Remember all of the fuss people made when bike lanes started showing up all over the city, taking over car lanes, or at least impeding upon them? I have to admit, I wasn’t all that pleased to see them myself. And my husband was especially unhappy.
Suddenly you had to pay attention to things like new cycle-only lights and rules about right turns. Not only that, but lots of regular parking spots disappeared. For those of us who’ve been behind the wheel for a long time, it was like driving in a foreign country.
Judging by the comments in local media and online, we were not alone. A lot of people were miffed. And, according to most angry types, including my husband, it was all Mayor Lisa Helps’ fault.
Imagine my surprise then, when my newly retired, anti-bike lane partner pulled out his dusty, rusty old bicycle one day and started pumping up the tires. And, even more surprising, he got right on it and started hobbling down the street. I thought he was nuts.
But he insisted that he wanted to see if he could still do it and I had to admit that I admired his tenacity. He decided he might even like to try an e-bike one day and wondered if I might like to try one too.
Me? On a bike? I wasn’t so sure.
And then something interesting happened. My good friends and I were planning a wine-tasting tour in Oliver, and one of the tours was supposed to be on e-bikes. I’d never heard of that before.
So now I felt obligated to pull out my own steed of rusted steel to see if I could manage it.
I was pretty shaky at first. It felt familiar, but not familiar enough. Not only that but my once 18-speed bicycle now had only one working gear. Thank goodness the brakes still worked.
For my first ride, I went about five blocks and then came right back. The legs were definitely feeling it, and I knew I was going to have to get more comfortable with cycling again before our trip. And after a few short practice rides and only one near spill, I was feeling a little better. A little.
The e-bike was a whole different experience. For those of you who haven’t tried one, I won’t go into all of the technical details. The bikes we rode were German-made CUBEs, and had the usual mechanical gears and then four e-gears, going from “eco” to “turbo”.
You can also ride the bike without the e-support, but I’m pretty sure I had it on “eco” for most of our 27 kilometer tour. When the e-gear kicked in, it just felt lighter and smoother. On long stretches uphill, I’d use the “turbo” setting and that helped considerably.
And the wine helped too.
When we got back from our trip, my husband was excited to hear all about it. I have to admit that by then, I was also convinced to get an e-bike of my own.
As it turns out, we found two used ones of the same make, CUBE, on Facebook Marketplace. I guess it was meant to be.
Now it was my husband’s turn to get used to the e-bike, but it didn’t take long. Little by little we ventured further, warming up to the idea of cycling in the city instead of driving.
One day, we went from our house in the Oaklands area all the way to Willows Beach. And on another, we pointed ourselves south and made it through Beacon Hill Park to Dallas Road.
Suddenly we were very grateful for those cycle lanes and signal crosswalks, and the CRD cycle maps. It has become another very different way of experiencing and exploring beautiful Victoria.
We are e-sold. And we’re old enough that we should have learned the old “don’t knock it before you’ve tried it” adage by now.
Irene Jackson is a guitar teacher, musician and general writer “wanna-be” living in the beautiful city of Victoria, B.C. Her website is at irenejackson.com.