By Rik (Fajer/Da Faj) Deaton
Two years ago I went for a test ride on a very expensive and high-spec electric assist mountain bike. This was my first exposure to an e-bike and it was true love at first ride – I placed an order for one of the bikes on the spot. At time of writing in February of 2019 I am sixty five years old and give thanks daily to the wonders of modern medicine for the freedom afforded me by my artificial hip along with hernia and achilles tendon repairs that, in combination with the incredible new technology that is the electric bicycle, allow me to still regularly get out onto the astonishingly beautiful array of world class cycle trails we have in this area, ride long distances on moderately challenging trails … and have fun!!!
That is what happens to almost anyone who jumps onto an e-bike of any configuration, they just have fun. The e-bike magically turns heart-attack-hills into an easy jaunt, a headwind into a tailwind and a soft surface into a paved cycleway. They take all the hard work out of cycling and just leave fun and gentle exercise. I still ride my fabulous e-mountain bike whenever I want to do one of the more challenging true mountain bike trails in the area, but more and more I find myself gravitating away from the inherently uncomfortable seating posture of a mountain bike to the far more relaxing, upright and scenery-facing seating position of the YouMo e-cruiser we operate in our LandEscape rental fleet.
We believe our YouMo e-cruisers to be the perfect all rounder, ideal for our wide array of guests and the relatively easy and scenic trails they will mostly be riding. The e-bike is bringing older people back to cycling in droves at the same time it attracts new acolytes in equal measure. The e-bike is a short to medium distance transportation revolution in the making and, in an area blessed with the unbelievably rich variety of scenic cycle trails that Wanaka and its environs enjoy, the e-bike provides a way for the visitor to see more of the area in a single day than they might do in any other manner, even in a car.
So, which of our amazing selection of local trails is my personal favourite? That, I have to admit, really is a hard one. Depends to some extent on mood and energy levels. If there is a more scenic and enjoyable cycle trail on the planet than the fabulous Millennium Track from the Wanaka Tree to Glendhu Bay campground and back then I don’t know of it. This is at the upper range of terrain that the YouMo is suited to. Although only rated at difficulty grade 2 (easy) it still has a pretty rough surface in places along with some steep drop offs at the trailside and challenging climbs and downhill sections … but, damn, what a ride. The YouMo will handle it just fine as long as the rider respects the limited suspension travel of the bike (remember it does not have the incredible suspension of a true mountain bike) and takes it a bit slowly on the rougher sections. This is not a ride for the inexperienced or the faint hearted however, so do come out to the farm at LandEscape and practice on our graded trail system before you attempt it if you are not sure of your abilities.
My other personal favourite, if I am feeling like a really big ride, is to combine the 30 kilometres of off-road scenic grandeur that is the ride from our present home in Wanaka township out to the LandEscape farm, with a detour down the fantastic riverside loop trail to the little town of Luggate and back, known as “The Newcastle Loop”. If you have the legs to add the Newcastle Loop track to the standard Wanaka to LandEscape ride, you will have seen some of the most wonderful scenery this incredible region has to offer and you will find endless delightful spots to pause and enjoy your trailside picnic. The combined journey of 80 kilometres is a full day outing but no biggie to a reasonably capable and fit rider (you are on an e-bike remember) but it requires that you slap on a second YouMo battery and swap them over when you exhaust the first. But that is just one more reason we chose YouMo for your Wanaka trail riding experience – few other e-bikes carry two batteries!
The ride from Wanaka to the farm at LandEscape is the standard ride that many of our e-bike rental guests will be doing and it is just a delight. The addition of the Newcastle Loop is truly the icing on a very rich and delicious cake. The ride meanders from Wanaka township via the lakefront to the outlet trail and then across the suspension bridge to the Hawea River track which is where you have to decide if you want to throw the Newcastle Loop into the mix for the day.
Anywhere you go on the local cycle trail network however, is fantastically scenic, relaxing and a delight that will set you momentarily free from whatever everyday cares may be vexing you.
Lose your mind and come to your senses … Rik