Pedegos to the Rescue!
Fanny and Duke Save the Vacation!
When my husband and I initially converted our bikes to ebikes, we were simply looking to get back riding again. When we hit 50, pedaling uphill became much more challenging, and therefore rides less frequent. After all, we do live in British Columbia, and our neighbourhood happens to be in a river valley; we must go uphill no matter what direction we ride in.
We had several reasons for deciding to upgrade from our ebike conversion kits to our fancy new Pedego electric bikes ‘Fanny’ and ‘Duke’, but a big one was that we wanted secondary transportation while traveling in our camper van. Little did we know that desire would end up saving our vacation.
We bought our 1989 Dodge campervan in the summer of 2020. She needed a lot of work to make her road safe and comfortable, and we did everything that was necessary. It seems like we needed to pay for a major repair after each trip. Last fall was the biggest repair and expense. We had to rebuild the transmission and replace all the belts. The repair job cost us almost $5,000. We hoped that would be the last major mechanical expense and we would have safe stress-free travels this summer (2022). Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky.
At the beginning of August, we loaded Fanny and Duke onto the back of ‘Van Helen’ and headed to our favourite campground in Tofino, BC, Surf Grove. We were super excited to have our new Pedegos with us as there is a fabulous new bike trail that runs all the way from Tofino to Ucluelet. I cannot not say enough good things about this ride! It is spectacular in every way.
Surf Grove is located on Cox Bay so when accessing the bike trail, you can ride in one direction all the way into Tofino, or in the other direction which takes you through Pacific Rim National Park to the border of Ucluelet. The complete trail is just over 42 km (26.2 miles), so it is too far to travel roundtrip on a single battery charge, but we still managed to cover a good chunk of it.
Once we have Van Helen parked and our campground set up we are not keen to move the van again. Having our ebikes with us allowed us to zip into Tofino to pick up milk and ice or grab a bite to eat when we didn’t feel like cooking. The ebikes afforded us so much more freedom and flexibility than we have without them.
For a bit of an afternoon adventure, we also rode our Pedegos in the opposite direction into Pacific Rim National Park. This section of the bike path is breathtaking. Most of the path is paved, with only a few sections comprised of loose gravel. This makes for a very comfortable, smooth ride. The path winds through thick forest, over creeks and gullies, and along the parking lots for public beach access. It twists and winds through curves and hairpin turns taking you up and down hills of varying degrees and into long stretches of straight easy riding. It is exhilarating and beautiful to ride.
(Photo Source: Parks Canada)
A highlight worth detouring off path for is Long Beach. The white sandy coastline goes on forever. Clipping along the water’s edge at 30kmph, wind whipping your face, a light ocean spray encompassing you as you ride into the foggy, unseeable distance is an incomparable thrill. That ride alone was worth the cost of our Pedegos!
(Long Beach, BC)
Our four days at Surf Grove was the beginning of what was supposed to be a two-week vacation of island sights and fun rides. Things did not however, go as planned. Our plan was to leave Tofino and drive across Vancouver Island to Nanaimo, where we had reserved an Airbnb for two nights. From there we were going to head north on Vancouver Island to do some unscheduled exploring. But about an hour out of Tofino, just outside or Port Alberni, our van broke down. It was 4:45 p.m. on the Friday of the August long weekend. We were screwed!
The purpose of this blog is not to get into the gory details of the mechanical problems of our van. So, to make this part of the story short, our transmission went. Yes, the one we just spent $5,000 repairing. We got lucky and found an exceptional young man (Jordan) still on shift at B&A Transmission in Port Alberni. He agreed to wait for us to get our van towed to him. Once we got the van to him, he loaded our ebikes, our two dogs, and us into his pickup truck and drove us to our Airbnb in Nanaimo. This got us to where we needed to be for the next two days but left us stranded on the outskirts of Nanaimo without a vehicle. This is when Fanny and Duke saved our vacation.
Our Airbnb was an acreage located several miles from any amenities. The closest thing to where we were staying was a pub located about 5km down the road. We did not have any food with us, and we had no way of getting anything. Skip the Dishes saved us the first night, but the bikes gave us freedom and solved a lot of problems from then on. We were able to ride our bikes into town where we had access to restaurants and groceries. We discovered Nanaimo is also crisscrossed with an amazing network of bike lanes and bike paths. Once we got our bearings, we were able to ride around and easily get everything we needed. I really don’t know how we would have managed without our ebikes.
We also only had the Airbnb for two nights, so we had to find someplace else to stay while we were waiting for the prognosis of our van. I managed to find us a place to stay in Nanaimo, but now we had to get our stuff, our two bikes, and our two dogs from the Airbnb to our hotel several kilometres away. The solution was a U-Haul truck. My husband rode his bike to the U-Haul rental location, loaded his bike in the back of a moving truck, drove it back to me, where we loaded the rest of our stuff onto it and drove the hotel. He left his bike in the back, drove the truck back, and then returned to the hotel on his bike. The logistics and cost of doing this without our ebikes would have been far more stressful and expensive. And, once again, our bikes allowed us to get around Nanaimo to get food.
Ultimately, we had to abandon our van on Vancouver Island and return three weeks later to get it. So, we had to rely on a U-Haul again to get us home. My husband once again rode his Pedego to the U-Haul rental location to get the truck.
For four days our Pedegos helped feed us and get us places we needed to be that we would have otherwise had to pay an Uber or Taxi for. Fortunately, the van repair was covered on warranty, but the whole fiasco still cost us an extra $1,200. It would have been hundreds of dollars more had we not had our ebikes.
What did I learn from this experience? If you are planning a road trip, seriously consider hitching an ebike to the back of your vehicle. I can imagine dozens of situations where having a back-up vehicle could be a real lifesaver. If your vehicle can’t support a hitch, consider a foldable ebike you can throw in the trunk or backseat. Our vacation was shortened and less than perfect, but it would have been miserable without our Pedegos. But with them, we not only survived a bump in our vacation plans, but we also discovered some great new bike paths, and wonderful areas of Nanaimo. And two thumbs up to B&A Transmission in Port Alberni for helping us, and to the City of Nanaimo for their fabulous cycling paths!
*Please note I received a small incentive for agreeing to blog about our Pedego bikes. However, the opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way by Pedego, its resellers, or representatives.