Not for glory, nor award, I raced the #ebike category at the @belgianwaffleride last Sunday on my Niner. An ebike is no substitute for training or talent. Yes, for a moment, I can move faster than any other rider on course but you must be acutely aware that the battery on my RLT E9 RDO would not last the entire 130km (rumor is that a full charge is good for approx 50 miles in economy mode) so I spent 4 hours getting dropped, pedaling without the electronic assist, while trying to hang with the lead group, then the chase group, then in no-woman’s land and eventually in the chase chase chase group. I did not want to pedal a 40ish pound bike (with stock wheels still on it) up the dreaded “double peak” climb, often where a race winning move goes away as the defining feature in the last few miles of the course.
It was a strange, humbling experience. I’ve been recovering from a muscle tear, so I have no fitness but, I have experience is using what I’ve got. I managed the battery usage so that I was in the final bar of available power as we began climbing double peak. I hit it into turbo-mode and though my legs were cramping, I caught and passed the dozen riders that put me outside of the top 20 to finish in 9th place overall once I crossed the finish line.
Will I race ebikes again? Probably! I’m still healing and trying to be a smart athlete and not overdo it and push myself too hard in these long off road races and rides. until I get the OK from my doctor. Did it feel like cheating? Honestly, no. ebikes all weigh around 40-50 lbs and even with a fast set of @envecomposites wheels, that weight is a limiter to performance over longer distances and absolutely on any climbing grades. While riding in “Economy” mode I could not keep pace with a group I normally would easily be able to. Yet in the next step up “Tour” mode, I could maintain a pace near my unassisted steady-state or tempo pace while exerting less energy so I could ride just a little faster for much longer while burning less matches.
I love that #BWR has gone back to the mass-start all categories start together at the same time. They designed the course with a small selective climb within the first miles miles and a longer climb in the first 5miles so the field would safely and naturally sort itself out. I moved into the front group on the climbs with the assist and then sat back off the back of the lead group to let the non-e riders race their own race. I mostly tried to stay out of the way of errrybody.
It was FUN AS HELL. And, hard! Ebikes are silly, effective and a completely new and exciting way to experience riding bicycles and racing bicycles. Battery management will always be a consideration and that heavily defines how you will race an ebike on any given course. It has opened up a whole new world of exploration to me on a lot of my regular training routes. I am stoked.