Caroline Mani’s First Electric Mountain Bike Race

What happens when a Cyclocross French National Champion races an electric mountain bike for the first time?

What happens when Cyclocross French National Champion Caroline Mani’s first ever experience on an electric mountain bike is a race? She wins, of course. We caught up with Caroline at the Sea Otter Classic to learn more about her preparation for the electric mountain bike race (or lack thereof), expectations, takeaways, and what fueled her to success aboard a Raleigh Tokul+.

 

The scene:

 The Sea Otter Classic eMTB race takes place at the Sea Otter Classic in beautiful Monterey, CA. The course is 12 miles – four laps on a three-mile course – mostly on singletrack, with a rock garden thrown in for a technical challenge. 1.4 miles feature a max grade of 24 percent. This year, the second for the eMTB race, the field consisted of people in full kits to people in full costume, with varying levels of nerves, excitement and experience on e-bikes. We even saw a Yeti out there.

The pre-race interview:

What have you been up to lately? Have you been training or racing?

Mani: I’m living in CO Springs and I haven’t been training or racing lately. So this should be fun!

Raleigh Electric Bikes Ready to Race With the help of the Raleigh Electric team, Mani gets her bike ready to race

Who do you think an electric mountain bike would be good for?

Riding a mountain bike, not electric, even when you are a professional athlete like I am – it’s painful. You have to be in top shape, and even if you enjoy it, you still suffer.  I think that with an electric bike, anybody – a pro racer, my mom, my friends – who wants to enjoy riding trails can have fun without suffering too much.

 You’ve never been on an electric mountain bike before. What do you think it’ll be like?

I just cruised around [for the first time] figuring out the speed. I don’t know the course at all but it will be a fun surprise!

We hope you win!

Pressure, pressure.

Raleigh Electric Bikes Ready for the Race All ready to go

Post-race interview

Congratulations! Tell us about your first electric mountain bike experience and race.

It was just awesome. I mean, I didn’t know what to expect and it was just a lot of fun. It’s actually not that easy.  You still have to pedal so you enjoy the mountain biking side of it but you have this assistance pedaling to help you on the hills and even on flat sections. You’re riding a mountain bike and enjoying it without suffering too much.

What was similar or different compared to other races?

 You have to adapt and think about every move. You know that every corner, when you pedal, you have the assist. I, of course, had the turbo mode all the way raised. I had to be careful because I pedaled too hard in a corner and slid the front wheel because I had too much power.

Did you get a good workout?

It wasn’t intense like a ‘cross race or a mountain bike race. I still had to push and enjoyed the ride. I sweated a lot and it was not easy.

Did anything surprise you?

Yeah, actually, I was pretty surprised. I didn’t know what to expect. It was really technical; I didn’t pre-ride the course and didn’t know how I was going to ride it. It rode pretty smoothly. I was surprised that in the technical section, the bike was actually pretty nice to handle. I was kind of worried about the weight of the bike but it worked well.

As soon as it hits 20MPH, the power stops. So you’re like, I kind of liked the assistance. I want to go back to 19.5MPH so I can enjoy the ride. It was really smooth. Even in turbo mode, it’s not like it’s really hard and you don’t enjoy it; it just assists you.

So the pedal assist works very intuitively and you were able to operate it really easily?

Yeah, it’s pretty easy. I ride bikes all the time but for anyone who wants to ride, it’s super simple. You have a few options – eco, tour, sport, and turbo – and you can just click with your thumb. You figure it out really quickly. It’s pretty amazing.

Did you have fun?

I had a lot of fun. And I won, so, that’s the recap! Fun plus a win so a double win!

Raleigh Electric Bikes Sea Otter Classic race Powering up the hills during the Sea Otter Classic eMTB race

The bike

The Raleigh Tokul+ just launched at the Sea Otter Classic and will be available in June. Stay tuned for information at www.RaleighElectric.com. If you just can’t wait, check out the similar IZIP Peak Plus, available now at www.izipelectric.com/electric-bikes/trail/e3-peak.