Ken Gold: E-bike let’s me ride trails again
I’m a 68-year-young, 42-year resident who started riding mountain bikes on Emerald Mountain in the ’70s, pre-bike trails. I rode daily until I couldn’t because years of “too much fun” caught up with my knees and riding trails hurt. I started riding road bikes, but it wasn’t the same. I missed riding our beautiful trails.
Last year, I had a knee replacement and used an e-bike for rehab, and it was great to be riding, but could I ride trails, again? I tried, and it was rejuvenating.
I’ve asked many mountain bikers what are their objections to e-bikes on Emerald. Did they damage trails? I found out they are less damaging because, unlike a mountain bike, where the tires might spin out when accelerating, e-bikes accelerate smoothly.
I heard comments about going too fast on trails. My e-bike weighs 50 pounds, so riding up trails with obstacles and switchbacks, I ride the same speed as regular bikers and use minimal power, but it does allow me to climb steep sections, which hurt my knees.
I’ve been confronted by riders on Emerald, but when I asked what their objections are, they haven’t voiced any. The origin of restricting motorized bikes on trails stems from no dirt bikes, and e-bikes were never contemplated, but Class 1 e-bikes require peddling.
It comes down to courtesy. If you’re a respectful e-biker or mountain biker, you get out of the way if people want to pass you, you move off the trail if people are coming up and you’re going down, you respect all other riders and the trails.
In the ’90s, my kids were too young to ride with me. Now, my kids are Olympic athletes, and for the last 10 years, I haven’t been able to ride with them. This year, on my e-bike, we were able to ride together to the top of Emerald, and it was awesome, and maybe, I’ll get to do that with my grandchildren.
I’ve always supported the mountain biking community, even when I couldn’t use the trails, but now, I can if the city and all my fellow bikers are open minded and understand that, eventually, they, too, will appreciate e-bikes on the trails they’ve grown to love.
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