There were many different reasons that I wanted to start commuting to work by bike instead of with my car. Reducing my carbon footprint, working at a bike shop and wanting to test out our bikes, not wanting to sit in forty minutes of Denver traffic, but the reason that motivated me the most and pushed me over into the bike commuting world was my health. Being recently engaged I started to think about the kind of life i was living and the kind of life I wanted to have with my Wife to be. One thing I knew I wanted was to be healthy, to live without fear of various overweight health related issues, and to be able to be more than capable, physically, of playing and interacting with my future kids.

My soon to be wife

A visit to the doctor for a physical revealed news that I was dreading and yet expecting. Sure, I am relatively healthy now and not having any major issues, but if i didn’t start to lose weight I am on a trajectory for heart, blood and joint problems. When I went to the doctor I weighed in at 264 lbs, the heaviest I had ever been. The doctor told me that I should theoretically weigh under two hundred pounds. I wasn’t sure if I weighed under 200 since before high school. So I knew that to save my knees and prepare for my future I had no choice but to make a change.

At the time I was living fairly close to the bike shop and so I decided to pull out the old steel mountain bike I had purchased used almost a year previously and start biking to work. That doctors visit was in May, the next couple months I think I rode into work by bike twice, maybe four times tops. While I desired to ride to work there were obstacles that I just couldn’t overcome. It was 7 miles each way, which was doable but only barely with the couple hills I had to climb. I learned that one way 7-10 miles was my distance limit before I was exhausted. Not only was I physically struggling with the ride but I had a hard time mentally. Riding on roads with cars, and bike paths with hardcore road-cyclists just made me feel even slower than I already did. Not only was I battling a physical struggle to bike more than a few miles, I was battling a mental struggle as well. I desired so greatly to get on my bike and cruise into work while getting exercise, but riding beat me down and it would take a couple weeks before I was ready to try again.

Fast forward to August, two months before my wedding. I had recently moved into a new apartment that was right next to the Lakewood Gulch bike path, so my inspiration to ride into work peaked once again. I knew I was farther but I was right next to the path, I figured it wouldn’t be too far of a ride. Checking the route I saw that it was 17 miles …one way… but I was determined to get into work by bike and so I came up with an idea, what if I rode an electric bike?

There was a study that we had come across, at the shop, testing to see if commuting on an eBike would still provide health benefits. If you want to read that study you can find it here. To summarize, the study found that the health of the participants was beginning to increase and they were riding the bikes more than was even required of them. I knew I that I didn’t have the income to buy a bike while trying to pay for a wedding. So what if I could be a type of study within GoodTurn. I would commit to riding on an eBike for 6 weeks at least 3 days a week. This would allow me to test out the claims that riding an eBike still improved health while being able to finally bike to work. We worked out that in order to measure my own health we would record two things, first my weight and second my resting heart rate as these are both common indicators of overall health.

So my journey commuting on an eBike began. Before I started I needed to measure my weight and RHR(resting heart rate). On August 12th I weighed in at 259 lbs, and thanks to the Fitbit Blaze that I had been wearing for a couple months I knew that my RHR was at 80bpm. With my baseline stats and an eBike to ride, my commuting experiment began. Below are my mid journey health statistics (the weight measurement is taken from the last day of the week that I rode):

  1. Week 0: 8/12
    1. RHR: 80bpm
    2. Weight: 259 lbs
  2. Week 1: 8/13-8/21
    1. Days Commuting: 4
    2. Fun Rides: 0
    3. Miles: 142.3
    4. Avg MPH: 19.5
    5. Avg HR: 138 bpm
    6. RHR: 76 bpm
    7. Weight: 254 lbs
  3. Week 2: 8/22-8/28
    1. Days Commuting: 4
    2. Fun Rides: 1
    3. Miles: 159.2
    4. Avg MPH: 19.6
    5. Avg HR: 139 bpm
    6. RHR: 76 bpm
    7. Weight: 250 lbs
  4. Week 3: 8/29-9/4
    1. Days Commuting: 4
    2. Fun Rides: 0
    3. Miles: 138.3
    4. Avg MPH: 20
    5. Avg HR: 144 bpm
    6. RHR: 76 bpm
    7. Weight: 248 lbs

If I had to give a summary of this information it would be that commuting on an eBike definitely still has health benefits. And if anyone wants to say that an eBike is cheating i would challenge them to look at my heart rate while riding an eBike compared to a traditional bike. I took a look at my average heart rate on a group of six rides that i did on a traditional bike and my average HR came out to 138 bpm. This shows that while riding an eBike (at least a Stromer) I am getting the same level of physical activity as a regular bike only I can go twice as far at a greater constant rate of speed than I am capable on my own.

I am about halfway through my six week journey and so far it has been greatly beneficial to my health, not only physical but mental. As the data shows I have lost 11 pounds in the last 3 weeks and my RHR has seemed to drop 4 bpm. Beside these starting health gains I have also noticed a difference in my own mental state. I have been more joyful the last couple weeks and it’s something I could only attribute to biking a couple hours a few days a week. An eBike is providing me a better commute to work, better physical and mental health, a way to reduce my carbon footprint, and most importantly encouragement that I can achieve my health goals.

I will keep blogging about my commuting experience as well! So if you want to just know more about commuting on an eBike keep an eye out!

Thanks for reading!