How an Electric Bike Transformed My Life
Words by Rhonda Martin | Source Raleigh e-Bikes
I couldn't believe the freedom I felt...
My name is Rhonda Martin. On February 7, 2012, I weighed 457 pounds. I was 40 years old and my health was declining quickly. I could only walk about 150 steps at a time before I was winded and exhausted. I decided I was tired of just existing and wanted to live again.
I had heard a friend of mine was trying to lose weight and I decided to try just one more time. I had tried every diet out there to only lose a little and then gain it all back – plus more. I decided this time I wasn’t going to focus on a diet, but on living a healthier lifestyle. I decided to make just one change at a time.
I started off by just focusing on one healthy meal a day. Once I became comfortable with that, I added another healthy meal. I bought a pedometer and challenged myself to walk just 100 more steps each day. It was at this point that I discovered electric bikes while working with Chuck at an Expo. After walking by the bikes about 10 times, I decided to try it.
Oh my goodness!
I couldn’t believe the freedom I felt and the pure joy. I felt like a kid again. I rode the bike by my husband and I asked him to try it. Stubbornly, he just shook his head no. After the third time I rode by him with a huge grin on my face, he finally agreed to give it a spin (I think just to get me to stop asking)! Well, he fell in love as well and we purchased two that same day.
Walking was still very difficult on my knees, ankles, and feet, but riding the e-bike helped take some of the pressure off of my joints. Every weekend we would load up the bikes and drive 20 miles to a path that was flat and not very busy. I wasn’t able to ride far.
I would pedal for a little bit without engaging the motor, then use the pedal-assist motor, and then just use the motor to rest. Then repeat the whole process. I could only ride about five miles that way. We would ride for about 30 minutes, load the bikes back up and drive home. The incredible feeling made us feel youthful again. The freedom of being able to move with limited pain for a woman my size was: life-changing.
As I started to lose weight and my activity level increased, our rides became longer and we’d find other safe places to ride. Our time spent riding together brought my husband and I closer together. After about a year of riding the e-bike and walking, I was finally physically able to take the leap and try commuting to work by bike.
At the time, the company I was working for was 14 miles from our house with a couple of serious hills. I remember the first day I decided to ride my bike to work. It was on my birthday. Chuck was worried about me, so he waited 20 minutes after I left the house and drove on the same route I was riding to make sure I was happy and safe.
I made it to work with no problems and was so stinking excited and proud of my accomplishment. At the end of the day, I rode back home and Chuck had drove to the halfway point again to make sure I was good and feeling strong. I most certainly was. From that day forward, I tried to commute to work as much as possible. This new found love of mine was saving my life – and money on gas!
Fast-forward to present day – five years since I decided to start living instead of existing – and I’ve managed to lose over 270 pounds and completely change my life. I still commute whenever possible on my Raleigh Electric bike – 36-miles roundtrip – on the Redux IE. I love the time riding to prepare for my day on the way in and clear my head on my way home. I have found a healthy life and new love for fitness. For someone that was never athletically inclined growing up, I have recently become a triathlete.
Chuck, unfortunately, had a stroke last summer. He is no longer stable enough to ride a two-wheel bike, or even drive a car. Looking to bring more freedom and sense of fun back into his life, I introduced Chuck to the Raleigh Electric TriStar IE trike. Instant breakthrough. He’s now riding without any balance issues and starting to be more active and re-engaged in life.
We are both huge advocates of electric bikes. I can honestly say that I don't know where I’d be today if electric bikes and Raleigh Electric hadn’t come into our lives. However, I do know that because of this my life – and my connection with my husband – is full of joy, passion, and optimism.