Out Tuscany to Rome journey traces an ancient pilgrimage route, before a fitting ending at the impressive Vatican City in Rome. Expect to be gliding past plenty of cypress tree-lined trails and endless fields of golden corn. Idyllic landscapes make up for a few cheeky climbs along the way, so we’re happy to introduce you our first leisure cycling holiday that is exclusively run on electric bikes! Skedaddle designer Helen Wallis gives us a brief overview of her experience riding the Via Francigena from Tuscany to Rome on an electric bike (e-bike). Find out how she got on…
‘I think it’s fair to say that like many folk, I’m a fair-weather cyclist but really love getting out on my bike. However, as the years have gone by I’ve found that it’s becoming harder to keep up with cycling friends that ride in all weathers and never seem to be off their bikes! So when I spotted the option of an electric bike for my upcoming Skedaddle trip, I jumped at the chance!
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would it be difficult to ride? Would it be powerful enough to ride all day and get me to my destination and enable me to keep up with my friends? Well, I needn’t have worried, in fact after my week on an e-bike, or more to the point a pedal-assisted bike, I’m a true convert.
In fact, I’ve become a bit of an e-bike evangelist and here are a few reasons why:
• It’s as simple as riding a bike! Gears, brakes and handling are just as you’d expect, however at the flick of a switch your superpowers kick in, it’s amazing!
• Confidence giving. An e-bike allows you to stop to admire the view, take a selfie, delete the selfie and take a nice picture, safe in the knowledge you will not get left behind.
• Make mountains into molehills. Whatever your ability you can simply just dial up the power for the odd (or every) hill.
• You still get fit. My Skedaddle e-bike was pedal-assisted so I could simply ride along in ‘eco mode’, the lowest setting or any one of the other 3 levels of assistance depending on the terrain and how I felt.
• It goes for miles. My e-bike easily covered over 30 miles a day on the trip and often still had half of its charge left. And when the cycling was over I simply plugged the battery in to charge in my room before going out for supper.
• It’s fun to ride! It gave me the chance to sit back and relax and take in the scenery. And when my fellow cyclists occasionally ran out of puff, I still had the energy to keep on talking – great for me – less so for them!
Interestingly, after a few days of gentle teasing (and a cracking new nickname ‘Duracell Bunny’), everyone on the trip was keen to have a go on my e-bike. There were plenty of big grins and even the odd cry of amazement at the level of assistance is provided on all types of trail and surface and especially on the hills.
So, the bottom line is whatever your cycling ability or age, you don’t need to feel you are missing out. Riding an e-bike made me feel like a big kid again, I felt unlimited in where I could go and what I could see. It provided me with the time and comfort to take in the glorious Italian countryside and the confidence to ride all day with my friends, safe in the knowledge that whatever the route threw at us, I was able to ride by their side.
Now, where’s the nearest socket…’
Photography: Alessandro Gallo