A year of living by e-bike

One year ago, in March of 2022, I was gifted a 2018 Gazelle NL e-bike. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, or however that saying goes, I set aside my claims of not wanting an e-bike and quickly embraced this commuting upgrade. I had told myself I would wait until I turn 40 to commute on an e-bike, but it was hard to argue with “$free.99”, and I rationalized that I could better advocate for bike-hesitant folks to try an e-bike if I had one myself.

The honest truth is, e-bikes are *really* fun to ride. There are a lot of practical perks as well: I feel more comfortable riding with traffic with a boost to my acceleration, I stay cooler while riding in hot weather, and I can haul heavy grocery loads with ease. Also, contrary to the snarky comments I often get, I would like to assure everyone that yes, you do still pedal and get a decent workout; I like to describe it as “taking the edge off” by making hills feel flatter, and acceleration after stop signs and speed bumps smoother. I love being able to lend my ebike to friends and family to try out and encourage them to replace car trips as well. E-bikes are very easy to charge, and by some estimates I’ve seen cost about $10/year in electricity for a regular commuter. Any changes/increases in my energy bills haven’t been noticeable on my part.

Since I was gifted the e-bike, I didn’t get to test ride and compare different models, which I would recommend doing to anyone in the market because they are a significant investment. Some features I really like about this Gazelle NL are the step-through frame, upright riding position, and the front and rear racks, which make it easy to carry a lot.

Having a Bosch motor is also a definite plus, both in terms of quality and availability of local servicing options. I would not recommend buying a cheap off-brand e-bike online because it’s damaging to the industry given the lack of oversight, compliance and safety regulations. Bike shops are struggling (or refuse) to service these bikes, and they are causing a lot of problems for not just bike shops but for customers as well.

There are a few drawbacks to e-bikes in general that hopefully will improve with the development of new technology. E-bikes are really heavy, usually weighing in between 50-65 pounds, and I had to build a ramp so that I can bring it inside my house for parking and charging. For apartment dwellers, this could pose a significant problem, although the battery can be unlocked and brought inside to charge if you have a secure place to store your bike that offers some reasonable temperature control (the battery in particular should be kept out of extreme hot and cold temperatures). Many ebikes don’t come with great integrated lights, and I needed an upgrade for my front and rear lights to improve the brightness and wiring connections. For a commuter, it’s really nice to have reliable, bright lighs that you don’t have to remember to charge separately. Finally, it is a lot more daunting to make repairs and change a flat on an e-bike since they are a lot more complex, often require special tools, and risk voiding the warranty if you DIY certain repairs yourself vs. taking to an approved bike shop. After a couple of frustrating flats on my bike, I replaced the tires with a set of Schwalbe Marathons and added Tannus tire liners inside – a pain for my mechanic to install, but I’ve been blissfully flat free ever since 🙂

Also of note, there is a significant e-waste consideration to e-bike batteries, so it is best to buy from a reputable brand that is making their products more responsibly. I have heard that there are parties in the bike industry looking to make a more sustainable cycle to all of this battery production to decrease electronic waste streams, and hopefully this improves as all types of electric vehicles become more prevalent.

For those wondering if an e-bike is a sustainable transportation choice, it’s worth remembering that it only takes 500 miles of replaced car trips to make an e-bike hit ‘carbon neutral’. Choosing to ride a bike instead of driving a car means there is less drain on natural resources, less pollution, less traffic, more money in your pocket, more availability of green space and affordable housing (due to decreased parking demand), and more advocacy power for cycling infrastructure.

Stay tuned to my youtube channel for a video review of my Gazelle NL and takeaways from living by e-bike for the last year.

Otherwise, my latest updates and cycling exploits are documented on Instagram, and all referral links on my content support local cycling nonprofits that are working to improve safety and connectivity of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure here in South Carolina.

A year of living by e-bike

At Your Service

Here in Greenville, South Carolina, we hold two major annual festivals every year. I volunteer with a nonprofit, Bike Walk Greenville, that puts on a free bike valet parking service to encourage people to ride downtown and to make it even more convenient and safe to ride a bike into the city to enjoy the festivities.

I’ve participated in this for a couple of years, and I have plans to make this service even more accessible and known about so that we can maximize the number of bikes. This year we parked over 150 bicycles, and it was great to be able to interact face to face with the community again after taking a hiatus due to Covid.

I wanted to share some ideas to encourage people in other cities with similar sized events to try out putting on their own bike valet parking service. With some communication and support from the city, who puts on this event, we are able to get this event done with a pretty minimal cost and volunteer support.

Although the festival runs all weekend and into the night, we offered the valet service to daytime visitors between the hours of 11-5. With more volunteer recruitment, we may be able to expand the hours of availability, but we try to keep the hours simple and consistent. These daytime shifts capture the majority of bike traffic, especially families with children who may have a harder time parking a trailer or pull behind; it is also easier to get volunteers for these hours, and avoids some of the issues that may arise in later hours (poor lighting, intoxicated persons).

One of our board members contacted the city and arranged for tables, chairs, signage, and bike racks to be dropped off for the event.  Thankfully, the City of Greenville has these racks and kindly agreed to have these items delivered ahead of time (we didn’t have to worry about theft/security for these items due to the location and the security on hand for this city wide event, which is fortunate). We used the SignUpGenius website to recruit volunteers for shifts (the number of slots and length of shifts are up to you, but for this event we used two hour shifts of at least two people; next year I will add a slot for the peak hours of 1-3 when more people are coming and going).

I made a flyer that could be shared on social media, and would recommend sharing with local bike rental agencies, bike shops, city tourism agencies, hotels, and any other parties you can think of who might have people interested in parking a bike at the event. A QR code links to a pin on Google Maps to help clarify the location of the valet. The fact that we are able to use this location consistently every year also really helps people find us!

This year, we had the added challenge of working around bridge construction that was delayed from its planned completion date. Since we were unable to use our usual covered area under the bridge, we had to improvise a corralled area next to the bridge for the bike parking and set up our tables across from it. We made the best of it and look forward to a nice renovated bridge to work under at the next valet!

I made a short video to show some of the specifics of what I brought for tabling, all packed on my Burley cargo bike trailer, so you can check out more details here.

Since I was trying to line up the voiceover, I wrote out a script and while I didn’t totally stick to it, I figured I would include it in case reading it is easier than listening to the video audio:

Here is our fall 2021 bike valet setup, and for context on how we do this every year I will link to my blog post that gives some background on how and why we coordinate this event

My hope is to grow the size of this valet since it’s a twice a year thing, but for now we anticipate parking up to 100 bikes per day between 11-5 on a Saturday and a Sunday. So this is our setup.

We have this BIKE VALET sign provided by the city, and one thing I want is to get more of these made, and for them to say FREE BIKE VALET PARKING, to help make it more clear what we’re about. I also want to add signage along the trail coming in, like little yard signs, that let people who are riding downtown know that we are here and a QR code for a pin on Google Maps to help find us.

So I think that the added signage would go a long way in getting the word out that we’re here and that we’re a totally free service.

And so because of construction going on, on one side of the trail we had this small area where we could corral bikes, this was in the morning and an hour later it was pretty full,

Then on the other side of the trail is where we set up the tables with brochures, merch like our tshirts, and some posters talking about the projects that our nonprofit has been involved with most recently. And so this is where we engage with people, draw them in with our table stuff, and chat about local projects and how they could get involved and stay up to date.

As I mentioned in the blog post, the valet is usually under the bridge over there, but we had to pivot because the construction was not finished in time. I used a table and a fence to block off easy access to the bikes, and I had this checker tape as well in case I needed to make more of a barrier, but we were able to make this work.

I made the tags myself because I couldn’t find a template, so if you want the template I’d be happy to share it with you. Maybe I can link it on Google docs.  But basically they’re printed on card stock, stacked in number order, and the top portion we had a space to write a name and phone number, and the bottom part had a matching number and we ripped it off and gave it to the visitor as a claim stub. Masking tape or a stapler could be used to affix to the bike. We used a tag for each bike and went in order so that we could get a total daily count easily, without having to count up tags at the end.

And then over on the table, I have some stickers and bike jewelry that I made awhile back, they’ve been popular with people and I like having stuff on the table. I have a suggested donation signage, and we have some tshirts left for sale as well. I keep a couple out on the table and the rest are stored in the box to keep things tidy. We have an email signup page and a bike rental gift card to giveaway that was donated, I have this donation jar and a QR code to our website donation page; we actually got almost $400 in donations this weekend between selling some shirts and people just donating on the website plus cash donations.

 We also have brochures for our nonprofit and related organizations like our state coalition, maps of the local rail trail, and then we have these laminated flyers talking about new projects going on as well as posters that I made and covered the foam board from our older projects, having them laminated was great because it actually rained for a few minutes one day, and having them up on easels was super helpful in bringing people over and weighing them down with this extra chair worked out well. We borrowed these but there are some cheap options on amazon as well.

I brought a bike pump from home just in case, could really help someone out and doesn’t hurt to have one on hand!

Some other things that I keep in our “events” box that were great to have on hand for this event: sharpies, pens, clear tape, masking tape that we used to tag bikes because it stuck to paper but was gently on the bikes, a strong packing tape (gorilla would work too), and the reason for all of this tape is because things fly away in the breeze so having plenty of tape comes in handy

A pair of scissors, and this checker tape that I mentioned I could use for corralling the bikes.

I keep sidewalk chalk in our events box in case we can legally use it, for this particular event they didn’t want to use it, but if we were at a brewery or something this would be a fun way to add signage.

Overall we parked a lot of bikes and raised some money, but best of all we were able to engage with the community, people were so grateful we were here, and they were excited to talk about our mission, which is improving biking and walking infrastructure to make our community a better and safer place to live.

If you have any questions or ideas I didn’t cover, please leave them in the comments, I love hearing what y’all have to add!

At Your Service

video killed the… blog

Although I fully intend to keep this blog running, it really is hard to maintain employment while using multiple online content formats to share my love of all things bikes. Ironically, this is the one that I pay for and I use it the least.. I’ve downgraded my plan, so if you’re reading this and see any unpleasant advertising please let me know so I can reassess that decision.

Over the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with a little bit of (very basic, no frills) video content as another possible avenue of answering common questions, reviewing/recommending products, etc. You can check out my YouTube channel here and feel free to let me know what kind of video content would be helpful/informative/entertaining!

(As always, my instagram is another way to stay up to date on my most recent bike adventures as well.)

Now back to planning some bike travel for this spring and summer.. can’t wait to share it with you!

video killed the… blog

Bike Overnight Intro

Forgot to mention here, as I did elsewhere, that I posted an ‘intro to touring’ video last month with supporting materials from Adventure Cycling. I ramble on about how to pedal your bike with lots of stuff on it for FORTY. ONE. MINUTES. Somehow, a surprising number of people have not only gotten through it but actually commented/emailed me… which let me assure you, makes me over the freakin’ moon when I hear that someone found my bike propaganda to be helpful.

Feel free to let me know what other topics I can post about, here or in another recorded video format!

PS – as I mentioned in the video, you can try out Adventure Cycling with a free 6 month membership at this link.

Bike Overnight Intro


On the first day of my solo bike tour last summer, I lost my wallet. On the second day of my solo bike tour last summer, I realized that I lost my wallet. Somehow, in a thirsty delirium while climbing West through the Kootenays on my way out of Banff, I had managed to drop it somewhere in a roadside hotel where I had stopped to ask for a water refill. I didn’t know that at the time, or even for another 6 months, when my wallet miraculously showed up in the mail.

My journal entries from days 2 and 3 relayed some choice words to myself for being so careless with something so important, questioning my sanity and capability of completing another 1300 miles of solo touring, and intense gratitude that I still had my passport, an old driver’s license, and a credit card (albeit one that was not accepted anywhere in Canada). 

It’s pretty tiring to ride 80+ miles a day on a loaded touring bike in the middle of the summer. It’s downright exhausting to do that while also trying to keep panic at bay, mentally sprinting through every possible course of action to make some sort of plan, and tacking on an extra 25 miles of detour to get to a Western Union.

In the late afternoon of day 3, I pulled over to stretch and rummage for a snack at a small roadside pullout overlooking a river. A sweet older gentleman approached me to say hello, and said that he had passed me earlier in the day so it seemed I was going on ‘quite a journey’. I laughed weakly and told him that it had already been quite the adventure. Although I was starting to mentally accept my situation, my voice broke when I said the words out loud that I had lost my wallet the first day and was still figuring out how to resolve my situation. The man immediately expressed concern and without seeming to even think twice, pressed some bills into my hand as I tried to regain my composure, mortified that I had started to tear up when really, as I assured him, I was totally ok. 

Joseph, as he introduced himself, insisted that I accept it. With tears in his own eyes, he explained to me that he and his wife had been married for over 40 years of marriage and had wonderful adventures together all over the world before she passed away. He told me, ‘those were the happiest years of my life. Now it’s your turn to go and see the world’.

Thankfully, my luck turned around after meeting this ‘trail angel’, as they are called. I was able to get my money order the next day, and kept Joseph’s cash tucked in my passport, where it remains, a sacred relic of a roadside miracle. It will come with me back to Canada when it’s safe to travel internationally again, and I will find some way to use it that pays it forward to another adventurer. 

This post was written as a submission to Adventure Cycling Association‘s call for Trail Angel stories. Stay tuned to their social media sites for more stories!


I want to buy a bicycle, I want to buy a bike

Every year when the weather starts to turn from ‘eternal hibernation’ to ‘life is good again’, I seem to get more questions along the lines of “so I’m thinking about getting a bike… where do I start?”


This is the best question you could ask me, and given the chance I’ll definitely talk your face off about it, but I try to keep in mind how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone, and to channel my mindset from when I was bike-curious and exploring options without having any more than a very rudimentary understanding of what I was looking at. So with that in mind, I’ve tried to put this in layperson’s language so I can impart what I wish I knew years ago.

  1. You get what you pay for, so while you don’t necessarily need to go out and get all the bells and whistles, keep in mind that a bike from Walmart or other big box store will almost always be heavy, questionably assembled, and have low quality parts where it matters (resulting in a grindy, cumbersome, less fun ride). If you can stay flexible on price until you decide what you want to achieve with your bike purchase, you’re more likely to end up satisfied with your purchase in the end and less likely to have an unloved bike hanging out collecting dust in your garage.

  2. Ask yourself what kind of riding you want to do. Commuting to work or replacing some short distance car errands? Casual riding on paved trails or around the neighborhood? Do you want to be able to cut through dirt or gravel areas without wiping out? Are you looking to get a workout or would you prefer to sit upright and stay more comfortable? Do you want to be able to pull a trailer for bringing along a small riding companion or hauling large items?  A good local bike shop should be able to steer you in the right direction and give some suggestions for specific models; bike shops carry different brands so you’ll want to visit several to get a full picture of what’s available. Or you can ask me and I’ll talk to you ad nauseam about the various pros/cons of different models.

  3. Local shops offer test rides on their floor models, much like buying a car; I recommend going to several, describing what kind of riding you want to do, and taking a few out and going at least a few blocks. A lot of people don’t take advantage of this, and I didn’t feel confident enough to when I started out, but no amount of specs on a page or advice from other people can tell you what a few different bike rides will about what that bike will feel like for you. Some larger shops even have demo bikes that they’ll let you take out for longer rides – it doesn’t hurt to ask!

  4. If you go the online route, you can have the bike built at a shop, usually for $60-100 depending on the type of bike and number of features. A bike mechanic knows what they are doing and can save you from a disaster resulting from an improperly assembled bike. A nice bike mechanic will also tell you the pros and cons of buying a bike that you’re eyeing online. I almost bought a vintage bike on Craigslist once and I’m still so grateful to the mechanic I called up who warned me that replacement parts for that particular bike would be really hard to source. Dodged a bullet!
    Often, local shops will have a tune-up or maintenance policy when you buy from them, and it’s usually worth it to know what you’re getting vs. the headaches and impersonal nature of buying a bike online. Local bike shops will make riding your bike more fun by increasing ridership and advocating for bike friendly policies in your community, so if you can, support them!

  5. Once your bike is built and you’re rolling, check around for workshops and clinics at local stores (many are free) where you can learn some basics like how to change a tire or adjust your brakes, because it feels super empowering and badass when you’re able to fix something yourself.

  6. Ride your bike! Hopefully you’ve found something you love and enjoy riding. Down the line, you may change your mind or decide you want to try another type of riding (a single speed beach cruiser was just my gateway drug, after all). That’s totally normal, so stay open to new frontiers!

I want to buy a bicycle, I want to buy a bike

Pack it up, pack it in

Before I continue on to parts II and III of my 2019 tour summary, I thought I’d pause after part I to review my packing list and general thinking behind the setup I used for all my gear.

Because one of the most daunting tasks in tour preparation involves turning a big pile of collected gear:

Into a pared down setup that fits, is reasonably balanced, not too heavy, and is somewhat organized. It’s more or less a camping-friendly version of this.

I labeled the general locations of items on my Instagram stories (see next few photos). This setup worked for me given my particular trip itinerary, preferences and expected terrain, but will continue to evolve as I go on more tours and try out more gear.


I generally kept my gear divided this way during my entire trip, with a few items discarded along the way. I tend to bring clothing that’s at the end of its run vs. brand new, nice stuff after losing a favorite pair of cycling shorts on my last tour (don’t hang clothing up to dry when you stop for lunch, you will forget it). Overall I’m pretty happy with what I packed; the only things I didn’t use were my bear spray and my emergency blanket, but both of those are nice to have for peace of mind, and you can usually find a way to pass them on to other travelers at the end of your trip and pay it forward.

I more or less kept my gear organized by actions or activities, so that I could easily grab what I needed for campsite setup, or leave entire panniers in a garage if I had a warm showers host.

In an ideal setup, I’d have more weight distributed toward the front of the bike to make it less back heavy. It’s important to stay within the weight recommendations of your rear rack, so if I was carrying more water and food on tour I would add a front rack or put bottle mounts on my front fork. As was the case for my bike and gear that I had, sometimes it’s easier and perfectly manageable to load up the rear and strap the tent to the front. Not having a whole lot loaded on your front also has the perk of easier steering, and I find it’s easier to carry weight in the back. Next time, however, I’ll be using the Salsa Anything Cradle for easier mounting of my tent to the front, and will update with whether I feel it’s worth the $$.

Items marked with a * double as items I use for day to day commuting and producing less waste back home. That’s mostly to show that despite what looks like a huge shopping list, to go from commuting to bike touring I mostly had to focus on my sleep setup, cooking needs, and packing the right clothes.



PoCampo Kinga Handlebar Bag* (use code “My-PoCampo” for 10% off!)
Spare Cycling seatbag*
Ortlieb Waterproof City Roller Panniers* (different sizes and colors available, but Ortliebs all the way!)
(unknown brand) expandable trunk bag, similar idea here
rear rack* (mine is a slimmer style and disc brake compatible)
Bike Lock* (I used an Ottolock for this trip since it’s light and small, but you could do more security if you’re going to be spending time in cities or higher risk areas. I like using the Ottolock for road rides when at home for short lunch or coffee stops)
Front and Rear Lights* (I use my front light as a flashlight at camp; the rear light I linked is pricier than many others but has great daytime visibility and the charge lasts awhile, so I’m quite partial to it)
Stuff sacks and dry bags for organizing clothes, food, etc.


Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 bikepacking tent and footprint
Big Agnes Wiley SL 30 down sleeping bag
Thermarest NeoAir Sleeping Pad
emergency blanket (didn’t use, but not obtrusive and nice to have)

(in lieu of an inflatable pillow, I used my clothing in a stuff sack)


2 pairs wool socks
cycling shoes
giro helmet* (same model, different color here)
wool baselayers (wore as pajamas)
rain jacket*
rain pants* (I have the basic REI version and they do the job, but this pair gets much better ratings. I would recommend getting cycling specific ones that are more tailored around the ankles since baggier pants tend to get stuck in your chain.)
3 riding outfits
sun sleeves and gloves (the cyclist tan is cute and all, but seriously you will roast. summerweight sleeves will keep you cool as well on summer tours)
hat* (I have this one that fits easily under a helmet, and the brim is much better than a road cycling cap for keeping sun and rain off your face)
1 casual off the bike outfit
1 pair lightweight sandals (xero shoes are great if you want to go super lightweight; bedrock sandals if you like more support)
underwear and sports bras


2 bandanas*
face cleanser
coconut oil (tons of uses)
first aid kit
travel towel


Light My Fire double ended spork*
Portable Camping Stove (but I just got a JetBoil for Christmas and can’t wait to use it!!)
Lightweight Camping Cookware Set
MSR or similar brand fuel canisters (sold at most outdoor retailers; remember not to fly with them!)
MSR Trailshot water filter
Collapsible silicone mug*
Small vial of olive oil
Salt packets
pocket knife
Snacks: including granola bars, dried fruit, cookies, candy, trail mix
Food/Meals – including Beans and Rice mix, mac & cheese, oatmeal, instant coffee
Water bottles* (3)


Icetoolz Swivel Allen Wrench*
CrankBrothers multi tool*
2 spare tubes*
Patch Kit*
Tire Levers*
Birzman Frame Pump*
Chain lube wipes*


GoPro Hero (I have the 5, newer ones are now sold)
backup battery pack*
wireless headphones*
iPhone with Quadlock Case and mount* – check out this post for why I love my Quadlock, and use code ‘REBEL10’ for 10% off!


I’m sure I forgot something in this list, so let me know if I left you wondering about anything! I’ll update this post if I need to make additions/clarifications.


Legal stuff disclaimer: I generously received a discount on my Big Agnes gear through my 2019 ACA Award with Adventure cycling. I am a brand ambassador for PoCampo bags and receive a discount on their items as well. I received additional Quadlock Case mounts for writing a review as an addict of their products. Amazon links are affiliate links.

Pack it up, pack it in