A cyclist who competed at the 2018 Gran Fondo World Championships has spoken about how he is using an e-bike to recover his ability to cycle after a serious car crash resulted in brain damage.
The Telegraph reports that Richard Curtis was hit from behind on the M25 in the summer of 2018.
“I walked away without a scratch but the next morning I could barely move,” he said.
Tests revealed a bleed on his brain and permanent brain damage.
Curtis had travelled to Varese, Italy, that September, to compete in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships – essentially an amateur world championships for sportive riders.
“The fall from grace has been devastating,” he said. “From the level of fitness I’d reached to then be in a situation where I could only walk to the end of my road at zimmer frame pace has been a real struggle.”
Curtis has now recovered to the point that he is able to use an e-bike.
“The first time I went on a turbo trainer, I fell off,” he recalled about his earliest attempts to get back on a bike. “I’ve had to relearn to ride. I get headaches for several days afterward and have considered giving it up completely, but I’m just not ready to do that – it’s my life.”
Curtis said he is now able to head out for short rides with a friend.
“After my first e-bike ride I came home, shut the door and just broke down as I realised how much I’d lost. But we’re now at a stage where I can do a routine loop around Tunbridge Wells for about an hour with the e-bike on full wattage.
“My goal is to reduce my reliance on the bike’s motor and to rebuild my own power output. However, there really is an unjustified snobbery in cycling about e-bikes – and that’s very frustrating.”
The Telegraph highlights similarities with the story of Paul Basagoitia, a US mountain biker who was left paralysed from the waist down in 2015 and who was the subject of BBC Three documentary Any One Of Us.
He too returned to riding thanks to an e-bike.
“The pedal-assist e-bike is the best technology to happen to me as far as mountain bikes,” he told Pink Bike earlier this year. “There couldn’t have been a better time for e-bikes to come out.
“The summer after I got hurt e-bikes started to become a thing, and Scott sent one to me. When I got it I was pretty negative about it. They ended up sending me a normal bike, and I went on a ride down the street. The problem was that anything that had a steep grade or slope I was not able to go up.
“Here I was with this amazing mountain bike and the only place I could ride it on was a flat street. I didn’t have calf strength or my glutes firing to get me up a hill. It wasn’t fun doing circles around my neighbourhood. So I ended up giving the pedal-assist bike a try, and right away I was blown away. It changed my life.
“Suddenly that little hill wasn’t a problem. The next day I rode singletrack for the first time again since my crash. Now I’d say I’m able to do 80% of the trails around Reno because of e-bikes.”