Sunday, November 16, 2014

The electric bike solution

The trouble with exercise


Wanna decrease your migraines?  Get more exercise.  BUT if you have chronic migraines or chronic daily headache, you are generally so bushed that anything beyond an easy stroll seems insurmountable.  Fatigue is an ever-present problem.  I'm usually either recovering from a migraine or working up to the next one.  I used to walk a lot until I fell a couple of years ago.  I now have achilles tendonitis, which means that long walks and hikes are out.  I like to swim, but I don't do well with chlorine, so that's a summer activity for me.  I continue to do yoga and take short walks, but not much else.  I used to ride my bike, but we live in hilly terrain, and I just no longer have the stamina to go beyond our neighborhood.  While I might make it downtown or over to my son's house half way across town, I don't have the confidence that I can then get home without being totally wiped out.

Power


Now the equation has changed.  After much research and discussion with my husband, Cousin Carl, and friend Michael, a couple of weeks ago we went on a shopping trip to Seattle.  We bought a kit to retrofit my own bike with an electric motor, battery and controller.  I now have an electric bike which gives me the boost I need to pedal around our up-and-down town.  I took ten-mile bike ride last weekend and still had energy to devote to the rest of my day.  The bike allows me to pedal while the electric motor assists as much as I want or need it to.  It virtually eliminates the hills and vastly extends the distance I can go.  On the other hand, if I'm feeling energetic, I can cut the power assist and cruise along under my own steam.

Electric bicycles have been around for a while, but just in the last year or so there has been an upsurge in interest.  There are a lot of electrics on the road now.  People choose to ride an electric bike for a variety of reasons.  Some folks commute to work and don't want to arrive all sweaty and in need of a shower.  Some of us are getting older and have heath issues including joint problems that makes biking harder.  I have a friend who works nights.  His work place is close to home, but the return trip is up a big hill.  After a 12 hour shift, he just needs a little help getting home in the wee hours of the morning.

There are many options now.  If you're interested in an electric bicycle, you'll need to do your homework.  Seattle is a cycle-conscious city, so there is a lot available in terms of different brands, systems, range and power.  However, we found there was no one shop that carried all the different choices.  We had to drive all over town to look at a few on the top of our list. You can buy a bike all tricked out with the electric system built in or you can retrofit your own bike with a kit.  There is a big price range.  They're not cheap, but neither is a gym membership.

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