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The Jedi Pedalmaster is a cheater

I hate you Jedi Pedalmaster.

You know who you are. You passed me on my way to work. There I was, the wind in my face pedaling at 17 miles an hour, basking in the smugness of my healthy commute to my sedentary desk job. Thinking of how my 22- to 25-minute ride is really not that much more added time than the 15 minutes it takes in my truck. Not to mention how proud my daughter would be that I am saving the polar ice cap.

OK, maybe I take a few shortcuts through parking lots and take advantage of all the stop signs where I can do a rolling stop, but it is nice to get some early-morning exercise out of the way on these 100-degree days.

Suddenly, a bike passes me on my left. Is it Lance Armstrong? Has he gotten back on the roids!? Phew, it is an electric bike. Well, not exactly ... because his legs are churning the old crankset faster than a speeding bullet. Keeping up with his pedals is probably more accurate. It is a pedal-assist bike, and nothing is more demoralizing to the average blue collar bike rider than that first-glance feeling of someone making you look like the Wicked Witch of the West as they effortlessly fly by you.

Come to think of it, I guess the witch had the ultimate “flying broom assisted” bike, so maybe that wasn’t a good analogy. Passing motorists must think I am in horrible shape.

“Look at that poor guy, must be the first time he has ridden a bike since fifth grade. Well, at least he is trying ... now that other stud, he must be a triathlete!”

Even worse is the stealth bomber approach of that same guy on my way home. I am laboring uphill out of Jacksonville, huffing, puffing; sweat dripping off my chin ... and there he goes again. Whoosh. I am passed going uphill by the Jedi Pedalmaster at roughly the same speed as when he passed me on the flatlands. Not even a pleasantry, or a friendly “meep-meep” as he whisks by, just his elitist relaxed pedaling posture as he rounds the bend and is gone out of sight.

My first impulse is to stand up on the pedals and crank harder, but who am I kidding? I am no match for this road warrior. I curse under my breath as my heart rate and blood pressure rise simultaneously. “This aggression will not stand, man.”

I get home and I walk around the living room ranting to anyone who will listen: “Damn electric bikes, they should be outlawed!” My Australian shepherd cocks his head as if to say, “OK, boomer.” And then he goes back to licking his privates, clearly unimpressed by my rant.

My sympathetic wife says, “Maybe you should look into getting one of those bikes, our friends in Utah really love theirs ... and stop sweating all over the rug!”

“No way! That defeats the purpose of even having a bike,” I indignantly reply. “That guy should be forced to ride with an asterisk on his back, so the world will know that he is not really getting his cardio with full honesty.”

“Like some sort of scarlet letter?” my wife chortles.

“Exactly!” I reply.

“OK, boomer,” She says under her breath.

“Alright, first of all, you are the same age as me. And second, well, there is no second!”

I stomp off, knowing that the bicycle world has been altered forever, and that in all reality the pedal-assist bike is a great idea. Now off I go to google pedal-assist bikes. Preferably the Jedi Pedalmaster model.

A.J. Klott lives in Jacksonville.

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