Electric cars

The silence of electric cars presents a new danger for cyclists

Before the rain fell and silenced the lambs, there were moments on the road bike this week that gently tapped into a sixth sense, that slight somewhere else between sight, hearing and smell.

If you believe Werner Herzog, the only way to travel for real is on foot. Herzog was in conversation with The New Yorker in the recent issue, barely 5,800 words or so, like they do, and somewhere later he starts talking about living outside of fashionable trends.

“I create my own view of the world from the knowledge I gain from the world itself,” he says. “When you travel on foot, for example – and I’m not talking about backpacking or hiking, I mean, for example, traveling on foot from Munich to Paris – you are given a view of the world, a different view or outside the average knowledge.

“I have a saying, ‘the world reveals itself to those who travel on foot’, I don’t want to explain it further.”

The quiet electric car presents a potential new hazard for road cyclists.

It’s not easy to explain, only understandable, even if not everyone can walk from Munich to Paris, or experience the kind of kinship that Herzog shared with Bruce Chatwin. The foot travel part is also consistent with the near second of road biking, or motorcycling for that matter, always different insight or outside of the average acquaintance.

Morning or evening, when the wind is at your back, it could be either, and Robert Pirsig was on that at the start of his 424-page Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, printed in 1974. after five years of rejection by 121 publishers (a record, apparently), shrunk by about 800,000 words, before selling over five million copies, still one of the most widely read philosophy books of our time .

Pirsig distinguishes the simple art of moving quickly over open ground to make you more “aware of things and meditate on them”, and especially if you are not in a hurry. “In a car, you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it, you don’t realize that through that car window, all you see is just a bit more television. You are a passive observer and everything moves boringly in a frame. . . On one cycle, the frame is gone. You are completely in touch with all of this. You’re in the scene, not just looking at it, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.

Whether you see it as gorse or gorse or even broom, the yellow blossom’s sweet coconut milk scent is always strongest at this time of year, a sense of presence that can be overwhelming, and we we often swear we can still feel it in bed.

This is another one of the marginal gains of the road bike experience as described by Ernest Hemingway, where “you learn the contours of a country better, because you have to sweat up the hills and down them.” So you remember them as they really are, while in an automobile only a high hill impresses you, and you don’t have such a precise memory of the country you passed through that you gain by riding bike.

Over the years I’ve driven and cycled every mile of road through the mountains of Dublin and Wicklow to find out that keeping a 1.5 meter distance between the driver and The cyclist. Sometimes it takes a kind of sixth sense to know exactly where you are, as a driver or driver, and there’s one in between, like it’s a two-way street in the same direction.


An old friend from across the mountain called during the week for a covenant rehearsal and there was no notice, even when he was at the door. That’s because he drives the beautifully quiet all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 and if you don’t see it coming, you sure as hell don’t hear it.

It could be the road cyclist’s new enemy, that more pronounced silence when an all-electric vehicle approaches you from behind and begins the overtaking process. In my recent experience the old Range Rover Sport was preferable as there was no uncertainty about what was to come, and the need and desire to stay inside as it is the driver’s duty .

When Ford launched its all-electric new Mustang Mach-E last year, he described the extensive efforts to digitally produce the perfect engine sound, experimenting with recordings of electric guitars, race car engine sounds from Formula E and the treble buzz. – high voltage power lines. The way it works is you hit a button that engages unbridled mode, so the next time you hit the throttle there’s the throaty, properly electric old roar of a spaceship taking off.

It may not be a mandatory mode, but there’s value in that old engine noise that doesn’t require a sixth sense to know it’s coming, whether alone or in a group. There’s also some value in those cryptic finger drills the driver sometimes does to the driver in the back, at least a sign they know you’re coming.

If you’ve ever followed a Grand Tour like the Giro d’Italia which finished the first stage from Budapest on the climb to Visegrad on Friday evening, you know that the noise of the peloton is the first thing you hear, even before you get to them. see coming. Mathieu van der Poel also made some noise by beating Biniam Girmay on the line, the Eritrean rider who came close to becoming the first African rider to win a Grand Tour stage.

At just 22, Girmay is one of three African riders, all from Eritrea, to take part in the Giro this year. Van der Poel is in pink for now, although it’s a long drive to Verona on May 29, 3,410.3km to be exact.

For the lone cyclist at this time of year, gently tapping into a sixth sense is the only way to know the distance to the car behind you is now close, especially if it’s fully electric and out of the gate.