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“This bike has totally changed my transport behaviour”

Arne Heger is a freelance wedding and funeral speaker. By chance, he came across Riese & Müller E-Bikes on a camping holiday and, on a whim, opted to switch to the Supercharger2 as a work bike in the autumn of 2019. Since then, he has over 1,300 km on the speedometer – and has had so many experiences and adventures with the bike. He talks to us in an interview about his transition from car to E-Bike, his day-to-day working life with the Supercharger2, and the new opportunities that the E-Bike has opened up as a mode of transport.

1. Arne, you were a radio journalist for over 20 years and now work as a freelance wedding and funeral speaker. Isn’t that a strange combination? How did your current job come about?

It was a coincidence. Words are my medium as a radio person. When my father died some eleven years ago, I gave a personal eulogy as part of the funeral service. The undertaker then approached me and asked whether I could imagine doing that for other people. The thought never left me and shortly before my 40th birthday I started reading books, talking to a friend who is an undertaker and ultimately looking over the shoulder of another funeral speaker. Shortly after that I had my first funeral service: there were around 120 guests at the funeral, and I was very nervous. At the end, an old lady said very loudly in the quiet chapel: “Wasn’t he a great speaker!” Wow, I thought, I’ll continue doing this.

It’s now been 6 years and I’ve realised that people don’t always cry around me: we share a lot of smiles, grins and even hearty laughs. There is a similar range of emotions at weddings as well: crying and laughing within solemn but not formal surroundings. Both mean working with and for people in special situations, and I love that!

2. Are there particular experiences and situations you like looking back on?

A whole host of them, because the wedding couples and bereaved families are very open to me and entrust very personal things to me. That alone is very special. Of course, there are moments in wedding or funeral ceremonies that were extraordinary and that I think back to every now and then. But, in reality, it is usually the little moments of confidence in our personal conversations that touch me and that I like remembering.

3. You have been the proud owner of a Riese & Müller Supercharger2 for some months. How did this come about and what do you use it for?

Once again, this was a coincidence. I was unhappy with my body, with all the sitting at desks and in my car. When we were on holiday in the Dolomites, our neighbours at a camp site had Riese and Müller bikes, which I thought were terrific and so I did some research when I got home. Then the Supercharger2 was exhibited at the trade fair. From then on, I devoured everything I could about the bike and it quickly became clear: OK, this is the right bike for me. So I ordered it and then began an edgy time of waiting in anticipation – a rare experience today. The bike was delivered two weeks ahead of schedule and I was over the moon.

First and foremost, the Supercharger2 is the work bike on which I ride to bereavement talks. Of course, I also use it to go shopping, take the children to school and nursery or sometimes go out on fun cycling trips with my family. The bike really has totally changed my transport behaviour within a short time.

4. How easy was the transition from car to E-Bike? Has anything annoyed you?

I wanted to make this switch and I also planned to ride in all weathers. So far, I have managed to do so, as it is really not a problem with the right clothing. Of course, some things have annoyed me. But they had nothing to do with the bike or cycling, but more to do with the behaviour of some car drivers: minimal distance when overtaking, cars on cycle lanes. And the condition of many sections of cycle lanes is really deplorable, which I really notice.

5. How many kilometres have you ridden on your Supercharger2 since you got it? Do you travel more or less than in your car?

I have ridden 1,300 kilometres on the bike from mid-November up to now, in wind or rain and in temperatures around freezing. I actually only use the car now when I cannot do the trip on my bike, for instance if I need to carry my sound equipment to weddings or funerals. A Load or a different cargo bike would have been ideal, but I wouldn’t have been able to carry it into my basement. That’s why that really wasn’t an option for me.

6. You generally need to wear a suit as a wedding and funeral speaker. Was that not a reason against getting an E-Bike at the outset?

No, absolutely not. I wanted to bring about a change to my everyday life and so I find ways – even if some things need to happen differently now.

7. And what do you do if it rains?

Then I simply put on rain trousers and a rain jacket over my clothes, of course in a friendly black... ;-) Besides, I’ve started wearing dark jeans, a shirt and pullover to funerals, which also fit under the rain wear in inclement weather. Otherwise, I roll up my suit, put it into the saddle bag and get changed somewhere outside shortly beforehand – but obviously only if it’s dry. I’ve always been an “outdoor” kind of person; you can always find a spot to change your clothes.

8. Does the E-Bike offer you possibilities that were not feasible with a car as your main mode of transport?

There are so many little things: I get more exercise and am passively sitting around less. I don’t have any parking problems and can travel right to my destination. I am becoming more ambitious and am also riding distances of 60-80 kilometres by bike for my job. However, that only works if the appointments on either side permit this in terms of time. I am getting to know new routes and rural areas and, of course, experience them very differently, with far more senses, than if I had been in the car.  I am constantly having brief but really nice conversations with total strangers at traffic lights or when shopping, which is really cool. And yes, in bad weather, I have great fun signalling to the pitying looks of car drivers that I enjoy doing this and that everything is OK.

9. What will you definitely not miss about your professional life with a car?

Idle time in commuter traffic and the excessive looking around for a parking space.

10. In one word: what does your E-Bike mean for you?