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Beach bumming on an e-cargo bike

As the snow melts and the snowdrops start to bloom in Nelson, BC, my family starts to dream about all of our favourite summer activities.  We live near the shores of beautiful Kootenay Lake, so one of those activities is hanging out at the beach.

Our electrified Xtracycle Edgerunner cargo bike (aka Edgy) saw a lot of use on the weekend soccer and market runs, but it also did a bunch of trips to various beaches in the area.  The most remote was to Troop beach, which is more often accessed by boat, and is located on the south side of the west arm, on a prominent sandy point.

If you are looking for the stats on the ride etc, they are all at the bottom of this post.

You can get there by walking or hiking along the old BNR railgrade and following it down to where it intersects with the current rail line, right near Troop point.  From our house in lower Fairview, it is a pretty significant and steep climb to the rail grade (150 m elevation and 15%), so I loaded the kids to Edgy and also strapped their bikes to the side!  (Their bikes follow along behind with the front wheel strapped onto the cargo bag.)

Bikes are strapped by the front wheels to each side of the Edgy; kids, cooler and gear in the cargo holds. > 350 lbs fully loaded!

Bikes are strapped by the front wheels to each side of the Edgy; kids, cooler and gear in the cargo holds. > 350 lbs fully loaded!

The steep grades in Nelson are what really made us want a mid-drive electric kit that can use the gears of the bike.  I was able to gear down and just spin my way up the steepest streets with about 350lbs of people and stuff!  Once we got to the rail grade, the kids unloaded and were ready to ride the steady grade down to the beach.

Once at the rail-grade, I detached the kids and sent them on their own

Once at the rail-grade, I detached the kids and sent them on their own

Many great views are along the way:

At the end of the line, the CP train came by just as we finished unloading.  We crossed the tracks and were faced with a choice on which way to turn on the old spur line.   We went left.

Lesson learned:  after crossing the CP tracks, walk to the old spur line and turn RIGHT, not left!  If you go left, be prepared for some bushwhacking to get to the beach, and then having to backtrack over a bunch of big cobbles along the beach to reach the sand.  If you go right, the spur line practically dumps you on the east side of the sandy point.

The beach is pretty awesome sand, and you get views up and down the lake.

We had left a bit late in the day (at 3:30 pm actually!), so after our light picnic dinner and saying goodbye to the sun as it set behind the mountains, we started on our way back home.

We found the aforementioned easier route back to our bikes after about 15 minutes of slightly frantic searching as the light started to fade and we realized that all of our headlamps/lights were back at the bikes (“there MUST be a better way to this darn beach!”)

Once we were back on the trail, we were able to zoom home – Linden made it part way on his single-speed bike, then hopped on the back.  Cedric pedalled all the way back up-hill, then we all enjoyed the cruise back down to our home through the warm summer night air.

Cool things about cargo biking to the beach

You can ride home in your wet swim-shorts and not worry about getting the car wet.

You can ride home covered in SAND and not worry about getting it all over the car!  (The kids bring home 5 lbs of sand each trip!)

The cargo bike is easier to maneuver than a regular bike + trailer, but it can still haul the kids and all their gear.

Riding a bike allows you to enjoy that beautiful weather you were heading to the beach for in the first place!

If you have electric assist, you can even cool-down by riding your bike.

The best parking, each and every time!

And for the kids… it is sooo much more fun than being strapped into a car.  They LOVE riding on the bike.


Distance:  ~ 8 km, one way

Elevation gained/lost: we started at lake level, so ~ 150 m gained and lost, one way (300 m climbing total)

Energy used:  0.19 kWh of electricity, 0.15 kWh human energy (I like to pedal); that’s about 1/2 of the energy in our battery (though I can’t recall whether we started with an 80% charge or 100% charge for this trip; I’m thinking 80%, which is what we usually do.  The Cycle Satiator charger from Grin Technologies allows you to set up a number of different charging profiles that will prolong the life of your e-bike battery.)

Efficiency:  0.013 kWh/km or 77 km/kWh (for reference, I get about 6 – 7 km/kWh in my Nissan LEAF!)

Energy cost:  1.7 cents (yes, cents!)

To save more energy, I should have utilized the motor more and my legs less (the conversion from primary energy -> food -> human energy is pretty inefficient).  However I have a desk job and long commute, so I need to get all the exercise I can squeeze in!

Route to Troop Beach

kootenay andrew
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2 thoughts on “Beach bumming on an e-cargo bike”

  1. Hi there!

    It looks like we might be moving to Nelson as my husband has a job offer there. One big thing holding me back is that I’m an avid family cargo biker and after seeing the hills in Nelson the other day when we visited, I felt as though my life there might, ironically, be more car dependent (and where I currently live we pretty much only use the car for getting to the mountains and the odd grocery run).

    So, my question is, do you manage quite well with the Stokemonkey in Nelson? We have a CETMA, Edgerunner, and Haul-a-Day and I know we can put a stokemonkey on the first two…

    My other question is where do you recommend living in town in order to best keep up with the cargo biking?

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

    Kind regards, Lindsay

    1. Lindsay, I sent a detailed reply to your email address for your blog – hopefully it gets through! Basic answer here for other readers: the Cycle Stoker is a great add-on for the Edgerunner in Nelson. You could get away without an electric assist if you live in lower Fairview or right downtown, but upper Fairview, Uphill, Rosemount etc would all get old pretty quick I think (slogging up the hills in granny gear). The other bonus of living in lower Fairview or close to downtown is less snow in the winter, plus closer to services, so if you do get snowed out, you can walk.

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