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The Problem with muggles

The problem with muggles is they don’t like non-muggle things and the people who use them. They are self-righteous in their beliefs and feel it is their duty to denounce the non-muggle.  I’m not talking about wizards and magic, I’m talking about bicycles and the people who ride them.

After getting arthritis in both my feet, and wanting to run my dog, I bought a decent mountain bike. I’m  46, a little overweight, and most of my parts don’t work as well as they used to or even should. Joint problems abound. I live in a mountainous area, and it only took a few times of pushing my bike uphill for me to realize I’m not a cyclist.

One day, I stumbled upon e-bikes and started to do some research. I went to a local e-bike store and found the bike for me—an Origin 8 fat bike with a 350 watt mid-drive electric motor. Instantly fell in love with it. I could peddle up moderate hills at a steady 5 mph and still get a decent workout. I thought I was in the clear in regards to trail riding as federal law classifies a bicycle as a bicycle as long as the motor does not exceed 750 watts (nominal) and does not travel faster than 20 mph on its own power.

Unfortunately, the organizations that maintain trails are under a different authority. Because changing rules to accommodate new technology requires thought, and thinking is hard, they classify an e-bike as a motorcycle. After all, a motor is a motor. Right? No, it’s not. They are confusing motor with engine. There’s a difference.

Muggles claim e-bikes will ruin the cycling experience as riders go flying past them on trails, creating a safety hazard. The reality is that it is HOW you ride, not WHAT you ride, within reason. There are a great many vehicles on the road that are faster and more powerful than my Ranger pickup. Does that mean people with those faster, more powerful vehicles aren’t allowed on the road? Of course not. It’s not reasonable as long as the vehicle is not so outrageous that it is in another class. You certainly wouldn’t want stock cars and dragsters on the freeway. Enter my story from just yesterday. When it comes to bicycles, once gravity takes over, all other considerations go out the window.

As it happens, the trail I chose that day DID allow motorized vehicles. There was a couple, a man and woman, who took off on their muggle bikes a minute or two ahead of me. Shortly after starting out, I came upon the woman who had stalled out on a long hill where she had to get off and push her muggle bike over a small stream.

I went past her without issue and pedaled up the hill on my e-bike at my standard 5 mph. No problems yet, right? Several minutes later, I glance back and she is behind me! Holy crap I’m slow. Myth about blazing fast e-bikes scorching the mountain trails busted. I move off to the side to let her pass, she thanks me for my consideration, and everyone continues to have an enjoyable ride. Right?

She finally catches up to her man about a mile up. They are stopped on the side of the trail and I keep going past them. Still no problems. Minutes later, they pass by me again. A short time later, I find them both stopped as they take a break by the stream. My dog and I pass them once more. I stop a little ways ahead (I swear this story is going somewhere. Stay with me!) so Mojo (my dog) can get some water. The man passes by me without a problem, but Mojo climbs up the embankment just as the woman comes upon me and gets in her way, forcing her to dismount as I call him back to me.

A minor irritant. It happens. At the 2.5 mile mark, they have stopped once more and I ride past. At 2.7 miles I decide it’s time to turn back. Shortly after turning back, I pass the man, who says nothing. Seconds later, I meet the woman. I pull off to let her pass, and as she does, she says, “Are e-bikes allowed on this trail?” Maybe this was just a simple question, but I’m an old hat at passive aggressive banter, and this reeked of it. Why bother to ask? What if it wasn’t? It was, so I had not just the moral high-ground but the legal high-ground as well. My riding an e-bike had NO bearing on her ability to safely enjoy her ride. It was the fact that I was riding something “magical,” something different that she and other muggle cyclist have deemed intolerable.

This is the self-righteousness of muggles. This is my point. I

wasn’t breaking the rules that day, and I don’t consider myself breaking the rules on other days. To me, it is a matter of the rule being broken and not ME that is technically breaking it. Would she have complained had I been a fat old man on a muggle bike getting in her way? My speeds and riding would have been the same. E-bikes get more people off the couch, out of their cars, and into nature, and the more people who are out enjoying nature, the more people we have willing to protect it.

 

This muggle self-righteousness exists beyond cycling. It is in our politics and religion. “Their methods and ideas are different than mine and must be denounced and destroyed even if it isn’t a threat to me!” That’s the mind of a muggle. It’s not what happens but who does it. Muggle thinking!

If someone does something in a way that is different than you, even if you don’t approve of it, as long as it isn’t a threat or ACTUALLY makes it impossible for you to enjoy what you’re doing, then let it go. Let them enjoy what they’re doing and you can go on and enjoy what you’re doing. If we could all do this, people wouldn’t be dying in road rage incidents. People wouldn’t make enemies with their neighbors. In short, enjoy your life, and don’t be a muggle.

Brock Deskins
Brock Deskins
Soldier, storyteller, animal lover. I write, hike, and play video games.

7 Comments

  1. Susan Buchanan says:

    I could have seen the point (maybe) if you had blazed past her at 40 mph! But she kept overtaking you!! One of those, think it, don’t say it moments…

  2. Rohen Kapur says:

    My first epithet can’t be published. What concern is it of hers?

  3. Great post, my name is ron spinabella and i run a great blog and twitter account. I’m going to repost it for my followers.

  4. rbmnri.com says:

    What are the technical differences between a regular bike and an electric one?

    • Beyond the motor? The only real difference in my mind is if someone is riding a 1000 watt+ bike that can motor up trails without pedaling. My 350 watt requires me to pedal just like anyone else and isn’t going to cause safety issues. That’s my guess anyway. It’s mostly a mental/ego thing for regular bike riders. It’s different so they don’t like it.

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