My six-year-old loves to bike. He spends a considerable number of the daylight hours riding his bike around the neighborhood, on and off the beaten path. He spends all of his time “practicing his jumps” on a wooden ramp his grandfather made just for him. On the weekends, he expands his territory, heading out to trails and pump tracks. And he wants me to join him, which I love.
The problem is, I’m not much of a cyclist. I can keep up with him to a point, but my cycling level is novice, at best.
Especially when his escapades involve leaving the pavement for uneven terrain.
So when I got the chance to demo an ebike through Roseville Cyclery, I was half-excited and half-terrified. Ok, mostly terrified. Because I realized that we would be heading off the pavement on a route easily 4x longer than what I would typically ride with my son.
What, exactly, was I getting myself into?
Ebike demo day started early, with a little fuel (and a couple of butterflies) in my stomach. I met with my fellow demo-riders in Folsom, a short distance from the lake. The Specialized van sat tall in the parking lot, a gleaming row of Specialized Turbo Levo ebikes lined up beside it.
As I was fit for my bike, I had my first lesson for the day:
I’ve been riding my bike with my seat way too low this entire time.
Getting into a proper seat position felt completely different on my knees. In fact, it felt great! I had a brief moment of embarrassment that I’ve been riding incorrectly up until this point.
Next came a demonstration of how the ebike motor actually worked.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized just how much control I actually had over the motor. There was no way I would go careening out-of-control on the bike. For starters, the motor only kicks in if I’m peddling. No peddling = no assist. Secondly, I could control how much pedal-assist I wanted. Which, as a novice cyclist, was a lot.
The Specialized Turbo Levo was heftier than my hybrid bike. Considerably. But once I was on it and peddling around the parking lot, I couldn’t really tell the difference in weight.
Feeling moderately comfortable on the bike, our group headed out towards Folsom Lake. First on a paved bike lane, and then off the pavement and on to the trail.
There are two words I would use to describe my experience riding an ebike:
Physically and mentally, the trail we took was just beyond my current skill set. If I had been on my non-electric bike, I wouldn’t have made it very far at all. But the ebike bridged the gap between my current skill set and athletic ability and what I needed to keep up with the experienced riders I was with.
I wasn’t intimidated by uphill climbs, because I was able to use the pedal-assist to help power me up the hills.
And the distance, which was easily 4x longer than what I’m used to, also felt manageable because of the assistance of the ebike motor.
What I was most surprised about, however, was how much fun I had.
Right now, I’m still riding my standard bike. I’ve been empowered a bit by my ebike experience: now that I know I am capable of getting off the paved paths, I’m feeling more confident and bold about taking to the trails and pump tracks.
But every time I hop on my standard bike now, I remember what it felt like to have that pedal-assist to give me the extra push to make it up the hill. How much further and longer I was able to ride with the help of the motor. And how easy it was to keep up with more experienced riders, allowing me to meet new people that I otherwise would never have met.
My six-year-old easily outrides me, but the ebike makes me feel like I could keep up with him on his adventures. As a mom, its important to me to be make fun family memories together and encourage activities (like cycling) that promote an appreciation for exercise, movement, and an appreciation for the outdoors.
Would I get an ebike after taking one for a test ride?
The answer is a definitive “yes.”