Turf Blog 29-03-23

Turf Zone – ArnistonBing

After my little rant yesterday about e-bikes, and also about turfers who ride e-bikes, I just cannot bring myself to order one. I just cannot rationalise it inside my head that it’s a good thing, at least for myself. I have two bicycles both custom-built myself. There’s my Surly Ogre, my general-purpose-here-there-and-almost-everywhere bike and there’s also my Surly Pugsley fat bike for anything I cannot ride on the Surly Ogre, such as the sandy beaches and dunes of East Lothian, winter snow in the hills, Southern Uplands tussock-grass peat-bogs and the like. Both bikes have been powder coated and rebuilt in recent weeks. I ride my bikes because I love riding my bikes. I ride them for pleasure, for fitness and simply for fun. Come to think of it, I love my bikes as well, mainly because I built them myself. They are part of the family.

Okay, I’m not against e-bikes, they have their place. Great for commuting to and from work or ferrying your average 1.7 screaming wains to school along with the new bouncing Cock-a-poo, crazy eastern European rescue dog or what seems to be the latest fashion, the snotty snorting Pugley. Oh, and not forgetting the yoga mat. There’s also all those cool cargo e-bikes that are appearing these days. Great for making local deliveries.

I can also see the point if you are returning to cycling, or have reached the wisdom years of life and are perhaps not a fit as you once were. For normal people, like turfers and myself (Normal! Laughs Out Loud) I cannot see the point of making cycling easier. I hear of young lads using e-bikes at Glentress to save time and effort and make it easier. What is the point of going quicker, taking less effort and riding further? Does that not defeat the entire point of cycling in the hills or cross country?

There’s also the fact that I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed with the new £3000 plus electric bicycle. It will come with so-called “normal” derailleur gears and I prefer my good old-fashioned bomb-proof 8-speed IGH (internal geared hub). Then I’ll end up swapping the handlebars because I love my Alpkit Confucius handlebars with my wee Drop Bear handlebar bag. And that means changing the gear and brake levers as well. If I want to fit mudguards, and I surely will because I don’t like a wet arse, I’ll need to change the tyres because there’s not enough clearance with the standard tyres. Then there will be the challenge of finding a frame bag that fits properly. I ask myself, is it worth the hassle, and cost?

I can see that using an e-bike for turfing “might” be a good idea. Yes, you can take more zones in less time and get all those lovely points. Yes, you might be able to produce a cracking Eager Ferret time on the Loanhead Ferret Run. Yes, you can annoy all the other local turfers who don’t have e-bikes. Yes, you might not be as knackered or as sweaty as you might be. But in my mind, it would not be me that’s produced the goods, as it were.

It feels kind of wrong to me, having an electric motor assist your efforts. Technically, it’s not cheating according to the Law of Turf but I would feel I’m cheating myself. It’s like when you eventually meet the three turfers you saw on the turf app and are surprised there’s actually only two of them. One is carrying the mobile phone with the turf app running for a child/friend/granny or whoever. Cheating in other words. Sorry, e-bikes for turfing just seems wrong, for myself anyway.

And, because I custom-built both the Surly Ogre and Surly Pugsley, I have them exactly as I want them. They are like members of the family. I know every nut and bolt. I know where every ding and bent came from. I know they will not, and never have, let me down, and they are both over 10-years old. Actually, I would feel guilty using an e-bike with Ogre and Pugsley languish forlornly in the shed. And besides, I’m not overly keen on the colours and I’m not paying an additional £350 for a custom colour. No, e-bikes are not for me, at least for the moment, or until I change my mind, which might well be tomorrow. Back soon.

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