I’m in love. With a bike. Sadly not the bike I currently have. Let me present to you the object of my affections, an electric bike called A2B.
Many people said to me that I would just get more fit with this tour, and that yeah, I could probably do about 50 miles a day no problem. Well, it has transpired there is a problem, lots of them, they are called hills, and England is littered with them. I’m not unfit, but I’m not one of the steel-calved peddle pushers that keep overtaking me either. I’m an ambler by nature and every hill I have to dismount and push Polly and my luggage up the hill with cars passing stressfully by. I’m sweaty, panting and grimacing – not an advert for cycling. I’m sorry, I tried to like cycling, but I only like the flat or downhill bits. Then I visited eCycle in Stroud who sell electric bicycles, to get myself educated.
Jacob didn’t bother with the hard sell, he just invited me to go for a test ride. “These things sell themselves,” he said smiling. Oh my gosh yes they do, but since you can’t try one right now I’ll try and explain. You still pedal on the bike but the battery assists you, so you fly up the hill, laughing gleefully. They’re not heavy like I expected and it looks like a normal bike. To charge it you just take the battery out and charge it up for a few hours from a normal plug and then it’ll last you about 60 miles. But you don’t have to have it on all the time either. I tried a couple of bikes but the relaxed touring style is definitely the one for me. I remember when the ipod came out and thinking “This is it, this is an invention which will really make my life easier then carrying all those tapes.” Well now I know what will be a viable alternative for me – this bike.
Cycling is not for everyone, but most people can enjoy an electric bike, if you can afford it. And that’s the sticking point. The only reason I didn’t leave with an A2B bike is I can’t afford it. But love knows no bounds and I will have it. Jacob has my details and when an ex-display model becomes available I am first in line. In the meantime I’ll have to get paid work to save up the money…
Now I just have to cycle all around England on a normal bike, knowing full well what an electric bike feels like instead. Joy.
A couple of days ago I was walking through the woods when I came accross a beautiful shire horse, all harnessed up. It turned out that he was being used to drag Sitka Spruce trees out from the wood to increase bidiversity and for use in a biomass boiler! The man conducting the operation was John Williams who was well aware of the value of maintaining traditional practices.
We’ll have more of a use for these horses as fossil fuels decline with peak oil.
You can see the horse in action here.
Then just yesterday I met Jonathan who runs a gorgeous B&B called Higher Bidicott Farm, where he farms with horses and has done all his life! He trains around three working horses a month for other people so that they can be used on other farms too.
By accident I stumbled accross E & TVR. These mysterious letters signify the Exeter and Teign Valley Railway. A railway that was dismantled not because it was unprofitable or because it was unused, but as part of a government policy which happened decades before I was born. Colin Burges has made it his lifes passion to campaign for a reinstatement of railways, especially those that are largely still intact. He sees a future where cars are off the road and people and goods are back on the rails.
The E&TVR visitors center is a whimsical and sometimes darkly funny look at his love of the railway and desire for a more environmentally conscious transport policy – the thing that caught my eye was a crushed car labelled “The only green car”! I spent the night in the beautiful minature railway car, Tadpole, which was lovingly made by Colin and normally sleeps children whilst adults often book the larger Toad. As well as the restored line, loading yard, and information hut there is also a small rail car that children can take rides in. Located next to a beautiful river, it’s a very peaceful spot.
If you are nearby I would heartily recommend learning from the displays and from the very knowledgeable Colin himself. I give you fair warning though, don’t expect an ‘easy ride’ if you arrive by car! 🙂