A new way to experience the outdoors – yeah, right! How often have you heard a promise like that, but been disappointed? Well The Current is here to tell you that this time it’s not only true, but so is the title of this article – taken from the tagline for OttawaValleyAdventures.com. This “crazy idea” comes from Deanne Farrar, avid cyclist and longtime seasonal resident in the Madawaska Valley, whose new business rents e-bikes here in the Valley. Above: Deanne Farrar with some of her e-bikes.
Farrar said, “I think we live in a gem of an area. For a family to come up here where you can have paddling, whitewater, flatwater, biking, ATV-ing, Bonnechere Caves – it is a gem and all of those things we offer here are, I think, some of the best in Ontario if not in Canada. I can’t believe the beauty here.”
“What really inspired me is my love of the area. I just want people to come up and enjoy Letterkenny Road, Quadeville Road … If they are coming here for whitewater paddling, I’d love to have them spend an extra day and enjoy the area that much more.”
The “e” in e-bike stands for “electric” so an e-bike is a bicycle that is boosted by electric power from an onboard battery, usually in the downtube. Farrar said e-bikes are “an equalizer.” She said this area offers “no shortage of beautiful roads that with the right bike you can enjoy at the right speed. It [e-bike] really lets you just see the world.” She had never been on an e-bike but had noticed them when cycling around Vancouver on a visit to her son. Then in June she attended a Voyageur Cycling Route Eastern Expansion Mobile Workshop in Carleton Place. One of the speakers commented in passing as he packed up after his presentation, “E-bikes are going to change biking tourism.” When questioned, he said he “knew a guy 84 years old … just got an e-bike and he’s still going to ride.” Then when Farrar was here riding during a three-day weekend she decided she just had to get more people out to do this … and remembered “E-bikes!”
What kind of ebike?
Farrar said she wanted to rent out the e-bike she would like to ride herself – one that feels natural. Her favourite cycling shop in Toronto acquired one for her to try. The owner, who also had never been on an e-bike, rode it up a few levels to meet her in the parking garage. When he got off, he told Farrar, “It’s so much fun. You gotta go up. Ride it up the next level.” Farrar said, “I literally rode it up one level in a parking garage – and I’ve ridden a lot – and I went OMG this is a total gamechanger. Let’s do it!”
The Current agrees. We went for a short spin with Farrar along River Road recently and it took only one hill for us to break out in the widest grins ever. Truly like a kid on a bike, but “Way more fun!”
Farrar says there are different classes of e-bikes. Some require pedalling while other classes have a throttle and operate more like motorcycles. Her e-bikes are Class A pedal-assist e-bikes, so you must pedal. There is a booster that turns off at 32 km/h. Any greater speed must be self-powered. The booster amplifies the power that you produce and an e-bike rides just like an ordinary bike. It does not have a throttle. It does, however, have all the usual equipment of a normal bike: front and back brakes, gears, pedals that take both trainers and cycling shoes. For touring, you can add panniers and not worry about the extra weight.
Battery life may be a concern with some e-bikes which are rated to last for only 50 km, but Farrar says she has cycled over 150 km on a single charge using a variety of boost levels (her e-bikes have four levels). She just plugs them in to charge in the garage. They are outfitted with gravel tires for use on both paved and gravel roads. One thing, because they have the battery and related equipment, they are quite heavy (about 40 lbs) and not all bike racks can accommodate them. So Farrar arranges to meet customers and drop off the e-bikes wherever they want to start the ride.
OttawaValleyAdventures.com lists suggested routes using the network of backroads and hilly terrain in the Valley. Farrar will give you a printed route, or she can provide you with a map for your mobile phone that even provides voice navigation. Click HERE to visit OttawaValleyAdventures.com
She says, “As a cyclist, an e-bike fits. I think it would be a spectacular ride to rent an e-bike in Ottawa, take the new [Voyageur] trail and somehow end up on the other side of Algonquin Park.” She lists her favourite backroads north and south of Hwy. 60 and says the tour would be roughly 300 to 400 kms on quiet roads to get through the Park. Farrar says she is not aware of any other business that rents e-bikes in the Ottawa Valley.
What e-bike riders need
In Ontario you don’t need a driver’s licence, vehicle permit or licence plate to ride an e-bike, but you do need to:
- be 16 or older
- wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmet
- keep your e-bike in good working order
You also need to follow the same rules of the road as regular cyclists. Click HERE for more info on the MTO website.
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Sounds a bit like the old mopeds we used to ride and they were a lot of fun!
Wow, these sound amazing! I live at the bottom of a very steep road and as a result my bike has rarely come out of the garage since moving here. Can’t wait to give one of these a try!