This guest blog is written by board member Margarita Parra.
I have been a cyclist all my life—it something very natural, part of me. I come from a family of cyclists with stories of grandparents biking all the way from their home town in the countryside of Colombia to the nation’s capital, 200 km of high Andes mountains, and with a mother who was a professional road cyclist, with a uniform and a team. Going to see her race was normal and fun. I grew up in Bogota, a city famous for its ciclovías on every Sunday (like Viva CalleSJ in San José). It is all over my DNA and, of course, I married another cycle-lover, mountain biker and avid road cyclist. After becoming a mother, I am mostly an urban cyclist, a commuter mom taking my kid in a tandem or an extension. My mountain biking days and races (yes, I dared!) are over, and my road bike is in storage, but the joy of biking with my daughter to school has been incredible. And recently one new addition to my family has changed my cycling experience even more.
I have been checking out electric bikes for a while, but while I thought they looked cool, they are pretty expensive, and I wasn’t ready. Then last fall my commuting bike, a Specialized Tricross bike, got stolen. I was heartbroken as we have been together for close to 10 years. Lucky for me I have found something to fall in love with again… my electric cargo bike.
After days of comparisons and tests, I decided to for an Xtracycle cargo e-bike, and there is no going back. It is an amazing beast (yes it is big) and it carries everything: my kid, her friends, groceries, even Girl Scout cookies, and—I know by weight design—it can carry my husband (we haven’t tried yet). And there is nothing this bike cannot do! My daughter knows the difference between assist level, Eco, and Turbo, and she knows when the electric motor engages. We live on a hill and before, it was common for us to walk up the hill with our bikes, as it has one steep part. Well, now we don’t and we can carry our groceries too. I named it my SUB: my Sports Utility Bicycle!
Two weeks ago, I took my daughter to a birthday party of another 7-year-old. As soon as we arrived, the bike became the focus of the party. The bike didn’t get a break—there were fathers taking turns to carry 2 or 3 kids at times!—it was enjoyed by the whole party. People were having fun, and other mothers tried too. Kids lined up and went again and again in little trips around the park. My battery almost died (granted was not fully charged) but it was very satisfying and I am hoping some of those kids become cycle-lovers as me and my family are. Every time I get to school with the bike, I see the smiles and curiosity of people. The convenience, the ability to carry stuff, and the beauty, are all things I feel people are noticing. I know it is an investment, but I am convinced now that all benefits outweigh the price. As I am also convinced that riding an e-bike is contagious!