On my birthday last April, it was another sunny spring day in Seattle. I was turning 62, feeling 22, and anxious to ride my electric bike, the EZ Sprint. I’d been riding 10 miles to work and back almost every day for the last 2 years. The ride took me through some congested areas downtown, but put me on a wondrous trail along the Puget Sound. When I rode, I felt on top of the world.
I purchased the electric bike in June of 2015, and it was a beast. It was really heavy, checking in at almost 60 pounds. But it was very comfortable with its upright styling. Its weight added to its stability, and added to my sense of invincibility.
I loved riding bikes as a kid, starting when I won a contest at the Rexall Drugs Store in Silverton, Oregon in the early ’60s. The contest required kids like me to call friends, relatives, and parents’ friends and ask them to vote for me when they went to the store. Whoever got the most votes won a really cool bike, and I was preceded by my brother who won a few years earlier. I felt pressure to repeat his quest, and it was not fun work. My parents sat me down at a table with a corded phone and a long list of people to call. Silverton was small, population 3,000, so we worked through the phone book. “Hi, this is Jimmy Anderson, and I would like to ask you to vote for me in the bicycle contest when you go to Rexall Drugs.” Over and over.
But I won, got a really cool bike, and my love affair with bicycles was further stoked. In the small town, we’d ride around in packs, stopping at Hoyt’s for candy, pop, and weird tubular things floating in big clear jars filled with vinegar, then head back out. We’d stop and chat with friends, all of us standing astraddle over our bicycles, laughing and telling fifth-grader stories.
I didn’t ride much after sixth grade, when we moved from Silverton to a much more urban Eugene, where riding seemed dangerous, and destinations were much further away. I did ride occasionally, and once I rode to a baseball game, proud to be in my little league uniform, only to have some older fellows throw their Slurpee on me as they drove past. Thanks guys.
From then in 1969, it took me until 2008 to resume bicycling, when worked as a physician assistant (PA) at Seattle Children’s Hospital. They had a program providing free, high-end bikes and gear to employees who would ride regularly to work. I jumped at the chance, and I rode about 8 miles each way on a non-electric, commuter-style bike. It was light and moved through the air like silk.
In 2013, I moved to a downtown Seattle clinic, where I still work. The commute was about 10 miles each way, and with a new Manhattan Green 3-speed, I would bike to the bus and then ride from there to work. I rode about 6 miles per day, and it was a good setup.
I’d been fascinated by electric bikes, and wanted to find a way to ride all the way without using the bus. My knees are rotten to the core with osteoarthritis, and this seemed like a great way to keep me on a bike.
I looked around, but it didn’t take long to find the electric bike I wanted in my neighborhood. It was electric, had 7 speeds, and was a pedal-assist type, meaning that when you pedaled it would provide assistance.
At full speed, I would hit around 20 mph, pedaling hard while the electric motor goosed the bike. I could make it from home to work in about 35 minutes, along some of the most beautiful bike trails in the world. Some of the trails were tight and tough going, but once I hit the bike trail, it was all blue sky, blue water, mountain views, and the smell of sea salt.