Can I interest you in an e-bike?

Ash suggests after I ask if she wants to ride into the desert. I had tried an e-bike once a before, but not for anything beyond a test ride. “E-bikes are bicycles with a battery-powered ‘assist’ that comes via pedaling and, in some cases, a throttle.” I was just rolling back into town after attending a climbing festival in Bishop, California, so this sounded like the perfect plan to round out my long weekend.

So we met at Red Rock Bicycle Co., nestled the two Levo’s in the back of the Jeep and headed for the Arizona strip.

I had been on the Arizona strip before, camping with the crew and dogs a few weeks prior, just a bunch of desert pretty close to town. Being there was a disorienting feeling, I couldn’t place where I was in relation to St. George. But also refreshing that I felt so remote, so quickly.

The Levo’s are the electric mountain bike model from Specialized. At first glance, they look like a typical full-suspension mountain bike, but with a battery integrated into the frame. Pretty unfamiliar to details of mountain bikes in general, I only noticed the weight when lifting them in or out of the Jeep.

When we took off on the bikes I thought, ok yea this is fun. I messed with the three levels of pedal assist and felt a video game-like experience take me away. The bike felt amazing, all I had to do was keep pedaling and the desert was now mine to explore, longer and farther.

Let’s head toward that canyon, I bet we can make it just fine if we ‘eco’ these out Ash says. Eco is the battery-saving, lowest pedal assist mode, but also forces a more challenging workout. So we put the bikes on the lowest pedal assist and took off.

I realize that we are easily chatting and laughing while pedaling uphill. I recognize that riding e-bikes makes things instantly more social, no motor to yell over and you’re not gasping for air. This just makes me want to go farther, I could easily see myself biking more often and for longer, emulating the point in  Anzilotti’s article about e-bikes encouraging an active lifestyle, which is crucial for supporting overall health and may even alleviate symptoms of later-in-life diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

We stopped and climbed on some rocks. Talked about cowboys, wagon trains and what that would be like. I feel like a modern cowboy and wish I’d brought my hat.

We weave in out of a system of interconnected trails, most seem like cow paths which makes more sense when we encounter a herd of cattle gathered around a trough. I consider testing if the bike could be used to push cows, but think better of it. Again, I find myself missing my hat.

We circle back and find some spicy single track that Ash makes quick work of. I get to use walk-assist mode for the first time on the bike and even that adds to the hike-a-bike situation its own sense of fun, it’s a button you push that helps move the bike up to 3.7 mph.

A Desert Birthday card

We get back to the Jeep and hang out for awhile, extending our relaxing but adventurous day. Usually those things don’t go together.

Photos and words by Lacey Johnson.

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