E-Bike a revelation

I’ve been riding a 10-Speed bike for many years and enjoy the pursuit immensely. However, at the end of our street I have to pump my bike up an incredibly steep hill before hitting more level terrain. Lately I’d taken to dismounting and pushing my bike up the incline. My knees were beginning to wag a flag of surrender. After all I had to concede, I am a retired senior so feeling joint pain does come with the territory.
Then one morning while reading the local Nanaimo newspaper, I spotted an advertisement placed by a Qualicum store promoting a product called Pedego electric bikes.  “Come see us and take one of our electric bikes out for a test ride. Recapture the fun of being a kid on a bike again – able to go anywhere, forever” their ad declared. I jumped into my van and thirty minutes later was in the store donning a bike helmet and taking an e-bike model called the City Commuter Classic for a spin. Having spent a decade of summers during my youth at my parent’s beach house in Qualicum Beach, I knew where all the really steep streets in the area were located. I had to see if the e-bike could perform as advertised.  What a revelation! The hills I selected melted away as the e-bike zipped effortlessly up every grade. I was sold. There was no way I could leave the store without owning one.

Originally my perception of an e-bike was that it must be like a motorcycle – just climb on and the thing will cart you wherever you want to go, no pedaling necessary. That, it turned out was just ignorance on my part. Electric bikes are normal bicycles that have been built to incorporate the assistance of an electric motor. It’s more accurate to call them electric-assist or pedal-assist bicycles because they do not go unless you pedal them. However, having said that, mine has a throttle that works independently from the pedals when needed. I use it whenever I need to take off quickly from a standing stop such as after waiting for a traffic light.
When I was in Switzerland a couple of years ago with my brother Terry, I noticed that most city public parking garages had more bicycles parked in them than cars. Apparently in many European cities, e-bikes have extended the distances cycled so much that bikes are second only to automobiles in total mileage traveled. The rise of e-bikes as a practical commuting option in Europe is actually eroding sales of cars.  
After getting my new e-bike home aboard my utility trailer, I could hardly wait to take off. However, I had to be patient and wait a few hours to charge the new battery pack. Remember that first hill located at the end of our street? The e-bike charged up the grade like it didn’t even exist. I was onto the Parkway Trail behind the Woodgrove Mall in moments and heading south. Upon reaching Vancouver Island University I took a wrong turn and got a little lost on some unfamiliar side streets. However, my Apple Smart Phone GPS soon bailed me out and guided me through Bowen Park to where I was able to access the E&N bike trail and ride it northward to home.
I had a little fun on this leg of the trail. Pulling up behind three cyclists I indicated I was going to pass them on the left. I then kicked in full battery power and roared past, leaving them far behind. The group caught up with me as I was waiting for a long light change at the Bowen Road and Island Highway intersection. They were flabbergasted and had to know how a senior citizen had left them behind eating his dust. I gave them a technical rundown on the phenomenal capabilities of my new bike and told them where I’d bought it. They all wanted one. I may have given the Qualicum store a few more sales. Perhaps I’d better inquire about receiving a sales commission.
It’s an understatement to say my first extended trip with the bike was awesome. As one bike reviewer I read online put it, “it’s thrilling to add 400 watts of power to the 400 watts your body is already putting out.” Also, whenever I needed to leave the bike trails and travel on city streets, I felt much safer than on my old 10-speed because I can now keep up with the traffic. On hills, I was constantly smiling to myself as I marveled at how little effort it took to climb them.
The following day I decided to do my bit for the environment by ditching the car to do the grocery shopping via my bike. An article I’d read that very morning stated when an e-bike replaces a car, the e-bike offsets 1,550 grams of globe-warming hydrocarbons; 1,460 grams of carbon monoxide; and 770 grams of nitrogen oxides for every 500 miles ridden. Perhaps I should consider voting Green in the next election. Interestingly the only federal running politician at this point in time to knock on our door was the Green candidate for our area – an intelligent young fellow by the name of Paul Manly. I digress.
Bottom line – my new bike has extended my life on two wheels into the future and my knees are thanking me. Riding gives me a sincere connection with the community, venturing into neighborhood areas I’d never bother to go with a car. I am aware that some in the biking fraternity assert that riding an e-bike is not a pure cycling pursuit and fundamentally is lazy. However, the way I see it, it’s my car that breeds laziness, while my new e-bike will have me out riding more than ever.