This morning, I met a very nice older gentlemen from Florida on the C&O Canal, who was riding from Pittsburgh (via the Great Allegheny Passage to its confluence with the C&O Canal at Cumberland, MD) on his electric bike. For those of you unfamiliar with electric bikes (or E-Bikes as they are commonly called), they are bikes who have an electric motor designed to assist cyclist with pedaling when the need arises. And yes, they theoretically could allow riders to use only the motor without pedaling for a limited time, that is not their key purpose.
Are these folks who gripe about electric bikes that help people ride, drawing the line as to what they decide is OK to help facilitate a better ride (carbon fiber/multi speeds OK – electric motor assisted bike not)?
Prior to meeting this E-Cyclist and discussing his trip with him, I had not given electric bikes much thought.
Coincidentally, this afternoon I read an article from Outside Magazine title “Why E-Bikes are horrible for you.” The writer details why folks should not ride E-bikes and even goes so far as to say that “E-bikes are not real bikes.” And this is not the first adverse article or blog post about the “evils” of electric bikes, I have seen recently.
And while everybody is entitled to their opinion, I am willing to bet that some of those who bemoan electric bikes probably are riding carbon fiber, disc braked, gazillion-geared pieces of crap that cost as much as some people’s cars. Are these folks who gripe about electric bikes that help people ride, drawing the line as to what they decide is OK to help facilitate a better ride (carbon fiber/multi speeds OK – electric motor assisted bike not)? Why are some cyclists so quick to judge, those who are different from themselves? And yes, I know this myopia is not limited to cyclist… I also flyfish and ski and the various “factions” of fishermen and skiers and their respective opinions as to what is right/best is enough to drive one bonkers!
Could someone who rides an E-Bike cheat themselves out of exercise by misjudging their own limitations or not get the exercise that they would if they just pushed themselves by riding a conventional bike? Sure, they could also get a coronary. Consider that some folks who use e-bikes may not be out biking at all without the pedal assisting capabilities of their E-bike.
I have doubt that my new Florida acquaintance would have been able to haul his over 60, 300+ plus butt up and down the hills of the 150 mile Great Allegheny Passage or through the rougher 184+ miles of towpath of the C&O without the the assistance of his E-Bike. Sure, he could have limited his ride to a day or two of 15 mile rides on a conventional bike, or just stay home riding his Lazy-Boy Recliner and watch the Nature Channel. Why should he and why should we care?
There will be a day in the future where I will be unable to explore those areas that are dear to me on a “conventional” bike. Should I just give up riding then to satisfy some sanctimonious sexually intellectual (Jimmy Buffett’s term for fu**ing know it all)… I think not.
See You on the trail