Beware, bike paths of Canberra. I’m a mobile fatster, now. A ticked-off, fast-moving, grumpy fatster on wheels.
I have gone and bought a new bike. A new, special bike. An e-bike, to be specific. A bike with a battery. A battery that makes it go faster. And allows me to make decent progress, including up hills, without my spine deciding to bail on me and leaping out my ears and making a run for it.
My lovely new bike, known henceforth as The Yabbie*, is the ultimate environment-friendly transport for the Person With Chronic Pain/Disease On the Move. It’s a ‘step-through’, meaning I have a reasonable chance of being able to get on it in the mornings, and don’t end up hopping down the street like Jimmy Edwards in The Plank.
The Yabster is also relatively light (for an e-bike), so if I drop it I can pick it up, even on a rough day. And it folds up and fits easily into a car, so if I get too fatigued and flake out, I can get the Captain to collect me.
My plan is to use the Yabbie to get too and from work, and do my bits of shopping. It is enormously enjoyable, so I have been riding it just for fun, too.
At the moment I am developing my bike muscles (and my saddle-bum). It’s not a free ride: I still have to use my muscles and energy and can get a great workout if I wish. It just gives me a bit more speed and enough of a boost up the hills to avoid back injuries and not kick off pain flares.
Perhaps in time I will get so used to it that we can get rid of one of our cars. The Yabbie is obviously very inexpensive to run compared to a car, as it doesn’t require registration or petrol; and it’s far better for the environment. I provide most of the power, and the rest comes from the battery which is recharged from home (which means it is essentially solar-powered).
The first time I rode it to work for real, I found it so exhilarating that I probably grinned like a weirdo the whole way.
I did learn a few important lessons. Firstly, it’s a bad idea to zip up your backpack so the zipper pulls are at the top. It turns out that the vibrations gradually shake the zipper undone. And all of your bits and pieces fall out. And if, say, you’re seeing how fast you can get on a nice flat bit, and you have just hit 30km/hour, your personal items spread out along the bike path for quite some distance.
But it’s okay, some nice women on their bikes stopped to make sure I was okay and help me pick up my gear. And that was when I learned the second important lesson: avoid LWs.
I’d been warned about Lycra Warriors, a.k.a Boy Racers. People (especially of the male persuasion), who dress in tight lycra cycling gear and bug-eyed glasses, and who race along roads, bike paths and public footpaths as though they were in some extreme cycle race, and who stop for nobody and no road rules. ‘Watch out for them,’ I was warned.**
Well, myself and the kind women had just about cleared the bike path of most of my belongings when along comes a Lycra Warrior, heading the other way.
I wasn’t duly worried, as his path was basically clear, when he suddenly swerved to the wrong side. Not to avoid anything, but to deliberately run over my reading glasses, which were at the edge of the path, in their case.
My specs went flying one way and the case, another, and the LW rushed by us as though nothing had happened. The kind women and I turned to one another, eyebrows raised and hands on hips.
‘Did you see that?’ ‘That was deliberate.’ ‘Rude!’ ‘Scoundrel!’*** we all said to one another. Then I retrieved my glasses, and luckily they were fine. But the case has definitely seen better days, and has entirely lost its spring.
Seen better days
I went on my merry way, not too upset because I had been warned after all, and my glasses were okay, and the kindness of those women diluted all the ickiness quite nicely.
But when I mentioned the occurrence to several people with plenty of previous experience, the picture became clear. You see, the greatest natural enemy of the LW, it seems, is the Unashamed Fat Woman On An E-bike.
The attempted reading glasses murder was by way of my punishment, for being out in public fatting all over the bike paths, being an older unattractive female, and having the temerity to take my Big Fat Cheating E-bike out onto the public paths that should belong only to the fit, hot and slender.
And may I admit, that knowledge has given me the most tremendous surge of self-confidence, like you wouldn’t believe?
It’s the power, you see, to annoy by my very presence. My visibility, being all fat and disabled and female and stuff, is evidently quite the potent social and political statement.
I have a new super-power. The Power of Visibility. Yes, the exact opposite of my other super-power, but it certainly has an impact. Otherwise mild-mannered (heh) LWs are driven to frothing rage by my mere existence in their line of vision. Perhaps I ruin their days.
I do hope so.
By extension, it seems that many other people on the paths are pleased by the sight of a colourfully-dressed fat woman bearing down on them with a cheerful ‘morning!’ as they move past on the right on a ticking e-bike.
I have had far more smiles, waves and nods from fellow cyclists and pedestrians than I have had bad experiences with LWs.
I’ve heard teenaged boys mutter ‘Cool e-bike!’ to me as I whizz by happily, seen flocks of grazing parrots, felt the wind on my face, felt my mind unwind as I ride home after work. I’ve avoided parking hassles, rude drivers and scary near-misses at that one infernal intersection where people so frequently seem to forget to give way to three lanes of fast-moving traffic.
Now all I have to do is get to the stage that I can ride more often than I drive. So far, increased pain, bad weather ****, random illness and more distant commitments have prevented me from riding more than once per week.
As I develop my bike muscles (and bike arse) and the weather moves from Merciless Sun’s Anvil into Mellow Autumn, I expect to see more of the Yabbie and less of the inside of my car.
Also I have ordered some decent bike panniers, minimising the risk of my poor glasses being run over again!
Fast-moving, visible and coming to a bike path near you …
* Or, as the Captain prefers, Cherax destructor.
** Obviously not referring to every Lycra-clad male cyclist, as many are perfectly pleasant and blameless. Just the very rude ones who don’t believe in road rules, common manners or other people. You definitely know to whom I refer …
*** Perhaps we didn’t use that exact word.
**** Many keen cyclists will ride in rain, hail or disgusting heat. And I wish them well. As it turns out, e-bikes don’t particularly like very heavy rain (all those electrical connections), and I don’t particularly like collapsing from heat exhaustion. The Yabbie and I are fair-weather friends.