Dropped Like A Rock By… (Wait for It) An Electric Assist Bike!

electric_bikes_home_1Here’s the set-up….

We’re out for a tandem ride on our local loop and working our way up a 2-mile long road that’s mostly uphill with 3% – 5% grade that we grind out at about 12-14 mph on a good day, maybe 11-13 on a not-so-good day.  If there’s a “rabbit” ahead of us we do much better, but that’s rare.

Instead, we typically see cyclists going the other way on our loop, including one gentleman we’ve seen riding along in his lycra kit on what I always assumed was just a comfort bike at a fairly good clip.  In most cases it was while we were climbing a hill and he was going the other way so the encounter was fairly brief.  We’d wave as we do with just about every other cyclist we see — that is until we’ve seen one enough times to realize they’re just too into themselves to acknowledge another rider, especially some dorks on a tandem — he’d usually give us the head nod and we’d continue on our way and never give it another thought.

Well — getting back to that other day — we’re making our way up the gradual hill and in my trusty HubBub rear view mirror I notice there’s a bike off in the distance behind us; meh.  We continue to climb our hill and I notice that as he hits the grade he’s beginning to close the gap.  At this moment I’m of course reminded of the scene in “The Princess Bride” when Vizzini, Fezzik and Anigo Montoya are making their getaway and being chased by the Dread Pirate Robert’s ship as Fezzik and Anigo keep telling Vizzini “he’s gaining on us”.  But I digress….

So, as we continue to make our way towards the end of the climbing section I begin to realize the cyclist that’s been quickly closing the gap on us is our friend on the comfort bike!  And when I say closing the gap, I mean he’s doing an easy 20 mph to our 15 mph.  As he passes us in his upright riding posture it dawns on me that he hardly seems to be putting out any effort while ticking over the pedals at a cadence somewhere in the 60’s… and then I see it:  that big old power assist device at the center of the rear wheel.  He’s riding an Electric Assist Bike!

At first I was somewhat dumbfounded, as I can’t imagine using an electric assist bike for fitness rides.  But then I wondered if perhaps he had a physical challenge whereby the electric assist was what allowed him to enjoy cycling.  Not that it mattered, but it was clearly one of those things where it took me a few moments to wrap my head around the whole thing.  In some respects I was thinking, “So, this is how cyclists in the 1900’s felt once motorized bicycles began to appear?!”   And then I wondered how I’d react if these electric assist bikes began showing up at the large cycling fund-raisers like a Tour de Cure or MS150 ride…. or perhaps even a tandem rally?

To be honest, I’m still not sure how to feel about it even after thinking about it for more time that it deserves.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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6 Responses to Dropped Like A Rock By… (Wait for It) An Electric Assist Bike!

  1. Michael Stechow says:

    Return to the hill on the Harley, but dressed in your cycling kit 🙂

  2. Wayne Thais says:

    That happened to us last year at the Midwest tandem Rally, we caught a couple of teams and were riding together, one fell off and the other kept going. We got on their wheel and the pace was a good pace one that we could hold but it would have been difficult to go around them and take our turn at a pull so we backed off. I later found out they had an electric assist unit. We should have sat on their wheel. I saw that the hub was unusual and they had so etching big on the rear rack. I will know better in the future.


  3. Ken and Mary bills says:

    Where can we get one before the GTR???? Seriously!!! We could use the help!!!

  4. Dances with Wiener Dogs says:

    Hey, as long as people are getting out on a bicycle at all, and fundraising for a good cause, then I don’t care what they’re riding.

  5. Similar thing happened to me on the way home from work on evening. I saw what was obviously a comfort bike/hybrid in front of me with some guy wearing sweat pants. I was working my tail off trying to catch him (carrot, you know) and just couldn’t. It was really annoying me…here I was a “seasoned cyclist” and I couldn’t catch what appeared to be a “rookie”. I finally pulled up behind when he got caught at a long stoplight and it wasn’t until the light changed and he started “buzzing off” that I realized I had been chasing an e-bike.

  6. Peter Leiss says:

    I chase these guys down especially the ones that look like a scooter….some how its not what I consider cycling but they are out on two wheels…some of them make it hard by souping up their motors so they can exceed the mandated upper limit of 32kph….they really make me work to catch and pass

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