A grumpy motoring journalist and an ebike: part 2

So far, the exercise is welcome. The traffic is not.

Nile Bijoux/Stuff

So far, the exercise is welcome. The traffic is not.

After a bit of time coming to grips with an ebike there has been one unexpected side effect for me – a minor existential/midlife crisis as I finally realise I am no longer a reckless idiot.

The last time I regularly rode a bike on the road was when I was around 17 and at Otorohanga College. Otorohanga is a small rural town with a population at the time of around 2500 (although it served a much larger rural population as well).

Growing up in a small town meant my mates and I went everywhere on our bikes and were, of course, totally bulletproof and essentially immortal, so we rode like utter dicks. Sweet jumps and wildly ill-thought out stunts were high on our agenda, and the inevitable injuries were brushed off with the arrogance of fast-healing youth. After all, scars look cool and I never really needed that left knee to work properly when it is cold now anyway.


Micromobility is on the rise, but will an ebike get a fat, grumpy motoring journalist out of his car?

And, of course, what traffic there was in Otorohanga in 1985 was just something to be swerved recklessly between on your way to buy fireworks, because you could do that more than just a few days of the year back then too. What I am trying to say is that we were all reckless idiots (ie; normal kids) and are literally the reason it is mandatory to wear a helmet on a bike now.

* A grumpy motoring journalist and an ebike
* Watch: Cyclist’s near miss as car runs red light in central Auckland
* Are ebikes the answer to Auckland’s commuter woes?

And if I am being completely honest, I always thought that reckless idiot was still a big part of me. Until I hopped on a bike in Auckland for the first time and realised I was no longer that daring, carefree rebel, but indeed had become a nervous old man wobbling uncertainty along, scowling at the cars whizzing past mere centimetres from my handlebars.

The last time I rode a bike regularly I had less tattoos and more dog. The dog’s name was Rex and he was awesome.

Glenda O’Carroll

The last time I rode a bike regularly I had less tattoos and more dog. The dog’s name was Rex and he was awesome.

And there sure is a lot more traffic in Auckland than there was in Otorohanga in the 1980s. Pretty obvious, I know, but I have to admit that wasn’t something I really considered when hatching my grand plan to test an ebike. And it kinda freaked me out.

Well, okay, it wasn’t quite that bad, but it certainly was a shock to the system to suddenly feel so vulnerable after decades of safely being wrapped up in a metal cocoon with the stereo blasting. And also to realise that all those cool things I did on bikes when I was a kid were stupidly dangerous…

The absolute saving grace so far has been the fact that my new ride is an ebike and has a feature that Michael Tritt, owner of Electrify NZ and designer of the Black GT I am riding, pointed out to me – the GT has a throttle and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 40kph.

Now, back when I was a reckless young idiot, this would have been used for sick speed boosts over sweet jumps, but now that I am a scared old man, it is a wonderful tool for just getting the hell out of the way of those two tonne metal death machines bearing down on you.

While it isn’t exactly a rocket with 110kg of me to haul around, the GT will slam up to 20 or 30kph far quicker than I could haul my bulk off the line unassisted, so gives you a nice buffer and a nice sense of security.

But, man, traffic is sure something I wasn’t actually expecting to be an issue (after all, I still considered myself a reckless, bulletproof idiot, remember), but is something I am slowly getting used to.

I guess the key is to not get too used to it and maintain a healthy dose of caution among the city traffic…

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