I don’t go on a lot of organized group rides, but Yamaha invited me to participate in the Ride SB100, a series of fun rides through the roads around Santa Barbara. This was the first year the ride officially had an e-bike class, and Yamaha was sponsoring it. I thought, how could I say no?
The SB100 offers four different routes. There’s an easy 34-miler, a 100-kilometer, a 100-kilometer that included a daunting 3,000-foot elevation climb called Gibraltar, and finally an official “century ride” for 100 miles.
I don’t do long rides with 4000-plus feet of climbing often. The 34-miler seemed too easy. I’ve never ridden a full century, so that left the other two to choose from. The extra 3000 feet of climbing, even with an e-bike, scared me away from Gibraltar, so I went with the regular 100-kilometer. I can ride 62 miles, right? And Yamaha promised extra batteries if I needed them. So, I signed up for it.
The 100-mile group set off bright and early at 7 a.m. while it was chilly, but it wouldn’t stay that way. Our 100-kilometer group left at 7:30. Between the signs and all the experienced riders who have done this more than once, it was pretty easy to know where to go.
I talked e-bikes with other people on e-bikes and with several who weren’t. I tried not to pass too many pedal bikes on climbs, especially the steep ones, but sometimes I had no choice. I got reactions from snickers to “I wish I had one of those right now!” to one kid riding with his brother and dad asking if I could tow him up.
While on both the Ride SB100 ride and riding the streets of Hollywood with the LAPD officers, I was reminded of how bad our roads are becoming. I’m spoiled when riding a bike with suspension, but with rigid, unforgiving aluminum or carbon bikes like the ones most of the riders on the Ride SB100 were on (mostly road bikes), the cracks, bumps and potholes are painful—and can cause damage to wheels, cause flats, etc.
California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, just signed an executive order taking away the money from our newest gas tax to fund other projects. We the people voted that tax in when it was specifically to only be used for road and infrastructure maintenance. Now we’re not only paying the highest gas tax in the nation, but our roads are going
to keep getting worse. Thanks for that, guy!
Later in the ride, I passed a few people, then caught up with an older gent who I estimated was in his mid-to-late 60s. I noticed his rear hub looked a bit larger than normal, then saw the e-bike designation on his bib. I pulled up closer and struck up a conversation. His name was Bob, and he was riding a sweet-looking Wilier Cento1 drop-bar e-bike. It was so stealth-like, I might never have noticed except for the hub motor, the Lilliputian-like Ebikemotion X35, had a white sticker still attached, showing off its bigger-than-normal hub size.
REALLY JUST A KID
Bob, it turns out, wasn’t in his 60s; he was 78! He still rides a regular road bike, but he finds he likes the Wilier, which weighs a scant 26 pounds, to be the one he goes to first. He and his wife love to travel and take their bikes. He was telling me they’re going to Kona soon, and that he’s going to buy an extra battery and have it shipped there since he can’t carry a battery with him on the plane. His zest for life and adventure was inspiring!
I parted ways with him at an aid station while he refueled. At this point, everything was spread out quite a bit, and cyclists along the route were few and far between. I decided to go it alone and just follow the route signs. I missed one somewhere and didn’t see any signs for a while. I pulled out Google Maps, and I was going further away from the finish of the ride, not moving closer. I used the app to get me going in the right direction, finally finding a sign. This had taken me over 10 miles off-course, so I was guaranteed at least a 72-mile adventure.
On the ride through the beautiful UCSB campus in Goleta, which is a very bike-friendly campus with bike racks full of bikes everywhere and a bike path with roundabouts to help with traffic, I caught up with a group of women all on Pedego Interceptors. They were all wearing Sena communication helmets and having a grand time on the ride, enjoying the scenery and having a good conversation.
I talked e-bikes with them for a while, then kept going when they took a break for a few of them to swap batteries. They had all brought three each, and this was their first swap, which was less than 5 miles from the finish.
When I finally crossed the finish line my legs were spent, but it had been a great day, and it was all thanks to Yamaha for making it happen. Although e-bikes have yet to catch on with these type of group rides, it was obvious that there is an active community of e-bike riders looking for rides to enjoy and meet other e-bike fans. I highly recommend this type of ride to all of you.
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I’d love to hear some great reader stories about how e-bikes have changed your life. E-mail me stories
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