Can an E-bike Help you Shave Minutes off your Time?

Manpower vs horsepower: How Don Coats, the owner of Caledon Hills Cycling in Inglewood, fared using an e-bike to race his faster employee, Sean Bechtel.

June 19, 2018 | | Leisure


Would it be manpower or horsepower? That was the question as Don Coats, owner of Caledon Hills Cycling in Inglewood, lined up beside his employee, Sean Bechtel, for the race of the…well, the race of April 27, 2018.

Would it be youth and fitness or experience and drive? Would it be the hare or would the tortoise take home the yellow jersey on a sunny spring morning? Would it be road bike or e-bike?

The duo would battle it out on a 217-metre climb over an 11.1-kilometre route amid Caledon’s scenic rolling hills. They’d leave from the historic village of Inglewood, power up the relentless hill to the Cheltenham badlands, summit the Niagara Escarpment and then swoop down into the pretty hamlet of Belfountain.

Would it be a photo finish? Could it be anything else?


Astride his staid black Cube Access e-bike was Don Coats – a seasoned cyclist. As the sun gleamed on the simple gold keeper in his left ear, it seemed like a talisman of Samson-like power. But would it be enough? Would his e-bike’s small, but powerful motor give him the edge his six-decades-old thighs needed to overcome his 30-something competition?

  • Story Continues Below Advertisements
  • Riding his fire-engine-red Cervélo S3 was Bechtel, a former national team triathlete and ironman. He strutted his toned, ultra-fit self to his sleek, skinny-tired bicycle. His muscled thighs rippling in his Lyra cycling shorts. Bechtel was young enough to be his opponent’s son.


    At the starter’s signal, off they sped, young Bechtel sprinting down the road – a flash of red. Coats lumbered at first, but his e-bike charged into action when it hit turbo speed. As it did, there was a second flash – the warm morning sun had again caught Coats’ golden earring.

    I made my way to the finish line outside every cyclist’s favourite coffee shop, Higher Ground in Belfountain. My camera at the ready, my sweaty index finger poised in expectation of a photo finish. Breathlessly, I waited. Soon enough I looked up the street and rounding the bend into the hamlet came… could it be? There in the clear morning, a morning in which the rising temperature had kicked up a fresh breeze, was a lone cyclist! What? Where was the sprint to the line? Where was the battle for bragging rights? Where was the photo finish? Where was … Coats?

    Don Coats (left) tested his mettle, with the help of an e-bike, against younger and fitter triathlete Sean Bechtel on his road bike. Photo by Pete Paterson.

    Don Coats (left) tested his mettle, with the help of an e-bike, against younger and fitter triathlete Sean Bechtel on his road bike. Photo by Pete Paterson.

    Don Coats was about two minutes behind Sean Bechtel. He later reported, “If I’d been on my road bike, I’d have been five or more minutes slower. So the e-bike was faster, but not quite fast enough – proving that riding an e-bike is not ‘cheating’ as some people think.”

    About the Author More by Nicola Ross

    Freelance writer Nicola Ross lives in Alton and is the author of the bestselling 'Loops and Lattes' hiking guide series.

    Related Stories

    E-bike fan Liz Beatty and skeptic Nicola Ross recently took their motorized wheels for a ride on Forks of the Credit Road. Photo by Pete Paterson.

    E-Bikes: The Skeptic and the Fan

    Jun 19, 2018 | Nicola Ross | Leisure

    Are e-bikes cheating or are they the perfect solution for our hills? Two very different local cyclists take their e-bikes out for a spin, and weigh in on the experience.

    Fat Bikes – the Action’s in the Traction

    Nov 17, 2014 | Nicola Ross | Leisure

    For these “fatty” enthusiasts, the coming of winter no longer spells the end of the ride.

    Swim, Bike, Run

    Mar 24, 2011 | Liz Beatty | Back Issues

    Year-round they meet – on the trails, along the roads, in local pools and quarries, and even in banquet halls. After 15 years of uniting everyone from Olympic-class athletes to toddlers and grandparents in the joys of active living, Caledon’s C3 still offers Canada’s premier cross-training environment. Here’s why.

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to