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GET ON AN E-BIKE - James Cove, St Johann, Tirol, Austria
Thursday May 16, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

It's mainstream in the mountains, with huge numbers of people using its extra power. PlanetSKI gets back in the e-saddle.



It has all come a long way since I first hopped on an e-bike a decade or so ago.

Many, including me, thought it was a passing fad.

The bikes were silly heavy, the batteries ran out of juice quickly and anyone who thought of themselves as a proper pedal pusher thought it was, quite simply, cheating.

Not any more.

It is here, and here to stay.

More than that - it's BOOMING.

Ski resorts are falling over themselves to introduce e-biking in the summer months as it brings in buisness.

I'm in the village of St Johann in the Kitzbuehler Alps in the Tirol in Austria.

It is not extreme terrain, but exactly the sort of area where people should perhaps try it for the first time.

I did so back in 2014 - but at the time felt a bit gulity:

And now I am back in this part of the Alps.

St Johann with its car-free streets is one of the most beautiful villages in the Tirol.

An ideal start.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We set off along the valley floor.

With an e-bike the flat feels like a gentle downhill.

No effort required.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol
























Instead of concentrating on the pedalling, you can concentrate on the views and the scenery.

And simply freeing your mind.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol
























So, how does an e-bike work?

They do not come cheap.

The one I am riding, a Corratec X-vert pro, is around €3,500.

The battery lasts for 100km on Eco mode and 50km on Turbo mode.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























If you want to find out more about e-biking in the St Johann region then check out this link.

Now you may think e-bikes are a relatively new invention.

Wrong.

In the 1890s, electric bicycles were documented within various US patents.

On 31 December 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted Patent No. 552,271 for a battery-powered bicycle with "6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current hub motor mounted in the rear wheel".

In 1897, Hosea W. Libbey of Boston invented an electric bicycle that was propelled by a "double electric motor".

However it was 100 years later they came into their own.

Production grew from 1993 to 2004 by an estimated 35%.

And now they are common across the world.

In the Austrian Alps, and elsewhere in the mountains, the vast majority of bikes rented out are e-bikes.

So, what about the experience?

Our ride was a 41km round trip from St Johann known as the Kalkstein Loop.

It had 600m of uphill and the highest altitude we reached was 900m - all made easier with an e-bike.

The Kalkstein LoopThe Kalkstein Loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the gentle paths along the valley floor it was time to head up.

The Devil's Canyon to be precise.

It broke off from the track we had been following alongside the river:

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has a gradient of 15% and the 150m of vertical ascent took a mere 5-minutes on the e-bike.

Otherwise it would have been around 45-minutes.

In fact it was easier going up...

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol
























... than coming down the rocky road.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























And then back to the flats - all made easy with no effort in the pedalling.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























Now I should at this point introduce my guide for the day.

Step forward 38-year old Andy Troger.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol
























"E-biking is booming with more and more people doing it. There is a 10% rise in number every year and it enables more people to get on a bike and get out into nature," he told me.

Andy runs the company, Bike Nature.

Or should I say 'our' guide?

My cycling companion - Mrs Cove.

e-biking in St Johann in the TirolE-biking in St Johann in the Tirol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The e-bike was a game-changer for her.

My wife, Kisia, has been unable to ski after a nasty ski accident in Ischgl a few weeks back.

She tore her calf muscle in a fall in deep snow and had to be taken off the the mountain by the ski patrol.

"Look if you are going cycling, why don't I get an e-bike and see how it goes?"

"Are you sure?" I enquired.

"Just try and stop me."

And here we are, both on e-bikes.

"It has been amazing. I was rather worried, what with a torn calf muscle and everything, but without an e-bike I would simply not be here," she observed.

"If anything the gentle work pedalling on an e-bike has helped my recovery and enabled me to give my torn calf muscle a gentle stretch."

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolThe road to recovery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


We passed through the fabulous local ski hill of St Jacob -  we had skied there back in February.

It was one of our best days of the winter as we meandered round it with friends.

The lifts have long since closed but some snow, and our memories, remain.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also passed near to the ski resort of Fieberbrunn where we'd been back in February for the Freeride World Tour.

The green slopes to the resort now lived up to their billing.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























Back in February the area had HUGE amounts of snow:

But the roofs are now clear.

And our e-bikes eased us though some beautiful Tirolean villages en route, picture-postcard stuff.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Stacking wood in these parts of the Alps has been perfected to an art form.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol
























And the cows are coming out of their winter sheds and back onto the alpine slopes.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























E-biking allows you to enjoy this without any of the huffing and puffing.

Just gliding up through the alpine meadows with the odd gear change and some serious e-power to help you along.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























And able to enjoy the fabulous views in this part of the Alps rather than cycle with head down and staring at the path a few metres ahead with sweat dripping off the brow.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol


























Now I do have a few complaints:

The bike is heavy so is hard to flick about going downhill.

I also firmly believe (whether in life, skiing or cycling) that the more you put in, then the more you get back.

With e-biking you don't need to put much in.

I am not a big cyclist but the feeling when you have done a climb to the top of an alpine col or completed 100kms under your own steam is unique.

You will never feel this on an e-bike (unless the battery runs out).

But its advantages, whether you have an injury or not, are fabulous.

I'm heading back to the UK and next month will be doing the 60-mile London to Brighton cycle ride that I first did almost 30-years ago - I wouldn't dream of doing it on an e-bike.

Ditchling Beacon is a hill I pride myself on getting up under my own steam.

But for a Spring cycling spin with ease in the Kitzbuehler Alps then e-biking is in a league of its own.

E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol































E-biking in St Johann, the TirolE-biking in St Johann, the Tirol

























And as we were spoiling and pampering ourselves with our e-bikes, we decided to push the boat out and pamper and spoil ourselvles with some 4* hotel accomodation.

The hotel Penzinghof comes highly recommended:

Hotel Penzinghof Hotel Penzinghof


























Hotel Penzinghof Hotel Penzinghof

























For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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