The Other Side of E-Biking...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Ebruner, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    I'll admit it... I'm e-bike curious. Definitely not for myself and I'd really rather not see them in my local parks for all of the reasons that we can all agree (or disagree) on. Opinions on e-bike access aside, I'm mostly not all that interested in them right now because of access issues, but also because they don't allow me to do anything that I couldn't do with my own power. I could go on and on about what the future could look like for e-bikes (replacement for dirt bikes in an ohv park?) but really that's the future and we don't know how that's going to work.

    What we do know right now is that e-bikes are a thing that allow certain people to do something that they never dreamed they could.... Enter my 65 year old father from Wisconsin.

    I've waxed on poetically about mountain biking for years to my family. I mean, I'm so addicted that it's really difficult for it to not come up in conversation. I think my family isn't quite sure where to draw the line between; addict, cult member or dare devil. It's hard to describe some times where I'm riding, why I feel like I NEED to do it and the fact that it's generally, safe.

    My father is 65 years old, retired and from wisconsin. He's quite the adrenaline junky and he's the reason I grew up with a steady diet of downhill skiing, kite surfing/skiing, scuba diving, racing motocross and racing cars. He's never been huge on exercise but he's always been big on danger factor when it comes to hobbies. He's always been curious about what I do and has always wanted to see some of the more remote areas that I describe. Sure, we've done some hiking together in those areas... but when you grow up scuba diving with your dad at age 12 or skiing the back country at vail and colorado at a young age with him... hiking just doesn't scratch the itch.

    Recently, his health has started a some what sharp decline. Even up to 3 years ago, he was still downhill skiing at a pretty high level and doing kite surfing on the frozen lakes of wisconsin. He's still by my definition a badass. But 2 years ago, he had a very near miss with DVT and a few blood clots. He's developed some issues with his feet and back that mean he can walk reasonably well, but needs to sit to take the load off his feet/legs often. Of course, this also combines with some high blood pressure and cholesterol issues that leave him not being able to do many of the things he loved and did just a few years ago.

    So... that brings us to last week. My dad was scheduled for his annual visit and was feeling down about coming to grips that he wouldn't be doing the hobbies he loves this next snow season. He was in a funk mentally. So I got a crazy idea... what if, I rented an e-bike and took him for a ride. Nothing crazy and since I'm still bitter about morons in my local parks, nothing illegal. I did some thinking and came to the conclusion the safest and least offense thing to do, would be to rent an e-bike and do a run up and down blackstar. While questionably illegal, I felt some moral justification of what I was doing and where I was doing it considering the circumstances.

    This was by definition, a stupid idea. I cannot condone, nor promote, taking an out of shape, 65 year old man with high cholesterol, DVT (on persistent blood thinners), questionable judgement (I mean, I am my fathers son) and most certainly questionable bike handling skills on a moderate ride in the middle of no where. I kept telling myself, "this is a really bad idea." I was forthright with my father about how dumb of an idea I thought it could turn out to be and maybe we shouldn't do this and that was met with prideful anger. It became clear to me that my father was sick of being told what he can't do any more, I can relate to that.

    I had a moment of clarity as I pushed this 50lb rental monstrosity out of the shop. This would be a day I would remember as either glorious or miserable and not much in between. We took the bike back to the house to get it and my dad situated. I wanted to get some comfort level in the neighborhood with him and the bike and teach him a few basic bike handling skills. Overall it went better then expected and I had some optimism for the next morning.

    I could barely sleep. Looking back, I'd like to tell myself it was from excitement, but it was fear. I was panicking and I felt like I created this situation I couldn't stop. I was busy in the morning checking my first aid kit over and over for things I know I always carry and never use; asprin, woundseal powder, more asprin, etc etc. I was laser focused on getting ready and got the truck loaded and everything situated. I looked up right as my father was walking out the front door in his loaned riding clothing that was from some larger days for me... He looked the part and was grinning ear to ear. His level of stoke made me forget all my concerns.

    All of a sudden, I went from scared shitless, to watching another person get bit by the mountain biking bug.

    We got to blackstar and unloaded the bikes. An underlying feeling of embarrassment and self consciousness came and went as rider after riding rolled by and eyed up the bright green LEDs on the levo. I put all that aside and said fuckit, lets just start pedaling.

    It was a gorgeous day (8/30) and temps were in the low 70s with some hints of blue poking through the marine layer. We started turning over the pedals and my father started exploring his new found freedom. We cuttied back and forth and discussed the nuances of leaning mountain bikes over and where to put your weight. I did my best to explain the do's and don'ts but I was really too terrified that he was going to eat Sh!t on a rock or some sand to really do the techniques justice.

    Before I knew it we were past the bridges and were approaching the first switch back to head up the hill. My dad was hammering at the pedals with the full assist mode which I was able to oblige and still keep some conversation. Once the road turned vertical he was off like a flash. He would pedal ahead a bit by about 100-150' and would realize he was out pacing me and would slow up a bit and wait.

    kxOSTus.jpg



    We continued on and jawed back and forth like we always do. It didn't take long until the Sh!t talking started and he immediately pounced on me with a pointed question of why he has to wait so much for me. The pace settled down to conversational and my dad got comfortable on his rental steed. I was burning a bit of a sweat and he of course, was bone dry. All my concerns about his safety or health washed away and we were just out for a father/son mountain bike ride like it was something we did every weekend.

    1bUk62F.jpg

    fl9sgEQ.jpg

    A few times on the trip up to beeks I caught myself just riding along and smiling. My dad would get silent occasionally and I'd ask him what's up and he would just shake it off and say how beautiful it was. We got to hidden ranch area and kept rolling through. Once it got steep after that my Dad got bored of my slow pace and motored on ahead to check out the scenery. We got to Beeks and took a nice break and I recounted some stories about the area and the rides I go on, where the recent fires were and what landmarks you could see.

    IK8RjTY.jpg

    We finished our breather and decided to head down. This is where some of the panic floated back in for me. I was definitely concerned about the downhill. Even with the 3" tires, full suspension and 200mm rotors front and back, I was concerned about my dads ability to go downhill, as it would turn out, so was he.

    JkgbvCD.jpg

    We turned downhill and slowly proceeded down the dusty, rocky slope. I took my time and carved every corner slowly and with a textbook outside/inside/outside line. I must have looked back about 500 times on the way down, my brain was expecting the worst but every time I turned around all I saw was an ear to ear grin. The trip down was a hoot for him and un-eventful. We chatted later about how going down was the hardest part, and he could fully see how this bike would let people like him climb up something that put them over their head on the way down. Interesting food for thought.

    We loaded up the bikes and headed to get some beers and lunch. My dad was giddy like I hadn't seen him in a few years. He just kept talking about how at his age, you start to assume you won't be able to experience things like that any more and how it made him feel like a kid again. He enjoyed it so much that he demanded that we get up and do the whole ride again before we turned the rental back in the next day.

    Say what you will about e-bikes... I know I have and will continue to. However, it changes a bit when you see an e-bike give some one the ability to see/do something that they never thought possible. I still don't know where I stand on them in my local digs and on my local trails. I'll still likely politely inform people of the legality... but maybe now I'll be asking a few questions first about why they are on the e-bike before I jump into that.

    For me... I got to share what I love with my Dad. I got to show him just a sliver of what I feel passionate about and the places I love to go. Sure you could say that my hypocritical view on e-bikes detracts from this story and may make a few people scoff. But I think all of us just love to share mountain biking with people... and that's what this was.

    For me... this picture says everything. I'll cherish this moment and this photo for the rest of my life, and I know my dad will too.
    kx4TG5I.jpg
     
    Sassyquatch, mike, Oaken and 44 others like this.
  2. LLPoolJ

    LLPoolJ Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Moreno Valley
    Name:
    James Johnson
    Current Bike:
    Specy Epic and Stumpy
    Bad ass
     
  3. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    Spectacular.

    I don’t condone them either, but I do understand that for a small % they are a benefit. They do have a time and a place.

    Nice way to spend the afternoon with pops.
     
  4. pperrelle

    pperrelle Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Carlsbad
    Name:
    Paul
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley V3, Ibis Tranny
    That's some good stuff there Eric!
     
  5. UPSed

    UPSed iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Simi Valley
    Name:
    Edward Bottorff
    Current Bike:
    Niner Jet 9 RDO Plus
    What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing!
     
  6. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    A moment to never forget. :thumbsup:
     
  7. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Great story with a great ending.
    If I remember correctly you write for a living, right?
    I think you edged into the subject with precise craftsmanship. There is a tough balance we are trying to find.

    I'm sure that if my step dad was alive, I would have done the same exact thing. I have never met my father so no telling there.

    I don't know Blackstar at all. It looks to be fire road from every pic, so I'm not sure why the reservation about taking an eBike on it as it would be totally legal.
    None the less, the ping pong affect of your conscious going back and forth certainly kept me humble as you struggled to do what's right and do your father right as well.

    Personally, I think the whole story is spot on amazing and refreshing! I have never had an issue with such a logical choice as this. The background story makes perfect sense to toss your dad on an eBike so you can commune your passion. If I was in the parking lot with you guys and someone were to talk smack I would be the first to defend. I applaud you and your Dad.

    This was the best after the weekend Ride Report I have read in years, and thanks for trusting us enough to share it, so we can enjoy it with you. :thumbsup:
    Thank you Erik.
     
  8. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Thanks Mikie. I don't write for a living (any more). I am a journalism major and spent some of my younger days working in the online and print media before deciding it wasn't for me. I still dust off the old writing chops for things like this and at times I feel like I should do it more consistently when I slap something like this together.

    I'm happy to share it with this group with all the positive feed back that occurs on this site (in general), especially with ride reports. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. I was still glowing from the experience this morning when I dropped my dad off at the airport and frankly so was he. He was talking about doing some winter fat biking and he's generally stoked to get on a bike for exercise. That was an un-expected outcome to this whole thing... but in retrospect, why should it be. Bikes are fun and they make all of us feel like kids again, that's the point to this whole thing!

    Thanks again for reading and commenting Mikie.
     
  9. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    I believe in miracles.
    One of them just may be that your Pops riding bikes will just evolve into amazing health improvement. I am a firm believer in that, and so I am expectantly waiting to hear the awesome results of his new found two wheeled love. Bikes can heal the woes of this world.
    :)
     
  10. LLPoolJ

    LLPoolJ Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Moreno Valley
    Name:
    James Johnson
    Current Bike:
    Specy Epic and Stumpy
    Mikie, I am yo fatha. Somehow!
     
  11. Robbie

    Robbie Member

    Location:
    Anaheim
    Name:
    Rob
    Current Bike:
    Specialized camber evo
    Great story. I'll want one when I can no longer do it unassisted. I have no problem with e-bikes at places like Blackstar, Skyline, Floop, Chino Hills, etc. Anything doubletrack with good sightlines.
    I think e-bikes should be banned from singletrack in county parks and backcountry. It's the enduro bros at places like Aliso, using e-bikes to shuttle the downhills, and proliferation of new, unfit/unskilled riders, too lazy or weak to build climbing ability , that are going to cause user conflicts.
     
  12. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Can everybody "Like" Robbie so he is no longer a Newbie with Hope! :)
     
  13. konakc

    konakc Well-Known Member

    Name:
    kc
    there's hope for you yet Jason! I'm with you... e bikes are abused in our local trails but on the other hand, the e bikes open up our great hobby to some that would never, or could never do it...
     
  14. konakc

    konakc Well-Known Member

    Name:
    kc
    e bruner.. Your an awesome son. A great ride up... I mean a great write up...
    thank you.
     
  15. konakc

    konakc Well-Known Member

    Name:
    kc
    I once took my dad up on a hike up to Mt Whitney.. he made it past ??lone pine lake?? and into the alpine valley with the meandering creek and water at the edge... then he said to me, "you making me feel old.. I gotta turn back."
    I just assumed my dad could make it all the way up...
     
  16. HBkites

    HBkites Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    Name:
    Sharone
    Current Bike:
    Why Cycles S7
    I have a few friends who bought ebikes for their wives.
    For them, it was a game changer.
    They started traveling more and taking the bikes with them. Mountain biking is something that they occasionally do together.

    I know that no ebike will ever get my wife on real dirt, and I know couples who ride together without the e-assist.
    There is no dought (in my mind) that e-MTB will make the sport more accessible, and I think some of the resentment is rooted in that.
     
  17. LLPoolJ

    LLPoolJ Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Moreno Valley
    Name:
    James Johnson
    Current Bike:
    Specy Epic and Stumpy
    Well said.
     
  18. scan

    scan Well-Known Member

    Name:
    fran allas
    Current Bike:
    trek ex 7
    Ebruner what an excellent report!:thumbsup: THAT is a great example of people that really need that electric assist. To provide that needed adrenaline fix that he is so accustomed to in the past, now limited by his health challenges!
    OK I'll admit it, got a little teary eyed reading it :cry:. My father has passed and that bond is a special one!
    Well written and one of the best ones I've read in a while.
     
  19. Danmtchl

    Danmtchl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    2015 Devinci Troy Carbon 27.5
    Awesome story, your dad will remember that for along time.

    We had a customer who’s dad wanted to ride Mammoth. He is in his 70’s and has been riding mountain bikes much of his life. So they got a Pivot E-shuttle bike. They did Mammoth and Pinos downhills with huge smiles on how much fun the dad had. So they are able to ride again just like you and your father.

    Again great story.
     
  20. mountaingirl sara

    mountaingirl sara Well-Known Member

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Sara Ford
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz 5010
    Fantastic story, thanks for sharing! Made me tear up a little bit :oops:
     
  21. Redman

    Redman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cypress, Ca
    Name:
    Kevin
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Nomad CC 27.5
    everyone has already said what could be said, except... I need to get my pops on this program, thanks for the inspiration!

    BTW, I got watery eyes from reading this. Awesome post!
     
  22. luskie

    luskie Newbie with Hope!

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Randall Loscutoff
    Current Bike:
    Piviot Mach 5.5
    Great story. Miss those memory’s
    Wish I could get my old man out of his lazy boy!
     
  23. levity

    levity Member

    Location:
    Irvine
    Name:
    Larry
    Current Bike:
    Stumpies (+/- e)
    A heartwarming story with savvy insights! And have others have said superbly written. Kudos to both of you! He’s a young guy, lots of fun ahead.

    If your father is here for a while longer you might take him to CHSP. The terrain is not technically challenging, but it’s a hoot on an ebike.

    Edit; oops, on rereading I see that you already took him to the airport, so CHSP will have to wait
     
  24. CBone

    CBone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Antelope Valley
    Name:
    Tucker
    Current Bike:
    Intense Primer
    Your dad looks like he is in fairly good shape considering his health challenges. Kind of sobering for those of us who are close to his age. I guess I shouldn't take my health for granted. I'm grateful to be able to share this hobby with my son.
    Thanks for posting.
     
  25. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. It communicated a lot, both personally and philosophically. Very appreciated!
     
  26. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    @Ebruner Thank you for such a great story. Here are a few random thoughts...
    • e-mt bikes should be used for EXACTLY this purpose. Certainly not by the people @Robbie lamented about. I couldn't agree more.
    • 65 is not old, for a guy who was an adrenaline junkie. It might be old for his body if he had a lot of injuries along the way
    • I've had DVTs and have been on blood thinners since 1997. Just another risk factor to manage. BTW - don't give aspirin, it will thin the blood more. Most of us on warfarin or Xarelto may bleed a little bit more, but it won't be a gusher. Chance of subdural hematoma is real however. I've been a competitive skier, played hockey, surfed, mt. biked, whitewater kayaked, and more on blood thinners.
    Such a great story and great moment. Tell your dad he can do all of that and more! So cool to see his stoke and to feel it through your words. Well done!
     
  27. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    I read this yesterday when you first posted it, and wanted to respond, but the last few days have been crazy with company, the wife, etc... What an awesome day out there for you and your Dad. My Dad has been gone for almost 10 years, so it really hit home.

    I've said before on the forum that the e-bike issue is more complex than most think, and will ultimately have to be decided by the courts. @Mikie - Although it is a fire road, it is not legal to motorized traffic- thus Erik's mixed feelings at the start. Technically it is off limits to e-bikes. In fact, there is only one fire road on the Orange County side of the Santa Ana mountain range that is open to motorized traffic, and that is Maple Springs (closed now due to the Holy Fire) . On the Corona side, you have (will have after the fire ends...) Bedford and Indian Truck Trail. And then all 50 miles of Main Divide from the 74 to the 91. All of the single tracks are for non-motorized use.

    Although I think most e-bikes are the devil's tools (slight hyperbole), there are valid uses. Reading this was awesome, and if my Dad were still alive, he'd love something like that. I'd buy one in a heartbeat if it would get my wife in the mountains. She would legitimately need one. Chances are, she'll never be able to ride a bike again for any distance. Maybe a little on flat pavement. Maybe not even that.

    What I'm afraid will happen is a 100% blanket ban, which is effectively the way the new Orange County ruling reads. And if it comes to that, I'll certainly lay blame at the feet of the healthy 20 year olds who are buzzing users in the parks, while claiming to be ignorant of the rules, claiming to be disabled, or just claiming not to care...
     
  28. sir crashalot

    sir crashalot Well-Known Member

    Location:
    laguna beach
    Name:
    gary fishman
    Current Bike:
    2018 banshee rune
    Would love to live up there!
     
  29. bpacifica

    bpacifica Newbie with Hope!

    Location:
    Yorba Linda
    Name:
    bill
    Current Bike:
    Pivot Shuttle
    Erik. Thank you for this story. I am 66 next month and have been riding mtb for many years. I have a son who is pretty close to your age and we have ridden together over the years on and off but he never really got the bug mostly because of family/work time constraints. He moved up to the Santa Cruz area some years ago for work reasons and has really went to the next level with his riding because of the MTB culture up there. We have ridden together from time to time when he is down here but I haven't been able to keep up with him for obvious reasons. I decided to get a ebike a couple months back and it has been a game changer for many reasons. It has allowed me to access and enjoy areas that I haven't been able to in many years. It has renewed my passion for riding and has motivated me to focus more on my health instead of just accepting "aging gracefully". I get excited when I am going on a ride again instead of thinking about the dread of steep climbs. But the best part is that I am able to somewhat keep up with my son and we have had new found experiences together that were not possible before. He is just now introducing MTB to my grandson who is 11 and I am motivated by the possibility of a ride someday with the three of us. My son and I were able to meet up in Mammoth a month ago and enjoy 3 glorious days of riding together on a level that never would have been possible before my ebike. I can find nothing negative about this. Erik, from the other side of the coin I know how special that you must have made your dad feel. Experiences like these add a dimension to a father/son relationship that is hard to put into words. I do try to empathize with the reluctance of most who look at ebike with disdain and I have heard and seen more than my share of negativity about it but all in all, I feel that I have been blessed with an opportunity to extend a passion that I will not pass up. I have been a lurker on this site for quite some time and I know that this is a site for hardcore riders. It is just nice to read your story and nice to be able to share mine. Thank you Erik and thank your dad too.
     
  30. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    A lurker steps forward out of the shadows... And with a good story. :thumbsup:

    Now... Start sending these testimonials to the powers that be and maybe at the end of the rainbow there will be a legitimate policy in place. Not a blanket ban, and not a free for all. That's something we could all live with.
     
    Ebruner, Danimal, Danmtchl and 10 others like this.
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