A Depressing Conversation

So I walk into the shop where I purchased my electric bike (EZGreenBikes.com in Dana Point, CA) today, only to hear the proprietor, Robbie, a genuinely fine and decent fellow, tell me he hasn’t sold a single bike this month.  THIS month!  In Southern California, the sun has been out, it’s been very warm, and we are in a drought of the existential variety, and meanwhile, not a single soul has purchased an electric bicycle this month in wealthy, prosperous, Dana effing Point.

I am beside myself.



62 bucks for special bike socks, yeah, right.

This is how bad it has gotten in the world of bicycle marketing:  special socks just for cycling (wha?) for –ouch– 62 bucks.  Never, ever, in a million years, will I do business with people like these, and I hope you won’t either.

How Not to Get Killed or Seriously Injured on a Bicycle



A Play in One Act



Cast of Characters

Naive Bike Rider (Me): A man in his early 50s, eager to get fit, save money, save fuel, and keep the planet green for other people’s children (since he doesn’t have any).

Committed California Car Person (CCCP) 1: An elegant, dignified, clearly successful, clearly conservative gentleman of 6 feet plus in his mid 40’s, with blue eyes and salt-and pepper hair receding just the right amount, and with a smartphone sticking out of his shirt pocket.

CCCP 2: A pretty, thin, healthy-looking young woman with brown hair and green eyes, who always has a smart phone out and is constantly multitasking

CCCP 3: A fat, balding man in his 30’s with grey, flat eyes, polyester slacks pulled up to his chest, a faux leather racing jacket that says “Porsche” with the Porsche Logo prominently displayed on his lapel, and who also holds a smartphone in his left hand, which also sports a conspicuous wedding ring.  He smells vaguely of Diabetes.

The Office Cafeteria
The present.


Scene 1

SETTING: We are in the cafeteria of the &^%$# Corporation, a prosperous, modern looking gathering place for tech heads and others in the company.  The parking lot, visible outside through tinted windows, is a veritable showroom of gleaming Teutonic engineering: Mercedes, Audi, BMW. You know. The Toyotas, Kias, and Hyundais belong to the “staff,” or simply to employees who moved to California in the past 10 years, and never had a house increase in value a million dollars more than they paid for it, and so never bought a car with “home equity.”

AT RISE: Several people are gathered around a table, including SoCalElectricGuy, and several Committed California Car Persons (CCCP’s).

Me:  I got a new electric bike and I’m so excited because it gets me fit, and it’s fun, and it’s green and it goes fast and I am happy and…

CCCP 1: (interrupts me) Wait, why?  You already drive a perfectly good Toyota Prius.  What is wrong with you? (Phone rings, answers it in the middle of the conversation).

CCCP 2: (looking up from iPhone screen) What? Sorry,  I was texting my girlfriends about tonight.  Did you know Beyonce got her hair done?

CCCP 3: (looks up from smart phone) Bikes may be fun and good for exercise and all that,  but they’re way too slow for me.  I like to go 90 in the fast lane. (swivels gaze toward a very fit young blond woman ) Whoa , Susie’s looking fine today.  (Looks back down at phone while fiddling with wedding ring)

Me: (waits for CCCP 1 to hang up) Well, I know I have a perfectly good car, but not driving it to work is pretty much the point.  You see, the roads are too crowded, and the public transportation stinks around here, and joining a health club is too expensive, the air is filthy, and despite the fracking boom, petroleum is a finite resource.  I thought I might help solve a lot of problems with this one choice I’m making.

Dear readers: Do I need to finish this play for you, or can you write the final acts?



About My Electric Bike

I ride a bicycle 22 miles each way to and from work several days each week.  when the days lengthen out, I intend to do it nearly every day.  So that will be about 200 miles a week, assuming I don’t ride on weekends.

But I cheat a bit.

You see, my bike has a 500 watt electric motor and a gargantuan lithium ion battery pack that together can assist me for the entire distance from home to work ( I am on fumes when I arrive, so I have a charger here to get it ready for the evening’s ride home.  It needs at least 5 hours to get ready, but I always am at the office at least that long).

Some people seem to think that I don’t get any exercise on the electric bike.  Not so:  it’s a hell of a workout, but it’s just that I can go a lot faster than I could on my regular bike, and it makes the long commute doable in both directions.

My research thus far suggests that a suitable electric bike for a long commute costs a minimum of $2000, and you can spend a lot more than that if you want to go crazy.  The Mercedes Smart Bike (about 3,400 US dollars) and the Audi Worthersee (which will set you back a bundle more than the Mercedes) are just a couple of examples.

But my prosaic, mostly Chinese made Verve from EZGreenBikes in Dana Point, CA is thus far just enough but not too much bike for my particular needs: it’s heavy at 60 pounds, but not so heavy I can’t load it on a train, it doesn’t need to be licensed at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and it gets me worked out and to the office without depreciating the value of my auto or costing me fuel dollars.

I like it a lot, the riding, the sun, staying off of the freeway, the breezes, the exercise, and the way it makes me feel when I get to work and back home again.

The tricky part is going to be doing this every day and not getting killed in the process, and that’s the challenge I’ll talk about next time.

Ta for now.

“Many a weekend…


“Many a weekend bicycle rider has had the same unsettling experience: You ask a friend to ride with you along some scenic, low-impact route. You show up wearing shorts, Sambas and a T-shirt, and he shows up dressed for an Olympic time trial. On his torso is a very tight shirt slashed with a half-dozen garish colors and logos irrelevant to him. His helmet, decorated with flames or stripes or both, is equipped with a rearview mirror. A rubber straw dangles around his neck like a fur stole, through which he can drink fluids from a container on his back. And then there are the spandex leg-­enclosures. These have patches of yellow on either flank, giving the impression that your friend is wearing chaps. Yellow-and-black spandex chaps.

All this for a 10-mile ride on a bike path.”

NY Times review of the book “Just  Ride,” by Grant Petersen, a great book about the silly things we ordinary riders do because the bike racing and bike manufacturing industries told us to.