October 6, 2016 – Roy M. Wallack – Orange Coast Magazine
“Day in, day out, he sat at his computer, got up to eat and go to work, then sat back at his computer,” says his wife, Patty, who gave him his moniker. “I couldn’t get him to do anything with me, even just go for a walk.”
The 6-foot-3-inch engineer’s weight had ballooned to 335 pounds and his walk became a waddle. His outdoors-loving spouse of 37 years took their three boys camping, went without him to hike and socialize every day, and dragged him to marriage counseling five times. Even as his wife threatened divorce, the quiet, 62-year old Irvine engineer sat. “He was immobile—and our marriage was dead,” says Patty, 59.
Until about two years ago. That’s when Patty started commuting to work 14 miles round trip on an electric-assist bike.
Patty’s doctor told her she had dangerously high cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. She wanted to get more exercise and heard about pedal assist bicycles. She thought that maybe if she rode crosstown from their north Irvine home to her management job at Concordia University, it would help. Calm and laid-back, Tony never felt any urgency to lose weight. Though his fitness level was poor, he didn’t have major health problems. But about the time Patty started insisting she needed an e-bike commute to address her health problems, Tony got a stern warning from his doctor: At age 60, his luck and good health would not last much longer.
“She said I had to get moving. I agreed, but I thought, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’ ” Tony recalls. “I went into research mode. With an e-bike, you can get as much or as little help as you need. Maybe it was a good solution.
“Still, I don’t rush into things. I’m an engineer, an incrementalist, a deliberate decision maker. So I put on my lab coat. And I didn’t tell (Patty) this, but she was my test experiment.”
When his unwitting lab rat had an ecstatic reaction to e-biking, bombarding him with photos and stories after returning buoyantly from rides to work, he deemed the experiment a success. They won a free bike for him by writing tear-stained sweepstakes letters to Pedego, although Tony says he would’ve bought one of the bikes anyway, which run about $2,500.
E-bikes, already huge in Europe, are growing fast in America. The boost they give riders as they pedal helps them power sweat-free over hills and through headwinds—“ the two things everyone hates about cycling,” says Bob Bibee, owner of the Pedego bike shop in Irvine where the Barcenases bought Patty’s bike. It’s why middle-aged couples and commuters, the main e-bike markets, love them, Bibee says.
Tony was scared on Day One of his new life. He hadn’t been on a bike in 25 years. He happily accepted an offer of six weeks leave from his company, Fluor Corp., just to learn how to ride his bike. “I knew I needed to build up,” he says.
In early January 2015, he rode tentatively with Patty as she commuted to work on Irvine’s network of bike paths. He struggled to work the gears and was utterly exhausted by the stress of this new physical activity. But when he arrived home, he was stunned by what he’d seen and done.
“The change of scenery you get on a bike is amazing,” he raves. “Always something new—the tunnels under the roads, the bridges, the way you engage with humanity, see the workmen fixing the roads.”
He picked up Patty that evening and was awestruck over what he’d accomplished: 25 miles. Granted, a part of that was with help from the motor. But he, a guy who had trouble walking, did the rest. The motor does not work without pedaling.
A big moment for Tony came that weekend at Quail Hill, which sits at the base of a 300-foot knoll that climbs from the 405 Freeway exit into Shady Canyon. Even on Level 4, the maximum electric assist, a steep grade like the Shady Canyon bike path requires strenuous effort, all the more to propel a 330-pound guy. Patty insisted they do it; Tony, who had charted the route on Google maps, insisted on “chickening out” and going to Starbucks at the shopping center.
“I’m an incrementalist, remember?” he told her. “Step by step, no big leaps. Don’t accelerate the pace of the experiment. We are not going up Shady Canyon!” “Like hell!” she said, blasting full-speed up the hill.
“I hauled ass so he couldn’t stop,” Patty says. “I knew he had to chase me.” And he did.
“When we crested the hill and looked down into Shady Canyon, it was like Nirvana,” Tony says. “It was a breakthrough, way ahead of schedule. I was amazed. I didn’t have to call 911. I didn’t die.”
Prominent electric bicycle company celebrates a strong holiday season
IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 9, 2015 — Industry leader Pedego® Electric Bikes has recently claimed even more U.S. territory with the opening of five new stores in time for the holidays. The Irvine-based company, maker of Pedego Comfort Cruisers, City Commuters, Ridge Riders and a host of other popular electric bike models, recently zoomed into Delray Beach, Fla.; Southlands (Denver), Colo.; Bend, Ore.; Portland, Ore.; and Redding, Calif. These five new stores bump Pedego-branded stores up to more than 75. Pedego electric bikes are sold in more than 800 stores in 40 countries.
The five new stores are:
- Pedego Delray — 777 E. Atlantic Ave., Suite C7, Delray Beach, FL
- Pedego Southlands — 6220 S. Main St., Aurora, CO
- Pedego Portland — 412 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR
- Pedego Bend — 25 NW Minnesota Ave., #6, Bend, OR
- Pedego Redding — 630 Twin View Blvd, Redding, CA
With each new store, a region has cheered their arrival as communities across the country vie for a Pedego dealership in their own towns. “Communities love us,” said Pedego CEO and co-founder Don DiCostanzo. “They see Pedego Electric Bikes as an opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy a healthy activity, escape their cars, lessen traffic, build relationships with family and friends, and just plain have fun enjoying the scenery.” The five new locations are just the most recent example of Pedego’s success. Pedego is now the leading electric bike company, dominating the industry with its small-business model of Pedego-branded stores, creating entrepreneurs in towns across the United States.
Three of the shops — Pedego Delray, Pedego Southlands and Pedego Portland — followed the typical pattern of starting up as Pedego-branded stores. However, two of the locations revamped their existing bicycle stores to include Pedego stores: Pedego Bend, in association with Let It Ride, in Bend, Oregon; and Pedego Redding, in association with Cyclopedia, in Redding, Calif.
In addition to selling Pedego electric bikes, most Pedego stores also offer rentals and group rides. For more information and to find a Pedego store near you, visit www.pedegoelectricbikes.com. For information on opening your own Pedego store, visit http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/own-a-store/.
Pedego® Electric Bikes, the world’s premier electric bicycle brand, transforms people’s lives with fun and an abundance of delightful moments. Pedego’s stylish, colorful bikes boast the latest in electric bicycle technology and deliver a green alternative for transportation, exercise and recreation. Riders sail up hills and breeze through headwinds! Pedego “pedal or not” models include the Comfort Cruiser, City Commuter and Trail Tracker. Hailing from Orange County, Calif., Pedego is the fastest growing electric bicycle company in the world. Pedego electric bikes are sold in more than 800 stores in 40 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/.