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Monday, April 18, 2016

I am that Douche Bag on the eBike !

Summer's Eve eBike Island Splash
"In the cycling world, we are already s*** on by motorists, and despite this, we are able to create a sense of beauty and joy due to our perseverance and strength, both inner and outer. Now these douche bags, who are really motorists in Lycra, want to take this away from us, too? I don’t “hate” e-bikes, but I do not think that they should be called bicycles any more than people like Lance should be called a champion cyclist. If you want to ride your bike faster up hills by doping or attaching hidden motors (yes they hide them because they are ashamed of using them) then do it. Just don’t be an asshole and lie to the rest of us about it. E-BIKES ARE NOT WELCOME ON OUR RIDES. YOU’RE NOT WELCOME IN THE CYCLING WORLD. GET THE F*** OUT OF THE TRAILS, BIKE LANES, AND BACK INTO YOUR SMUG, SELF-CENTERED MOTORING WORLD!" ..quoted from an online cycling forum

This is not an isolated opinion. Ask any of those Lycra Clad "Tour de Farce" weekend warriors you see zipping around on any given weekend on their $3,000 bikes, in any given park or neighborhood. They will all probably have some version of the above opinion. I have had reservations myself. At times, I feel like I'm cheating on an old friend - cycling. Last year, after my ride to Panama City (which was on a non-electric bike), I decided to re-do the ride to Hilton Head SC that Jack Goodlet, Bill Robbs and I did in the mid-1980s.
1985 ish - As we rolled through Springfield SC we met some local cyclists
I fully intended to do it non-assisted. As the initial excitement of deciding to re-do the trip faded into the reality of planning the details of trip, I started to have second thoughts. I began to remember what is was like thirty years ago. Those mountains between Calhoun and Athens GA are thirty years older and so are my legs and lungs. I remembered those long stretches of nothingness in Western South Carolina - Low Country as they refer to it -  and there is still nothing there today. I remembered the 100 mile day we rode into Augusta. That was the day I experienced the effects of dehydration for the first time. Next year, I plan to re-do our third ride from Virginia Beach VA to Myrtle Beach SC. I don't plan to use the eBike for that ride. I'll be in the Outer Banks and that, of course, is at sea level. I not gonna be a douche bag and cheat on my old friend when I'm at sea level! But this year, I'm cheating. This year, I'll be on my Salsa Marrakesh Tour bike modified with my BionX Pedal Assist Kit and I'm taking plenty of Summer's Eve eBike Island Splash with me.

So last week, my BionX kit arrived at Certified Electric Bike Specialist down on Main Street. The store is owned by the Caldwell brothers - Chandlee and Garnet. I had already decided I wasn't going to ride my Trek road bike on another tour, so I purchased a Salsa brand Marrakesh touring bike from Owen's Cycles in Hixson TN with the intention of converting it to an ebike. Chandlee was the one who convinced me to go with the BionX kit for an after market retro-fit to convert the Marrakesh to an ebike. Garnet is the master mechanic who did the installation. The kit adds an extra 17 pounds to the bike's weight. That is a bunch of extra weight to haul 400 miles. This past Saturday, Winslow and I took a test ride to Rome GA. He has a new ebike and we were both curious to see how they would perform on the open road. It was great. I figured the ebike would bump my average speed a few mph. Normally, I average around 12 mph on-bike speed when on tour. Our average was close to 15 mph. We discovered that you still have to pedal, you still have to change gears, and you still go up hills slower than you go down. What the pedal assist does though, is it makes your legs feel 20 years younger. The two things I always hated about bicycle touring were the headwinds and the hills. The pedal assist of ebikes seems to help negate the headwinds and flatten the hills. For now, after one test, things look pretty good. The real test will be in May. Will the ebike make it through the mountains of Georgia? Will the battery last in the hills and the heat? I'm betting that it will.

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