NIKKI HAYWOOD shares her experiences about what E-Bikes have to offer.
Rewind two years … I had a call from a woman saying that she would like to join our cycling group but she was on an E-bike. My initial reaction was one of judgement. I thought there is no way that we could accommodate an E-bike within the group. The existing members would feel intimidated and I also assumed that she would not have the tenacity and grit that mountain biking requires as she would be riding a pedal assisted bike. So all in all assumptions were made and an individual was being judged. Turns out that she didn’t end up joining us for reasons of her own. Having worked with women mountain bikers for the last five years, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is not to judge people. No matter how unfit, how old their bike is or what their background is, everybody deserves to learn to ride a bike and join the group and the changes that occur on a personal level are so profound that if it means you ride an E-bike, why the hell not. Ronnie is a long standing Trail Angel member, dedicated, super keen, very proficient on the downhill single tracks and always up for a challenge. The more she cycled the more her fitness deteriorated, her heart rate was off the charts and her positive, happy disposition disappeared. Diagnosis: Adrenal fatigue … Solution … rest, so definitely NO cycling and a very sad and depressed Ronnie.
I suggested an E-bike and to cut a long story short, Ronnie bought an E-bike, is back on the trails, loving her cycling, feeling great and assisting me as a ride leader within the groups. I got to ride an E-bike last year. It was a life- and mind-altering experience. After tearing my meniscus in my knee and having an op I was told that my recovery would be about six weeks and that I was definitely not allowed to mountain bike. My rehab would have to be on a stationary bike and therefore I would not be able to lead the Trail Angel rides and therefore lose touch with all my clients. 10 days post-op I jumped on an E-bike, it afforded me to get out on the trails with my clients and I could do my rehab out in nature with a fun bunch of ladies instead of sitting on an indoor trainer. I had so much fun on this bike I was very reluctant to return it. I was lucky enough to ride the Specialized Levo E-bike, a Ferrari of a bike that gave me so much pleasure I was reluctant to ever jump on my normal bike again! What I enjoyed about some of the features was the ability to set the amount of pedal assist required. On days when you needed assistance you could use the sport setting … full gas and then on days when you needed just a little bit of help, the eco setting was sufficient. Battery life was also incredible lasting a full three hour ride! Another positive experience on E-bikes was on our trip to Italy last year. I took a group of 16 ladies on a mountain biking tour to Northern Tuscany. Two of the ladies injured themselves on the tour and were offered E-Bikes to complete the tour. Had it not been for the invention of the E-Bike their tour would have been cut short. The technology on the E-bike has developed so much since the first E-bike design was launched a few years back. I still had the idea in my head that E-bikes were like touring bikes with an engine, which some still are. I had no idea that they had evolved so much that you could purchase a full-on mountain bike with front and rear shocks, a dropper post etc. I had such fun on this machine, it allowed me to ride to the top of the trails countless times just to be able to enjoy the singletracks down. It also allowed me to be able to ride seven days a week with all the trail angel group rides and not to feel totally exhausted by the end of the week. And my knee has fully recovered. We now have a couple of ladies in the group that are on E-bikes, some of them don’t enjoy pushing themselves, some ladies have health problems, some ladies have friends that will always be fitter than them and they want to be able to join their friends on a ride, some have never been able to ride with their husbands and kids and are now able to do so. The E-bike has created an opportunity for a lot more people to enjoy the sport of mountain biking and I look forward to welcoming many more ladies on E-bikes into the Trail Angel Club. We can’t wait for a little push up the hills on days when we are feeling tired and we would love to encourage more women on E-bikes to join the Trail Angels as that is our mission … to get more women on bikes!