E-biker Eelco Meyjes
The e-bike phenomenon is very exciting. They are big in Europe, and particularly in Germany, but it’s still new here in SA.
I did the 55km MTB and the road race at 947 last year. It was fantastic, and I arranged with the organisers to give them feedback. Mostly it was good, although a few people said I was cheating.
I’ve even contacted the guys at Joberg2C, and they are very keen to find out more about the e-bike category. They have offered me a free ride, but they obviously need me to handle the logistics of batteries. They can’t use 20% of their resources on one guy when they have 750 other people to look after.
There are a lot of people who couldn’t manage an event like Joberg2C on a normal bike, but would still seriously do it. For Joberg2C organisers it makes sense to explore this, because its business for them. Joberg2c are getting requests from overseas, because in Europe there are 1.6 million e-bikes. When I started putting the feelers out on Facebook about e-bikes, there were a couple of people who were anti – but a lot more who were for it. It’s the future of cycling… like it or not!
There are two kinds of e-bike riders: those who like touring and travelling, and those into the racing side of things. The guys that are into racing on e-bikes could create problems if we don’t manage this properly.
I’ve done a ton of very long endurance rides, including riding from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. So I can proudly say that I’ve established my credibility.
I’m 68 now, but I’ve learnt a lot about planning every detail because of the long endurance rides I’ve done. It’s a crucial thing, when it comes to riding e-bikes.
I got into e-bikes when I went to visit my son-in-law in Monaco in 2016, and saw lots of people riding them. In 2016 in South Africa, a lot of people told me that e-bikes were a load of rubbish. That year, they couldn’t give e-bikes away – but by 2017, they didn’t have enough stock. If the bike industry snubs their noses at e-bikes, then that business is going to go somewhere else. People are buying bikes for their wives and husbands, so that they can ride together. If you don’t embrace it, business will walk out the door.
There are two kinds of e-bike riders: those who like touring and travelling, and those into the racing side of things.
E-bikes are a fun category. They can bring families together. For a guy who may not be as fit as his wife or vice versa, they could really help people spend time together. They also suit older people, in their 60s and 70s,
who still want to enjoy cycling but may not be as strong as they were. At the end of the day, it’s about getting more people on bikes.
There are a lot of CEOs who are buying e-bikes. They may not have the time to train, but they have the money and love the outdoors.
At the moment, Cape Town is the Mecca of e-bikes in SA. I’ve approached the Cape Town Cycle Tour, but they’ve been so busy handling the water crisis that it’s not a priority for them at the moment. But they have promised to review it and look at the potential impact.
E-bikes are a bit like Le Mans in motor racing, where older drivers go and have fun. They still enjoy it. E-bikes will be the bikes Chris Froome will ride one day… mark my words! I know that even Christoph Sauser is racing and riding e-bikes nowadays.
If we can be successful in getting e-bikes into races, it will lead to an e-bike explosion.
To finish a long race of around 120km, you may need two batteries. So you need to carry at least one of those batteries with you. You may just need another battery as a back-up, that you could pick up at a water point.
The only problem in a stage race comes when you have to charge a battery, and then suddenly organisers have a problem with the generators or the supply. Then I’m up the creek for sure…
They call me the e-man already, because I see the enormous potential in e-bikes. There are so many advantages – for things like security, people running game lodges, anti-poaching transport, etc etc.
We have the best cycling events in the world, and the best race organisers, and can change a lot of attitudes globally.
I understand that events like the Cape Epic won’t allow them; but for short multi-day events, they have the infrastructure and numbers to handle this. It shouldn’t be a racing category, anyway.
They are already looking at things like solar panels for charging e-bikes, which would make a big change for touring bikes.
EELCO MEYJES BELIEVES E-BIKES HAVE A PLACE IN ALL RACES IN SOUTH AFRICA