As our sun finally breaks free of our wet skies (for a couple days) we look forward to hearing how our new eBikers are adjusting to the electric bike experience. Dr Michael Medler of Huxley College is one of our new riders. He comes at the project with a long history of cycling, but due to more recent circumstances he has had to rethink his approach. Now that he’s got an eBike for 10 weeks things may be changing.
Let’s see what he has to say….
“Thanks to everyone at the Sustainable Transportation Program for giving me the chance to try out an eBike for a while. This is my “first impressions” post after about a week of riding one the program’s Prodigy eBikes.
First a little about myself… I am a 55 year old faculty member in Environmental Studies. I have been a lifelong biker and bike commuter. I live about 3 miles from campus a bit south of Fairhaven. Since coming to WWU in 2002, I have only even had a real parking pass for the 5 quarters my daughter was recently attending the WWU preschool. Otherwise, I have generally found other ways to get to campus. However, three years back I quite suddenly needed both hips replaced. Normally biking is one of the real success stories with these operations, but in my case, my left hip didn’t work out all that well. As a result, biking can still be rather “stressful” and hills are still prohibitive.
While my daughter was attending the WWU Preschool over the last few years, many of her friends where being dropped off and picked up by parents with cargo eBikes. Many days, we would see small women heading off to climb South Hill with two children riding the on the back of a bike, with raingear and maybe even groceries in the paniers. This got me thinking that perhaps an eBike would be enough to get me back in the saddle.
I have been considering an eBike for a while. My wife would use the word “obsessing.” I have been particularly interested in a cargo bike that could handle me and the kid. Therefore, I have been spending more than a small bit of time on the internet learning about the options out there. As I have learned more, I have had a lot of conversations with friends about eBikes. In conversations with some of my bike enthusiast friends, some of them have been rather snippy about me replacing my bike with an eBike. I have tried to make it very clear that I would be replacing the car, not the bike. So far this year, I have only ridden my own bike to campus a few times. Otherwise I tend to drive at least some of the way, and walk the rest as hip therapy. But for over a year, I have been really wondering if an eBike would make get me over hump and make real difference in my daily transportation decisions.
The best thing about this eBike program is that it is letting me sort out a bunch of these issues without spending thousands of dollars first. For a little over a week now I have been riding the eBike pretty much daily. Therefore, I have already used it to commute more this academic year than I have used my own bike. I will report more later, but at this point I have a few initial observations after a week.
First off, eBikes are a hoot! I wonder how long till it isn’t just hilarious to ride like this. My other eBike friends insist that the feeling doesn’t really go away. It is always fun to zip up a hill. However, eBikes are heavy. All the fun goes away if you have to lift it or move it around in rough terrain. However, I do know that some companies are coming out with much lighter bikes though. I think this will be a critical development for some people.
It is still a bike! I was worried that the eBike ride would be so mechanical that it would eliminate the nice outdoorsy kinesthetic joys of biking. In fact I have found the opposite to be true so far. I was also worried that I was lying to myself about using it in bad weather. However, so far, riding in the rain is great. I can wear my best raingear and still get to work without needing to change cloths. I am clearly getting less exercise, but I am still biking to work, just without the sweat. I will report later if this keeps up as the novelty wears off.
So far, I am pretty into the whole experience…”
Thank you Michael for this wonderful write-up on your first impressions. We are excited to know that this program is helping reinvigorate you to get pedaling again.