Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From sleet to the heat and riding the Gekko fx.

Suddenly the heat is upon us.  It's supposed to reach 72 deg. F today (22 deg C).  Already.  A week ago I was still riding and hiking with wool tights.  If I ever create a universe, it will progress slowly through spring, delaying the onset of heat and humidity, which, when it's inevitable, will be limited to just a few hours in the middle of the nights in July and Aug.  Otherwise, it'll be 50s and 60s and sunny with flowers blooming.  In fact, in my universe there'll be essentially no summer, just spring, fall and winter.  The heat is more limiting than the cold, in my humble universe-creating opinion.

This weekend I'm giving a presentation about Green Getaways in my role as a bike leader with the Appalachian Mountain Club.  This has been a good chance to set down my thoughts and experiences as a cyclist in a single, tight format.  I've forgotten how much work is required when you (I) write.

Recumbent bikes...  At times (today) I really feel they are a different animal from standard frame bikes.  At least they are for me.  At least that's how I feel today.  My beater bent (Rans Rocket) aside, which I might ride anywhere to keep my legs in shape and because that seat is so comfortable, there's nothing like taking out the Grasshopper for a long ride.  For me, it's the long ride where bents come into their own.  In the city, the standard frame is simply so easy and practical (and cheap and easy to lock): there are times when you simply need to do a track stand, or turn at nearly right angles, when you just want to lock it up and not think about whether some young thug will slice up the seat, when you're feeling introverted (who me?) and don't want everyone saying "cool bike" when you go by, when you simply want to stand on the pedals and hammer.

But there are also times when you simply want to sit back and ride for hours and hours.  And that's the bent's job.  I actually feel cramped when I take it out for a short training ride in the park as opposed to the day-long trip.  Wrong tool for the job.

Also, kind of amusingly, I've been riding the trikes more than usual.  Mostly this is because of the new Gekko fx from HP Velotechnik; I've wanted to spend time getting to know it, and it's simply so much fun to ride.  I say "amusingly" because I don't see myself as a trike rider, per se.  I think of myself more as a two-wheeled guy, but I have to say, I really love the stability of the tadpole format and the way it rides like a go-cart.  When I was a pre-teen I very much wanted a go-cart.  Now I have one, or a few, that I can borrow from NYCRS.  It makes me want to put together a trike race here in NYC.  (Come on, I know you're out there; I promise to let you have the lead for the first lap.)

I think what I've enjoyed most about the trikes is using them as mountain bikes.  They're simply so incredibly stable.  You slip and slide around but you never feel like you're going to go head over heels or have the wheels slide out from under you.  The only downside has been on steep stuff where you can't shift your weight to manage how the wheels dig into the dirt.  Well...the other downside is you can't really do single track in an environmentally sensitive way; either you don't fit or you broaden the trail.

I'm finding the trike format easy to get attached to, though.  I can see why they're popular with the rail-trail, bike path and country road riders.  Oh, and yes there're the G-forces that you feel on the trike.  Nothin' quite like G-forces.

Have a great day, riders.  Looks like summer is here.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2011 Robert Matson

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