Yep, I sure did. It was really fun, different, and very hard. My lungs don’t work so great, never have, so I am always the slowest person in the bunch. This is why I prefer to ride solo, which is working really good right about now because of, you know, the weirdness. So when I got the call to join a small group of people to ride the new Santa Cruz Heckler in the Sierras on an overnight camping trip (with sherpa) I was hesitant. At first I thought, like you probably are, it’s an e- bike, you don’t actually have to work! Then I remembered a brief ride earlier in the year where yeah, you work just as hard, the only difference being you go farther.
These bikes had the Shimano E-Steps system with a graph showing battery charge and three settings to toggle through: Eco, Trail and Boost. I prefer Turbo but they used Boost. Eco was a joke, at least for me, on a 60lb $8000 bike. Trail was nice but once you switch on Boost there is really no going back. It’s so addictive. And weird. Thing is it drains the battery the fastest.
So the plan was to get the main partners of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship together, ride these demo/rental bikes over Mt Hough from Quincy CA and camp at Taylorsville. Cosmo would meet us for lunch with fresh batteries, sandwiches and beers. The next day we’d take a different route but do pretty much the same thing. The weather was perfect!
On the Shimano battery graph there are five bars, what we came to call “pills” because they look like that. The first bike climb we all kept it in Trail and used one pill. Each big climb saw another pill gone. I had by this point left it in Boost (TURBO!) because as usual I was the slow guy (it was all guys) and I desperately wanted to keep up. After lunch there was another monster climb and even with a fresh battery my pills were being swallowed. And I was struggling. Mason was the sweeper and he stuck with me, urging me on in his indomitable cheerful positive style. Then a super fun short section of downhill single track and then another climb where the worst thing ever happened: I was down to one pill and it was red and flashing. Danger! Danger! Danger!