My partner Mary and I (Steve) are now in our mid 60's and we have been cycling together since 2010. Mary had never cycled before and while I had cycled through my teens and early twenties, I had done so on very ordinary recreational bikes.
Just over ten years ago we hired hybrid bikes and went for a ride. We rode about 20km and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The combination of riding on good bike paths and modern technology made the ride easy and the experience one we wanted to repeat. We were so impressed that we subsequently visited a bike shop and purchased Avanti hybrid bikes. For the next year we improved our riding skills and our rides became longer and more enjoyable. However, we also noticed that our bikes were heavy and relatively slow compared to people that were passing us on the bike paths. We therefore sold off our hybrids and purchased Merida flat bar road bikes.
We both suffer from osteoarthritis affecting our fingers/hands, plus I have had carpel tunnel operations on both wrists. This makes our hands and thumbs particularly vulnerable when it comes to pushing and pulling hybrid gear levers. The advantage of moving to flat bar road bikes was that the componetry improved, the bikes were much lighter and the tyres reduced from 32mm to 28mm leading to less friction. These changes resulted in quicker rides and the riding experience improved dramatically, not withstanding that the gear levers were still hard to operate the longer the ride session lasted.
The next major change occurred in 2015 when I took the plunge and moved to a full carbon road bike with disc brakes and paddle gears. At the same time my partner upgraded her flat bar road bike to an even lighter Specialized model, with further improved componetry including disc brakes. Both changes saw us dramatically improve our riding distances and speeds and opened up the world of amateur cycle rides such as the Gran Fondo in Victoria and the BUPA Challenge in South Australia (now called the Westpac Adelaide Advertiser Challenge) which is run in conjunction with the Tour Down Under. The change from lever to paddle gear controls was another improvement, but long rides were still tricky as my hands would stiffen up after long periods on the bike.
By this time we were not only riding with friends, cycle groups and in events through out south eastern Australia, but we were also joining guided riding tours in Europe, England and the USA. In 2016 we joined a Trek Travel week long riding tour in Puglia, Italy. We always rent bikes from the tour operators and on this occasion Trek Travel provided us with Domane road bikes with Di2. The bikes were similar in look and fit out to my Specialized Roubaix road bike at home except these bikes had calliper brakes and electronic or Di2 gears.
For my partner these bikes represented a major riding change, but after thirty seconds of riding she was sold on her bike. And the reason - Di2! The bike had been set up to suit her geometry and the Di2 gears took away the scary element of having to learn how to use paddle gears, plus they allowed the rider to change gears as needed without having to think about your riding situation. The road gets steep and you need to change down gears, no problems, just do so. You are riding downhill and need a harder gear, just change and find one that suit's with just the tap of a finger.
By the time the week was over we decided to look into Di2 and upon our return home we upgraded my Specialized Roubaix by replacing the paddle gears with Di2 (not possible on all paddle gear bikes, but fortunately it was for my Roubaix) and to replace my partner's flat bar road bike with the newly released Specialized Ruby which was developed for women and came with disc brakes and Di2.
By 2018 we were fully sold on the joy of riding lightweight bikes with disc brakes and electronic gears. We broadened our riding experiences as a result and we loved taking our bikes to events such as the Cadel Evans ride near Geelong and the peoples' rides in association with the Tour Down Under.
However, when we ride overseas. we still rent our bikes. While it's possible to take bikes with you overseas, our experience and the experience of other riders that we know is that the effort to take your bike is massive and is something that most would only do if they were only going to be riding their bikes while overseas. Having to drag a bike bag around with you in addition to your luggage can be very difficult and in our case we have chosen not to as we always combine cycle tours with other activities when we travel overseas.
In 2019 we joined a boat and cycle tour off the coast of Croatia in the Southern Dalmatia region. Due to recent illness, my partner had opted to rent a Cube E hybrid bike for her week on the boat, while I opted for the regular Cube road hybrid bike. Other than an afternoon experience on city E Bikes in and around Rome, Italy, this was our first time experiencing E Bikes. On a day with major climbs on the mainland of Croatia I was able to swap my regular hybrid bike for an E Bike and the experience was phenomenal. Instead of struggling with the climbs I was able to keep up with everyone and also to look around as I rode. My partner experienced this all week with her Hybrid E Bike and we departed Croatia wanting to experience the recent addition to the market, the E Road Bike.
We took part in a test ride of the Turbo Creo SL Expert in and around Adelaide as part of the Tour Down Under promotions by Specialized in January 2020. They were brilliant and we subsequently purchased one each and have been riding them ever since. We continue to be mightily impressed and find that we are essentially riding E Road Bikes 95% of the time with minimal (Eco) or no electrical assistance, but when we need assistance it's there (Sport or Turbo) at the press of a button.
As someone in their mid-60's who is fit, but a little overweight, I am finding that my E Road Bike still requires me to work as hard as ever, but if I do so I am able to keep up with fitter/thinner riders in a group and I am getting more bang for my buck, particularly when climbs or strong head winds are part of my ride. For example, on a steep, long mountain climb located near where I live, on my Roubaix I would have had to stop up to six times to get my heart rate back down to acceptable levels, whereas my first time on my Creo I climbed to the top without stopping, but once at the top I needed several minutes to regain my breath, get my heart rate down and to drink lots of water.
2020 was going to be the year that my partner and I toured various parts of Europe on E Road Bikes. With the pandemic, it was not to be but hopefully 2021 will provide the opportunity. We were looking at joining a French Cycling Holidays tour of the Cevennes region of France including a mountain climb that was included in the 2020 Tour de France Route. This company offers a choice of road bikes and E Road Bikes, with the latter providing us with the opportunity to ride with riders on regular bikes who are lighter, younger and fitter.
Likewise we were booked to try the Pinarello Nitro E Road Bikes offered by the Lake Garda Bike Hotel in northern Italy. We were hoping to be able to ride in the Dolomites, again with riders who were lighter, younger and fitter. Hopefully we will do so in 2021.
Over the last 10 years we have progressed from cycle tours on hybrid bikes to flat bar road bikes to drop bar road bikes and now E Bikes. With each improvement we have been able to participate in far more enjoyable rides involving harder and harder climbs. With the move to E Road Bikes we hope to now be able to join almost any ride on offer without having to worry about our ability to keep up with younger riders or our ability to navigate long, steep, climbs particularly on very hot days.
At the time of writing this advice I had been riding my creo for almost eight months, averaging about 160kms a week and absolutely loving it. I ride with a veterans group each Thursday and get a fair amount of ribbing about riding an E Road Bike, mainly because many riders think that the bike is motorised like an E Scooter. I therefore regularly spend time explaining that the assistance is limited to speeds under 25kph and is only used to provide a speedier climb or make it easier to ride in strong headwinds. The analogy I have started using recently is that my creo creates my own peloton. Someone riding at the back of a peloton gets lots of assistance to improve their speed and in the same way my creo lets me go further and get there faster with the same expenditure of energy that I would have used on my Roubaix!
I hope that this website has offered you the advice that you were seeking and that in the months and years ahead you too will get to enjoy riding or touring as much as Mary and I do. Don't forget, if there is some information that you were looking for and could not find, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to provide the information.