I have an E-Bike that I have written about before. I bought it to get exercise and to get around to take pictures. It is not the bike I wanted, it is one that I settled for when the one I wanted did not get to me after two months from the time I placed the order. The one I now have is fine for the road but as I have come to find out, is terrible for off road use on steep terrain. I found out the hard way this morning. Gravity could really suck sometimes.
I have not been riding much lately because during most of November and December it was raining. Then it got cold. However, the last few days have been suitable for riding except that the roads, in the morning, are wet from the dew. This morning I chose to take a different course. Normally I ride on the roads. These are windy paved roads that either run along the ridges or dip into and out of the valleys. Some are steep, very steep, but doable given my bike has 1000 watts of power (I really don’t believe that). Regardless I have been able to negotiate all of the hills in the area. Today was the first time I took the bike off-road with some surprising results.
Just a few lines of geek so that you’ll understand the issues I found today. The bike is made of steel similar to the kind used to make aircraft carriers. Maybe thicker. The bike weights 35 kilos or 77 pounds. It has four-inch wide, 26 inch tires, which raises the frame up pretty high. About 2 inches higher than my crotch. I am very tall for my height and my legs are on the long side of short. When I stop on level ground I need to scoot my ass to one side or the other so that my foot reaches the ground. Kind of like a 6 year old riding his big brothers bike. Since my right leg is longer than my left (which was shortened due to a fracture many years ago) I typically land on my right side. The problem is that when I stop on a side slope, if I pick the wrong side, my foot never hits the ground and over I go, bike and all.
The other issue with the bike is the way the power assist works. The drive motor is in the rear wheel hub. A sensor monitors my peddling and applies power assist. It senses both the speed of my peddling and the force being applied. So as the hill becomes steeper, the added force of my pedding tells the bike I need more power. But then when I downshift and the peddling quickens, the bike compensates for that. Understand that the motor does not have enough power to take me up a hill without my peddling. It’s there just to help. Now here is the problem: when the peddling gets really slow like when you are going up a steep, rocky slope, even if the gears are at the lowest setting, the motor shuts off and the bike stops dead. And I fall down. Four times. I did not get hurt because the bike was still, other than the sideways vector towards the center of the earth. I fell gracefully each time rolling away and down the slope. If I were a kid it would not have had any effect. But I am not, and now I am walking like Quasimodo, but not as gracefully.
The route I took today is one I have been curious about for a while. The villa where we live, and its several acres of land, is enclosed by a tall cast iron fence and it has a gate at the end of a long drive. Just outside the gate, if you turn left you are on the paved road. But if you turn right there is a dirt trail that runs through the woods and down a steep hill. The trail is rocky, muddy and slippery and eventually leads to olive groves and a small vineyard. Yesterday morning when I looked out the apartment window I saw the thick mist in the valley below. The problem is that there is a woods between the villa and the valley so taking pictures is problematic. I could walk through the woods and take some shots but I decided that I would take the bike. Which is what I did this morning. In case you’re wondering, there is no way to drive a car to get this particular view. Maybe if you have a good off-road vehicle but not a regular car.
Knowing how steep the trail was and how muddy and rocky it is, my intention was to go down, take some photos, and then keep going down to the bottom of the slope where there is a road that I could take back home. The trail ended at the bottom of the fields which were about halfway up the slope. To continue all the way down I would have to blaze a trail through thick brush on steep slopes. I had no option but to go back up the hill. At this point I decided that I hate my bike. I, after having fallen off a few times, ended-up pushing the bike up the hill. I did use the motor to help for that but it still was lots of dirty work. But I did get some photos.