We originally met Mary and Mark back in September 2016, when VBike went to Bethel with our fleet to take part in the Bethel Better Block event, a celebration sponsored by the AARP to demonstrate how to make our communities more livable for all. It was a blast and great to meet folks like Mary and Mark.
Shortly after the event, the two of them connected with VBike for one of our free bike consultations to figure out how they could regularly use their bikes for what seemed like an impossible distance and hill climb. They visited Brattleboro a couple of times and tried all of our bikes and settled on two Yuba V2 Boda Boda cargo bikes with powerful Bafang mid-drive motors installed at Burrow’s Specialized Sports. The whole process took almost a year and we kept working with them.
But what’s totally extraordinary is what followed after they finally worked out the details of getting the right battery and two practically identical bikes. The intrepid couple set off on a journey back home and y’all can read about it right here. Yes, this is a VBike exclusive story about Mary and Mark’s excellent adventure and a great example of the type of folks that VBike is helping in our effort to bring a new, engaged, practical, and mind blowing fun form of mobility to our great state...
Mary & Mark: We are two active geezers in our 60's who met each other in 2010, built our home almost completely by ourselves in 2011 and then got married all while we were in our mid 50's. We both like to be active and enjoy biking but have done very little of it in Vermont as we live on bumpy dirt roads at 1400' of elevation. I have lived on this land since 2000 and Mark just since 2012. One road in requires a climb of over 500 feet in elevation in about 1/2 mile. We love our bikes and use them to go as many places as possible, including on joy rides. We hope to use them to go to things such as dental appointments which would require more than 60 miles round trip.
VBike: Why did you have a hankering to purchase an e-cargo bike?
M & M: We tried them out and fell in love immediately. As we live on dirt roads at 1400' of elevation and have aging knees which have had their share of injuries we have ridden our regular bikes much less than we would what to. Furthermore, we are very vehicle dependent as the closest small store is at least 8 miles away and most things are further than that. Thus the cargo bike made the most sense. But what really clinched it was that we both tried out a number of bikes and independently we came to the decision that the Yuba bike we purchased felt the best in terms of solid handling on both dirt and pavement.
VBike: How long did it take for you to find the right electric cargo bike and what was that like?
M & M: We first tried e-bikes in September of 2016 with VBike. We tried more from the VBike fleet later that fall and knew what we wanted by November. Unfortunately, by 2017 it was the previous year’s model of the Yuba Boda Boda and was hard to find. There was one at Burrow’s Specialized Sports in Brattleboro and I spent most of a day calling around to many other shops before I finally located one in Massachusetts. This was all in June of 2017. Then it turned out that the batteries we wanted were out of stock and we waited and waited for them to arrive. Finally, VBike told us about California E-Bike and their more powerful and more expensive batteries that could be gotten sooner. However, there was still a wait on these as well and we had to wait for them to clear customs and other obstacles. Finally we were able to pick up the completed bikes at Burrow’s on August 5th.
VBike: Tell us the story about your trip back home with the bikes.
M & M: Always ready for adventure and not sure how to get the bikes home, we decided to take the train down to Brattleboro and ride them back. This is a trip of over 85 miles. I had not ridden more than 30 or so miles in any given YEAR for the last 30 years and mark for the last 6 or so. We left Brattleboro at 6 AM and at first only put the power assist to one when going up a hill. Mark found he needed to put it a bit higher to get any boost. This worked well for about 30 miles. Then we hit a very nasty headwind and found we used the power assist a bit more. The wind continued for the rest of the trip. By the 40 mile mark our butts were quite sore and I had some on and off cramping in my legs so we stopped for about an hour and had lunch. We made a few more frequent stops after that but we made it all the way home and up the final very steep climb with plenty of power still left in the battery. We were home by 5 PM.
M & M: We will use them whenever we can. We don't go off the mtn that often and when we do it is sometimes for things that are at least 30-40 miles away. We hope to start using the bikes at those times but thus far have used them for more local trips such as going to the library on a weekly basis or to dinner with friends. Both of these are 8-10 miles in one direction. We purchased 400 lumen lights and have been able to use them on pitch dark nights. We are on dirt roads a lot with long downhills to get out and big climbs coming home. We look for ways to need to go out so we can use them. I have ridden the bike 12 miles to go for a two hour swim across a lake and back and then ridden the bike back home. We use them to go to a farm we manage that is a few miles away and sometimes carry filled gas cans or large crates of apples on the bikes.
VBike: How are family, friends and local community reacting to the bikes?
M & M: Anyone who has tried them loves them!!
VBike: Are you satisfied with how things have worked out with your bike?
M & M: We love the bikes and love using them.