August 2, 2022 Comments Off on E-excuses
Don’t hate the rider, hate the bike. Or is it the other way around?
Please don’t remind me how each e-bike means one less car; it doesn’t. Each e-bike means one more lazy, weak, fat person on a bicycle who also has a car.
Please don’t remind me how delivery people use e-bikes for their livelihood. I’m not talking about them.
Please don’t remind me that e-bikes provide mobility for the old and impaired. I’m glad that e-motorcycles are available for all.
And please, please, please don’t remind me that e-bikes aren’t motorcycles. Because they are.
E-motorcycles with Pedals, or EMWP’s, as I just now decided to call them, have overtaken bicycles, which I define as things you have to pedal to make move.
And even though I think they are silly for 99.9% of the people who use them, believe that they encourage obesity, laziness, and weakness, and though I understand that they aren’t simply the future, they’re also the present, that’s not why I hate them.
I hate them because the riders talk to me, and I can’t understand why.
I’m on a bicycle, they’re on a motorcycle. We have nothing in common. Before e-bikes, I never talked to internal combustion motorcyclists and vice versa. They were for the most part arrogant pricks who thought that because they could twist their wrist and flop their ankle that somehow they were badasses. They buzzed me, flipped me off, and oozed attitude because it’s easy to feel superior to a car but really hard to feel superior to a person lugging a bicycle up a mountain or riding through traffic with nothing but their leg power.
If anything, motorcyclists were nastier than cagers because they took such affront that there was another two-wheeled vehicle on the road doing exactly what they were doing, only doing it without the force multiplier of an engine.
But for some reason, EMWP’s think that we’re not only allies, but friends. And even though I look through them, scowl when our eyes have to meet, and am the least friendly person they’ve seen all day, they ALWAYS want to chat.
And the chat? It’s always the same thing. The EMWP’er always explains to me two things: 1) He’s not using the throttle. 2) It’s just as hard as riding a bicycle.
One time Kristie and I were riding up the back side of Ganado with 35-lb. backpacks. We dismounted to squeeze through the gate, and up came an e-motorcyclist. “Hi!” he said, with great enthusiasm. Of course he was in his 40’s, fat, and barely sweating. Kristie and I looked like we’d been standing under a hose.
“Wow, you guys are in good shape!” We said nothing. “This is tough on an e-bike, just as tough as a bicycle. In fact, there’s only a 15% advantage.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yeah!” he answered, twisting the throttle and zooming out of sight as we slogged our way up the impossible grade.
Another time I was riding south to Ragged Point and a guy on an e-motorcycle pulling a fucking trailer, fully loaded, roared by. I almost caught him on the downhill but when the road turned up he blazed away, twiggly legs barely even moving. I got to Ragged Point and sat down on a bench to eat. He came over, sipping a latte. “Mind if I sit here?” he asked.
I said nothing. He sat. “That’s a fully loaded bike you’ve got there.”
“I used to ride just like you,” he said, belied by his gut, his toothpick legs, and his pasty face.
“Yeah, but now I’m too old. I just turned 58. And this e-bike is amazing. It’s just as hard as a regular bicycle.”
I looked at him and telekinesed “You are full of shit,” then I went back to my tortilla and peanut butter.
“Well, bye!” he said. I grunted. I hated him.
I descended off Ragged Point into a fairly stiff tailwind. About five miles later I saw Mr. E-Motorcycle parked in a lot, bent over his bike. I swung over. “You okay?” I asked.
He looked like a different man. His hair was matted with sweat. His face had turned green. His hands were shaking. He looked like he’d been sitting in the trenches at the Somme in heavy rain and artillery fire for a month. “I think so.”
“You look like shit. What’s wrong?”
“My, uh, battery died and I had to pedal to here before I could pull over to change it.”
“Okay,” I said, and continued on. There it was. Five fucking miles with a tailwind big enough to blow a locomotive and he was a melted mess of flesh and flab. Just as hard as a regular bike … without wheels, maybe.
On Sunday Kristie and I were coming back from our bike-and-hike up Brush Creek. It was 105 degrees. We were destroyed. About halfway up the 1.2-mile climb to home, down came a trio of e-motorcyclists. They were all fat and old. The fattest was a woman.
Suffice it to say that going up Old State Road isn’t for the faint of heart on a bicycle. It’s long, soft sand, windy, and bitter. These three nabobs clearly thought they were the most badassedest things since the invention of the wheel, riding up it on e-motorcycles and then, even more badassedly, descending. They were chagrined to see two old, tired, sweaty people with large backpacks daring to go up the same road.
I’ve been riding longer than most people have been alive. And I’ve never had a passing cyclist shout out what the fat lady sang: “How far are you going?” she said, angrily, doubtingly, denying that skinny, sweaty, old people on bicycles could even dream of doing what she’d done on her e-motorcycle.
I glanced up. “Home,” I said.