Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Bike Tour Electrified

Europeans have been doing it for years. Now American are slowly starting to catch on. Years ago, when I lived in Copenhagen, it was one of the primary modes of transportation for just about everyone. Now Amsterdam and other European cities continue to vie for prominence with their focus on two-wheel transportation.

One of the unexpected but welcomed results of the Covid-19 pandemic was a surge in bicycle sales across the country. People rediscovered the joys and benefits of bike riding, touring, exploring, and commuting. It was almost as if a whole new generation had stumbled across this safe alternative to the car culture. It was an easy way to exercise and a great way to explore one’s neighborhood and community.

Now the evolution of the bicycle continues with the E (electronic) bicycle. New manufacturers have blossomed around the world to satisfy the tremendous desire of folks to go electric. I succumbed last summer with my own Aventon Level Two race car that can top out at 28 miles per hour. It is an absolute gas (no pun intended) to ride, cruise and power along.

Magazines and web sites that cater to the biking crowd have gotten very popular. Web communities like Cycle Chic, Copenhaganize, Citylab and Planetzien are among the many sites that carry biking-related articles. Bike sharing outlets like Minnesota’s own ‘Nice Ride’ are expanding their outreach efforts. Bicycle riding has been rediscovered all over again.

Heck, I knew that a lifetime ago. I got my first bicycle in fifth grade and I’ve been riding all my life. My first bicycle was a 100-pound land cruiser called a Huffy. It was clad in more metal than a Sherman Tank. In the end, I think riding that dead weight gave me the strength and endurance to run marathons later on in life. While all the other kids were darting around town in their light weight Schwinn bicycles, I was running over and crushing fixed objects with my mobile steamroller.

Fast forward ten-to-fifteen years and my first serious bicycle was a French-built Peugeot.  It was a ten-speed racing bike that, in fact, had a total of 15 different sprocket settings. After settling into my first job as a writer at the Minnesota Department of Health, I paid $115.00 for my new Peugeot at a bike shop in the East Village near the University of Minnesota.

Later that year, I rode my first Century on my Peugeot. In cycling lingo, a Century is a one-hundred-mile bike ride completed in one day. There were selected water stops along the way but it was still an out and back route that encompasses urban, suburban and rural roads.

I did the TRAM twice, the second time with Brian. TRAM stands for ‘The Ride Across Minnesota.’ It’s a five-day ride from one side of the state to the other, usually encompassing four hundred plus miles. Daily lengths vary but usually average between 70 and 80 miles per day.

My new Aventon E-bike now allows me easier peddling up hills and for longer distances while still enjoying the scenery around me. It’s been a blast to venture back out and explore old haunts along with new ones along the way.

As long as I can keep my balance and the old legs and back don’t give out, I intend to keep pushing along and enjoying the scenery along the way. Just like when I was a kid.

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