Episode 288 Biking
An electric bike? I looked again at my friends new bike. It was, indeed, an electric bike. "Of course you can still peddle it" he said. The electric part is just to assist you at those critical moments. My friend looked in better shape than I had ever seen him. He looked thinner and younger. He is 76 and still going strong.
This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.
"I'm biking more than I ever have" my friend said. "I can go up any hill. And I can bike easily back and forth to my woodworking project twice each day without charging the battery. And that is 14 miles." He went on, "I love it! I find that I am using my bike more and more. I don't have to worry about getting exhausted or going up any hills. I can increase the electric assist to four different levels; 10, 25, 50, or 150 percent. The top speed is 20 miles per hour. After that speed your considered a motor vehicle and need to have a license to be on the road. So I have a governor on it that won't allow me to go faster than that."
My wife has been talking about getting one of these for years. We bike almost every day and she claims to be developing an aversion to the hills in town. It is kind of hilly. I don't mind waiting a bit now and then. It gives me a break but I have a feeling that when she gets her first electric assist bike I will not like to see her at the top of the hills waiting for me.
A friend of ours just returned from a bike ride from Canada to Mexico. He didn't really get all the way to Mexico. It just got to hot in southern California. He gave it up and jumped on an Amtrak train. Trip aborted just short of the boarder. He is old enough to know that he had gotten what he wanted from the trip. He had been on the bike for almost a month. He had biked alone in rain, wind and snow. Those he handled but when the temperature went over 105 - he walked away. Smart move. Last year he biked west to east across the country. He did not stop early on that one.
We had a dinner here the other night for him and two of our other biker friends. These folks live without a car. They are in there mid fifties. They bike everywhere. That means they bike to work, the store, to recreational activities and anywhere else they go. They have been doing this for many years. There garage is filled with bikes and bike stuff. This last winter they spent two months biking around Thailand.
He said that he once spent almost two years without using any type of motorized transportation. No car, truck, bus, train, plane, etc. "It sure saves a lot of money", he said. "No car, gas, license, insurance, etc. Plus it is so healthy".
He used to pull a trailer when they went camping. It sometimes weighed 300 pounds. "I like to take a lot of stuff," he said. "I take potatoes, cans of food, lots of drinks, and lots of tools. I like to have whatever I might need. I don't like to be broken down or borrow stuff".
Brenda and I like to bike. We don't bike across the country or even around the state. We just bike around town: Bellingham or Vancouver. We bike almost every day. It is our main form of exercise. We like the way we can exercise right out of the house. We don't have to go to a gym or health club. We ride away and then turn left or right and then turn left or right again. We know our town from the seat of a bicycle. Just this morning I biked to the dentists. Six miles there and six miles back: Teeth cleaned, exercise and outdoor fun at the same time.
When we take a road trip we always take our bikes. When we see a lonely road running off into the distance we like to stop and bike out for a half hour or so and then back. It gets us out of the car and into the weather whatever it might be. We get a little sense of the local soil and plants. It always feels so good to shut that engine off and swing up onto the seat.
Here at home we go to the bank, the store, the post office. We go to lunch, the park, or a neighborhood we have never explored. It is quiet and healthy. We like the freedom and ease of movement. And I'm sure when the electric assists come to be on our bikes the freedom might feel even greater.
I can't imagine life without a bike. It does so much for the mind and body. Retirement without a bike would be like retirement without coffee shops. What would be the point?
This is Retirement Talk.
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