This summer I bought an electric bike, and it’s opened up a whole new world for me.
My interest in these zippy bikes came out of frustration that I couldn’t keep up with our cycling friends. This isn’t a problem for my husband, a very strong rider, but for me, I was always lagging behind.
A dear couple in our bike group, Jim and Pat Harrington, each bought electric bikes. They are both really fit and athletic, having skied for years, and cycled all over Europe. But they’d started to slow down, and decided to try electric bikes. They showed me their sleek new purchases, and they didn’t look much different than a regular road bike. Now my interest was really piqued.
I heard from them about an electric bike expo that was taking place at the Southcenter Mall in July. Here was a chance to try out the bikes in a safely enclosed area. The expo was rockin’ on the day we arrived. There were tents in the parking lot filled with all brands of shiny electric bikes, and friendly salespeople. All I had to do was put on a helmet, choose a bike I was interested in, and ride into an enclosed section of the parking lot.
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The first thing I noticed was how much I was smiling! This was easy. The power of the bike motor made handling the bike a breeze. The course had a built-in hill, so I could try out the different power levels (torques) the bike offered. Round and round I went, grinning, shifting gears, and changing the torque. Now I knew I wanted an e-bike! It was just a matter of choosing the right one.
After shopping around, I settled on a Felt 95 Sport electric bike, from Seattle Electric Bike, in Ballard. It’s the same shop where the Harringtons went, and the same brand they had purchased. I’m so grateful to Pat and Jim for powering me through my inertia with their kind encouragement.
The bike has gears just like a regular road bike, plus it has a motor that assists you when you pedal. You can choose how much assistance you need, ranging from the lowest level, “economy” to the highest, “turbo.”
On my first ride with our cycling friends I decided to see if I could keep up with the leaders. It took quite a bit of effort, even with the new bike, but I was able to do it. When I saw a hill up ahead, my heart didn’t sink, as it used to, and I didn’t say to myself, “well this will put me way behind.”
As I peddled up hills and my strength ebbed, I just kicked the power button up a notch and felt a joyful boost of energy. If I had to stop for a quick snack and fell behind, I could put the power button on “turbo,” and catch up.
On subsequent longer rides I noticed another advantage of the electric bike. On any cycling trip people are spread out and going at different paces. Now I could zoom ahead and chat with the speediest riders, or slow down and chat with folks who were further back. Talk about mobile sociability!
On a recent four-day cycling trip in Hood River, I rode further and gained more elevation than I have ever achieved before. So even though I’m getting an assist, I’m riding more. You can’t beat that.
One of the best parts of my newfound freedom is the encouragement I’ve received from everyone. Some folks even tell me that they see e-bikes in their future.
Reach Mary Magee at firstname.lastname@example.org.