Carla Conquers Cycling Fears And Joins ‘Beat Generation!’
I have finally conquered my cycling fears and actually propelled a bike without the adult stabilisers I longed for. This is a momentous occasion for me and the family album.
It is safe to say I haven’t been on a bike in earnest since teenage – a dim and distant memory to me now, even though I was proud to earn a cycling proficiency badge at the tender age of fourteen.
This is something which promotes howls of laughter and incredulous comments from my nearest and dearest who know that any attempts to ride in the recent past ended in total failure because of my lack of balance and remembrance of what I had been taught.
They say you never forget to ride a bike. Yet when I bought a bike about twenty years ago with the intention of getting fit, I wobbled and crashed the gears so often that the machine ended its days gathering dust in the shed before finally being consigned to the bin.
Nevertheless, the courage boost to take to the saddle this week was the fact that I had decided to take up the Maidenhead Cycle Challenge in the wake of breaking my own walking record in the health promoting Park Run events which I took up a couple of months ago in an effort to get fitter and leaner.
The bonus this time was that I had a calming cycling instructor, a deceptively small folding bike to try out and the knowledge that I had announced my intention in writing to the editor of the local paper that I was giving the Maidenhead Cycle Challenge a definite go. Also riding on the achievement was the fact that I know many business people at Foundation Park in Canon Lane, Maidenhead and didn’t want to let the organisers down as they are keen to promote healthy lifestyle through using new cycle paths in the area instead of taking to the road in cars for every journey.
Seriously, I didn’t want to have egg or pavement dust on the face. That was a real possibility because the last time I was on a bike I ended up with sore knees and a damaged ego. As I prepared for the ride of a lifetime I can admit now that I had a multitude of horrible butterflies fluttering about in my stomach. However, they began to evaporate the moment I saw the cute little electric mini Beat Bike being demonstrated at the event.
It was much less daunting than the big mountain bikes that some people chose to use and less intimidating than the bigger more rugged electric folding bike my husband has recently purchased to take with us in our motor home.
Although I have been envious that he has the new found freedom of getting on his bike when we get to our holiday or weekend destinations, I couldn’t summon up the courage to try his bike out. Curious and hopeful, I had sourced information about adult stabilisers which I thought worth a try but that notion was met with derision and laughter.
I gathered from engineer Dean Stennett, a partner in the business which has created the Beat Bike, that the technology his firm used to create their folding electric bicycle springs from a scooter rather than a traditional bike. It certainly looked less intimidating and felt featherweight compared to normal bikes. I also loved the fact that it can be folded flat and transported in a bag akin to a guitar case.
As Dean, a battery technology expert with an executive background in automotive, reduced the saddle to suit me, he explained how it worked. I felt reassured, especially as I knew he was planning to hold onto the saddle whilst I peddled. As a consumer journalist who is hot on safety I was further reassured that the bike conforms to tough European standards for electric bikes (EN15194 and CE Certification) and can withstand as much as 95kg (210lbs) on its alloy frame despite its diminutive size.
Even now, I can’t believe that I didn’t make an ass of myself on Beat Bike and not only managed to finally propel the machine unaided, I even had the confidence to try out the battery motor on my own as well.
Athough I had it on the lowest setting it whizzed along merrily with the help of a 24v lithium battery hidden in the frame. If I get one of these natty little bikes I think it will be a while before I reach the maximum speed of 12 mph (25kmh) pedal assist. But it was exhilarating knowing that I didn’t have to rely on pure pedal power if I didn’t want to. All this looks promising for the future. I might not be the only one plugging up my bike and having the freedom to go.
Although the bike is designed with commuter and executive travel on normal terrain, it seems a whole generation of golden oldies like me are likely to find them fun. The bike can travel 12 miles after charging via laptop charger or socket which I think is likely to supply me plenty of sightseeing and exercise fun on our new found silver surfer travels. I might even be able to use it shopping or join my granddaughter on her scooter travels.
Although I am usually the one filming and photographing events, a sneaky picture of me on the bike was taken by Holly Seear, Challenge Manager of the Maidenhead Cycle Challenge. Congratulating me afterwards she said: “ Thank you for attending today Carla, you were great on the electric bike and I got a photo of you in action.” (pictured) A video was also shot so I have absolute proof that I did what I set out to do. Another story no doubt for my memoirs or Power of One Events, inspiring individuals to take up fresh challenges.
At last it also looks like a whole new world of healthier opportunities are opening up before me and I might even have joined the new “beat generation”!
Carla Delaney Communications
Business Writer of the Year Award Winner