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“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like.” – Queen
I was in Beverly Hills the other day and I saw something that’s bothered me from it’s inception, probably back to 2001. I’m not sure why it bothers me. Hell, I’m an American. I believe everyone is free to do what the hell they want. And I’ll never change that belief. But for some odd reason, I’m bothered by the Segway. For the uninitiated, let me tell you what the Segway is. It’s a two-wheeled balancing device meant to be a portable conveyance. In other words, it’s literally for people too effing lazy to walk. Wait a minute, I just figured out why it bothers me. Let’s face it, there are people in wheelchairs who would give their eye teeth to be able to take one step. Yet here we are with perfectly capable people who can’t be bothered with the simple task of walking. Oh, I’ve seen these devices around. They’re quite popular with mall cops and people who work in warehouses…and generally people who have occupations that require their name to be on their shirt. I told you that to tell you this. There is a motorized vehicle that I do like. It’s been around for a long time and it comes in different forms. What am I talking about? Motorized bicycles. You may ask yourself why a guy who’s telling me to save gas and fat push a motorized bicycle. Isn’t that the bicycle version of the segway? No, it’s not. Here’s the difference. First, the motorized bikes I’m talking about have electric motors. There are gas engines that can be put on to convert it, but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the electric bike. When I first started seeing these a few years ago, I had the same problem with it as I have with the Segway. After all, isn’t the whole point to get exercise? Then something interesting happened one day as I was coming over the Santa Susana Pass, leaving Simi Valley. A guy caught up with me and passed me on the up-hill. He was wearing slacks and a shirt and he had panniers on his bike. As he passed me, I noticed he wasn’t sweating. Then I noticed something else. There were two big square batteries on the bike. I caught up with him about three miles later on the Woodland Hills side of the valley. I asked him why he chose to buy a bike with an electric motor. As the two of us pedaled along, he gave an answer I wasn’t expecting. He said he bought it to get in shape. He also told me he had lost 35 pounds since starting the regimen on his bike. He saw the quizzical look on my face. I told him about my Web site and the mission that I’m on. I also asked him how a motorized bike helped him lose weight. He said it was simple. The Santa Susana Pass was the only thing stopping him from commuting to work every day on his bike. The hill was too difficult. With the bike he was able to ride the seven miles to the pass, use the assistance of the electric motor to get up the pass, then ride the three miles into work. He then repeated the same thing on the way home. I asked him how long it took to lose the extra 35 pounds. He said less than a year. Then he said something else. He said, “You know, it wasn’t even about the weight loss. I’m physically fit for the first time in my life.” I asked how he could tell. He said a physical showed his blood pressure was down. “The doctor literally said my blood looks younger.” Then he lowered his glasses and winked when he said,”My wife likes the benefits too.” We parted ways a few blocks later. I had gained a new-found respect for the electric bike.