Even though I’ve clocked up a lot of mileage bike training for various cycling events including an Ironman, I’d never considered using an electric bike. That is, until now.
Using an eBike always seemed like cheating to me. Almost as if I wouldn’t be a proper cyclist anymore. I thought other cyclists would laugh at me when they saw the battery on my bike. And even though I was really tempted to try it for a while, the thought of being feeling embarrassed around other avid cyclists was too off-putting.
I enjoy mountain biking so much and could easily do it every day. But I’ve recently been training for a half marathon and need to give my legs some rest and recovery time before the next run. I struggle to have a day off, though, because I enjoy everyday training. For the half marathon though, I’ve been doing a lot of interval training and it takes longer to recover.
So to have the best of both worlds, to go out on my bike with friends but also manage to keep up with my tired legs, I decided to give the eBike a try.
The first time I used the eBike, I went with people who were much faster than me, and I was recovering after an 18km run. Riding an eBike seemed like a very good option to still enjoy the ride and not slow the others down. I was very weary of not overtaking them on the hills because I know how it feels when you are out of breath trying to reach the top and someone effortlessly overtakes you on an electric bike!
The uphill was very easy. I was trying to stay on the ‘eco’ mode but on a 20% gradient it’s not possible. You need to use tour, sport or turbo mode, depending on how much effort you want to put in. I wanted to stay in Zone 2 and benefit from aerobic training and flush out lactic acid from my legs after a long run.
It’s better to spin your legs with little resistance after a hard session than do nothing.
At first, I thought the bike would be very heavy and less stable on the downhill, but it was, in fact, the complete opposite. The downhill was pretty awesome. The bike felt very sturdy and gave me some extra confidence on an uneven dirt track. In fact, I felt more confident than on my super light KTM mountain bike, which really surprised me. I even had some PRs according to Strava on the downhills too.
On the difficult uphills, covered with stones and gravel, I felt very confident as I had so much extra power to stay on the bike. It was an amazing feeling not to be last one to the top of each hill, knowing that my tired legs weren’t holding up the group. And because I was managing to keep up while exerting less energy, I was able to take some photos of the guys working hard to get up the hill!
Using an eBike can bring a lot of benefits. You can treat it as a recovery ride to flush lactic acid from your legs; you can use the ‘off’ or ‘eco’ setting to still work hard and only use the extra power on hills; you can cycle with the same wattage but cover more mileage; you can enjoy rides with cyclists of different abilities who are much stronger than you; and, most importantly, you can still enjoy a ride on your day off and let your body recover if you use a more powerful mode such as tour or sport.
On my first ride I did about 35km with an over 700m climb on a dirt track and didn’t even use 30% of the battery. Since then I’ve been going further with more incline and the battery was still fine after 45km and a 1000m climb.
To summarise, I think eBikes have not only opened up the world of cycling to non-cyclists who can now experience biking, but also offer something to experienced cyclists who need those recovery days to become stronger. We can now cycle in mixed ability groups of friends or couples. We can go further, faster. We can get to places where we wouldn’t get to on a normal bike and enjoy a great day out. And best of all, Strava now has a setting for an eBike ride, so it won’t affect your PRs!
Give it a go, you will love it!
Author: Anna – plant powered triathlete