The extraordinary measures to tame the Covid-19 pandemic are almost over. Staying at home may have been hell for some, it was a godsend for me. While some whinged about their lock-down hairdos and spent all day slouching on the sofa watching Netflix, I signed up for a lifestyle and weight loss programme, I started exercising and eating healthy food and lost a whopping 21 kilos. To reward myself, on the day the government authorised small stores to open, I walked down to my local bike shop and bought myself the beautiful shiny electric bicycle I have been dreaming about for years. I had not dared to buy one before because I was too fat and thought I would fall off and make a fool of myself, but nothing can stop me now!
Electric bicycles allow you to cruise uphill using battery power when you get tired of pedalling, and the craze is sweeping the world. These bikes look more or less like regular bikes, except that the frame is heavier and there is a battery pack attached to the frame. Some even have hidden mechanisms so you can pretend yours is a regular bike. Why? Evidently there is a degree of snobbery in the cycling world and those of us who use assisted pedalling people are at the bottom of the heap. Do I care? I do not. The battery powers a motor that transmits energy to the back wheel, and you can either plug in the bike or remove the battery and charge it separately.
Battery or no battery, I get the same intoxicating feeling of freedom that I remember having when I used to dash about London on my bike in my thirties. There is nothing quite like cycling into town along the coast, enjoying views over the Mediterranean, the wind on my face. Although I also have a low consumption hybrid car, I am now doing even more to help slow global warming by using pedal power to get to the supermarket.
There are already millions of these bikes on the road in China, and Europe is catching on too. In the Netherlands, Europe’s number two market, senior citizens are big fans and the country is planning to build cycling highways between cities, such as a 24-km path between Rotterdam and the Hague.
In Spain, with our beautiful climate, my electric bike will keep me fit, help me to lose even more weight and is already an endless source of fun, giving me the freedom to whizz around my mountainous local area without getting too puffed out. I can even join my fitter friends who ride regular bikes on their excursions around the countryside without embarrassing myself.
If you have been thinking about taking the plunge and investing in a pedal assisted bike, take my advice and go for it! Hills, laziness and being unfit are no longer an excuse!