by Deborah Rogers | photo by Amanda Cribdon Photography –
I’ve experienced many modes of transportation writing my Day Out column these past few years – sports car, sailboat, kayak, horse – but none has had me smile quite as much as this month’s outing! My cyclist husband has raced on road, track and trail, and has endless enthusiasm for anything with two wheels. He was the perfect partner-in-crime for my Peninsula e-bike adventure!
You’ve probably seen news stories about the surge of interest in electric bikes, and how hard it currently is to buy one due to an explosion in sales this past year. I’ve always thought they looked pretty fun, but had made an assumption they’re for people who, perhaps, find cycling on a regular bike too strenuous. I’m still happy to take my road bike out for a ride or commute to work, and I didn’t see myself as a candidate for e-assist. How wrong I was.
We collected our Rad Runners from Cycle Sidney, located near the airport bike path. To be honest I hadn’t done a lot of research ahead of time, so I was surprised and amused to see these chunky bikes with small fat wheels and high chopper-style handlebars. We’d brought our bike helmets with us, and after a brief run through of the bike set up and operation, owner Lucas waved us off on our way.
E-bikes will differ from make to make, but the style we borrowed are known as utility bikes. They are designed to be comfortable to cruise on, handle any terrain, carry heavy loads on the rack, or even a small passenger. Being vertically challenged, I found the handlebars felt a bit awkward but it was certainly a very upright ride, making it perfect for sightseeing. The battery was fully charged and with an expected range of at least 40 kilometres John and I determined a route that would put the bike through its paces, and take me on some roads that I would NEVER attempt to ride without battery backup.
First up were the rural roads to the north of the airport. We got the hang of the throttle assist, a flick of the wrist adding a little kick of power as you start off, and we gradually worked our way through the four power levels, testing which worked best at what speed. North Saanich (the whole Peninsula in fact) has many multi-use trails and it was immensely fun to pick our way around the Peninsula connecting these little trails and quiet roads. It was a circuitous route that you would never take if you had to use all your own energy.
After a coffee break at Fickle Fig we took advantage of the airport path to get a bit of distance and speed before cutting up – what felt almost vertically up – to the top of Dean Park. One note about e-bikes: you still have to pedal! On the steepest of roads we kept a reasonable pace thanks to the battery assistance, but on steep gravel trails we ground to a halt a few times, and boy, those were heavy bikes to push.
But oh what fun! Seriously, I had a grin on my face from start to finish. There’s always something exhilarating about riding a bike, but the speed and the novelty, and yes, even the funky looking setup of the e-bike which drew looks from the other road users, all made me feel like a kid. Cutting across from Mt Newton Cross to Stelly’s Cross on the trail behind Centennial Park then up to Tanner Ridge I had one of those “we’re so lucky to live in this beautiful world” moments. Hedgerows were full of buds and fragrant blooms, there were birds and insects, horses in the fields, and me and my love just whizzing along quietly, grinning away to ourselves.
You can rent e-bikes, and other bikes, from Cycle Sidney: www.cyclesidney.ca.
What do you want to see Deb do next? Email email@example.com with your ideas or an invitation!
Photo at top right by John Rogers.