Outdoor Focus Spring 2019 - Page 5

Jon on the ‘Driving Road’ above Dentdale during our Pennine Bridleway ride, with Middleton Fell behind and the Coniston Fells on the skyline gasping, but I’d have been considerably slower on a motorless bike. The real question was, how would the e-bike tackle the descents? The trail from the Cockpit stone circle down to Howtown off ers 4km of almost uninterrupted downhill, rocky enough to be interesting but never really technical. It’s a Lakeland gem, a thing of beauty on any half- decent bike, and the Cube was no exception, its extra weight making little discernible diff erence. The price for such pleasure is the 6km road ride back to Pooley Bridge. Mountain bikes on tarmac are a grind, especially if you’re used to a road bike, but the e-assist made relatively light work of it. >>>> UPPING THE ANTE So far, so good, but I’d accepted two contrasting commissions that were about to raise the stakes. First up, Totally Active. Editor Nik Cook wanted, ‘a big ride in the mountains that you’re familiar with and have ridden on a conventional bike... compare and contrast the experience riding an e-bike.’ My partner Bernie and I settled on a route based around the Pennine Bridleway (PBW) linking the stations at Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Kirkby Stephen. The PBW, in these parts, isn’t about gnarly technicalities. It has its moments, but mostly it’s a story of long gradual climbs, high-level cruising, and long gradual descents. On the fi rst major climb, to a 570m high point on Cam High Road, I drew steadily ahead of Bernie. Well, she was still on her regular MTB! Later, a couple of steeper climbs tempted me to experiment with the higher power settings (the Cube has four levels of assist). It still was far from easy, but I could manage climbs that would have been a struggle even at full fi tness. Some call this ‘cheating’ but it didn’t quite feel like it. The bike was assisting my own eff ort, not replacing me. Elsewhere I generally rode on the second of the four settings; with around 50km to cover, I didn’t fancy the battery expiring before the fi nish. After the descent into Mallerstang, we followed valley byways rather than the offi cial PBW route over the > >>>> THE RULES In the UK, there are clear rules around e-bikes, (offi cially ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’). The motor must not deliver more than 250 watts and can only assist the rider, not provide sole propulsion. Power-assist must cut out above 15.5mph (25kph). A legitimate e-bike can be ridden wherever and whenever you can ride a normal bike, including bridleways and byways. Any non-compliant bike is legally a moped; to ride on road both bike and rider must be licensed accordingly. Such bikes are not permitted on bridleways or restricted byways. spring 2019 | Outdoor focus 5