From e-bike snob to “won me over”: Pedaling Monterey County with a boost-on-demand from e-assist

By Mari Lynch, Bicycling Monterey

In May 2009, when I founded the Bicycling Monterey site and projects, I was enjoying steep rural climbs five or six days a week. My fitness level was excellent, and as my physician remarked, my legs were so strong.

Then, ironically, I let bike advocacy cut into my personal saddle time. Sure, I was still biking, but far more hours went to the increased demands of the Bicycling Monterey projects than to self-care—including time on my bike. Every year I thought I’d get that back into balance, yet didn’t make the necessary changes.

Bike advocates often experience a mistaken assumption about what we do—that we get to spend most of our days out riding. One day an empathetic comment got my attention. It was made by an executive with a national cycling association, who I became acquainted with because of Monterey County’s high school mountain bike teams. Although that exec does put a lot of miles on his bike, his comment that day, in his typically cheery tone, was: Biking all day? I was in meetings all day.

Many people find that too many hours of the day go to screen time, i.e., emails, virtual meetings, social media communications, website maintenance, webinars, and more. With new technology came a rise in sedentary hours, and public health professionals say sitting is the new smoking. I can imagine many of you saying,“You bet. Too much sitting. We’d rather be BIKING!”

Direct outreach by bike is my favorite bike advocacy role. That includes Monterey Peninsula cities such as CarmelMontereyPebble Beach, and Seaside; biking the Alisal and elsewhere in our Monterey County seat and largest city, Salinas; biking Castroville and other North County communities and Greenfield and other South County communities; and often doing outreach when biking outside Monterey County too. I love being on my bike, which is how Bicycling Monterey began—greeting folks on the bikeways.

Over Bicycling Monterey’s first eight years, of my own volition, I put well over ten thousand, all-volunteer hours into advocating for bicycling—providing bikemonterey.org and additional projects. That sprung from my joy in biking and commitment to earth care / environmental sustainability, along with my appreciation for the many other benefits of bicycling. Still, how could ten thousand hours of volunteering, on top of my regular work, not cut into one’s personal saddle time!

The path to reclaiming my earlier fitness level now includes a first: giving up my former “electric bicycles snobbery” and making use of an e-assist made by Raleigh Electric Bikes, the Raleigh Superbe iE Step Thru.

Because I’m committed to earth stewardship, including more sustainable transportation choices, it’s surprising that, without looking into e-bikes carefully, I’d accepted an attitude of e-bike snobs: that electric-assist bicycles aren’t “real bikes,” and riding an e-assist is, well, “cheating.” And I mistakenly thought you wouldn’t get much of a workout with a “cheater bike.”

But as my beloved dad often said, “You learn something new every day,” and “The person who makes a mistake and doesn’t correct it makes two.” What first led to the shift in my erroneous thinking about e-assist bicycles was the positive, respectful approach of Larry Pizzi, who I met in 2011 at the Bicycle Leadership Conference. Later his tweets sharing educational resources got my attention. Over time, my opinion about e-assist bicycles changed. And now, as the happy owner of a Raleigh Superbe iE, I most often leave my old bike in the garage.

Check out some Monterey Peninsula scenes from today’s ride below.

An e-assist is giving me the boost I need on numerous routes throughout Monterey County and elsewhere. Rather than too often relying on a bike-and-ride option, or just driving, my hours in the saddle are back to increasing.

Raleigh Electric Bicycles were among demos at the 27th Annual Sea Otter Classic 2017. As with the rest of the world, the bike world is changing. Having e-bike vendors, demos, races, and sponsors at SOC gives people a great opportunity to check out another sustainable transportation option.

The Superbe iE is my first brand-new bicycle in decades, and a very worthwhile investment. Although I telecommute to work, many other people will find just this factor alone of interest: looking for a place to park a motor vehicle. Drivers in San Francisco, e.g., spend an average of $1,735/year just looking for a place to park, as reported in https://www.geekwire.com/2017/inrix-study-find-americans-waste-73-billion-per-year-looking-parking-spot/. That’s well above the cost of the Raleigh Superbe iE.

About e-bike Laws

Check back in November and December for more of my e-assist adventures, including in Big Sur and elsewhere.

And now, see where my Raleigh Superbe iE Step Thru went on the Monterey Peninsula the last day of September.

Enjoying the oak-studded, rolling golden hills of California along scenic California State Route 68, the Monterey-Salinas Highway…

Then turning off 68 and entering Del Rey Oaks via CA SR 218 / Canyon Del Rey.

Just less than a mile down 218 / Cyn del Rey, I turned onto General Jim Moore Boulevard. Soon I took a short detour onto South Boundary Road, familiar to many because it leads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home of the annual Sea Otter Classic and many other events, including monthly Twilight Rides.

Returning from South Boundary, I got back onto General Jim Moore Boulevard and headed north.

General Jim Moore stretches from Del Rey Oaks to Seaside to Marina. Although a Class I or Class IVbikeway here would have been even better, this boulevard still includes some of Seaside’s most popular infrastructure for people who bike.

Seaside residents Janet Beaty and Jack Long are among people who stay fit by not skipping the General Jim Moore Boulevard hills. (To learn about Jack and Janet, see Dennis Taylor’s 10/9/14 story in the Monterey County Herald, “Seaside couple bikes 2,300 miles to 50th reunion.”)

The General Jim Moore hills are a piece of cake for Monterey County riders like Keith DeFiebre. (Learn about Keith in Karen Kefauver’s 9/14/17 “Spin City” column in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, “Keith DeFiebre fuels pedal power of Monterey Bay and beyond.”)

But lately I’d been skipping General Jim Moore Boulevard, opting for a flatter route. Of course, that meant I was missing the boulevard’s beautiful views of Laguna Seca and the Monterey Bay. Since I now have the option of engaging e-assist on the uphill portions if I’m tired, I no longer hesitate to take this route just because of a few hills!

This means I’m safer too. There’s not only better infrastructure, there’s also less motor vehicle traffic on this route than on the alternate route I used to take.

It had also gotten to where I seldom took a detour onto McClure Way to enjoy the views en route to HER Helmet Thursdays spot Bayonet Bar & Grill at Bayonet Black Horse. Why? I didn’t relish the thought of pedaling back uphill.

That’s where an e-assist again changed my route. It made me eager to pedal Bayonet’s hills so I could enjoy their lovely grounds and sweeping views of the Monterey Bay.

Back up from McClure Way, I headed north again on General Jim Moore Boulevard, in the direction of the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery. (Check bikemonterey.org around Veterans Day for photos of that cemetery.)

I passed Porter Youth Center, one of the Bicycling Monterey public outreach locations.

California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and Monterey College of Law are two of the many college campuses where more students are getting back to bikes.

 

Took a little detour on Divarty, appreciating the work of other bike advocates in fostering the creation of the CSUMB bicycle boulevards—among them, eco-groovy Megan Tolbert and League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor (LCI) Bernard Green.After biking around CSUMB campus, biked across the Highway 1 overpass to the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail at the intergenerational ride meet-up spot, Fort Ord Dunes State Park—just in time for sunset.

Pedaled on this quiet section of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail to Sand City and Seaside, pausing to share tips with inquiring visitors, as is my pleasure.

Ended my day biking through Seaside’s city streets to connect with Hwy 68 and head back to my home in rural Monterey County.—Grateful for the renewal of body, mind, and spirit that comes from traveling by bike in the fresh air, and grateful for my fresh thinking about electric-assist bicycles.

Would you rather hear more waves or more cars?

Environmental benefits of bicycles apply to ebikes too, including reduced noise pollution. Imagine hearing the Monterey Bay waves that are just off to the right, instead of hearing the motor vehicle noise of California’s Highway 1. In the Monterey Bay area, and elsewhere, as more people use traditional bicycles, e-bikes, and other electric vehicles, what we hear will change—for the better!

See you on the bikeways.

 

© 2017 by Mari Lynch. Used by permission.