E-bike camping stop atop Haggerman Pass
Susanne & her Sand to Snow crew on Loveland Pass
Susanne Brüsch and her team e-biked from Monterey, California, to Denver on the Sand to Snow tour, a more than 3,100-mile, 10-week journey that led them to climb over 187,000 feet in altitude from the lowest point in North America to the highest mountains in the western U.S. Here, Brüsch shares tips on how to make the most of your Colorado e-biking adventure.
Manage your energy.
What’s special about an e-bike in comparison to a regular bike is the energy management — you need to be able to charge your battery. Of course, you can ride the electric bike without any energy or with an empty battery, but it isn’t as much fun. Energy management is an important thing to think about.
First of all, take a charger and a spare battery with you. I think 60 kilometers (about 45 miles) was our average range on a 400-watt battery, so that’s something you can count on. You can get a little more mileage out of it if you switch down the assistance modes and just use it when you really need it.
Check places you can recharge the batteries in advance. If you’re in very remote areas, check the distances between the campsites, restaurants and hostels that you’re going to. If the distances are too big, you can think about taking a solar trailer to recharge your battery through the sunlight.
When it comes to touring itself, take as little as possible. Organize your panniers very well and have one spot for one thing — and put it back in the same spot after you use it. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time looking for your stuff. Make sure the weight is balanced so that the left and right panniers are about the same weight. That helps a lot with the cycling comfort.
Rain clothing is also important to take. Even if you go to places where it doesn’t rain, it helps against the wind or when it gets cold. On an e-bike, you don’t get as hot from physical exercise as you do on a regular bike, so make sure you can protect yourself from the wind.
Have a comfortable saddle and equip your e-bike with lights and mud guards.
Use a comfortable saddle you have used before and make sure it fits your butt — because there’s nothing worse than having a saddle on a long-distance trip that doesn’t fit you. When you’re trying to ride at nighttime or at dusk or dawn, you should have a pair of good lights, especially in remote areas where there’s not a lot of road lights but also on the road so drivers can see you.
I’ve also found mud guards really helpful. They keep away a lot of dirt that would otherwise sit on the panniers and end up in your tent. They also keep your clothes cleaner, so you don’t have to wash them as often.
Don’t fret over your fitness level.
I realize that some women are worried to go on a trip like this because they think everyone is fitter than themselves. No worries about that. If you use an e-bike, you have different assistance modes and those modes help balance out all of the difference fitness levels and riding styles. What’s great about e-bikes is that so many people can ride together without having any problems.
Just do it!
If you haven’t and have the chance to test ride an e-bike, go ahead and do it. And if you love long-distance cycling or traveling, check it out. Maybe you’ll discover it is the perfect way for you to go on your next trip.
Photo credits: Pedelec-Adventures.com/Susanne Brüsch