Monday, May 23, 2011

My Thoughts on Recumbent Cycling

In two and a half years I've had shoulder surgery, lower and upper back surgery and now hip surgery. The thought of having to ride a traditional bicycle who's technology is over 100 years old causes me pain just to ponder the idea. 

Recumbent cycling isn't just about old farts like me who are falling apart and refuse to give up an active lifestyle. It's first and foremost about state of the art cycling that is not limited by the archaic rules of the UCI which governs bicycle racing today. 

On April 1st, 1934 recumbents were banned from racing in UCI sanctioned races. They had an unfair advantage due to their aerodynamic shape. They were simply to fast. As is human nature change is not easily accepted and rules were established that strictly defined the dimensions of a racing bicycle and thus the recumbent was destined to suffer many years in obscurity.

Photo above: Francis Faure breaking the world hour record in 1933. Photo from "Human Power" vol 11 no 3

All human powered speed, time and distance records are held by recumbent cycles. Here are just a few:

Sam Whittingham world speed record set at 81 mph.

Barbara Buatois women's world speed record set at 75 mph.

Christian von Ascheberg 24 hour distance record in a Velomobile trike, 766 miles averaging 31 mph.

Maria Parker womens 100 mile time record with a time of 4 hours and 27 minutes averaging 22.5 mph. 
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On another note my local bike shop owner Dana and his Bent Up Cycles team placed third out of 11 teams in the under 50 - 4 man team in the Race Across America (RAAM).

Even though I ride for reasons other then being competitive and setting records (like not wanting a bicycle saddle suck up my butt and shoulders, back and neck getting sore) I ride with good company in the world of recumbent cycling. Thanks to people like Dana at Bent Up Cycles and many more, recumbent cycling will never again pass into obscurity. 

One could only imagine what the Tour de France would be like if the racers could choose the bicycle technology that is best suited for each race segment. 

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