Roger Marolt: Running circles around the e-bike debate
A sign of weirdness is that you are embarrassed about something you are doing when there is really actually nothing embarrassing about what you are doing, per se. When you are self-conscious about your activities, somebody will invariably ask, “Why are you acting so weird?”
It’s easier to give an example of what I mean than try to explain further. Suppose, hypothetically, there is a man, an older man even, who likes to, say, run wind-sprints for fun. For discussion’s sake, let’s assume the preferred length of the sprint is 200 meters, a really atrocious distance that allows not nearly enough time for any kind of rhythmic pacing conducive to the production of retrospective thought, but plenty to inflict a massive amount of pain. Further assume this man does this on an oval track where there are no changing views and that leads nowhere except to back to where he began, time and time and time again.
That would be odd, right? I mean, who would use their precious leisure time to do this instead of go for a bike ride or hike in the beautiful mountains? A trail run would make more sense. Fishing? Golf? Tennis? Really just about anything, even stand-up paddleboarding, would be better. And, yet, there is really nothing embarrassing about running around a track, assuming you are fully clothed and not singing loudly.
Wait? You really don’t think running wind-sprints for fun is that weird? Phew! Because that is actually me who is the old man running around the track.
Now I can get to the prelude to my point. I was in Midland, Texas, last week and one afternoon headed out to the local high school track to do my thing. It was hot and it was windy. But, one of the really cool things about sprinting halfway around an oval track is that you can run either direction so that you can always turn your back to the wind which, ironically, makes a friend out of it. I ran my fastest 200 meters of the summer with this wind propelling me. And, yes, this means I time myself in these sprints, which really is bizarre because there is absolutely nothing at stake.
Nonetheless, I ran really fast, for me. Then, after the endorphin flow subsided, I felt really unsatisfied. The achievement was so wind-aided that it revealed itself as a novelty rather than an achievement. It was like riding an e-bike.
Which brings me to one of my main points: I am fine with e-bikes, but I don’t want one. I’ve tested them, pedaled them fast enough to make me see their worth as environmentally friendly commuting machines, and know they are fun. But, at the end of the e-ride, I don’t feel much of a charge.
The e-bike ride caused me to examine my motivations for riding my mountain bike. Who knows if I am being honest with myself here, because I am better at lying to me than anyone else is, but what I am telling me is that my mountain bike rides are approximately 42.3% for exercise, 34.2% for sense of accomplishment, 7.1% looking forward to the couch, 5.9% for the tinkering with it, which leaves just 10.5% doing it for fun. I think my experience with sprinting, which is not fun at all, lends credibility to this self-evaluation. It helps explain why I don’t smile doing either.
All things considered, then, it should come as no surprise that e-biking, which seems to me to be more about having fun than obtaining the full benefits of unaided exertion or feelings of accomplishment, isn’t as appealing to me as is the old fashioned sweat and sear of regular mountain biking. Big deal. Why would anyone care any more about this than they do about me sprinting around the stupid track? Notice that I must call the track “stupid” rather than admitting I am the idiot for repeatedly running around it.
And, yet, people do care about the type of bike I, you and tourists prefer. It is why the e-bike vs. regular bike debate remains the go-to subject over local micro-brews. Let me assure you, though; there is nothing embarrassing about being passed by an e-biker when you are on a personal best pace up to Ashcroft on your regular bicycle. Likewise, you don’t have to be self-conscious standing next to your e-bike in sweatpants at Maroon Lake when the fit and trim racers show up sweaty and glistening on their regular bikes. It is all good. So, can we all just agree to stop acting so weird about this?
Roger Marolt has come to realize that running on a track is inspiration for going nowhere fast. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.