Hard to believe that nearly two years ago I was dead set against ever purchasing an e-bike. Me, the mostly frugal individual that I am, would never spend more money when I already had a fine bike to both get to work on and get out for exercise. In fact, back then other earlier than I adopters would pass me by e-bike as I climbed Terwilliger to get to work on my basic road bike model, and I’d cynically tell myself I was the one working hard and getting exercise, as I sweated and huffed. That is…until I tried one and ascended some of West Linn’s steepest hills. My biggest takeaway that day? This is so much fun!!!
Now, at nearly two years into riding my Giant LaFree e+2 (thanks Cynergy E-bikes!) I have entirely changed my tune. I didn’t understand how much having an e-bike would add to the enjoyment of parts of my life that were, rather, well…boring. I didn’t understand how much it would reduce my carbon footprint. I didn’t understand that even if I didn’t work quite as hard during each outing as I might with a standard bike, I would ride so very much more, likely getting more exercise overall.
A few examples:
- This week I have ridden my bike to my two days at the office (total mileage: 26 miles/round trip = 52 miles). (Yay…finally!) Probably the biggest motivator to actually return to the office instead of telework, now that it is allowed, is the opportunity to reclaim my commute. If I didn’t ride my bike I’d be taking Tri-Met, so for me it is less of a reduction of my own personal carbon footprint here, but for others who might drive, this is a big one!
- Today I rode to a meeting in nearby Oregon City (total mileage 4 x 2= 8 miles plus a few extra thrown in because it felt so great to ride!) Yes, I would have driven otherwise to this.
- This weekend I plan to ride to the public library and likely circle to the grocery store for a few things. I won’t put in the mileage because I’m sure I’ll have to swing around to my favorite river spots at the Cedaroak Boat Landing and Willamette Park. Yes, these two errands would certainly otherwise be by car, especially knowing I’d be carrying both books and groceries up the steep hills leading home.
- Recently I biked to Riverview Cemetery, using my bike to go between headstones of my ancestors and to visit with a friend at a local pub. Both trips would have otherwise been by car.
Earlier in the pandemic when I wasn’t commuting to work, my e-bike got me out for an hour or two, and delivered me to spaces that fill me with hope and beauty, whether it be adjacent to the Willamette or Tualatin, or in the heart of forested space, all close to this suburb of Portland. Prior to that, before Mom moved in with me, it allowed me to visit her without touching my car. And now? Back to work some of the time, off to the Farmer’s Market or river or beyond.
Although I blogged earlier about the e-bike (see About that e-bike and Ditching the cross bar and Pedaling between headstones) – sharing my not-very-good-vocal version of “I’m in Heaven” while riding uphill in the first – I have come up with a few additional insights.
- I have further concluded that I would not invest in an e-bike if I didn’t live and ride in such hilly spaces. The exception is if I were differently-abled or had medical challenges to need battery power for extra help.
- I would not invest in an e-bike if I was uncomfortable being on the road with cars unless I lived in a place with complete access to separated trail or lane systems. While I continue to lobby and hope for improved bicycle friendly roads and trails, it isn’t coming anytime soon to some of the areas I need or choose to travel through.
- Paying attention to the rules of the road are as just as important when your bike is electric. Just yesterday an e-biker (without an helmet!) came uphill toward me in my bike lane as I quickly descended, cars traveled in both lanes of the road. Yes, I did yell at him, and as he veered into the lane of traffic to avoid me, I’m not sure if his expression was one of ignorance or scorn. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – cyclists who ignore traffic laws and etiquette give all of us a bad name.
- I am careful with my speed when I am on shared trail systems, or when approaching another cyclist. To the more-serious-than-me cyclist I usually say, “Yep, sorry I’m cheating,” followed quickly by, “but I love it!”
- E-bikes are expensive and not something that everyone can afford. Many commute by bike because they have few other options and may not be able to invest in one. I’d love to see employers and other programs offer incentives and discounts to assist those who will benefit from access to an e-bike. Similarly, not to be mean, but I have been appalled by seeing young kids on Class 2 E-bikes (those with throttles that don’t require you to pedal). Not to sound old-fashioned but that just doesn’t seem right to me.
- The only mechanical work I’ve needed to do yet is replace brake pads and brake rotors – not particularly surprising giving the hills I climb and descend. Bike stores have been very popular during the pandemic and we can feel good that even more people have discovered the joy of cycling, whether traditional or electric bike. Because of that, though, getting bikes serviced, at least in the Portland area, requires ample patience. I was thrilled to discover a local West Linn mechanic who works on your bike at your home and am pleased to give a shout out to The Bikeologist – thank you Eric! He works on both traditional and electric bikes and carries years of mechanical experience.
There you have it! At least until I have a few new thoughts to share. Oh, and for the record (especially to my friends Paul and Brian) – I have recently ridden my non-electrical road bike. I only grumbled when it was time to go up hill. I promise.
Check out my other blogs about e-biking:
Check out Dede’s published books.