by Victoria Sowter
I was a regular cyclist for years, cycling to school and later cycling to work - even doing a survey on cycling for my BA hons dissertation. I worked as a transport planner and after a prolonged period of stress became completely immobile through developing Chronic fatigue syndrome.
After a long period of being housebound and occasionally getting out and about in a wheelchair, my partner (also a keen cyclist) suggested that I get an electrically assisted bicycle.
We thought about going to the Presteigne event in Wales but with very low energy levels this seemed too much effort. Luckily a second hand Gazelle came up for sale in our local bike shop.
We bought it and I enjoyed two years of assisted cycling. It was such a strong contrast to going out in a wheelchair. I felt normal again and in control of my life and feel certain that it contributed to my getting stronger.
This summer I traded in my Gazelle for a Wisper 705se. This was mainly because I wanted something with a longer range and that was easier to ride with everything switched off.
I now cycle nearly daily and ride the bike as a conventional bicycle for part of my journey. It's fun, like flying. It really is a great way to build up stamina again and I can get out and about with my partner on his conventional pedal cycle too.
Electric bikes have helped my career too, as I am now the policy advisor to the British Electric Bicycle Association.