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Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have always enjoyed my cycling as much as my motorcycling, but in a different way. Most Sundays I meet up with Peter, an old cycling friend of similar age (74) for a leisurely coffee and cycle across Romney Marsh for a pub lunch together. The round trip takes in about 40 miles - unlike the 100 mile days of my youth, but still leaving my increasingly arthritic knees recognising every mile travelled on reaching home.

Peter suffers from an arthritic back and a few weeks ago arrived at our rendezvous, rather sheepishly, on an electrically assisted bicycle. The assistance can be switched on when required as steep hills appear. As he was leaving me behind on hills I fell to consideration of the advantages of such a machine to those of approaching age.

Amongst other good advice, the poem "Desiderata" exhorts us to: "Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth". I have a selection of bicycles and a web search showed that I could purchase a conversion kit for about £500, rather than a complete new electric bicycle for about £1,500, so I took the poem's advice, bought the kit and spent a couple of days converting the Claud Butler.

A revelation! One hardly realises it is fitted. The motor is in the front wheel and the battery slides horizontally between the panniers. At the press of a switch it is if a gale force tail wind has arrived to help. The act of pedalling keeps the motor assisting and in this mode the battery would last about 30 miles. However I don't use it on the flat so 70 - 80 miles would be perfectly possible in a day.

I shall still keep the other 4 bikes in the stable though!