless fuel! I know, I used to lug plenty of those onto the boat. A normal mountain bike is 12 or 13 kilos so it's the battery and motor that account for the extra weight. Paul the bike shop guy watched me carefully as he talked me through the bike's features (and took my money). He saw me slowly regain some sort of equillibrium having climbed the stairs to his first-floor shop. By the time he'd finished my colour was near normal. Despite this he offered to carry my bike down the stairs. An act of benevolence? Good customer relations? Or the fact that he didn't want the inconvenience of a new customer expiring on his premesis. He asked if I could manage to carry the charger and lead. He didn't smirk so I can only think he was being courteous.
Time for a test run. I receive concise instructions and set off under Paul's watchful eye from the bottom of the fire escape. I am to test out the gear change in various power modes while trundling round the car park, then return to base camp. As I set off I misjudge the width of the bike and scrape my hand against a stone wall. It's quite wide you see, compared to some bikes, and..........
Best not mention this little mishap to Nigel...........
Barely a niggle really, I'll keep it to myself.
If you remember, part of the reason I've bought an electric thing is to preserve my self-esteem. I resolve to practise without an audience.
Right, off we go. It's half a mile home but the battery monitor is on red. The battery monitor has 4 LED lights and it's pretty obvious what the red one means. With battery charger and lead in a Sainbury's shopping bag I wobble away. There are four power settings ranging from 0 to 4. O is leg and pedal power only, which is not advised for a old wreck like me because of the pre-mentioned weight issue (me and the bike!). Setting 4 is warp 8, for steep hills and lightening acceleration.
'Bring it back in six weeks for a free check-over.' Paul had said.
I wave over my shoulder as I set off down Sutcliffe Street, pedalling like mad to build up a head of steam in case the battery runs out. Thankfully it lasts fine and I get home.
I park the bike in the garage then dash to the kitchen to bandage my hand then return to to the garage to plug in the charger. I'm back ten minutes later to make sure everthing is OK, in particular that the garage isn't on fire. I've always been a bit wary of leaving things plugged in. Then, to my horror, I notice that the front tyre is flat. I wonder whether this will happen every time I plug it in. Of course, I haven't got any repair tackle. I ring the bike shop and speak to Paul's assistant asking him if they have a puncture repair outfit I can buy. He is a bit brusque frankly and tells me I should just buy another inner tube. I put the phone down wondering if he thought I was made of money. Out of spite I order a repair kit and some tyre levers from Halfords, click and collect same day - good service.
I look over my new steed and realize I need a few more things which hadn't come as standard, despite paying a hefty amount. I was short of pump, bell, water-bottle holder, security lock, small bag to velcro to the crossbar, gloves, rear light, mud-guards and a helmet. So by the time I've finished my 'Lifestyle Investment' has set me back in excess of £1,300. Then of course there was clothing! I can't hurtle about looking like a tramp (like I usually do). No, I need something to reflect my cycleworthyness. Nearly £1.400 now! But..........
By calling Columbanus a Lifestyle Investment I've turned an alarming cash outlay into a positive. Had I called it a plaything or a mere vehicle on which I could parade my incredible physique (ahem), it may have been considered extravagant - at least by my wife who needs some new slippers. No, this was part of my 'keep out of a hole-in-the-ground' master plan, so worth every penny. Particularly so as I am currently on an alcoholiday - a month off the wine. I have ten litres of the stuff so don't intend to die leaving that lot to someone who won't appreciate it!