The Modern Joy of Movement
City to Coast via E-Bike
By Brad Hammonds
The wind is sooner in your hair. Those familiar feelings of speed and inertia are both present, but with an added ease to accompany them. You float, freely along, without the efforts your body remembers or expects. It’s a new, and altogether quite wonderful experience.
The journey from Clifton in the north of Bristol to the coast in Clevedon begins on the criss-crossing streets of the inner suburb of South West England’s bustling port city. Not an overly arduous route, riders are quickly greeted with a breezy descent soon after setting out. Of course, even ridden the other way round requires little effort from today’s tech-savvy cyclist.
Driven by a desire to discover, the spirit of freedom, and not to mention, a powerful electric motor, e-bike riders happily share in the timeless feeling of navigating the world atop two tyres, but they do so without the stress or sweat of traditional cycling outings, riding smarter, not harder, and enjoying the journey all-the-more because of it.
From rhythmic, pastel facades to the stone-grey supports of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, we hum along efficiently;
the way out of town grows quieter as traffic thins and country lanes take the place of city streets. Most days, however, the lack of four-wheeled traffic is quickly traded for not-infrequent sightings of fellow cyclists.
The route is a popular one, whether speedily covering the distance on skinny tyres for a couple-hour’s exercise or taking the whole afternoon to enjoy a more leisurely pedal through the rises and falls of the surrounding countryside.
And then there’s the way we choose to roll, experiencing fully the feeling of swiftly moving through space, the only sound the whistling wind and whirring wheels, yet with a fraction of the effort of adventures past. The rise of e-biking has tipped the scales for many cyclists. Whereas most bike outings previously presented a choice between balances, you can go fast, but it will be hard, or you can conserve energy, but only at the cost of time. Electric-assisted riders get to have it all: low effort, high speed, and maximum pedalling pleasure.
It’s the reason that e-bikes have so rapidly grown, not only in popularity, but also in capability. Gone are the days when heavy e-bikes were stuck in the city, never straying too far from charging ports, relegated to worlds of commuting and café runs. Of course, they remain more than capable of navigating the ins and outs of urban living, but modern, lightweight models now hold so much more potential: potential to change the way in which we ride.
Landscapes grow flatter, journeys shorter, distances not quite so distant. What once felt far and strenuous, becomes near and effortless. Trips that might have worn you out for the remainder of the day become a wake-up activity with which to begin your morning. Perched atop a supportive Brooks saddle, the world at the tip of your tyre tread, simply pick a direction and go.
Signs of small-town life slowly replace rural farmland as the outskirts of Clevedon grow steadily closer. The breeze is stronger now, tinged with a familiar, salty scent.
Not quite noon, and already our electrifying excursion has transported us to a world apart from where we started just a few short hours ago. Winding between hills and homes, past the town’s famed pier and following the seawall, we reach the reason for our ride: a refreshing dip in the brackish waters of the Severn Estuary. Much like cycling, sea bathing on the coast of Clevedon is a tradition that came into its own at the turn of the last century, one which has also changed in form over the ensuing decades yet remains as enjoyable as ever.
The clouds give way in time to dry completely, tucking supplies into our backpack and readying for the return trip to Clifton, a ride whose hills hardly weigh heavily given the boost from a still-full battery. With thoughts to visit again soon and foot pressed to pedal, it’s a promise more easily kept as the motor kicks in. Something to eagerly anticipate the next time the sun and sea come calling.
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