THIS FEBRUARY, A BLOG POST repeated last year’s highlight of a proposed revision of traditional seasons that takes into account the available daylight. Starting February 4, the suggested date for the beginning of the season referred to as The Brightening, an article in the magazine Backpackers.com, encouraged readers to get outdoors more.
Earned Runs thinks all outdoor enthusiasts could benefit from this novel season definition, especially in the planning of epic adventures that are best undertaken when days are long and environmental conditions are favorable for sustained physical effort.
However, not every member of a small group adventure will be able to perform at the same fitness level. For example, I would like to hike with others in a multi-day event that we design/organize ourselves, but would need to recruit a few others that walked with a backpack at my pace. It would not be fun to be the only one lagging behind, or to suffer injury trying to keep up with the leaders.
The same is true for a bicycle trip. I am not a ‘sufferfest’ kind of cyclist. However, cycling is an attractive mode of locomotion if enjoying diverse scenery on an adventure is a goal. By running or walking I’ll only be able to cover a relatively short distance. The viewing will be limited. Or the trip will take too many days and definitely stress all physical systems.
Recently I’ve heard about people who are no longer able to run long distances due to joint problems, but now use e-bikes (electrically powered bicycles) for physical exercise. And to challenge themselves in the ‘old’ self-powered way, but without the same wear-and tear issues.
An article in MensFitness.com “Why You Need an Electric Bike” highlights the growing popularity of the bike for commuting, and how using one can provide an workout. “So, you ask, if the bike is doing the work, where’s the exercise?” Exactly what I wanted to know. The author Patty Hodapp says, “the trick to making your e-bike a fitness tool is to use the motor just enough to keep it going”. Rev up the engine when your body is out of gas, she instructs.
The expert she references says that “between steering and pedaling” through your own efforts, not using the engine’s power, you can get a solid workout, especially in terms of core strengthening as your own body is required “to brace you with every turn.”
Another article in the Wall Street Journal (it not’s available free), “Instead of Slowing Down He Revved-up with an E-Bike” by Jen Murphy, features a 70-year old who was working too hard mountain biking for exercise, and turned to this bit of hi-tech boost for help. The article says that with the bike controls set a level 0, the bicyclist receives no assistance, but at levels 1-4 receives “proportional assistance based on how hard he pedals”. There’s a level 5, in which full power is provided. A throttle “gives him the option to not pedal at all.”
The 70 year semi-retired cameraman's workout, diet, gear (cost), and playlist are covered in the article, but it's the description of his adjustment to the e-bike that stands out. He's learned how to use heart rate to guide effort level for solid workouts, used the time-saving benefits of the e-bike to get more time outdoors, and involved family in e-biking when not training.
The cost of such e-exercise is high, however. The Pedego mountain bikes owned by the enthusiast are each $3,600 and the commuter bike is ~$2,500, according to the WSJ piece. Purchasing one is a significant investment that may require planning and saving. Cyclists may not be fazed by the price tag, as non-motorized models can be 2-3 times as expensive. A runner who worries about paying $160 for shoes could experience sticker shock. One or more rental rides or might be a great idea before purchase.
Other advice and comment is available on the internet about how to best use such bikes. There seem to be safety issues and concerns in the area of urban commuting.
Earned Runs is thinks that e-bikes might make certain epic adventures possible for some who would otherwise not be able to cover long distances under their own power (or might want a bit of 'insurance' on such a trip). The WSJ article demonstrates how athletes with injury or age related physical limitations can continue to enjoy moderately to very intense exercise.
What’s your experience or advice?
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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