Audrey on the Emergency Road

My introduction to electric bikes was on the Strawberry Tour through the Saanich Peninsula in 2018. After only a few kilometres, I was hooked. It was effortless, the views were great (no windscreen) and we had full access to roads, paths and trails. Best of all, it was free, with no need for a license or gas! It was exhilarating!

Finally, a few months ago I acquired my own e-bike, a black Bravo from VoltBike in Vancouver. E-bikes are perfect, I quickly discovered, for going effortlessly up and down the many once-intimidating hills on Pender and the other southern Gulf Islands.

The other day I joined Audrey Stibbe to ride along the precipitous emergency road. Audrey is an e-pioneer being one of the first on Pender to acquire an e-bike six years ago. She purchased an Emotion in Victoria and uses it mostly for transport, getting from A to B. “Hills are no problem at all, and parking is so easy,” she says. Today, the popularity of electric bikes is soaring, with an estimated 40 to 80 on Pender Island.

Jerry at Thieves Bay

For Jerry Folk, his Yukon 750 e-bike, purchased from VoltBike in 2019, is mostly for pleasure. “I love my e-bike,” he raves. “I use it for everything, but especially enjoy puttering along the back roads looking at old houses and their gardens. And it’s great to stop and chat with people.” His bike has fat tires because he holidays frequently in Arizona where he rides on the sandy desert. Jerry and I have already promised to take our e-cycles onto the ferry and ride from Swartz Bay into Victoria for lunch, perhaps quaffing an ale to celebrate being such hardy travelers.

Another friend, Rob Fawcett, who cycled around the world in 2005-2006, loves his RadRunner e-bike. A friend built a wooden carrier for the back fender. Carved into the carrier is a disc-golf basket, a symbol of Rob’s other love.

Rob with his RadRunner

Shandor is readily recognizable by his trademark leather aviator’s hat and goggles, and is frequently seen around Pender aboard his fat-tire e-bike. He takes his bike everywhere, for he has no car. A small wagon trails behind whenever he goes shopping.

Like all the others, I love my e-bike. The battery is good for about 80-100 km, which will get you just about anywhere in a day. The separate charger plugs into any electrical plug and takes an hour or two to fully recharge. If you need mechanical adjustments or accessories, try Ken on Saturday mornings at the Recycle Centre. One bit of advice: Buy a good lock. Being relatively costly, e-bikes are a prime target for dastardly bike thieves.

Shandor sporting his aviation hat

I’m already planning daytrips to Mayne, Galiano and Saturna with my trusty e-steed. My favourite part will be the ability to stop — and munch — at any blackberry bush I pass.