I never realised that my accident in a 600 km Audax last September (2018) would play such a huge part in my future cycling and certainly expected it to be many years before I’d have to resign myself to using an E-bike. For those not familiar with what happened, during a fast turn into a corner I didn’t take account of the gravel surface and came down hard and fast, shattering my left hip. But it turns out the hip wasn’t really the main issue, my knee must also have been injured too.
More than six months later and I’m only just getting them to look at it, despite my protestations that it wasn’t the hip causing the knee pain right from the start. After an MRI I’ve been told there is a lot of wear and a small tear, so at least I’m getting a further arthroscopy to investigate. The main problem is it’s not a priority for them and I’m going to be on a long waiting list, as going private is not an option for us.
If I’m honest this is nothing more than I expected from the first hospital visit, which is why I made the decision to put my bikepacking kit (including the bike) up for sale. My thinking was I would have to get a special adapter that would allow me to continue cycling (without being able to bend the knee normally) and look at an E-bike to help me with distance and effort. Selling the kit was a tough call as I was effectively saying I would not return to bikepacking or ultra cycling events as a competitor ever again.
To accept this and move on, I took two positives from my situation: firstly I could now concentrate on my two girls and with any luck they would inherit our (mine and Hilke’s) love of the outdoors and secondly, I could make a return to cycling photography. Another way of keeping in touch with a sport I’m so passionate about would be as a volunteer and I’ve already done TRATN (the race around the Netherlands) which has just ended and I’m signed up to TCR07 as a volunteer in August.
Choosing an E-bike was a lengthy process, because I wanted something that would cope with ‘real’ mountains and not just another city bike. I may have stepped away from competition but that’s not going to stop me from playing in the hills and valleys, particularly as I continue to volunteer for events and expand on my photography coverage of others.
Enter the Giant Explore E+ 1 STA. I looked at all its main rivals and price per performance, IMHO the Giant towers above all of them. Like (most) other E-bikes it’s no lightweight at xx kg, but performance wise it more than makes up for the additional weight. Riding solo you’re only held back by its 25 kph top-out when assisted by the motor; attach a child trailer and two kids and it’s a real beast easily coping with hills and if you wanted, cruising all day at 25 kph.
Let’s look at the downside though, 25 kph is not really fast is it? Certainly not if you’re used to riding a road bike and sweeping along at 30+ kph. So I’m going to be removing the limit for my non-family outings and I’ll do another post after I break it in, so stay tuned (pun intended). The perfect solution is an invisible way to easily switch between the two and this is what I’m going for. But before I go off and do some actual riding, a quick mention of two other bits of kit that were pretty necessary, a decent lock and some luggage.
The lock had to be something that was reasonably portable but of good quality, in other words, something that would see off a pair of bolt cutters. Again I did my research and the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 with Flex fitted the bill perfectly and would fit nicely into the elasticated top section of the luggage. As my rear rack was fitted with the MIK locking system, I chose a Basil Trunkbag 7-15L with a really neat feature – drop down sides that effectively turned it into a pair of panniers. Perfect for my now reduced luggage needs.
This luggage will get a thorough workout as I make my way to CP3 for TCR07 later in the summer and I’m confident it will do the job. I got so used to using a Camelbak for my liquid needs and will continue to do so with the E-bike.
Parting with all my previous kit had been a necessity to enable me to raise the funds for this new bike and accessories, but I’m more than happy with what I’ve been able to substitute it for. Thank you to all those who made this possible by purchasing my gear, I hope you enjoy using it just as much as I did.
I’ll give you an update in a few weeks after I’ve had the opportunity to test out the new kit, but if my initial feelings are anything to go by, I’m loving this new toy and the feeling of speed that goes with it. Only problem is, the growing bulge around my middle is telling me I have to get back to also riding indoors (so I’ll need a second adapter) and keep myself fit. It would be all too easy to sit back and let the (electric) bike do all the work!