The Dirt Demo of Interbike at Bootleg Canyon is somewhat of a misleading name. The demo doesnâ€™t consist of just mountain bikes, with flowing trails through the sand, and pinch flats under a scorching sun. There is a plethora of road, tandem, recumbent, and funky other bikes and shenanigans going on. I was proud to take part in some monkey business that involved an Izip electric assisted comfort bike and the highway.
With great plans of humor and to see the power generating Hoover Dam, Evan Perrone and I settled on a quick sprint to the great landmark 10-miles away. We didnâ€™t want to spend all day riding there or all our energy climbing from the dam back up to Boulder City, after all there were still mountain bikes to try. So it quickly became clear that we needed to commandeer a pair of electric bikes and head south on Interstate 93 to save time and the legs for later.
We first grabbed to separate brand of bikes, but Evanâ€™s battery died before we reached the highway and my bike was too damn heavy to risk having to pedal a 60lb plus bicycle back to Dirt Demo if the charge failed too soon. Scanning the demo site we spotted Izipâ€™s booth and knew we had a winner.
Izipâ€™s hybrid electric bikes look similar to a comfort bike, with the exception of the huge battery situated in the middle of the frame between the top and down tubes. We were assured that the batteries were fully charged and never disclosed our escape plan. After receiving a quick explanation of the five levels of pedal assistance and turning over our media cards, we set the electric motor to turbo -maximum assist- and took a practice lap. With an android sounding whine and a little extra torque behind the take off, we headed away from the crowd, weaved through the orange cones and left the exhibition area.
Turning left on 93 and scooting across four-lanes of traffic the smile on my face couldnâ€™t have been bigger as Evan and I laughed like fools. The Izip peaks out with a top speed of about 40mph on the flats and a 30-mile range on a full charge, not including the steep and long grades we would encounter. We passed through a small business district then read the road signs as the miles were counted down to the Hoover Dam. The ride down was pretty simple and we spotted a few roadies heading in the opposite direction heading back to Bootleg Canyon. They were to become the gauge of the electric assist return in a game of cat and mouse.
With amazing panoramic views we navigated the serpent-like winding highway and spotted the dam then pulled off the pavement onto a stone viewing area that was about two-thirds of the way down. The skinniest chipmunk Iâ€™ve ever seen quickly appeared and obviously used to humans began begging for food. We stood and laughed some more at having achieved our capper, took some photos and
turned around to chase the roadies we saw miles ago.
Cruising uphill at a good pace I tucked in behind Evan and sat in his draft. The electric engine hummed and the smell of burning car brakes heading down had me worried that the belt driven left side of the bike was frying. I read a sign welcoming us back to Nevada and than alerting us to the Pacific Time Zone. Pedaling forward was too easy for the speed we were moving and in the distance the fist roadie was spotted. We picked up the pace and blew by her like she was standing still. The next group of roadies flatted and we stopped to offer a pump, gave them a 5-minute head start and soon caught and passed them again with video recorder in hand.
About an hour after we began our foolery, we returned the Izip bikes to their booth to a slightly dismayed representative. Having seen the Hoover Dam and a herd of long horned sheep it was time to get back into the dirt. Iâ€™ll soon have the video from our ride up on the web, so check back a little later for link. â€“Shannon Mominee
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