By Roz Rogoff
Never forget howUploaded: Dec 25, 2011
They say once you learn to ride a bicycle you never forget how. Maybe it depends on the bicycle. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I ordered an electric bike from Supersized Cycles in Vermont. It arrived on December 9th.
The owner of the bike shop said it would be easy for me to assemble, but it was too heavy for me to pick up. So I asked my neighbor to put the box in the back of my car and I took it down to Dublin Cyclery to assemble.
The bike was ready about a week later. It did not come with any instructions, and one piece was damaged during shipping, but the bike mechanic in Dublin did a good job getting everything to work.
This bike is designed to carry up to 300 lbs. and is built like a tank. All of the tubing is extra thick, and it has an electric motor on the rear wheel with a sealed battery. Mine looks like the one in the photo except in black.
All of this reinforcement doubles the weight of the bike from a normal cruiser-type bike which would weight 30 lbs. to 61 lbs. Also even though the frame is a step through, I had difficulty climbing through it. The bike guys suggested getting on from a curb, which I tried and that worked.
The mechanic put the seat level with the rear bike rack. This crunched my knee on the up stroke, so he raised it up a little. It's still tight on the knee, but any higher and it would be too tall for me.
I bought a basket for the handlebars, which stuck out over the top by 2 or 3 inches. We tried several other baskets, including a wicker one, but the best was a metal cage that hung from the handlebars with rubber covered hooks. I noticed when I got home that the handlebars have a gouge where the first one was bolted on. I'm a little annoyed by that but overall the guys in Dublin did a good job.
I bought a bike carrier to take it home. I was nervous it would be too heavy for me to take it off the carrier, but that wasn't a problem. The rear wheel is heavier than the front because of the motor. I put the battery inside the car. That took 15 lbs. off the weight of the bike leaving over 45 lbs.
I was able to lower the rear wheel with the motor on it onto a chair under the bike carrier. Then I took the front of the bike off the carrier, and put it on the ground, and eased the rear side onto the ground. I felt good about getting this far with it.
I locked the bike onto a steel cat cage I have in the garage, and left it in the garage next to my Focus. Later I realized I should have taken the battery into the house because it was getting very cold at night and that would cause the battery to lose its charge. I brought the battery inside and put it on the charger, but the bike shop had charged it and the charge light turned green in a minute.
So the battery and the bike were ready to go, but I wasn't sure I was yet. The next day I adjusted my new helmet, took the bike to the curb, and tried it out. I was able to get on it, but I wasn't able to peddle fast enough for it to start moving.
It started to tilt over on me. I was able to get my feet on the ground and keep it from falling over, but the chain or gear (probably the gear) got caught in my sock. I pulled it lose, but it caused a 2" cut in the back of my calf. This bike was starting to scare me.
A neighbor was walking her dog across the street. I asked her if the bike looked too big for me. She said it was just the right size, but I wasn't ready to try riding it again. So I put it back in the garage and it has been there this week.
They say when you fall off a bike (or is it a horse?) you must get back on right away so you don't let it intimidate you. I didn't fall off, but I'm very afraid of falling because as I have mentioned here before, if I fall down I can't get up without help. It would be even worse with a 61 lb. bike cutting up my leg.
I'll buy some calf sleeves and try riding the bike again. I haven't ridden a bike in 15 years, so maybe we do forget how. Or maybe I need something easier like an adult tricycle.
Now I know why so many older folks ride those big tricycles. The last time I rode a trike I was 6 years old and that was 63 years ago, but once you learn to ride a tricycle you never forget how.