Life in the Bike Lane, brought to you by Bike Waikato, showcases how bikes fit into the everyday lives of people in the Waikato.
There are many different reasons for someone to ride a bike. Environmental, health, traffic, and economical reasons, to name just a few. But for 62-year-old Georgina O’Brien, e-bikes have helped her, and her family relive their youth.
Georgina’s riding journey started after she retired from a managerial position at Wintec. Following her retirement, a directionless rough patch ensued. Purchasing an e-bike aided Georgina in becoming active again. She said, “Once I got my scooter and my bike it was a bit of a game changer for me.”
She discovered that her e-bike made mobility more accessible. Georgina had been a regular walker but needed to cut back, due to back pain and other health complications. On her Rev Coaster e-bike though, Georgina can go as far as she wants, without the pain.
A social occasion is usually made of Georgina’s rides. She is a regular member of the Hamilton City Council riding group and these weekend rides have helped Georgina discover new bike trails in Hamilton. Finding these trails is something that she values as it has made riding safer and more enjoyable for her.
She rides with her two older sisters Cindy 65, and Faith 69 – also e-bike owners. They make frequent use of the river trail, pit stopping at various cafes together.
“Cindy and I, when the sun is out, we’ll ride. We’ll text and say, let’s meet up.” Georgina said before telling me of the time Cindy and her rode from Hamilton to Ngaruawahia, just to get sponge cake from Sister Six café. Georgina recalled yelling, “I feel like I’m eight!” to her sister because they were having so much fun on their e-bikes together.
Georgina’s 87-year-old mother, Patsy, frequently goes on journeys with her daughter too. Patsy uses a mobility scooter while Georgina follows behind on her e-bike. Normally Patsy does not feel comfortable going far by herself. But, when Georgina is with her, she can “Just go for it, she gets this freedom to go wherever she likes.”
Georgina praises the mobility that e-bikes have given her and her family. She said, “We’re not young birds, that’s what’s so neat.” To celebrate this mobility, Georgina wants to get a photo taken of her sisters, mother, and herself with their different transport devices. She wishes to dispel the myth that using an e-bike is “cheating” instead asking, “If its cheating, how come my legs are sore? It’s the level of mobility that each of us can do.”
To those who are thinking of taking up cycling, Georgina recommends that when purchasing a bike, you go somewhere that has a wide range of different bikes to try. She urges people to not make purchase decisions based upon looks alone. Instead, to try and find something with the features you want that is also comfortable to ride.
For new riders, Georgina believes that riding with a group is an important step to riding safely. They are a good way to gain confidence and learn new routes. She says that without this, “Something could happen and that could put you off for life.”
In the 80’s Georgina rode a black and gold Kawasaki 650z motorbike. Now, she has her fat-tyre e-bike and loves it for the speed and freedom it gives her. She says, “It reminds me of back then, when I was fearless.”
Words and Photos by Benjamin Wilson.
Benjamin is a Hamilton based photographer, chef, and journalism student. As well as being an avid environmentalist and cyclist. He believes firmly that cycling has a big part to play in the future of transport.