My E-Bike Has a Battery When Mine Runs Out!
It’s been over 4 years since my myeloma diagnosis and over 3 since I was declared in remission. It has been almost 5 years since my last 5K race and several decades since I raced 10,000 meters competitively in college.
My teenage identity was built on being an athlete, and my first true love was long-distance running. How does a person who once enjoyed running 25 laps around a track get used to not running at all?
Exercise, pain, and fatigue
I haven’t run since a surgeon hammered a titanium rod down my femur shortly after my diagnosis. He told me afterward that my running days were over unless I could do so without pain. And I can’t.
But even if I could, my body isn’t the one I knew before my stem cell transplant. My muscles hurt and take much longer to recover now. Fatigue sets in faster and often unpredictably. I never know how far I will be able to walk or bike, so I tend to stick close to home. My myeloma specialist insists on 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, but at times I have gone days or even weeks without any at all.
A friend got me an e-bike
My friend (and former caregiver) knows this and recommended an electric bike (also known as an e-bike). E-bikes are like regular bicycles, except they have batteries and motors. The battery powers the motor to kick in while the rider pedals (a feature called pedal assist) making pedaling considerably easier, especially up hills.
At first, I thought it was a terrible idea. I might get even lazier using all that battery power and get no exercise at all. Plus, I didn’t want to admit that my fatigue wasn’t going to improve. It felt like getting an e-bike would be giving in to cancer, and I wanted no part of it.
But then one day I ran into a former high school teammate. She later became an NCAA 800m champion in college and still runs competitively— and she was telling me about her e-bike! And that’s when I changed my mind. If she rides an e-bike, then, goodness, I can too.
I told my friend about my change of heart, and he ordered me one just like hers the very next day (yes – best gift ever!).
I can't imagine life without an e-bike
Now I can’t imagine life without an e-bike. Mine is one of the heaviest at 75 pounds, but it is very easy to ride. It has a 750-watt motor, so it is a beast up the hills! And I can get as much or as little exercise as I want, depending on how much pedal assist I use. There is also a throttle, so on the hardest days, I don’t even have to pedal at all! And so far I have only charged the battery once after 100 miles of riding.
The best part is that I can go for long rides, knowing that I will always be able to get home. I have run into friends and former coworkers that I have not seen in years, just because I have gotten out of the house and neighborhood. I also have had conversations with random strangers because my bike is so different and looks cool!
My house is near a lake, so I enjoy riding next to it and watching the ducks, geese and bald eagles. The exercise along with the fresh air and nature has been so good for my physical and mental health! Plus, it has been wonderful to be amongst people again!
I told my local oncologist about my e-bike, and he was very happy to hear that I was being more active. He also wanted to know more about it so he could pass it along to other patients who might benefit too.
So if you are thinking about an e-bike, I would recommend visiting a local bicycle shop where you can try one out. There are many different makes and models with different-sized batteries, motors and tires. My e-bike has a relatively large motor and fat tires, which is great for hilly, rugged terrain. An e-bike with a smaller motor and narrower tires may work just as well for flatter roads and trails.
E-bikes can be pretty expensive and are generally cheaper to buy online. But if you ever need service and parts, you will have a much easier time getting them at a local bike dealer if you buy the bike directly from them.
Reconnecting with my inner athlete
The best thing about my e-bike is it allows me to connect with my inner athlete again. I can sense the teenager inside who biked six miles to work (and back) each day. At times I even feel like the same woman who, only 5 years ago, was running, working out and feeling good about her body.
My e-bike has become like a best friend who brings out the best in me. And like a true friend, she shares some of her battery power with me when mine is running low.
Do you own an e-bike or are you thinking of getting one? What questions do you have about e-bikes? Let me know in the comments!
Has exercise helped you with your blood cancer symptoms?
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