Something Unexpected

On my Saturday ride I came across something totally unexpected…

(Evidently) the next generation of powered cycling has arrived – Hybrid Bicycles.  Have you seen these things?  They are absolutely ingenious, and in the right circumstances I am all for it!  I’ll explain that later, but first, let me tell you about the Giant Twist, Freedom I saw and the great man who rides it.

The mid-point of my Roanoke circuit is a gas station on US-24.  I don’t usually stop, but was a bit low on energy, so I pulled over for a Gatorade and rest.  While there an old-timer named Bud pulled in on a brand new Bicycle.  He gave me a warm smile and nod as he complimented my bike and entered the station.  I casually looked over his bike and upon his return asked about what I was seeing.

His bike is a 2013 Giant Twist Freedom; It’s a hybrid!

The Giant Twist Freedom.  Bud told me he had to get the Women's model because he can't get his leg over the bar anymore.  I told him he made a wise decision!

The Giant Twist Freedom. Bud told me he had to get the Women’s model because he can’t get his leg over the bar anymore. I told him he made a wise decision!

Bud explained that a hybrid bike has an electric motor with battery pack and speed control.  The motor doesn’t actually power the bike, it ASSISTS the rider.  He has two adult daughters that ride with him, and according to Bud, “They pass me easily on the flats, but on the hills I pass ’em then tell them to pick up the pace.”  I chuckled (remembering that immediately following this gas station are two of the more significant hills of this ride).

The battery sits in the right pannier and the electric motor is in the front hub.

The battery sits in the right pannier and the electric motor is in the front hub.

The bike has two panniers on the back, one being storage and the other a removable, rechargeable battery.  This battery feeds an electric motor built into the FRONT wheel hub.  That seemed an ingenious design to me.  On the left handlebar was a basic control with an LED indicating battery power and allowing Bud to choose one of three electric assist levels.  I noticed a gear shifter on the right handlebar but only a single rear gear.  The 7 speed cassette and derailleur are on the crankset.  Again… interesting design.

Bud volunteered that the bike retailed for $1,600 when he first saw it.  He made it clear he wanted the bike, but couldn’t afford that price.  Over the course of 6 months he waited them out and bought the bike for a little over $1,000.  Ah yes… under that wrinkled tan and John Deere hat is a shrewd wheeler-dealer.

I’m something of a cycling purist.

I’m not a fan of the recumbent bike (It’s a recliner people…with wheels!), or the motorized bike for that matter.  Some of you are too young to remember the motorized bicycle, but the premise was to put a small gas motor on a (somewhat) standard bike frame.  You would pedal the bike as normal, but at some point you could engage the motor, start it by pedaling, then simply allow the gas motor to power the bike for you.  I was never a big fan.  It seems to me if you’re going to pedal the bike to start the motor why not skip the effort?  Save your money and buy the moped!  (Again, for the young an explanation; a moped was THE scooter of the 80s and 90s… um, the NINETEEN 80s and 90s.)  However, I felt differently about the Hybrid bike.  Probably because it assists the rider, it doesn’t take over.  To me that’s the important part.  Cycling is, in some way, about the relationship between rider and cycle.

The Bottom Line…

IMG_5005

The LED/Controller gives Bud a read on battery level and a choice of Sport, Normal, or Eco levels of assistance.

Here’s the bottom line for me; the hybrid technology allows my friend Bud, an 80-something year old farmer whose wife of undetermined years passed away of cancer four years ago, to do something he enjoys with people he loves.  Without the assistance he wouldn’t be able to ride with his daughters.  The tears in those wisened eyes told me this was the most important part of his current life (and as a father of two daughters…I can relate).  In the end, that the most important thing isn’t it?

I left a few moments after Bud, and on the far side of the hills just past the gas station I saw something that made me smile.  A man wearing a John Deere hat riding a brand new bicycle.  I quickly overtook him and passed Bud on his hybrid bike.  As I passed he gave me that familiar nod and smile.  I simply asked, “Great day for a ride, eh Bud,” and closed with…

“Enjoy the Ride my friend!”

Check out the Giant Hybrid line of Bicycles

Corn!

Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t mis-named my blog.

I chose the URL “musingsofanamateurcyclist” for many reasons:

  1. I tend to think a lot when I ride.  I’m a muser, my thoughts stir me up and change me in some way.
  2. I’m NOT a professional.  I am most definitely an amateur and if you’ve seen me, know me, or have ridden with me, you understand that any professional riding is saved for a different lifetime.
  3. I am a cyclist.  Though honestly, a NEW cyclist, I have a growing passion for it.

I had an epiphany on my ride last night.

Seven foot high on the Eleventh of July! (yeah, ok, now you know... I'm short!)

Seven foot high on the Eleventh of July! (yeah, ok, now you know… I’m short!)

Perhaps I should change the URL to “musingsofaRURALcyclist.”  I do a LOT of riding in rural Indiana (and it isn’t hard to find the rural parts of Indiana, let me tell you).  Last night was no exception, I rode my 35 mile out-and-back to Ossian.  It’s a great ride and I was struck by the enormity and majesty of the corn this year!  It’s been a perfect mix of wet/hot for corn and the crop is stellar!  They have a saying when prognosticating about the corn crop, “Knee high by the Fourth of July,” means it’s gonna be a good year.  Well, what about 7 feet high by the Eleventh of July?  What does THAT mean?

I means a lot of things and I was about to learn a few on this ride.

I took full advantage of the setting sun…

I know the sun hits the Western horizon right about 9:30 pm and figured with a 7pm start I had plenty of time.  I knew I would be stopping several times for pictures and at my parents’ house to say “hey” and catch up a bit, but 2 1/2 hours is plenty of time. More than anything my late start is indicative of something I’m learning; riding gets better as the shadows get longer.  The air cools, the colors change, and the world goes quiet. (Perfect…minus the swallowed bugs.  I’m sure they hated the experience no less than I did.)

IMG_4714As I rode with the corn towering over me it seemed to grow taller in the waining light.  Toward the end I rode in deep shadow as the sun was cast over me.  It was amazing to see, to sense, to be a part of.  So cool.  I’ll definitely head out again into a warm summer evening with the sun falling behind the corn, just to experience it all over again.

Nope, I’m not a professional rider.  I won’t break any records for speed or win any races, but i will definitely…

Enjoy the Ride!

Happy Birthday America!

This is such a common sight in Indiana that it is easily overlooked and under-appreciated.

This is such a common sight in Indiana that it is easily overlooked and under-appreciated.

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
   For amber waves of grain.
For purple mountain’s majesty,
   Above the fruited plain.

America, America, 

   God shed His grace on thee.
And crown thy good,
   With brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

It somehow seemed appropriate that the lyrics to America, The Beautiful, would be running through my head as I woke up today.  Immediately I knew why; a) it is July 4th, the 237th birthday of my country, b) I ride under spacious skies and past amber waves of grain on just about every ride I take.  So today’s ride, while not-too-spectacular on paper, was all about the scenery.  I wanted to take in the world around me from the saddle of my bike.

After all, that’s what cycling is about for me…

freedom, independence, and enjoying all that passes by and under the bike and me.  Indiana has it’s own beauty and charm.  I don’t always appreciate it and find myself wanting to explore other places, but today it was amazing.

This is a typical country home in Whitley County, IN. Not really farmers, but folks not wanting to live in the suburbs.

This is a typical country home in Whitley County, IN. Not really farmers, but folks not wanting to live in the suburbs.

If you celebrate US Independence Day, then “Happy July 4th” to you!  Wherever you live and whatever you do, I hope you get the opportunity to just look around on your next ride.  Whether it’s your first trip down this road, or your 1,000th, take it all in.  And when you do…

…Enjoy the ride!