Last weekend I rented an e-bike from Zoomo in downtown Chicago.

I’ve wanted one since last year, the day after I fell and broke my wrist because I didn’t have enough “oomph” to make it up a slight incline. The bike rolled back and I fell in slow motion. The next day Annie told me “that wouldn’t have happened if you’d been on an e-bike.” So true.

So all year long I’ve looked at e-bikes but I just haven’t been able to shell out $1000 for a low-end e-bike. Then I saw an advertisement for Zoomo, for weekly and long-term rentals. Yesterday I bit the bullet.

It was definitely a millennial experience. I had to chat online with Sherrine to ask questions and set up an appointment. Then I had to complete all my paperwork online, including uploading my driver’s license and proof-of-address mail. In person, I sat at a small table while another girl filled out the rest of the information on her I-pad. I signed a few papers and she gave me a 3-minute explanation about the bike. Later, I tried calling to ask a question about the charging cords and guess what–there is no phone number for contact. I had to submit a request and they’ll get back to me whenever they can. They are only open Monday-Friday.

Online I tried to find out more about the bike–like a manual? Ha!

I took a quick ride as soon as we got home but it was really cold so I decided to wait. John and I set out the next day for a 3-mile ride. We weren’t far before I was way ahead of him, realizing that even at the lowest level of pedal assist, the bike was going faster than my legs were working. I played around with turning pedal assist on zero and changing the gears. It helped to ride behind John so that I could see and feel more of a normal bike ride, but could still turn the pedal assist on if wanted or needed. It also has a throttle button that I can hit if I am on a bigger incline and really want the help. A quick touch of that makes a nice start up as well.

Zoomo mostly rents to young people working as couriers or other delivery services in big cities. It is an Australian company with sites in the UK, EU, and US, located in big cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago. I am not their typical client. (I asked.)

I will only rent it for a couple of months, racking up about $200 in charges. I figure this is a good way to 1) finish the Camino before summer; 2) test ride an e-bike without breaking the bank; 3) see if I really like biking enough to invest; and 4) give my feet time to heal.

In the meantime, I’m ready for spring and for the rest of my Camino. I try hard not to feel as if I’m cheating–and to put as much of my own muscle power into the process as possible. I think this will be fun.

A long post-script:
The longer virtual challenges are a bit daunting. Alps to Ocean (New Zealand) was 180 miles which I finished in 80 days. The Cabot Trail was 186 miles, done in 56 days and Kilimanjaro was only 60 miles, completed in 21 days. I’ve been working on the Camino since last September and still have 133 miles to go. Therefore, I decided that for any future long challenges, I am going to do them as a team, one of the options on the Conqueror Challenge. Essentially, team members pool their miles to move more quickly along the path. They each pay for the challenge and each get a medal at the end. So far, I’ve walked in “communities” which track each other but still maintain a bit of competition.

There are two long challenges that I am interested in doing with a team. Maybe you’d like to join me for one of them:

The North Coast is a 500.5 mile hike/ride though the Scottish Highlands. It costs $34.95.

The Lord of the Rings Challenge was just released. In this case, you can form a “fellowship” instead of a team to pool your resources. This one is more expensive, but possibly more rewarding. It contains five challenges that must be done sequentially and is a bit more pricey. It follows the LOTR film trilogy postcards and stories. A lot of people are either reading or listening to the books as well. You can buy the full package or buy them individually. I think I would opt for the second option to spread out the cost over a year or so. There also are options for more or less miles on some of the challenges. The Shire (145 miles.) The Fellowship (98 or 680 miles.) Mines of Moria (40 miles) The Eye of Sauron (95 or 668 miles) and Mordor (282 miles.) It is also okay to do just one or two of them if that satisfies you.

Check them out at the Conqueror app and let me know!

4 thoughts on “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-bike!

  1. Keep us posted on your final verdict on the ebike — I’ve been vaguely thinking about those too. For the same foot reasons!

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