Spinning my wheels

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 5:15pm

I’ll bet my nickels that all of you bike riders out there can remember getting your first bicycle. It’s a coming-of-age thing which is firmly imprinted in our memory bank. The reason for this is simply because a bicycle provides us with four profound things: balance, autonomy, freedom and most important, fun! Moreover, if we are lucky these four things will serve us for many years as we roll into our future. We learn these important things as soon as we can take the training wheels off our rigs and go tearing around the neighborhood. Then, it’s game on and there’s no looking back once we take off on our own. It’s our first glimpse at our destiny. Okay, I know that I’m stretching this bike riding thing to the snapping point, but hey, I’ve loved riding a bicycle for six decades.

We’ve probably all have had a favorite bicycle - I’ve had three. These rigs have all served me at specific times in my life and I still have vivid memories of each one. I was 11 years old when my dad took me, supposedly, to stop by an aunt’s house to fix something. Rather than stopping at my aunt’s place, we went to Benny’s in East Providence. My dad surprised me by having me pick out my first bike. I was completely gob-smacked by this unexpected good fortune and kind gesture. I never saw this coming, which made the moment very powerful and unforgettable. When we got home and unpacked the brand new bike, my dad said, “I need to test fly this for you, Joey, I’ll be right back,” and he went tearing down the driveway. I remember my mother laughing
like hell. As previously stated, this memory is still in an active file in my head. Again, it’s truly unforgettable and I couldn’t thank my folks enough. The next day an older kid on our street saw how jacked I was about my new bike and he flipped me some older streamers he had to put in my handle grips. I was almost cool as I went tearing around the block with no hands with the colorful streamers flapping in the breeze.
The second memorable bicycle I got my hands on was a Schwinn Varsity that I scored for short money from a surfer I knew; he needed the money for a new surfboard. I rode this tragically hip ten-speed from 1968 to 1974. I peeled off many miles in Providence, Seekonk, Block Island, Narragansett, and Washington, D.C. The Varsity was a solid bike and I got lots of use out of it. I finally sold it to buy a guitar—for short money. Win, Win. As the years rolled on I acquired lesser-quality bikes; however, I always had one to get by in a pinch if my car broke down, which was not a rare occurrence in my younger
shuffling days. Having a bike was a necessity.
When I turned 50 I treated myself to a decent bicycle. Hell, my kids had better bikes than their old man. In 2000, I sprung for a Specialized Crosswind,
which was without question the most comfortable design I’d ever ridden. I bought the bike at a shop on Thames Street in Newport. As soon as I took off down the street for a test drive, I was sold on this rig. For starters it had suspension in the front forks. And, it had a sweet seat with a shock absorber built
into the seat’s stem. I came back to the shop, cut the kid a check, and left the beater bike I’d driven to the shop for the guy to junk for me. It was beyond repair because I worked it hard for several Newport winters. I had recently been keeping the beater unlocked near my sailboat and was hoping someone
would steal it, but there were no takers. I rode that Crosswind – hard - for ten years. It was a great bike.
Presently, I am at the chipper and spry age of 71 - ahem, I feel it - and I’m embarking on a totally new cycling adventure and experience. I’m going electric! Yup, it’s time to accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with buying an E-Bike that can assist a guy my age with pedaling. Co-worker Colin Waitkun is an avid cyclist, and he gave me a great deal on a used Specialized a few years ago. I used it at work in the standby lot and for blasting around Galilee in the fall and spring. It’s a solid ride; however, I’m retiring the rig for a more functional one. I’ve been watching the E-Bike trend for two years and researching various designs. Furthermore, in the standby lot this summer I had the opportunity to test drive a few of these practical, efficient and fun
machines.

After much research and consultation and test driving, I finally settled on the right fit. An E-Bike rider and part-time ferry worker named Bill Shepard gave me the lowdown on a particular bike he recently saw at the ferry. I’d test driven Bill’s Himiway, and was almost sold on that design. It’s a very sweet ride.
But, after he mentioned the folks he saw getting on the ferry with a bike called a Lectric 2.0. I googled the company and my mind shifted on the quick. I knew this bike was for me. I bought one 15 minutes after Bill mentioned the design.

There are many things to consider when buying an E-Bike, and there is an inordinate amount of research to do. My decision was driven by three things. First, the price point was below 1000 scoots. And, this is a lot of bike for that price; I compared it to several models. Secondly, I will be riding this thing
about four feet above sea level, so I don’t need the power to climb Pike’s Peak. Thirdly, it’s foldable and can fit in my Jeep if I want to get out of town. Finally, and most important, this iron will provide me with: balance, autonomy, freedom and fun! ‘Nuff said.