ST. GEORGE — The hill comes into my personal space about twenty minutes into my ride. I love it, I fight to conquer it. Four to six days a week, I assault this monstrosity of a hill in Southern Utah on my mountain bike because I love the exercise it allows me.
This summer more than any other, I’ve found that others share the same interest. It is as I bend into my climb, pumping the pedals, lifting because of my clip-ins, dripping — even in the early a.m. it is already 90 degrees outside — I puff and pant, egging myself on with a silent mantra that pushes me up and on, and then I hear it: A lovely “ching ching” sound, off to my left and below. Begging about seven seconds from my numbing wrists, I turn to witness: A pair of “folks” on electric bikes; upright, happy, hardly panting and accelerating up the hill, and passing me!
I think it is the delight on their faces and the absence of demanding effort that drives me crazy. (Am I crazy? Read on, you decide). I mutter under my breath such nastiness as “get a real bike” and I know when we reach a flat, I can catch them, but they seem to catch me at my most vulnerable, sucking wind and pumping hard up a hill. The worst is that they are enjoying the “cruise” as they pass by.
Defying the laws of physics, or perhaps there are no laws for these rogues of the bike path, they pursue sidewalks, counter traffic dashes, the aforementioned bike trails, “ringing” their interest in passing and nodding a friendly “hello” as they zip by. Are these things bicycles? Are they motorized vehicles? Has anyone thought to wonder? COVID-19 has certainly brought more bikers out and into our beautiful area. My (probably mental) problem is that too many are on electric bikes!
Thus, my annoyance used to grow with each person who passed me (always on a hill for some reason). Recently, however, I have come to understand that these electric scourges of Southern Utah are not the evil beings I originally manifested due to the limitations of my own hill-climbing abilities. In fact, in those moments on the flat, when I push all out and close in on an earlier insult, I know I will have them. I will have them! (Unless they have one of those punk things that can hit 30 mph-plus). Nevertheless, I am not so far gone to comprehend that this ridiculous self-manufactured “war” has become an epiphany.
While I loathe being passed on a hill, electric bikes bring a benefit to my own fitness goals.
There I be, cruising along, pushing myself, just a little, until — there goes another one! She’s at least 20 years older than I am and she’s passing me again! This insult forces me to pump all the harder to show what a “real bike” can do. Do any of these “folks” riding these electric nasties understand even a small amount of the consternation I feel? Of course not! They are just out having a good time, enjoying nature and the gorgeous part of Southern Utah we all live in.
Yes, I’m being petty and small.
Back to the epiphany. It has changed the anger (jealousy) I felt at their presence. They are here to push me on to more strength and confidence. Like unwitting fitness coaches, they have inadvertently driven me towards speed and abilities I was unaware of!
Last week, I even spoke to a guy (on the flats) as I caught up to and was passing him. “How far do those things go on a charge?” I queried. “Round about 40 miles or so,” he replied, easy as you please, he wasn’t winded after all.
Forty miles!? I rarely do more than 20!
What is to come?
Probably some therapy would help. Perhaps some prayer.
But, here’s to the electric bike! It gets people out who might not want to fight their way up a hill, breathing our sparkling air, enjoying a topography that is downright exquisite. I know that they will be better for it. Now, I am better for it.
Ring your bells, electric bikers, I for one will be saying “Good morning! Thank you for making me a healthier human being!”
Submitted by BRIAN STRASMANN, Washington County.
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