E-bikes Pick Up the Slack

Child to mother: “I’m gonna go ride my bike.”

Mom: “Watch for cars.”

Remember that refrain? And, wasn’t a new bicycle the best Christmas gift ever? At least in my day it was, before electronic games took over.

Getting ready for hunting season I had noticed in the regulations of the different Federal lands and parks that e-bikes are now allowed anywhere a regular bicycle is allowed. That is, generally speaking, as long as they are a pedal assist Class 1, 2, or 3.

See Order 3376 from the Dept of the Interior. https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/elips/documents/so_3376_-_increasing_recreational_opportunities_through_the_use_of_electric_bikes_-508_0.pdf The logic behind the change is that such bikes are not earth ripping motorcycles but simply an assist to folks that might want to enjoy our public lands only if it were a tad easier. Whatever the reasoning, I saw the change as an opportunity to get into new, more far-flung places and still manage to save wear and tear on my body by not having to hoof it into remote hunting and fishing spots.

Regarding Mississippi state lands, I found new verbiage in the regulations of Mississippi Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) that said basically e-bikes were allowed where ATV’s were, but I was hoping for access beyond ATV trails similar to the Federal policy. To answer that question I went into research mode to sort it out. I thought I had found the answer when I discovered the following blurb (highlighted) in the regulations for the WMA where I was drawn for a hunt in the 2021-2022 season:

I was delighted to see the statement: “Except, electric bicycles may be used on any road or trail for hunting and fishing access”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that, but then I noticed that the regulations were for 2020-2021 which was the previous year. When I checked the regulations for the current year, 2021-2022, the very explicit statement above had been removed. 😦

Instead, it simply said that on ATV trails e-bikes are allowed and they are allowed off-trail for retrieving game. As for using the e-bike on “any road or trail”, I was now in doubt again. Did the MDWFP change their minds?

Caveat: always read a particular public area’s specific regulations, never rely on the assumption that ebikes are allowed on a particular refuge or park’s trails.

I turned to an opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General which provides that e-bikes are just bicycles and not motorized vehicles. If you are interested, the opinion can be read here: https://govt.westlaw.com/msag/Document/I41d0624dae7311dc80fe8c7818c06073?listSource=Search&rank=1&list=ADMINDECISION_PUBLICVIEW&contextData=%28sc.Search%29&transitionType=Default

So e-bikes are just bicycles, per the AG. So by default one would think e-bikes are allowed. Was this the reason the MDWFP changed the verbiage, to simplify the language since e-bikes are just bicycles? So are e-bikes definitely allowed on trails marked “no motorized vehicles”? I don’t know, and anyone reading this will have to decide for their own self, at their own risk or contact the MDWFP directly.

One thing that sportsman may appreciate is the fact that there is no state-wide helmet law in Mississippi for bicyclists. Helmet laws are only in specific localities in our state. Check local regulations for any public property where you want to ride if you don’t want to wear a helmet.

Based on all of this information, I bought two Class 2 e-bikes, one for myself and one for my son. When I bought them I was thinking an e-bike might just relieve me of some physical effort. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they are great fun and provide a great way to get exercise without walking a treadmill or hoofing around the neighborhood in the heat. (The e-bike helps with oppressive summer heat, it is like turning on the air conditioner to get on it.)

For hunting, just about any e-bike will require some accommodation for gear. I fashioned my own accessory to hold my bow which is just a piece of plywood with bow holders screwed into it (below).

My son chose to put bow holders on his handlebars and carry his bow up front (below).

I can also strap my climbing deer stand on the bike using my versatile piece of plywood.

The bike pulls a deer dolly well. The deer my son is pulling out in the photo below was a 180 lb buck. It did require some serious pedaling to help the 500 watt motor, but the only real difficult terrain was in the loose slag that had been laid down recently near the parking lot. I guess the freshly laid limestone slag had a lot of “give”. To pull the dolly in the slag required some heavy pedaling in low gear. We could have stepped up to the highest power mode but we were using the low power mode of 1 out of 3 to preserve the battery. We pulled this deer out over 1.4 miles. To see for yourself, here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IC_8n5Hc4w

I have to wonder if pulling a cart of some kind with my kayak on it might make sense. That could potentially open up even more areas.

I keep thinking about using the bikes for fishing after hunting season is over. As I’m hunting I am watching for any body of water that might be worth casting a fly into. I already have quite a few new areas in mind where I can take my flyrod and fish one spot after another riding public ATV trails. I currently run around the neighborhood wearing my stripping bucket with rod holder (Samurai System) and I just put the flyrod in the rod holder. Easy Peasy. As long as I remember not to run under any trees (so far so good) it’s a fast and easy way to keep moving around the lakes.

My next question to answer is: How well will it pull a kayak?

In the meantime I will keep enjoying the neighborhood ponds with it. With my new electric bicycle I feel like a kid again, but I didn’t have to wait for Santa.

My not-a-kid-any-more self to wife: “I’m gonna go ride my ebike.”

Wife: “Watch for cars.”

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