I have known Janice and Larry for more than 20 years. I met Janice through our local women’s mountain biking club. Janice’s svelte, steely physique and superior VO2 max allow her to climb with a powerful, quick cadence. On the flatlands she can turn over a big chain ring as easily as my dog spins in a circle for a treat.
Larry, on the other hand, falls into the “Clydesdale” category of cyclist. Sometimes it might take him twice as long to cover the same distance as Janice, which is why I’ve never really mountain biked with Larry. He will embark on a ride 30 minutes to an hour before Janice and we might come across him at a trail intersection for a quick hello, or just see him back at the house.
These dear friends decided to join me on the 2022 departure of Cycling the Dolomites Plus! the Sella Ronda tour in late June.
The kind of bikes Janice and Larry would ride were never a question to me: premium hybrid. The flat handlebars and lower gearing were ideal for them both. But then…well, I’ll let them each tell the story from their perspective.
It’s been many years since my wife and I were able to take bike rides together.
We’ve tried, but my pace is much slower than her pace. I can keep up with her for a short time on flatter rides, but only if I am going as hard as I can.
That’s neither fun nor comfortable for me. And if we are doing a long climb, there’s no way I can come close to keeping up with her.
We were concerned about this when we signed up for the bike tour in the Dolomites. We envisioned her waiting for me a half hour or more at the top of every climb.
E-Bike to the rescue!
I agreed to rent an E-Bike for this trip and it worked great. I was able to keep up with her on the flatter sections without overexerting, and I wasn’t too far off the pace on the long climbs.
My husband and I have been biking together for almost 30 years but could just never ride at the same pace.
I am a bit of a jack rabbit and he is a bit of a tortoise and although we always end up at the same place it just takes him a lot longer.
After the first day on the Dolomites tour with ExperiencePlus! I texted our daughters, “Larry is doing great! This E-Bike thing might change our life! It’s so great being able to ride together after all these years!”
It gave us such joy to be riding next to each other the whole tour and experiencing everything together moment by moment instead of me waiting and him always trying to catch up.
It just made me smile every time I turned around to see him right there on my wheel. Best of all was when I could actually draft him, something that has never happened before.
To be clear, Larry wasn’t hauling down the road or bike path in “turbo” mode. He carefully managed the battery power on the E-Road Bike, and often didn’t use the assist.
On day 3 of the tour – which was one of the hardest days – he had to contend with a battery that didn’t properly charge the night before (this is technology after all, some glitches do come up!) Tour leaders gave it juice along the way when they could find a convenient place to plug in the battery while the group stopped to tour a castle, and again when we had lunch. Despite their best efforts, Larry’s day was cut short.
But that was the worst of it. For me, the best of it was watching Janice and Larry experience the Dolomites together. The photo below kind of says it all.
I recently chatted with a traveler whose fondness for E-Bikes parallels my fondness for liver pate, which is to say they would rather poke their eye out than be on a tour with an E-Bike. I get it. I really do, we’ve all had those feelings at one point I think!
We adopt new technologies at extremely different rates for a wide range of reasons. Consider another transportation advancement: the horse and the automobile . . .
But maybe we can simply accept that some new technologies are ones we might someday need. E-Bikes open doors. One day that door might be yours.