The Glowing Bicyclist by Kellie Morris

The gym uniforms we wore in Middle and High school just reinforced the old saying: men sweat and women glow. When you are wearing a starched, white, 100% cotton, cap-sleeve blouse closed my snaps, you’re going to do everything you can to NOT sweat in PE class. I’ve dated myself! There were two reasons for that aversion to sweat;

1)  You had to wash, starch and iron that blouse into submission so it was stiff enough to stand on its own.  I remember the crunching sound my blouse made whenever I moved.  Crunching was a good thing: you had penetrated that cotton with the recommended amount of starch.  

2) If we sweated we would have to disrobe in front of all the other girls and take a shower! Yuk!

Fast forward a few decades and I have gotten over my aversion to sweating (and showering) when it’s appropriate for me to sweat. I usually pace my bike rides to match the type of riding I’m doing:

  • Workout = major sweat
  • Running errands = minor sweat
  • Communing = glowing 

I have discovered the perfect way to glow over longer distances: riding an electric bicycle (also known as an ebike)!  My husband and I have rented Pedego  ebikes from the Greater Long Beach Pedego dealer twice in the last 6 months (we used an Amazon Local deal).  Beth and Brian own the shop and took the time to explain how to operate the ebike safely.

We were hooked the minute we took off from the parking lot. For our first rental we rode bikes with a throttle near the right handgrip. When we needed some speed we rotated the throttle toward us. If we didn’t need assistance, we just pedaled the bike, shifting as needed.   We also tried the pedal assist, known as pedelec ebike. That was so much fun! You set the percentage of help you want and the bike gives you assistance as long as you are pedaling. Talk about Pedal Love.

I decided to check out an ebike shop that carries several brands of ebikes.  My research pointed to Electric Bikes Los Angeles  located in El Segundo.   It was hard to interview Craig Savage, the Sales and Service manager because I was rubber necking all the beautiful ebikes and folding bikes in stock.  I also was able to talk to a few ebike owners who were all very enthusiastic about their purchase. My hands were itching to try a few models. I settled on the two biggest  pedelec sellers:  Stromer and Easy-Motion (e-motion). 

So why would someone buy an ebike, especially since you will pay $2000-$4000 for a quality bike? I already own three bikes so I have to come up with solid excuses to talk my hubby into buying another bike!   So here’s my logical list (no emotion involved!) of “Why buy an ebike?”:

  • It opens up more opportunities to ride your bike for running errands, commuting and getting around town.
  • It’s a great way for someone improving their health by getting into a sport. The healthier they become the less they may use the pedal assist.
  • It will allow a slower bicyclist to keep up with faster bicyclists (note: it’s a way to get others to join you on a ride
  • It can assist in disease management – I cycle regularly to help manage the level of my chronic pain; The more I exercise the less medication I need to take.
  • Riding a bike might take too much effort if you live in hilly or windy area.
  • It will blow away all the excuses you have for NOT riding.
  • It will take less time commuting than riding a regular bike and it might take less time than driving, depending on the traffic and commuting distance.

There are some downsides to owning an ebike

  • They are heavier than a regular bike
  • You do need to charge the battery
  • It costs more than an non-electric bike

Now let’s get radical: It could replace a second car for local trips.  If you replaced a car, you would:

  • No longer buy gas
  • No longer need insurance (but probably want to purchase bike insurance)
  • No longer pay the DMV for vehicle registration
  • Be legal to ride on bike paths and streets
  • Pay less for maintenance than you would for a car
  • Always have a free parking space near the front door of your destination
  • Never get a parking ticket!

Has this overview got you curious to learn more about ebikes? Try electricbike.com for lots of information and articles about ebikes.  There is also a very informative presentation, ebikes in the United States, put together by John MacArthur, Portland State University.   To me the most surprising stats gathered from the ebike owner survey addressed ebike use:

  • 94% indicated they had rode a standard bike as an adult
  • 55% rode their standard bike weekly or daily prior to e-bike purchase --this went up to 93% after purchase
  • Of the 6% that hadn’t rode a bike as an adult, of those 89% ride their e-bike daily or weekly
  • Over 90% use their e-bikes weekly or daily

Part two of the Glowing Bicyclist will look into converting your current bike to an ebike along with other ways to glow while you go on your bike!  Have comments? Ideas? Suggestions? Please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!

About Kellie

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Kellie did her first multiday, fund-raising bike ride in 2002 after a co-worker dared her to take up the challenge - the seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 2010 Kellie was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Mixed Connective Tissue disease that left her so weak she could barely dress herself. Through medication, dietary changes and exercise she was able to recover much of her strength.  Kellie does most of her local trips on her trike including shopping, running errands, attending fitness classes, visiting friends and even riding to church. In May 2013 Kellie became a certified bicycling instructor via The League of American Bicyclists. She now teaches throughout Long Beach and Los Angeles. Image by Lisa Beth Anderson.