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E-bike sales are growing rapidly, but they're still a rarity on theRegister's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

Among the 15,000-plus riders on this week's RAGBRAI, only a handful are using theelectric-assist bicycles.

For a half dozen of them, Pete Dempsey is their lifeline.

"They're tough old birds," he said of his mostly older customers. "For a lot of them this is the difference between being able to do it."

Himself a hard-core cyclist, he rode his first RAGBRAI in 1984. He said he at first was an e-bike skeptic, but became a convert when he met a rider who was using one on a long-distance rideafter quintuple-bypass surgery.


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