Electric bike: far from advancing alone!
Next Wednesday will be the first race of the Mont-Sainte-Anne International Cycling Union’s electric mountain bike race. This growing discipline has piqued the curiosity of many athletes already very good at cycling in cross country races (XCO). They are unanimous: the differences are much more numerous than the addition of a simple engine.
Mr. Athieu Bélanger-Barrette, from Quebec City, has been on the XCO Mountain Bike Tour since a young age. Also a cyclocross enthusiast, the athlete turned to long distance races a few years ago.
“I wanted to be part of the World Championships and I knew I could not even hope to do the elite selection, it’s not my discipline normally. The e-bike was new so the selection was not too difficult. It was arbitrary and decided by Cycling Canada, “he explains.
With a borrowed bike, he started training a few weeks before the World Championships. And think again, these bikes are far from advancing alone.
“In uphill it goes faster and downhill, it’s more difficult to maneuver because the bike is really heavy. The behavior is really different. The slopes are very steep and we have to pedal, it is not the engine that makes everything move forward. The driver is a big part of it. ”
The bikes of each runner will have the same power. A thorough checking of the machines will be done by the marshals before the race. Bélanger-Barrette does not have too many expectations for the upcoming race, he does not know the other riders. He only hopes to be able to offer a performance he will be proud of.
“It’s nice to be part of the story. We do not really know where it’s going to go, the electric bike, but in the industry right now, it’s growing. You never know what doors it can open. ”
A discipline apart
Maghalie Rochette is also a participant on the XCO circuit. She also holds several titles in cyclo-cross, whose races take place in the fall. This year, she wanted to devote her energy to this discipline. She did not run on the XCO World Cup circuit, which reduced her chances of being selected for the Mont-Sainte-Anne Worlds.
“I’m not necessarily disappointed not to be ranked. I wanted to get rested at the start of the cyclo-cross season. I drove a lot with an e-bike this summer. I must confess that I was a little skeptical, but it’s really a complement to my training and it was really beneficial. It’s so nice and really a great discovery. ”
Without getting her ticket to the elite, she was able to rank for the electric bike.
Although they are used to training hard to climb the slopes with only help their legs, Rochette and Bélanger-Barette agree that the electric bike has its place on the scene of international competitions.
“It’s going to be a very intense effort, the bike gives you a lot of power, but the more you produce power with your legs, the faster you go. I think it has its place because it’s a category in itself, it’s respectable, “believes Rochette, who will start on the track Wednesday at 16:30 with women, while Bélanger-Barrette will start at 2:15 pm in men.
“I find that it opens the doors to people who have more difficulties, it allows them to ride longer. I see that on the bright side. It’s sure that when I’m overtaken by an e-bike, it’s always frustrating, but you have to see it as another sport completely, “Mathieu also thinks.
A heavier bike, a battery that runs out after a certain time of use and a high altitude bring an interesting strategic aspect to the race.
In addition to skills and fitness, the key is to know your racing car.
“It’s going so fast in the tracks, I feel that I have improved my technical skills at high speed. You have to be extra concentrated. You have to pedal as fast as possible and use your battery as efficiently as possible. We all have the same kind of bike, it’s up to the rider to control all that, “says Rochette, from Sainte-Adèle.
With the team relay event and the electric bike, Wednesday’s day at Mont-Sainte-Anne is likely to offer a spectacle to visitors.