High Mountain Doings

From 8200 feet along one side of the Upper Arkansas River Valley in central Colorado, my blog is about many things: travel including river and bicycle trips, and other experiences as well. The focus is on photography, not lots of text.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Learning to Bicycle Again

The first attempt to ride my new Silvio was not very successful. I could only go about fifteen feet at first, then I'd have to put a foot down in a hurry. This was on February 11, 2008. I did this in front of the bike shop in Salida, CO, where my wheels, pedals, and all components had been installed. I had assembled the frame at home.

Then I took the bike out to a smooth parking lot (used to be a Wal*Mart lot, now it's a ranching supply place) and tried again. I was able to go much farther, but I wasn't quite certain which way I'd be going. I had to be very careful around the several light poles, but I finally got so that I could ride around the parking lot, including past the front door of the store and miss people who were entering or leaving. This was a big advance.

If I wanted to turn down a certain lane in the lot, I was never certain whether I'd successfully make the turn or not. Usually I did, but at times I ended up pointed the wrong way.

The Cruzbike Silvio is not only a recumbent bike--it's also a "moving bottom bracket" bike. It's very different on two counts. Moving bottom bracket (MBB) means that the pedals steer along with the handlebars and the front wheel. The bike is front wheel drive.

Though some people can ride this bike hands-off, I'm not yet one of them. It's still a little hard to imagine. For me and others, it requires use of the handlebars to balance the turning action of a pedalstroke. The eventual goal is to learn to use (heretofore unused) leg muscles to allow hands off riding--and maybe even starting. Meanwhile, riding the Cruzbike is a full-body workout and I love this.

Starting off is the biggest problem at first, though I read some useful tips on the cruzbike email list. You have to get up to speed while getting your other foot up onto the pedal, while trying not to crash in the meanwhile. A few days later, after I got brave enough to clip my feet onto the pedals (and starting with one already clipped) starts became much easier.

Starting even slightly uphill was the biggest problem. Even starting across a highway that had a slight crown! Starting downhill became quite easy.

Over the next week, I got so I could generally ride in a straight line. I therefore became more confident about riding along busy streets and highways. Since that fairly warm week, I've had trouble riding every day. It's still winter here.

I have a conventional front rack (Old Man Mountain) on the rear of the Silvio where it fits very well. I'll soon buy a trunk bag (atop the rack) and possibly new panniers for the sides.

I feel much more confident on the Silvio now. At first, 55 years of riding conventional bikes had done me little good. Progress comes more gradually now, but it still comes. This summer, I'll be ready for a trip. I'd like to do the Albany to New York City ride again.

Since I'd ridden conventionals for 55 years including some foreign trips (Vietnam, Myanmar, and Morocco), why didn't I continue doing so? Why would I want to go through such a learning process? Well, learning things is what life is about! The Silvio will be a fast, efficient bike that will allow a whole new experience in bicycling, including greater comfort. The more reclined "recumbent" position appears to use bodily energy better. The Silvio will be well worth the continuing learning curve.


Silvio Maker and Designer

This photo from the Cruzbike forum shows John Tolhurst of Australia, Cruzbike designer and entrepreneur, with Jenny Chen of Taiwan, who welds the frames and who did a fine job on mine. Photo was posted on the forum by John Tolhurst. Chen apparently filled out the handwritten shipping label for the ROC post office. Her name was on it.