Not sure if an e-bike is right for you? I was just like you.
When I first heard about electric bikes, I was skeptical, to say the least. You see, I have had, and enjoyed, just about every type of bike during my lifetime. I started with a shiny orange tricycle when I was 2 and it was awesome. I could pedal it really fast and even graduated to riding on the back of it, standing up and pushing it like a scooter. What a rush. Then I got the iconic Schwinn Stringray with the banana seat, tall sissy bar, and red-striped slick on the back. Too cool! Then came BMX racing and I actually converted a bike to a racer before you could buy one. My dad painted a skull and crossbones on it to intimidate the other racers. What a rush! In the pursuit of more speed, I 'borrowed' my brother's cool chopper with the 5-speed shift handle on the dual top tube. That didn't do it for me so, of course, I had a number 10-speeds with the drop handlebars. I even had an 18-speed bike at one point, not to mention the variety of mountain bikes and cruisers, including one with an 1800 cc motor. I figured the motorcycle would be the only 2-wheeler with a motor I would ever ride. I reasoned I would eventually be relegated to some comfort bike in my old age, but there was no way I would be caught dead on an electric bike.
It all started when a friend of mine, who was not a big fitness enthusiast, got an electric bike. This was the first time I had ever heard of such a contraption and I basically stereotyped the bike to meet the physique of my friend. It was a bike for wimps! I figured he only got that bike because he couldn't cut it doing a road ride of any duration, and every time I heard he had gone on a ride to downtown, or through the canyon, I just rolled my eyes and thought, "What a wimp!"
Then my old ‘football knee’ started acting up, and I was forced to play second base on my softball team instead of outfield. But I could still ride my mountain bike like a champ. Next came the hip injury that forced me to move from second base to pitcher as I couldn’t move for squat. What was worse is I could only ride easy trails, which quickly became unchallenging and boring because I didn’t have the strength or endurance to go very far. My high-dollar mountain bike started gathering dust, and soon fell into disrepair when I wasn’t even able to lift my leg to mount my trusty steed.
I started riding my motorcycle more through the mountains to get the fresh-air fix and sense of adventure I needed, because I wasn’t going to get that any more from my bicycle. However, what I also wasn’t getting any more was exercise, but in my condition there wasn’t much more I could do. I couldn’t even ride a stationary bike at the fitness center. I figured this would be my life and I started getting concerned with gaining weight and losing cardio strength.
Well, it only got worse from there as I soon couldn’t even take my dog on long walks. Now was the time for action so I replaced my knee, and 5 weeks later replaced the worn-out hip. During my physical therapy I gauged my progress by my ability to ride the stationary bike, or should I say, to be flexible enough to do a complete revolution with the pedals. It took me a week before I could track around the sprocket, but I progressed quickly and was soon riding the bike for ten minutes before every session. I realized that the best way to get into shape was to get back on a bike, so I started contemplating buying a stationary bike for my house.
My wife found that ridiculous! “We live in a beautiful state with so much to see, why would you want to do your riding in the house?”, she asked. Valid question, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t strong enough to dust off my bike and get back into the saddle again. Her next bright idea was to try out an electric bike. She was so excited for the ride but I put on a brave face and went with the flow. I wasn’t expecting much, but to my surprise that e-bike was awesome. It allowed me to take a 20 mile ride over trails and roads and I was able to push myself when I wanted to, and use the pedal assist and throttle when I needed to. I think I have either become an official wimp, or more likely, a convert to a new way to get, and stay, in shape. If you want to hear how that happened and all the exciting details of my first e-bike experience, stay tuned for the next installment of this blog.