By Richard Davis
Our species is living longer and that means that we have to become creative as we look for ways to exercise and stay mobile during our advancing years. I started inline skating more than 25 years ago and it has always been my go-to exercise.
But bodies change and age takes its toll.
I had hoped to keep skating as long as I could walk but that proved to be an unrealistic goal. Osteoarthritis has forced me to recalibrate my expectations as I try to deal with worn out joints and spine and spinal cord issues.
It would be easy to use the state of bodily decay as an excuse for becoming a couch potato. I will never head down that road and I believe that many people of my generation are motivated to find ways to keep active despite physical problems.
The popularity of the game Pickleball has been bolstered by the older generation as a fun way to compete on the court without having to stay in the same kind of shape needed to compete in the U.S. Open. There are many other lower impact activities that suit the needs of those of us who want to “stay in the game.”
As I had to move away from skating along the great bike trails in the area I moved to bicycle riding. It is a safer and less demanding activity than inline skating and you can ride just about anywhere. Although bike riding on roads is relatively safe I still prefer to ride along bike trails. They are generally more peaceful and provide predictable riding surfaces.
There are so many bikes to choose from and a rider can find just the right one for their needs. The price range can be extreme. But what if you can’t easily propel yourself on a conventional bike and you still want to ride? Electric bikes are the answer.
Electric bikes (e-bike) allow you to pedal as little or as much as you want and they are a lot of fun to ride. My body has made it nearly impossible for me to enjoy a ride on a conventional bike but the e-bike has made it possible for me to ride just about anywhere I want.
E-bikes are not new. In fact, the first patent for an e-bike was granted on December 31, 1895, to Ogden Bolton Jr. He invented a battery-powered electric bicycle with a “6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel.
And according to ebicycles.com, “In 2019, the electric bicycle market was estimated at $15.42 billion and is expected to achieve a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 7.49% between 2020-2025. The same year, pedal-assisted electric bicycles dominated the market by propulsion type. They accounted for 88.36% of the worldwide market. Urban e-bikes dominated the market by application type.
Between 2020 and 2023, upwards of 130 million electric bicycles (using all battery technologies) are expected to be sold worldwide. In 2023, e-bike sales are estimated to reach 40 million units worldwide, generating about US$20 billion in revenue.”
I bought an e-bike from the Seattle-based RAD company. It is extremely well-designed and has five levels of assist, a 7 speed gear shifter and a throttle similar to a motorcycle. Using just the throttle can propel you up to 20 mph, depending on the terrain. The battery charge is good for about 50 miles, depending on how much assist you use. The cost is about $1500.
It is no exaggeration to say that my e-bike has changed my life. If you need a little help finding ways to exercise check them out. In Brattleboro you can borrow one from Brooks Memorial Library to test. Vermonters also have an additional resource for consultation about e-bikes at: vbikesolutions.org. Check them out. It could be just what the doctor ordered.