Friday, 22 November 2013

Ride 5 19 October 2013 Recumbent Bike

Right - my riding has gone a bit skew whiff I'm afraid. I got knocked off by a taxi in the summer and I'd just got over that when I managed to fall off (all my fault), broke a finger, sprained both wrists and then managed to fall off again and did the same thing again to my wrists.

I wasn't 100% better, but needs must, so I got out there and rode!

This was the machine I was on this time round:

So what is it I hear you cry. Well, it is a Challenge Twister Recumbent. It has one big wheel and one small wheel. You sit in the seat, steer under your legs - and pray!

What's the point I hear you ask. Well, a very good question. Generally as far as I can work out, the main advantage is being aerodynamic - you present a much smaller "wall" to the air so you can go faster.

Also, you get a proper seat so you don't have to worry about saddle sores or any other such injuries.

There are a number of unique challenges to the bike though - so we'd better run through them.

Firstly it is the fact that the thing is a bit longer than a normal bike. This leads to a few "manoeuvrability" issues - especially as you can't steer it as hard as a normal bike. Secondly, when you start off, you don't seem to get the immediate balance that you do on a normal bike (granted this may be practice). Thirdly, as an "ordinary" cyclist - it seems incredibly "weird" to be riding lying down - given my recent prangs, being in the position you are normally in shortly before hitting the floor is a bit odd. There was one further issue that I had - but I'll get to that!

The main concern that I had before riding was that I would not be visible enough. This was NOT a concern in the end - people generally were intrigued by this "unusual" looking machine and I think the uniqueness of its look meant it was more visible than a "normal" bike.

As I had a proper seat, there was no need for the lycra padded shorts - so I wore normal knee length ones - I forgot that of course as soon as I got up any speed, the wind went right through them and up the leg of the shorts, rolling them up and making me cold! The other thing was the fact that you are so low that when most cars come past you - their engines are at your head level which was a bit unnerving - I did REALLY like having a mirror though:
There were lots of gears on the recumbent - but after about 30 miles or so, I started to notice a pain at the top of my thighs. Basically the different position was totally testing muscles that I did not normally use on a bike - I was kind of bracing myself between the seat and pedals and what I understand to be my hip flexors were taking the punishment. Things were ok when I was moving, but when I stopped - I was in a LOT of trouble.

I had to get off and walk Ditchling. I was cold, wet, it was windy and I was really struggling with my legs. This was a little concerning as there is still the last hill into Brighton after that - but that was "fine":

As was the lovely downhill into Brighton, but once I'd got into Brighton - I was in real trouble. I couldn't use my right leg to get going. It had seized up so badly that I was lifting it onto the pedal with my hands and then hoping I could send the crankset whizzing around fast enough to keep the momentum going that I could catch it with my left foot again and not use the right. This was fine downhill and where there was no traffic, but just TOO hazardous at the bottom where there is always loads of traffic. I ended up having to walk the last mile to the pier....

 It was such a relief to get there, I didn't mind the final ignominy of pushing it, I was cramping, shaking with cold (despite the mudguards) and very late for my Grandad's birthday party! Thankfully it was all done and that was another "funny" bike ticked off. The cost was the most painful ride that I have ever done. It was like a combination of the hypothermia of the first ride and the discomfort of the Time Trial ride x 1,000!

Strava details here: I think the slow time is a reflection of how much I was suffering in the last 20 or so miles of the ride. I have just seen that my max speed with 43 mph(!) which is certainly the fastest I have been on these rides so far.

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