The eBike market is growing like crazy. It seems like all the bicycle companies are trying to find their place in this new bionic bicycle market. eBikes come in all sizes and types. Some even have a throttle, although those are not my favorite. The ones that I will be referring to here are the pedal assist types. When you pedal, the bike can add wattage with a small electric drive that is powered by a rechargeable battery. Most of these pedal-assist bikes come with a wired speed button with three levels of power. The lower power setting lasts longer than the higher power setting.
This all brings up a new ethics controversy. Some folks don't like to see eBikes on the same trail as regular “push” bikes, or on bike rides where eBikes are concealed and ride within the event. Strava is also trying to sort out where these bikes might be setting faster Strava segments. So it seems like eBikes are earning a reputation for electrical enhancements. I wonder if they should all come with a soundtrack from “The Six Million Dollar Man”, a TV show from the 70s, that plays very loudly when the electric motor is deployed. Recently I found a new way to look at these electronic marvels.
Hard to tell this has a battery and motor.
As I approach the 60th year of my existence, I have tried to be more healthy than ever before. Getting lots of sleep, eating very healthy, checking my weight weekly, and most important seeing my doctor for annual physicals. My health data has become a personal challenge that I focus on year round. Like most of us in the sport of cycling, I take pride in my low resting heart rate and my six hour rides.
I did, that is, until this one time at cycling camp. We had just finished a huge, hilly, humid and hot 80 mile ride in July over Roan Mountain. That evening I lay in bed with a worried expression. My heart was skipping every fourth beat. My wife has a masters degree in exercise science and is a former cardiac rehab specialist, and she was concerned about it, too. That event happened in my early 50’s. I took it seriously and went to my doctor. Luckily for me, I ride with a fella that is a heart plumber, he agreed to check me out. Being a keen cyclist, he understood how this would be a metal block for me until I could sort it out.
At age 55, I stopped drinking alcohol. I started eating even more healthy, even rationing my caffeine. My cardiologist suggested that I try and not red line my heart so much. He suggested I keep my heart rate below 140bpm. Wow. That hit me. I used to train in the 150’s for hours and hours on end. Even my dearest pal Paul Willerton said “Coop, you are a 1963 Jaguar diesel four door sedan. You should drive your body like you would that car.”
A dear cycling friend and retired doctor gave me a book to read called The Haywire Heart, co-written by Lenard Zinn. It was a fascinating read, one we all should probably read, especially those of us that feel a little kick or strange beat of the heart. Endurance athletes believe, even live by the idea, that more volume, longer efforts, are better. More recent studies, however, indicate that is not always true.
I was put through numerous stress tests, EKGs, and echocardiograms. I rode with a monitor for a few weeks. When the results and tests were finally tallied, I did indeed have premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs for short. That was about as good as I could hope for. Somewhat common and somewhat benign, PVCs didn’t need to be life threatening. But, as a trained athlete all my adult life, I was pissed. Of all things, I wasn't supposed to have heart issues.
Hope and I where we love to be...on two wheels.
This leads me to the relationship with my training partner, wife and coworker with whom I’ve shared marital bliss for nearly 30 years. One of us had been getting slower and slower on our rides. Cycling is something we share, and it plays a role in our mutual happiness. At this point, it had become a strain for me.
Enter the eBike. I have seen my pals who had hip or knee surgery hop on an eBike and speed their recovery times. At times it was odd to see someone not normally on the sharp end of the pack suddenly riding next to the best athletes in town. The eBike can bring a lot of attention, some welcome, some not. I had even denounced myself, a few times.
The LOOK 765E gravel bike
But, hear this. I can now ride alongside my bride of 30 years. She climbs like a dancing fairy and I can ride with her, all while keeping the old ticker at a nice 130 BPMs. She can go as hard as she likes and as long as we keep the distance within the battery life, we are good to go. I simply need to add enough wattage for my slight 205 lbs to stay with her 125lbs. I find that somewhere between the first and second power mode is adequate for me to stay right next to her.
As we age, we want to be healthier than ever. It takes lots of willpower to stay on top of our mental and physical game. The eBike really makes a difference for me. It allows me to even converse with my lovely bride on the toughest climbs. Whether or not she likes what I have to say, that remains a mystery.
Thanks to Look USA for sending me the LOOK 765G to test out my theory. Yes eBikes work and they are a great way to recover or pair up with your faster partner. I am thinking this bike would be a great addition to my two-wheel quiver.
Inconspicuous dash board with Bryton GPS unit sold separately.