Friday, December 17, 2010

Only seen by Recumbent

Some of the nicest spots I have ever seen were first noticed while riding a Recumbent. Never before had I experienced such a heads up style of riding and when I did, I felt as if I had arrived in a whole new world.
For years I rode many different style bicycles. Starting with the common kids bike in the 50's, a bicycle back then was not a BMX or mini Mountain Bike. Bikes were like a mini cruiser of sorts with 20" balloon tires and steel fenders. Training wheels in my family were removed as soon as the young rider could operate a wrench, because they were only for baby's. We dreamt of being in cars and jumping on wooden ramps like stunt drivers.
As years progressed, the style of bike were still mostly one speed up right and hand me down.
It wasn't until the early 60's that I first received my "New" bike. Christmas, under the tree. "Santa" That year brought me a white wall tired, candy apple red and white single speed with a rack and dual headlights built into the tank. It was mine and had never been ridden, until me.
Time passed and with every new year came a new modification to my bike. Banana seat, High rise handle bars, Mini chrome fenders, all resembling the motorcycle of my dreams that when I grew up, I would certainly be riding.
My next new bike was a Blue 10 speed that also arrived on Christmas morning this time from Mom and Dad. I was amazed how it shifted and how the chain would jump around as if falling off but stick to the selected gear and actually allow you to pedal the bike. It was like magic and how they did it I really wasn't sure.
At that time I was head down, in the drops and moving faster then I had ever traveled by myself. On a fast bike for the first time, I focused on going places and breaking records. No longer dreaming of a motorcycle as I rode, I felt as if I was on something totally different then what I had ever ridden before.
Besides my older brother, I was the only kid I knew on a 10 speed and when it came time to ride with friends, they just could not keep up. I remember really wanting a Sting Ray that year. All the kids had one and when I wanted to go into the woods, I would walk.
In the early 70's I started riding century's with the new cycling club, "The Charles River Wheelmen" 10 Speeds made long rides fun, but all heads down. Just about that time I discovered off road riding with trash picked English 3 speeds.
It was a time of life that the French 10 Speed was becoming popular and 3 speeds were being thrown out. Local dumps would sometimes have what looked like brand new, never ridden 3 speeds being tossed to make way for something new in the garage, My friend Chris thinks that they just found a better place to lean the rake and hang the garden hose so they got rid of the bike. It didn't hurt living in one of the most affluent towns in Metro West Boston.
Heads up riding of sorts was a much better way to read the trails. but for the most part, we rode heads down for speed and concentration.
BMX came into fashion and a whole new style of heavy duty bikes became available. Twenty six inch and 24" wheeled cruisers were the bicycle of choice for our off road machines and with our experience of working on 3 speed hubs, it wasn't long after that my "Two-Four", or 24" wheeled one speed became a 3 speed. Later a 5 speed.
In the late 70's Mountain bikes became the new thing and now 10 speeds racing bikes were being thrown out . I will never forget the evening in Harvard Square as I was locking up my off road specialty bike that a passing student asked, "Is that a Mountain Bike?" I said, well a suppose you could ride it in the mountains as I have, so I guess it is.
I didn't know what he was really talking about, but over the next 20years would figure it out.
Thanks to a few Californians and mostly the Japanese, The sport of Mountain Bicycling rose to heights I never expected. I never thought that riders wouldn't want to hurt so much and bleed so much to ride, especially Women, How wrong I was!
Recumbents started popping up here and there around Cambridge with the help of a few designers and Dr David Gordon Wilson. We would see "project" bikes come into the Bi Ex where I worked, from MIT. The Bi Ex was the only show in town for specialty bike and bike parts and when it came to needing something, that's where they would go. It was always like a show where people would come in with their pride and joy to show it off. There were some incredible bikes that would be brought into the Bicycle Exchange back then and with no "Internet" to buy parts, the shop was the source.
The moment I saw a Recumbent I wanted one. It wasn't until years later, that I finally bought a production model that I could finally afford.
It took a little while to get comfortable on my new style of bike. Riding something so different was the biggest hurdle and the looks from passer bys was more then from going from the "dropped handle bar" style of riding to up right Mountain Bike. The lawn chair on wheels is hard even today for people to look at.
After a short while different things caused me to realize that recumbent riding could be accomplished safely and one could accomplish riding without dieing.
Never before had I experienced more of a heads up ride. Starting off and stretching out in the seat was like settling down in front of the TV to watch a great movie. I remember realizing the feeling of total happiness with my new purchase. The heck with everyone else, this bike was great and it was like Danni says, "I Loved My Bike!"
I couldn't wait to be on it again and see "the next show."
After about 3 weeks of riding, I started to realize that there were things on my rides that I had never noticed before. Places where I had ridden hundreds of times, Eves of buildings, street signs, details that took artists hours to accomplish on building that I had never really seen.
The bike for the first time became a rolling tool to experience New England at it finest and not just a machine to go fast and get a good work out. Did I tell you that I loved my Bike? Yes Danni.
Things never seen before by me were new and a pleasant surprise to a New England that I thought I knew. Finding new things never gets old and will have me riding in the recumbent position for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. I also have followed the same path as you with bicycles and I just purchased a Tour Easy LE and I cannot wait to see what I have been missing.


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