I promised to follow up on my recumbent bike exploration, and you are probably wondering if I’m riding twenty miles a day or is it gathering dust in the boat shed. Well short answer, somewhere in between.
I bought the bike because I like riding but needed a change from the traditional bike I was riding. Leaning forward on a regular bike made my hands numb and my back sore, and those kept me from saddling up for anything more than a tour of the neighborhood. So, to summarize, I took the leap and bought a used recumbent cruiser both for my comfort and curiosity. The bikes are something different and, like a young Steller’s jay, I a curious about unique divergent ideas.
I was surprised after doing some reading that the bike was easy to get accustomed to though the ride is decided different for a regular bike, both in handled and balance. Articles I read online cautioned riders to practice in empty parking lots and quiet neighborhoods before heading out on the open streets. Good advice. I had my first wreck showing off for my wife in the driveway. I made a tight turn like I would on my old bike and dumped myself indelicately into the gravel. No surgery required.
The biggest struggle I have is launching. I say launching because that is how it feels. One sits balanced on the seat with feet on the ground and rotates one pedal to a near vertical position. Then the rider must push off with one foot and pedal with the other. There is no way to push with the hands as we do on traditional bikes. All the weight on the ass, and I must launched with a push and wobble like a five year old on his first solo.
I was feeling so lame with my launch technique that I went to YouTube (for the longest time I could never find ‘UTube’ when I ran a search online- sad) and watched a five-minute video of a guy launching on a bike like mine. He made it look easy, but he was short enough that he could move the bike along like a scoot bike. My legs are too long to do that, so I still look like a klutz on the start off. When I ride, I try to avoid any stops while riding unless they are downhill or away from an audience. It’s all about technique and practice.
Anyway, I have been riding regularly, moving from cruising the neighborhood to riding out on the highway both north and south. While a ten-mile ride made me tired and my legs complained, there were no numb hands, no aching back, no sore groin. Yesterday, I rode thirteen miles, half of it into a tough south wind, and this morning I am not suffering and looking forward to a ride this afternoon.
I do notice that hill climbing, even a gentle slope, is a challenge to me and I seem to climb slowly. Part of this is the physics of this type of bicycle. The other part is the development of riding technique and muscles. The power muscles are different for a recumbent and need to build while the technique for applying force to the pedals comes from the hips differently than when riding erect. I’m learning, and every time I ride I am motivated to ride more, and that is the key to any fitness activity. Motivation. I will see you on the road until the snow flies again, and we can all get back to skiing. Or maybe I’ll get studs and try winter riding. --- Yeah right!