After a visit to San Francisco, where I rented a Pedego Electric Bike, I was hooked right away. I initially researched converting my 1998 Specialized Stump Jumper mountain bike into a rear hub electric bike. I found out after some research that the frame and wheelsets on an electric bike exert different forces on the bike and changed my mind.
My early years and health challenges
My 40s were dedicated to skiing. My 50s and 60s were dedicated to mountain biking. As I aged, the stress of mountain biking and osteoarthritis began taking their tolls. I had both knees replaced, dislocated a shoulder multiple times, needed Cortisone shots in both wrists, and had my right ankle fused.
I cannot say I liked road biking, mostly because I needed a more upright riding position. I was also feeling that I was falling behind, not keeping up with my younger friends as we toured many of the classic mountain biking destinations in the U.S. and Canada.
Locally, both Virginia and Maryland offer good mountain biking opportunities, but I was not performing as I had in the past.
Biking is part of my life
Biking, though, was the center of our travels. My wife is younger and an avid biker. We planned our trips around mountain biking and biking in general. For us, it is the only way to explore and move around in a metropolitan area. We frequently visited New York City, taking our bikes to get around. We took our cheap bikes. We rented cheap bikes. We used public bikes and got tired of them being broken or unavailable.
I commuted to work from Chevy Chase, MD, to Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., taking advantage of the Capital Crescent Trail and Rock Creek Parkway. I made the 12-mile commute easily and would use the Metro to go back home if I was too tired. I commuted 2-3 times a week with a bicycle. But I was getting older. I was getting tired more often; it started to become more of a chore than a pleasure.
My first e-bike was life-changing
As Bette Davis said: "getting old ain't for sissies." So, I purchased an Electric Optibike Pioneer Allroad from Jim Turner, the owner and manufacturer. Turner is a pioneer in engineering high-performance electric bikes. I bought it online, and my biking life changed dramatically.
Commuting to work was a breeze. It was fun. It was efficient. And I could push myself as much as I wanted, knowing that when I got tired, that dreaded trudge back home for those last miles was a pleasure. You boosted the assist and, as e-bike advertisers so aptly said: "You had the wind at your back!"
I stopped using my car for short excursions to restaurants and shopping and visiting friends. E-biking home was a pleasure, even after a meal, and during late fall and winter.
We travel and e-bike
When we travel, we now make sure to arrange for e-bike rentals at our destination. We rented e-bikes in New Zealand for a six-week, self-guided car tour of both the North and South Islands. The bikes fit in our rental vehicle. The e-bikes helped us explore cities, towns, and the countryside of New Zealand.
We completed a week-long supported trip on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail, putting in 25-35 miles per day. When we got to our B&B, our luggage was waiting for us. What a pleasure!
We also have rented e-bikes in Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Tokyo, London, Switzerland, Norway, and Denmark – where biking in Copenhagen is a blood sport.
My experience with Riese & Müller e-bikes
My Optibike was stolen during a trip to New York in 2018 in broad daylight. It was locked to a parking meter in front of our hotel, and a police barricade across Bryant Park.
I knew I wanted another e-bike. Undaunted, I rented a Riese & Müller Delite from Propel Bikes in Brooklyn and continued our trip to Martha's Vineyard. We loaded our panniers, took the ferry, and stayed with our friends who ride high-end road bikes. I was able to keep up with them all around the island – and with two batteries on board my bike, range anxiety disappeared. I was hooked on Riese & Müller e-bikes.
E-biking the C&O Canal Towpath
Later, my wife and I rented e-bikes from ElectriCityBikes in Washington D.C. and biked the C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. We carried our belongings in panniers and stayed in B&Bs along the route. Some of the legs were 35-40 miles.
Before committing to a final purchase, I still was concerned that I would run out of battery power toward the end of the day, so I kept the assist off for the first 10-15 miles. I charged the e-bike whenever we could as we carried the charger. The Towpath is relatively flat, but still, the relief of turning on the assist was terrific.
Riese & Müller has cured my range anxiety and opened up possibilities
Following the C&O Canal's Towpath trip, I purchased the Riese & Müller Dual Battery Supercharger. The bike is lovely and has cured my range anxiety. I can bike to the National Mall, museums, and the expanding waterfronts of Washington D.C. Biking back to my house was no longer a power issue. Even with one battery, a round trip of 35 miles is a breeze.
The only drawbacks to the bike are its price and weight: it is very heavy, weighing almost 70 pounds when fully loaded with all the goodies that enhance the riding experience – rigid bike box on the rack, Kinect shock-absorbing seat post, water bottle, and a lock.
Getting it on our Kuat Hitch rack is best with two people, but I can do it myself with a little bit of patience and careful planning.
E-biking during the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the past year, as biking surged during the pandemic, I was riding the Rock Creek Parkway-Capital Crescent trail loop of 22 miles two to three times a week. It helped us to get through the year.
Now that we are both vaccinated, we are on an extended bike and road trip across the country, heading back to some of those places I biked years ago, with my Riese & Müller Supercharger in tow, performing the same 'bikey' things I did 20 years ago.
It's good to feel like a kid again – it sets you free, gives you the pleasure of discovery, the utility of transportation, and the feeling that you still can do it – and find any excuse to be on the bike.
What a lucky treat!