For many, riding a bike means freedom. Except when trying to wobble up the Eiger-like Porthmeor Hill, thighs on fire, gasping for air, before deciding it’s best to dismount and take the looks of pity from passing motorists instead.
Thankfully such shame can now be banished at St Ives eBikes Hire who have just opened this April at the top of said steep hill. Choose from a brand spanking new fleet of German-made, Cube hybrid, and electric touring bikes, with a range of up to 50 miles if using the battery cautiously, the Lands End peninsula can now be conquered on two wheels with comparative ease.
Lycra or not, the climb out of St Ives on Higher Stennack can be a grind at the best of times but no bother, pop the eBike battery into ‘eco’ and it feels as though a benevolent hand is pushing you uphill. Turn right at Consols and you’re on the Coast Road to Zennor. Still a long and gradual ascent so let the battery do the work. Instead of grimacing at the tarmac, take in the stunning panorama of ancient fields tumbling down to the wild Atlantic blue as you pop over the brow at Rosewall Hill.
A ribbon of tarmac through the gorse and bracken, the open road beckons you further. The North Coastal road is actually better suited to bikes than cars with hedgerows and blind turns that dictate the rare sight of a motorist can only proceed at significantly reduced speed.
Peddling passed the former clifftop home of St Ives artist Patrick Heron and an exhilarating downhill whoosh!!! into Zennor where you can pitstop for a Moomaid ice-cream or liquid refreshment at the Tinners Arms.
On a bike, you feel part of the beautiful scenery rather than just passing through it behind a windscreen. Although I once went out on a regular bike with the noble intention of riding all the way to Cape Cornwall but by the time I arrived my legs had turned to jelly. My wife had to come and rescue me in the car. The revelation of riding an eBike is that furthermore unspoilt places now are suddenly within reach.
Near the Gurnards Head pub, I exchange admiring glances with a field of cows. Whizzing past the ruins of Carn Galver tin mine to my right, Bronze Age stone monument Men-an-Tol to my left; it doesn’t get more Cornish than this! On the outskirts of St Just the imposing Nancherrow Hill is a magic carpet, upward glide, courtesy of the eBike ‘Turbo’ setting. Headwinds and your weight can make a big difference to the battery’s range, so turn it off when going downhill and it feels exactly the same as riding a regular bike.
Peddle power purists might consider eBikes as converting to the dark side but anyone who prefers the burning leg torture up the seemingly vertical St Buryan Hill hairpin near the Minack Theatre over the grinning, lithium battery effortlessness of an eBike in ‘sport’ mode is the same killjoy who would put a fruit pastel in their mouth and not chew it just to prove a point.
The aroma of freshly roasted coffee cuts through farmyard smells and I follow it to the Lands End Coffee Company located in a converted shipping container next to a campsite. An exquisitely made cappuccino is enjoyed along with a homemade chocolate brownie that probably reversed all the calories burned so far. There’s only one thing left to do once you’ve eBiked to the end of the country and that’s eBike back to St Ives. But this time barring a flat battery or tyre I won’t need my wife to come and get me.