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Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I bought a recumbent bike part 1.

Well since about 1987 I have ridden recumbent bikes but every one I have owned has been my own creation. This is the story of how it came to be that I now own one built by Performer of Taiwan.

About 10 times I have done the Bike Victoria 210km "Around the Bay in a Day" ride which take place in October. Last year I was booked in to do the ride again but 2 days before I had mouth surgery and was forced to withdraw. This left me "one 200k ride short" for 2010 so I finally bit the bullet and joined the long distance cycling club"Audax". There was an Audax 200 ride "New Year's Resolution out of Werribee" due for January 1 2011 which I had my eye on. About 5 days out, the weather forecast was for 39 degrees on New year's day but a few days later they were predicting only 26 degrees, so the ride was on for me. I booked in by email with Stephen in Werribbee, found out the start address and was ready to go. New Year's Eve was the night before the ride, I spent more time getting the bike into the back of the car than popping champagne corks.

The drive to Werribee next morning was on very quiet roads and I arrived just in time to sign in for the ride, borrow a shifter to help put my bike together and high tail it down the road after the first riders, who had left at 8am sharp as advertised.

I had been given a brevet card, a list of all the turns and the km distance at which they occur and a map. For the first 40 or so k's up to Gisbourne I was in the blessed condition of not needing any of these, just following the rider in front was all that was required but as the day wore on and I got tireder, the map and directions (and the occasional roadsign when all else failed) became necessary. Now lists of directions and maps are fine and wonderful things but you sort of need a bike odometer or some other guidance system to make sense of them. And I didn't have one so got lost a few times. At one point I went about 6k out of my way and I also got a bit lost finding the red beard cafe in Trentham.

Unrelated to navigation, on the Western Highway I had a major wrestle with punctures before being able to continue. As well there were quite a few hills on the ride and (especially when I was tired) my limited range of gearing wasn't enough for me to get up them. Getting off and pushing was the only option and that's what I did. (It happens that in Melbourne, the self-same gearing works fine. My longest trip there is a work commute of 35 k which involves one steep but mercifully fairl short hill)

About 1/2 an hour after dark I got in to Werribbee again, rang my wife Christine, eventually found the start point, bundled the bike into the car and headed home.

Within a few days an alert on one of my recumbent email groups pointed me to a Performer Recumbent for sale for about $700 - too good to pass up and the seller was only a few k from my house. The bike has lower gears, better wheels and equipment and weighs less than my homemade bikes and which should make it geat for Audax rides.

Buying the bike was just a start point- it needed a bit of work - more on that later!