Recumbents and all feet forward machines
Something like that... The BikeE's a dangerous 'gateway' bike I think! Now to get my wife on it...
I'm keen to see the difference in performance between the bikes too. Though judging by my test rides it'll take me a couple of weeks practicing stopping and starting to be confident enough to commute on the Toscana.
Something I've glossed over, and I'm sure everyone who rides a recumbent gets similar, but the BikeE attracts a LOT of positive attention. Mostly from school kids, but also from other commuters on the bike path. But the best one was yesterday on my way home riding along Adelaide Ave. I was going ~45-50km/h in the bike lane, and a motorist lightly tapped his horn a couple of times and and gave me a thumbs up as he went past. I can honestly say it's the first time I've had positive attention from a car...
So. I'm now the proud owner of a Performer Toscana USS 700C.
When I picked it up from Alex yesterday, the seat angle was set at about 45 degrees and it sported flat pedals. This morning I began learning how to ride it. My first ride was a very short one, just around the local streets. I had no problem getting going, but the flat pedals annoyed me. A pair of SPDs immediately went on and the bike did a tour of Lake Tuggeranong. It wasn't too busy, but I had a couple of interesting moments when on some tight turns, especially when there was other traffic involved. The loop is nice and flat for the most part, and I averaged 25.5 without getting out of the middle ring, taking it pretty easy.
Feeling a bit more confident, I thought I'd take it along the majority of my normal commute, up Athllon Drive and Adelaide Ave. The seat got lowered to the second notch, which is somewhere in the mid-30 degrees. The big ring got used a little more, but there are plenty of hills to negotiate along the way. I didn't really find the sweet spot in the gearing until I was heading back south. I had two interesting moments - one where a car unexpectedly insisted I cross the road before he went, and I made a mess of restarting, and the other taking a sharp left hand turn uphill where I touched the front tyre on my heel. Pride in front of the different audiences aside, no damage done...
For the 33 odd km, I averaged 27.6km/h. OK I guess, considering my workload this week (about 230-270km, depending on when you count it from, and that includes a 130km road bike ride on Monday) and the fact I've got a lot to learn about how this bike rides. I was pretty happy to hit mid 40s to low 50s on the return leg, considering a stiff westerly wind. Climbing was ho hum. I'll improve that with a little rest, and the 700C wheels do carry speed uphill much better than the BikeE. But the Performer is heavy. 14.2kg according to my scales.
Visibility wise, I can see well enough what's going on on the right side. However for the on-ramps along Adelaide Ave it's much harder to get a clear and confident gawk at whether there is anything coming. This is a big downside, as I'm not convinced I'll be able to check the traffic properly even with a left mirror. I'll give it a few more goes in the lighter weekend traffic before deciding the commute route.
For those that want to see the stats, here's the link: http://www.strava.com/activities/133880998
Did a little more flogging of the dead horse this morning. My legs have had it, and they let me know about it all the way up Athllon Drive. They didn't loosen up until I'd just about reached the lake. I had no trouble stopping and starting, even on mild uphills, and managed some tight, slow turns and dodged iPeds and families on bikes with aplomb. I absolutely love the way the bell is integrated into the brake lever.
To try and improve visibility on the left, I stuck the mirror on that side. No cigar. Instead I was able to sit up a little and head check. I almost didn't see a dull gold Landcruiser, but the technique worked for red and white cars on subsequent on-ramps. Still undecided for Monday...
I wasn't pushing for pace at all, and came out the other end of an almost 50km ride with an average of 27.1. Once warmed up, I think I could ride the Toscana all day.
Bring it on (noting there's at least 7 days until we'd be able to count it). I'm still going to do the social ride tomorrow morning, but have let them know I have to take it easy! Hopefully it doesn't result in the opposite...
I've taken a couple, but they haven't turned out particularly well (my phone is shocking for photos).
Survived the social ride. Just.
Something I've gotten thinking about is the gearing. The stock cassette is a 9 speed 11-34t, and especially on the big ring the gap between gear ratios is huge (19 gear inches between 8th and 9th, 14 between 7th and 8th and 12 between 5th, 6th and 7th). The gap between ratios in the middle ring is a little better, but I don't have cause to go into 3rd (26t) let along 2nd or 1st. In practice, I'm finding that in the middle ring I'm mostly using 5th-8th, with the occasional 4th gear for longer climbs. The large chainring doesn't make any sense to my legs, with 1-3 feeling quite close together while going between 7th, 8th and 9th requires some serious spinning to comfortably turn the next ratio.
I'm thinking a 11-25t might be a better prospect. The gap between gears would be almost halved and the extra tough climbs could still be tackled with the 30t granny ring.
Alright. Today the adventure really began.
Yesterday, to try and give my legs a break, I commuted on my road bike, going nice a gentle. Seriously, didn't get breathing heavily once and didn't raise a sweat. I pretty much kept consistent power and changed gears according to the terrain. I almost got sucked into some CCR when a roadie went past me about 3/4 of the way in, but I held my pride back. My average speeds both going in and home were 26-27km/h. Pretty good for what felt like no effort at all.
Today I took the Toscana for the commute for the first time. Seeing how busy Adelaide Ave was yesterday - seriously, the traffic's at least doubled since the school holidays - I decided to play it safe and take the bike path the whole way (an extra ~5km and a few more hills). I was also planning to tap in on the 'ride with the gears' philosophy of yesterday, however I got distracted by insanely thick fog. I could barely see 10m in front of me in some spots, and I had to take my sunglasses off because they'd fogged up inside and out. The familiar pain that I had on Saturday and Sunday while climbing was also back - I now know for sure these are different muscles to what I use on the roadie. Fog aside, I thought I did pretty well with the occasional stop and start and tight turn.
The return trip was a different story. There's a big rain band headed for our region, and I was thinking about beating that home. I hit the hills a bit harder on the way home and found some nice momentum through most of them. The pain was still there and I'm 99% sure it's the newly engaged muscles causing the fuss. Probably because I was tired, I also had an embarrassing heel strike at the top of a hill. I managed to get a foot down and restart fine, but it's quite scary! Then later, I almost had clipstacks at two intersections, where I just didn't lean far enough to the left and started to fall right. I managed to get the right foot out at the last second...
Average speed for both legs was around 26km/h. Not wonderful, not terrible.
Haha, I can do that on my roadie. Just hurts afterwards...
But cheers for the encouragement. I guess why I started this thread was to chronicle some of these early experiences so others have an idea of what to expect if they jump into the 'bent world. It's a bit humbling to be honest, but I have a reasonable amount of faith that it's going to be worth it.
I have to admit I'm struggling a bit with the Toscana on the commute. Since school has gone back, the roads are chock full of blind morons (most of which haven't bothered to de-fog their windows). Although my stopping and starting is pretty good now, I'm feeling very unsafe on the bent as my own visibility isn't as good as on the road bike or BikeE either. To top it off, my office has moved to the wrong (read 'far') end of the city for a couple of weeks, and it's not fun to navigate there on the Toscana.
It's been a while since I've updated this.
It's a bit of a sad tale. The Toscana has temporarily become my 'bike of shame'. It sits looking very pretty in my lounge room, and my wife ran her finger over it, inspected the dust and tsk tsk-ed me the other night... In addition to losing out on commuting duties, my weekend riding in general has diminished over the last month or so, as it's been cold, wet, windy or all three. Hopefully as the days start to get longer again and the bike path gets fixed the Toscana will get a bit more use.
One thing of note is that my legs are noticing having to ride the roadie every day, instead of mixing it up with the 'bent. I've also got a theory that riding the recumbent has benefits for my power output on the roadie (beyond the factor of less fatigue), so I might have to start recording my rides again (I've given up Strava for a while) before cracking out the Toscana again and see if I'm imagining it.
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