Who are the E-Bike Cycle Tourists?
We are Gary and Rachel Corbett, two ordinary Australians who refuse to live an ordinary life and who want to see as much of the world as possible from our favourite form of transport – an e-bike.
With our three children now grown adults, we decided it was time to break free of the shackles of suburbia, mortgages and regular jobs for a more mobile lifestyle. So what did we do? We sold our house, put all of our earthly belongings in a shipping container on a friend’s farm and hit the road. Over the past two years we have lived in Colombia in South America for five months, had a go at being professional house sitters following our return to Australia and most recently spent one year in Bangkok in Thailand where Rachel taught at international primary school.
But while all of the above was a refreshing change from our old suburban lives, it is our current adventure – that has seen us set a new world electric bike long distance record after setting out from London in April 2015 – that has been by far our most exciting challenge to date.
Gary, 61, is an award-winning Australian journalist who since retiring from a career spanning 30-plus years working as a newspaper journo, now concentrates on writing about all aspects of the organised cycle tour industry. Gary is currently contracted to a number of organised cycle tour companies to write blogs, feature articles and to generally improve their written website content.
Over the past 10 years Gary has cycled well in excess of 30,000 kilometres completing guided, self-guided, bike and barge and long distance solo tours in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.
In 2013 he wrote and published an e-book on Amazon entitled ‘The Cycle Tourist’ that delved in extensive detail into all aspects of the organised cycle tour industry. He has also published a second shorter book on the same subject entitled ‘Holiday Cycling’.
Ever since he completed a solo ride across Europe in 2010 on a conventional Trek 520 touring bike, Gary has been on the lookout for another long distance ride “with a difference”, but this time with his wife Rachel riding by his side.
But there was one major problem with this plan – Rachel. Well, not Rachel as such, but the fact that a major self-contained cycle tour on a normal touring bike carrying anything up to 40kg of belongings was just not physically feasible for Rachel to complete for a host of reasons.
But there was a solution to the problem – as there always is – and that was an electric bike. Given that you can use as little or as much electric assist as you want on an electric bicycle, e-bikes have proven to be the perfect solution for Rachel – and Gary – to be able to effectively iron out hills and to tame annoying headwinds.
With electric bicycles proving to be the perfect solution to enable both Gary and Rachel to complete a long distance cycle tour together, and promote their love of a clean environment at the same time, the planning for their extended cycle tour on the EuroVelo network was taken one giant step further – to set a new world electric bike long distance record.
After all, how dull would life be if you didn’t get out of your comfort zone every now and then!
With a new world e-bike long distance record finally achieved on January 20, 2016, Gary and Rachel are determined to continue e-biking for as long as possible. Long distance e-biking, they have discovered, is a lifestyle like no other!
Rachel, 57, Gary’s wife and cycling buddy, is as equally passionate as her husband about cycle touring and cycling in general, although by her own admission is “just a recreational cyclist”.
A primary school teacher and the IT expert of the family, Rachel, despite initially being apprehensive about the physical challenges that a long distance e-bike journey would present, is delighted to have achieved her goal to set a new world e-bike record.
When she set out on the e-bike adventure she was still recovering from the after affects of a viral blood infection caused by a case of salmonella poisoning that resulted in her suffering from a severe case of acute reactive arthritis.
But fortunately cycling on a daily basis has proven to be a magic tonic and she is now fully recovered and fitter than she has been at any other stage of her life.
While the ride has been Rachel’s longest – and most challenging – cycle journey to date, she has thrived on the challenge and now admits she is now addicted to cycle touring and doesn’t know how to stop!.
A self-confessed travel junkie who backpacked extensively throughout Europe through her 20s, Rachel said the e-bike record attempt had proven to be an ideal opportunity for her to rekindle her love of everything European.
“Ever since I was young I have had a passion for travelling and backpacked around Europe extensively in my 20s, only stopping to settle down to have a family,” she said. “We now find ourselves as empty-nesters so it was time to hit the road again … we were both ready for a new adventure and have loved every minute of it.”
Given that she hates travelling anywhere at speed, whether it be in cars, planes, trains or whatever, Rachel said that travelling by e-bike was now her ideal form of transport.
“I don’t like speed and I always want to smell the roses, so what better way than by electric bicycle,” she said. “If I had it my way it would be on horseback, but unfortunately I was born in the wrong era, so electric bicycle it is.
“I love to stay fit and to learn about different cultures so our journey has been an amazing opportunity to not only travel extensively in Europe and the UK, but to have many amazing experience and to meet many, many wonderful people.”