My weekly summertime chore of cutting the grass was disturbed by a loud whoop from over the front fence. When I looked up, here was my neighbour racing past on his bike. Not so remarkable you might think but I don’t ever recall this happening before. John is not someone you would mistake for an athlete. In fact the only times I’d ever seen him race past my fence he was behind the wheel of his 4×4! Nonetheless here he was cycling up and down the street at some considerable speed. It certainly was worth further investigation.
When I went over he was sitting there astride his bike with a wide grin on his face. “Do you like my new bike?” he asked. “It’s electric! Do you want a shot?” Well how could I refuse and after a few minutes instruction I set off on it. “It’s great”, he said. “You just plug it into the mains to charge it. I’ve been right to the top of Chapel Brae on it without any effort and one charge will get me out to Fraser’s Bridge and back”. His enthusiasm was truly infectious. “And if you want one there are three advertised on Ebay!” he shouted as he disappeared over the horizon still whooping.
Cycling is an activity being promoted by the Cairngorms National Park Authority. It encourages us to get outdoors, it’s healthy and it’s non-polluting. The introduction of electric bikes has extended the appeal and potential of cycling to so many more people by increasing their capability and confidence to go out and cycle beyond the nearest shop. Now we can leave our cars behind and go off on our bikes and explore parts of the Park we would not otherwise see. I’ve just come back from a few days in London where I saw cyclists risking their lives as they weaved through congested streets, gasping for breath in the wake of the exhaust fumes emitted by heavy traffic. Here in the Cairngorms we have the pleasure of taking our bikes out into the countryside where the traffic is still relatively light and the air clean and fresh.
The Cairngorms Electric Bicycle Network is made up of bike hire stations and charging points, plus scenic cycle routes linking beautiful locations with quality places to stay, eat and drink. Bikes can be hired in Aviemore and Newtonmore, at the Smugglers Hostel in Tomintoul and on Deeside from Braemar down to Aboyne.
If you’d like to find out more about hiring electric bikes in the Cairngorms National Park visit www.electricbicyclenetwork.com/cairngorms or contact Mike.Dennison@sustrans.org.uk and who knows, just maybe, like John, you’ll be tempted to invest in one for yourself.
Now I see the sun’s still shining and it looks like a really nice evening. I wonder if John would give me another shot of his bike!