Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Recumbent Rider, Part Seven, Rich Pinto

Rich is a blast, Its hard to not smile when your around him. A wealth of information and a huge lelmet to hold it all. The man has a huge brain and is the man the "Brain Box" was inspired by.
Rich is a designer for Bacchetta and a wonderful story teller. His 'Talent" at Foosball is something to see! I find myself laughing out loud just thinking about it!You know any length ride is going to be great when you see his truck pull in to the parking lot.

Here is how he answered the questions:

Q: First attracted you to Recumbents and when did you first see one?

A: My wife Ann tells me I saw my first one in a Harvard Square bike shop back in the 70's or early 80's. I have a faint (OK, senior moment) memory of a wide mesh seat hanging from the ceiling, attached to a bizzarre looking bike. IIRC, I later heard it may have been an early Lightning P-38 owned by one of the shops managers.
The real tipping point was when a friend told me in late '89 he ran into an "old guy, on a long lawn chair with wheels" on a ride he was on in NH. They spoke for a while about his bike and then the recumbent rider told him he leave him to beat the dark and finish his 115 mile ride. I later heard from Dick Ryan (one of the pioneers of recumbent manufacturers whose bike he was riding) the guy was probably a retired ringer customer of his who did 20K miles a year.

Q: How long did it take you after you first wanted one to own one?

A: I wanted it immediately after hearing my friends story, but it took me a while (pre www) to locate one.

I had been having serious problems riding my uprights for the previous 10 or so years... back, neck, wrist, the thought of a "lawn chair on wheels" sounded pretty damn good to me, I still loved to ride. After much effort trying to track down ANY recumbent in New England, I finally plunked down 1,000 dollars for a foldable, under seat steered Linear long wheelbase recumbent in early 1990. I had only a few hours to make a plywood box to pack the folding frame to Sarasota Florida for a week of vacation, and took the 700C/20" wheels with us in a carry on.

Needless to say, the 1990 flight security inspectors wanted to have loooong talk with me about what type of pipe bomb I had in the box!!

Q: How long did it take for you to feel comfortable and safe riding on the street?

A: Hard to believe, but I bought that first 'bent with NO test ride, after watching a motorcyle guy with boots on give me a quick demo in the Chicester NH dealers parking lot. Within a few minutes of assembling it in a Sarasota Condo parking lot I headed out on the street, and never got off it all week. My guess is I put about 250-300 miles on that week...I was totally hooked on this new crack cocaine of recumbent cycling!

Q: What are you riding for a Recumbent these days?

A: A Bacchetta Carbon Aero 2.0. Previous SWB ASS rides in order include the Bacchetta Carbon Aero 1.0, Bacchetta Ti Aero, Aerocycle Ti Aero (the original Ti Aero) Steel Aerocycle dual 650C, Aerocycle dual 24", Aerocycle 700C/20", and finally the Infinity and Linear LWB USS's from 1990-94.

Q: What kind of riding do you find yourself doing most? Touring, commuting, group rides?

A: I love it all! Lately I've been drawn back into riding with some of the upright packs in my area, really lots of fun. But I'd say that 2/3's of my riding is still with old recumbent buds in NH and Flordia...its really nice when you don't have to tap your brakes or go coasting by upright packs on the downhills.

Q: What are your favorite things about riding a Recumbent?

A: For me, it's always been about the exponentially higher comfort, and since my first Aerocycle, more speed!! I love having a really good upright time trial bikes efficiency, without all the ergonomic drawbacks.

Q: How do you find the Recumbent riders as people? Do you notice any differences to other friends and riders of uprights?

A: I find they tend to be free thinking tech types generally, and have less of cycling's tribal "us vs them" mentality BS. My thinking has always been "ride whatever the hell YOU like!" We are all brothers in the human powered vehicle world...can I please get a "Kumbaya??"

Q: What are your other favorite hobbies?

A: I love winter/fall backpacking, and have not done enough in recent years. I've also been an audio/video geek for years, and really enjoy some of the lastest equipment advances.

Q: Do you see any difference in the ride compared to an upright style bicycle?

A: Maybe a bit more difficult to draft very closely in packs, but it's all good for me with (IMO) vastly increased safety with the feet first position. DId I mention the untouchable combination of comfort and speed??

Q: Do you find hill climbing a much bigger problem then an upright style of bicycle, if at all?

A: It's been so long since I've ridden any upright (about a 1 mile in 20 years) I honestly don't know!

Q: Do you feel invisible on your Recumbent then you do on an upright bicycle?

A: Not at all, because my head is about the same height as some (on the drops) smaller uprights I've ridden with. Since my first day on a recumbent, I realized I needed a mirror to see behind me, and quickly adapted to an eyeglass mirror so I can scan the road behind me a few times a minute.

Q: Would you take your Recumbent everywhere you would ride an upright?


Q: What's the longest ride you have ever done in a day on your Recumbent?

Q: 130 miles. I am a total slacker compared to all of the Bacchetta race team members, who own some of the baddest all bike course records in the US. 49 YO Jim Kern's no draft 516 mile 24 hour NO draft Sebring record stands out, as do any of Bacchetta founder John Schlitter's waaaay too numerous to mention records, and his 2009 highest point total of ALL bikes in the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association World Cup competiion.

Q:Would you recommend a Recumbent bicycle to a friend?

A: YES!!

Q: What do your friends and family think about you riding a Recumbent?

A: They've known about my "problem" for 20 years now, and always nod approvingly, as least while I'm watching.

Q: Do you listen to music while riding a Recumbent and do you feel safer with this style of bicycle doing so?

A: No...but with all my great portable audiostuff I might try it soon! I'm pretty sure it never makes you safer, but I spend so much time looking for potential problems in my mirror and riding on mostly country-ish roads, I might get away with it.

Q: How has the Recumbent changed your life?

A: Recumbents have allowed me to continue my favorite sport, when it was mostly all over in the late 80's. My quest for more speed led me to create Aerocycle to make more efficient recumbent bikes in 1995, and later to join Bacchetta in 2001.
It has also led me to a great group of recumbent friends and customers all across the country (and world!) including Scott Chamberlain, who felt like a long lost brother from the first time I met him at his Boston Bent Rally in 1997. Scott's long time contribution to New England area recumbent cycling is unmatched, and we all owe him greatly for all his work!

Thanks Rich! Lets all get together soon!

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