It occurred to me the other day that, along with the Esperanto, archery and movie/book reviews, I have yet to post anything about another of my favorite activities in the entire universe – bicycling.
The thought occurred to me because suddenly the BICYCLES circle at Google Plus has a boatload of people in it, 94% of whom I have never met. The circle had only two people in it for over a year. Compare this to the ESPERANTO circle which has several dozen, and the ARCHERY circle which has about a dozen people. (No overlaps.)
Now the cycle circle has about thirty people in it. It started when I started up a conversation with a man in Florida and it dominoed from there.
I would like to introduce you to my two bikes. Neither of them is a standard bicycle. Would you have expected anything else from me?
To the right is my alternate a Montague folding bike. If you compare it to the models shown at the company’s website the first thing you’ll notice is that it looks nothing like the current models. That’s because I purchased it back in the 90’s, when I was doing a lot of flying between southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. It was annoying to land at an airport which is 15 miles from town, like the Double Eagle II Airport outside Albuquerque, and have to either rent a very expensive cab or beg a ride from the waitress to get to a motel. When folded, this bike fits nicely behind the pilot’s seat of a Piper Cherokee and voilà! No more stuck at the airport!
At the time, we lived on a dirt road in the Mojave Desert of southern California, in a home that was a quarter mile from the paved road, so this little hybrid number was just the ticket.
Why is the Montague an alternate? Glad you asked! This is my main gal, the Haluzak Horizon. Actually, this isn’t my bike but a stock photo. Mine is the same color blue as the Montague. The Haluzak is a recumbent bike, or as the riders like to call it, a ‘bent. Thus we are “bent riders.” Get it? Yeah.
The rider sits in the semi-reposed position and powers it like the LifeCycles at the gym, except that you actually go somewhere. The handlebars are under the seat and the rider’s arms are at her side in a very natural postion. The shift handles are thumb shifts, making it about as easy as it can get.
And! At the end of a long riding day, my butt doesn’t hurt. My wrists don’t hurt. My back doesn’t hurt. My neck isn’t sore from bending it at a near 90° angle for hours at a time.
People on the street ask, “Isn’t that hard to ride?” No. It rides the same as a standard upright bike. However, I feel like I should list a few caveats.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, mostly in learning to start from a dead stop. You can’t put your weight into it, so you have to put your back into it, which also means training yourself to stop so that the pedals are in a good position for a strong push when the lights are red. The angle of incline of the seat can make a huge difference in facilitating this, so some experimentation will be necessary.
The other drawback is going up hills. Again, because you can’t put your weight on the pedals. The design compensates for this by giving you some additional gear-inches. Starting from a dead stop while pointing uphill is not for wussies.
The last drawback about a recumbent is riders of upright bicycles. For inexplicable reasons, some are intimidated by the recumbent, or perhaps they feel it’s tantamount to cheating – that it isn’t really a bicycle unless it involves discomfort. After all, one should hurt for one’s passion, right? About once a week, some kid on an upright (yes, it’s a kid almost every time) will make a comment while passing, “That’s not a bike! That’s a lawn chair with wheels!”
Perhaps. But it’s also a lawn chair with pedals, and I just slogged up the same hill you did, and the difference between us is that I’m going dancing tonight, and you’re not invited, kid.
That is not to say that there are not also comments of, “Hey! Kewl bike!” Plenty of those, too!