This is a guest post from Cycle Oregon veteran rider, Robert Holler. To read more about Robert’s bent bike adventures, visit http://hollerit.blogspot.com.
There are more bicycle options today than ever. As you begin your training for Cycle Oregon, the main piece of equipment to nail down is the bike you’ll ride. If you’re interested in taking a trip on the wild side, you might try out a recumbent.
As a recumbent cyclist, a common question I get is, “Why do you ride that thing?” There is an urban legend that recumbents are for people who can’t ride “normal” bikes. This is wrong on all levels. Riding a recumbent is an experience – fast speeds with less effort, in complete comfort. Maintaining speed in a headwind is easier with the built-in aerodynamics. Plus I was never a fan of sore hands, arms, rear, neck or back, or of smearing a cold, creamy substance in my pants each morning before breakfast.
There have been great strides in the development of recumbents. These are not all garage-builder bikes anymore. Recumbents come in a variety of models, ranging from entry-level to well-equipped touring models to high-end carbon fiber speed-haulers that rival the weight of lightweight diamond frames. The components on a recumbent are the same as any other bike, so weight weenies still have a plethora of options.
Riding a recumbent is just as easy as any other bike. Techniques like maintaining cadence apply to recumbents just as with diamond frames. A “negative” that is pointed out to me quite often is the inability to stand on the pedals during a climb. This is not such a loss, in my opinion, since continual standing on the pedals is a real energy-waster. I prefer to spin, spin, spin. Getting aerodynamic on a recumbent is simple: just sit down and go.
The 2010 week ride will be my seventh Cycle Oregon by recumbent, and I can’t wait. An “IMAX-stunning” view, curvy “fighter jet” downhills, and fast and easy flats will be mine. Indeed, the climbs may be a bit slower, but is arriving at the top 20 minutes later than my diamond-frame companions much of a difference? Not when the white plastic beer-garden chair you sit in on the layover day only creates a longing for the comfortable seat of the recumbent.
Should you decide to “recline,” there are several online resources to get you started, such as bentrideronline.com. If you have specific questions, there are others on the Cycle Oregon Forum and the Facebook group who ride recumbents. I imagine any of them would be happy to help out.