Draft: Why Recumbent from ³How America can Bike and Grow Rich, The National Bicycle Greenway Manifes



M

Martin Krieg

Guest
This comes to U from my my new book, ³How America can Bike and Grow
Rich, The National Bicycle Greenway Manifesto². If you see holes in any
of my reasoning, please do advise! Nor is it intended to vilify the
upright bike which I love and own dozens. It is just an attempt to open
up the playing field so the 'bent can come and play too:

Draft:

I traded in the safety and familiarity of a social world of fellow
health seekers sequestered from the rest of the world by walls and
windows for asphalt, cars and the fit and the mostly unfit. For 24
years, working out had been a way of life for me. It had gotten me
beyond the helplessness of my head injury setback. I had become so
accustomed to seeing my body change as I focused on different parts of
it with resistance training that I was only minimally aware of the fact
that most people only paid attention to their bodies when they were sick.

As such then, I would be using all the time I had spent under a health
club roof to place the National Bicycle Greenway vision before an
America that really needed it. The several hours a day I spent working
out in the gym, I began to spend on my HiWheel bicycle. And just as
soon, I could see that just by riding the Penny Farthing I was bringing
hope to the the young and the old, the overweight and the fit and all
the different ethnicities that make up the world around us. All the
happiness that resulted pushed me on.

Eight years ago, I would have been happy with a couple of blocks worth
of pedaling, while being able to ride a parade or two would have tested
the limits of my joy. And yet here now, I was crossing the country on
the bicycle where modern transportation all began; the same machine that
forever changed the way man would move about.

Besides connecting me to the people on the street, the HiWheel was also
connecting different cyclists to one another. Since even within the
ranks of cycling there are different factions all with their own
agendas, needs and desires, the HiWheel bike seems to have built in
leadership qualities. As I got around on the HiWheel and more and more
touring, racing, training, commuting, off-road, recumbent and casual
cyclists got a chance to see motorists give me more respect than they
themselves were getting, I could see that more and more of them wanted
to be a part of my family. And as my family grew, a critical mass of us
would be elevating the public consciousness to show how important it is
for all bicycles to be on the road.

And it is here that I count mountain bike cyclists as an interested
party. Even though their preferred riding turf is off road, in getting
to the dirt many of them pedal the road. And more of them would travel
that way if the streets were safer for them to ride. Nor does any off
this account for the fact that studies have shown that most of the off
road bikes that are sold today spend most of their time riding not off
the road, but on the road.

And then there are the people who ride recumbent bicycles, a
marginalized population of cyclists indeed. They are seen by many of the
mostly younger cyclists who ride traditional upright bikes, as being
less capable. They dismiss the recumbent rider as being a man or woman
who is limited by age, health or weight problems. So the fact that since
1982, I had only been riding recumbents, partly in an attempt to get
attention for the National Bicycle Greenway, seemed to communicate that
I had special needs; that I couldn¹t ride a ³real² bike. It seemed to
be telling people who had no visible way of knowing that I had already
crossed the country on an upright, that I wanted a Greenway so I would
have a place to ride my non-conventional bicycle

I had not realized that I was limiting the support I needed for our
vision until I started riding the HiWheel. In hindsight, however, I do
take comfort in the fact, that I am still cycling all these years later.
Looking back I had seen so many of the same upright cyclists who looked
down on me for riding a recumbent, fall by the way side because of the
discomfort their bikes were causing them as they got older. While my
pedaling kept me fit, I watched as the familiar faces around me were
in a constant state of change. While I knew some of them had simply
moved to new cycling turf, I was also sure that an even larger number of
them had traded in the two wheel road for the luxury and unhealthy ways
of the automobile. Where they had gone was corroborated for me once in a
while when I would spot one of them filling up at a gas station or
sitting behind the steering wheel of a car at a traffic light.

Besides the butt, shoulder, neck and sometimes arm pain that forced a
lot of them off the saddle, there are also the issues of attire,
functionality, even peer pressure. As many of us grow older, only to
find more and more demands placed on our time, the conventional bicycle
often becomes less and less attractive because it is harder to build
into our lives. There is all the special wear, such as gloves or padding
and chamois for one¹s hind quarters that must be bought, kept clean and
just changed in and out of in order to be an effective upright cyclist.

Besides wearing the right, tight-fitting bike clothes for two wheel
efficiency, there is also the subtle pressure the bike industry places
on its cyclists to remind us that we must look and go fast. From what
our helmets and upper body wear (preferably brightly colored jerseys
with lots of corporate logos on them) are supposed to look like to the
kinds of biking events that appear on on our TV screens (the Tour De
France and to a lesser degree the Race Across America), to how cars are
needed for our activity (at such races, we see a mass of cars and motor
homes with bikes on top of them following the two wheel speedsters
around), etc, there is both a dress code and a code of conduct anyone
who wants to be seen as a serious cyclists must abide by. It is here
that driving a car to a bike event, for example, scores higher marks
than riding a recumbent to get there or anywhere for that matter. This
is partly so because when they were banned from racing in 1934 an
unwritten rule was somehow placed on the books that also said that
anyone who rides a recumbent is a rogue cyclist.

By the time time newspapers and magazines join in to also adulate the
bright and colorful bike racers, ³serious² cyclists know how they are
supposed to be riding their bikes, fast, and what they should look like
when they are on them. In such a way, the real heroes of bicycling,
those who replace car trips, are cast by the wayside. As a result, the
needs of transportation cyclists are not placed on center stage.
Instead, those chasing speed become the unofficial ambassadors of what
is supposed to be seen as a sport that also requires motorized support.

While there are becoming more of those who make, sell and promote
conventional bikes that are designed for comfort, even transportation,
the market of such users is always reminded that they are B-League
cyclists. Because such pedal machines go slower, those who ride them are
made to feel almost like they need to apologize for not being young and
able to withstand the pain of a traditional road bike any longer.

Conventional bikes are also limited in how much they can carry. Sure
racks and saddle bags can be added to them but they change the handling
characteristics of the bike. And odd shaped purchases or things one
might have to get to and/or from work, school or play are more difficult
to mount on a traditional pedal machine.

All of this changes on a recumbent. Because the seat is shaped more
like the chairs found at one¹s dining room table, besides the comfort of
a large seating area and then having your back supported, it is easier
to hang or drape things off of. All this as the recumbent cyclist pedals
away in loose fitting clothes that one does not have to change in and
out of in order to do a strong ride. If all this is not enough to
warrant that we should see more of them on the road, if for no other
reason than to keep older cyclists out there with us, they also have a
higher speed potential.

In fact all the present day human powered land speed records were
established using the recumbent design. Even the English Channel was
flown over by a man pedaling supine because engineers determined that
that was the only way they could get enough power for such an effort.
And if one wanted to spend the money, depending on their fitness level,
there are recumbents a person could buy that would put them at the front
of most any racing pack.

Recumbents are also safer bikes to ride. Because you are much closer to
the ground, the impact of a fall is not nearly as great. Over the years,
I have known more than a few upright cyclists whose lives were ruined,
some of whom even died, by crashes from a machine, the upright road
bike, that makes the head and not the butt the point of impact. Nor is
the recumbent rider so low that he or she cannot be seen. Not at all. In
fact the biggest part of their body is what is most directly in the car
driver¹s field of vision instead of legs or skinny bike tires.

Besides their comfort, safety, speed and practicality, are there other
reasons why do we not see more recumbent bicycles on the road? To begin
with, we do not see many of them in bike shops. And if they do show up
there, they are often not supported by an enthusiastic sales staff. This
is so because the same pressure the ad man uses to tell a person what
serious cyclists are supposed to look like, finds its way into the bike
shops where most of the employees have not reached the age where comfort
on a bike is a concern, Since they tend to sell and be knowledgeable
about what their conditioning has told them is acceptable, even
fashionable, to ride, the recumbent is an unknown oddity to them. As are
those who express interest in knowing about them.

Sure one can go out on the web and find such a machine. However, since
mechanical support is harder to find from the bicycle marketplace, a lot
of shops for example do not like to even do repair work on recumbents,
interested buyers will often need some mechanical aptitude in order to
build one out of the box. And once they get it out on the road, they
must be able to play the game of being an instant cycling authority as
they answer all the many questions that will always be asked.

If however they are new to cycling or have been away for a number of
years, much strength of character will be required in order to
consistently ride a recumbent. This is so because as they redevelop
their skills or learn new ones, it will be harder for them to remain
anonymous. Insecure in themselves as cyclists, it will be harder for
them to ignore the looks of disdain or outright disapproval that will
come their way once in a while. Such a cyclist, lacking in confidence,
will also have a harder time laughing at comments such as Œget a real
bike¹, Œquit laying down on the job¹ or Œwhat a silly/wacky bike¹, etc,
that they can expect to hear on occasion. And yet new or returning bike
riders, the ones we most need to grow the activity, are the same ones
who may never get get a chance to really ride the only bike that it
makes sense for them to ride.

I could not wait to return to the speed and the comfort of a recumbent
bicycle but for now I was a man on mission.



Perfect love drives out fear - John 4:18

Martin Krieg "Awake Again" Author
2009 w/"How America Can Bike & Grow Rich"
http://www.bikeroute.com/HBGR
'79 & '86 TransAmerica Bike Rides
Coma, Paralysis, Clinical Death Survivor
NBG Founding Director, HiWheel Cyclist
 
"Martin Krieg" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> This comes to U from my my new book, ³How America can Bike and Grow
> Rich, The National Bicycle Greenway Manifesto². If you see holes in any
> of my reasoning, please do advise! Nor is it intended to vilify the
> upright bike which I love and own dozens. It is just an attempt to open
> up the playing field so the 'bent can come and play too:
>
> Draft:

<snip draft>

My advice would be to get yourself a good editor. Also using U when you
mean "you" is ill advised under most any circumstance other than text
messaging an adolescent.
 
Martin Krieg wrote:
> This comes to U from my my new book...


Where is the ASCII map of the US?

--
Tom Sherman - Holstein-Friesland Bovinia
"And never forget, life ultimately makes failures of all people."
- A. Derleth
 
Martin Krieg wrote:
> This comes to U from my my new book, ³How America can Bike and Grow
> Rich, The National Bicycle Greenway Manifesto². If you see holes in any
> of my reasoning, please do advise! Nor is it intended to vilify the
> upright bike which I love and own dozens. It is just an attempt to open
> up the playing field so the 'bent can come and play too:


<snip>

> Conventional bikes are also limited in how much they can carry. Sure
> racks and saddle bags can be added to them but they change the handling
> characteristics of the bike. And odd shaped purchases or things one
> might have to get to and/or from work, school or play are more difficult
> to mount on a traditional pedal machine.
>
> All of this changes on a recumbent.


The matter of carrying stuff doesn't necessarily change. Some
recumbents are completely worthless as cargo carriers, and
/un/conventional uprights are more typically a good answer, the Dutch
Bakfiets and Burrows 8Freight being clear examples of modified uprights
that can easily outdo the great majority of recumbent bikes or trikes
when it comes to load lugging.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 

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