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Prodeco Tech Stride 300 on path around Prairie Queen flood control reservoir.
Prodeco Tech Stride 300 on path around Prairie Queen flood control reservoir.

Building My E-Biking Confidence

It's seemed a long ways from my house to the intersection of 114th and Pacific here in Omaha. Turns out, I'd actually ridden that far on my e-bike, a surprising realization that has transformed my view of what I am personally capable of, even at my age.

I was three-quarters of the way to an evening "Meet Up" on Cyber Security across town when I glanced down at my odometer and noticed that since filling up the minivan - in which I haul e-bikes -- that I'd driven just over 12 miles. Subtracting the distance from the gas station to the house, I had just driven something like 11 miles. That surprised me.

The week before, on an unusually warm day for early March in Nebraska, I decided to ride the Prodeco Tech Stride 300 e-bike over to the shop where we are doing the conversion of our prototype Quikbyke Qiosk. It took me just under 12 minutes to ride the 2.5 miles. I then decided to continue down the hill into the Papillion Creek valley, finally getting a chance to ride the new walking and biking trail that had just opened last year along 72nd Street. From there, I headed west along the top of the levee that is part of the Papio cycling trail that connects to 96th St to the west. The original Union Pacific track that first united the nation in 1869 once ran along the other side of the creek. At 96th St., I then turned south and made a spin around the Walnut Creek Recreation Area lake. By the time I got back home I had put 11.2 miles on the Strava app.

Until that point in time, that was the longest I've ever ridden a bicycle. Now I know that dedicated cyclists won't be impressed by that. A friend of mine here in town regularly does thrice that distance on an almost daily basis. But for me that was a milestone. Besides showing that the Stride 300, which is likely one of the bikes we're going to rent, is up to the job, it demonstrated to me that even at age 68, I too am still 'up to the job.'

With that first 'long-distance' commute under my belt, when I had to make a trip to the hardware store across town, I decided to take the e-bike again. Prior to moving into our new home, the store was less than a mile away. Now it's closer to five, but since I'd just done the 11.2 miles the week before, e-biking to the store wouldn't be all that much further. You can see that trip here on Strava. Following pretty much the reverse of the week before's route, I bought my pack of four jig saw blades and then rode East past my parent's home and then south along 72nd and up the hill to state highway 370. From there, I rode along the backside of Shadow Lake shopping center and eventually back home. Total distance: 11.8 miles. Total time in the saddle, just over 55 minutes.

Twice I had covered roughly the same distance as I was now driving to reach the Meet Up event. Until that moment I had never looked at it that way. I had always assumed that if the trip was further than a couple miles or so, I needed to take the car. Now I don't. Of course, riding a bike isn't the same as siting in a comfortable, warm or air conditioned cabin with your favorite music or radio talk show blaring away, where distance is measured by the number of stop lights and road exits you negotiate. Now it seems that distance by bike isn't so much how far it is from A-to-B, but how long it is: 12 minutes to the shop, 21 minutes to the hardware store.

Those two trips have instilled in me the confidence that I can ride a lot further than I had imagined back when I rode my M750 from Papillion to Ralston in order to pickup my van from the sign shop. Now the decision to drive is no longer a matter of miles, but of minutes. Can I, should I, afford the time it takes to ride versus drive for a particular errand? Now it's a matter of personal priorities: my time versus my health. I am hoping that increasingly it will be the latter that matters more.

Posted By: Bill Moore [18-Mar-2016]

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