The Recumbent Rally

Recumbrally

English: 2009 Cruzbike Silvio - A Pivot-boom (...

English: 2009 Cruzbike Silvio – A Pivot-boom (PB), Front wheel drive (FWD), 700C recumbent road bike. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Saturday was the Recumbent Bicycle Rally, and had been much anticipated in the days leading up to it. The

A shop for recumebts in Nijmegen Français : Un...

A shop for recumebts in Nijmegen Français : Un magasin de vélos couchés en Nijmegen Nederlands: Een ligfietshandel in Nijmegen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

morning itself dawned, cold and cloudy, but at least not raining, as I rapidly peddled to work at 9 AM, hoping not to be late for the start time at 10.00.

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As I came up, I was cheered to see a tent already in place and a grill patiently awaiting the crowd. Several tables stood, piled with brochures, and pamphlets, and more relevant to me, near the doors of the trike gallery were tables laden with cookies, both chocolate and chocolate chip, and a fine assortment of pastries, resplendent with cinnamon and frosting. A enormous carafe of water was hauled over, (by me!) and then the rich smell of Folgers coffee began to seep through the air and wake Everyone up.

Being in a rush to get to work, and the rally, I had forgotten my jacket and hat at home. And I used the excuse of early customers to go across the drive to the warm bike shop.

When I next ventured out, my jaw dropped. The strangest “bikes” I had ever seen lined the double drive!

There were trikes upon, bikes, upon strange-almost unicycle-like designs. One spindly recumbent, a speedy ICE trike was so small and slick, it’s rider was riding only centimeters off the ground. Other “trikes?” were so bizarre in appearance that Euclid would surely have fainted dead away at the sight of them! Picture a bicycle, with pedals where the handle bars ought to have been, add a reclined seat, the whole apparatus balanced precariously on only two wheels instead of one. In initial impression, the riding of such a bike would be like a bad dare– stunt riding a regular road bike by lying prone on the seat and steering with your feet! Good God! But there were other designs even more mind boggling…

By comparison, our enormous bright-red Harley-Davidson looking Explorer trike was almost just another face in the crowd. Some ancient recumbent trikes had made an appearance too, styling skinny foam seats and fashionably rusted frames. There were multiple Trident Spikes, a few Stowaways, three or four different varieties of ICE trikes, and both blue and orange scorpions, which were covetously guarded by their smug owners.

Our eye-catching and heavy duty side-by-side green machine was certainly a crowd-pleader, but the real excitement came, when a young man with a blue hat pulled up with an actual recumbent racing bike.

He rode it round the corner with the air of a country doctor pulling up in a fine British sports car, and the crowd, which had burgeoned to 25 looked up, gasped as a whole, and then formed a mad migration to where he had parked. The racing bike was the strangest bike yet! Looking like a two-dimensional cardboard cut-out of a bike, yet sporting actual tires, a long chain, and pedals, the rider would pedal in a reclined, submerged within the-two-dimensional-bike posture.

From morning into the afternoon, almost in carnival style, people would take turns trying the various bikes, riding them several blocks down to cheers, applause and sometimes cat-calls from their friends and relatives. Several recumbent trikes were sold on spot

The men running the show, who had brought in their trikes to be sampled, were a pleasant and jovial bunch. Reminding me rather of an astronomy night, they were as enthusiastic as telescope owners, demonstrating the high points of the solar system to the uninitiated.

With New Service, Any Device Could Run Almost Any Program From Anywhere

It is always interesting to read the latest advances in computers, phones, iphones, iPad’s Blackberries, and the works. As each invention becomes, within the matter of a few short years- obsolete, it leaves us to contemplate those other unsung inventions which seem to survive with relatively few variations on the theme. The bicycle, though it under-gos periodical evolutions in style, and building materials, still seems to follow the same basic engineering principals, and even today is the world’s vehicle of the common man.

My Fixer-Upper; a Phoenix from the Ashes

Pack Up

Pack Up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting something new is a special joy on its own. Walking into a clothing store, and picking out a fresh, brand new shirt, and feeling the caress of smooth, perfect fabric, with that tantalizingly clean smell, is certainly a hard to beat feeling. A new car, a new stove or home appliance are always an excitement to obtain, though these, like the clothes, tend to go through a “honeymoon” period, where all is bright for a few months or weeks, and then the object ceases to be “new”, in our minds and we begin to see its flaws.

But, yet another joy, and rather on the opposite end of the spectrum, is to take something old and broken, something others might even regard as “trash”, An old, rusty car– a tarnished antique, an aged wooden table, or occasionally a living something like a shelter dog or cat, or sometimes even a person. There is an aspect to a story of change and transformation that never ceases to attract us. In the story of Pygmalion, Linguist Henry Higgins decides to accept a challenge- turning the bedraggled flower-selling and Cockney accented Eliza Doolittle into a lady, by refining her speech and mannerisms. In the play, to our gratification, with much work and coaching, Eliza learns and changes- to the point where, when she attends a grand reception, she is unrecognizable and thought to be a foreign dignitary. It is a beautiful Cinderella story.

But the same story is even more true of bikes. Finding an old bike can be like finding a gem stone in its raw form, and the subsequent sanding, painting, polishing and restoring can be as rewarding a process. It’s true, many maybe the equivalent of finding a common piece of quartz. But some bikes are like finding a rare emerald or carbuncle hiding beneath the rust and grease.

For myself, a few lucky finds lurking amid the junk at garage sales found me a mongoose, and to cap my joy, an old Schwinn. The Schwinn had been rusty, a dull, dirty white color, with decaying grips and battered tires. Over the period of a week I put on new tires, a red coke-crate for a rack, taped shiny black tape on the handles, cleaned the rims, spokes and chain, and then I gave my new bike a paint job… For the paint, I chose a bright, vibrant lime-green, and actually used an acrylic and a simple brush to stroke it on, very meticulously. The result was like a living definition of “cool and sleek”. My beautiful green Schwinn lasted several years, until eventually, it was stolen.

Yesterday, I was inspired to write this, when my friends surprised me with a new “old bike”. It is black, with wide handle bars, on which I have already put new grips, and an unusual, artistically curving frame. As I stood bent over, rubbing the rust off of the rims and handle bars, and making them shine brightly once again, I began to see a new bike rising like a Phoenix, from its former, broken down and abandoned self. With a new chain and tubes, the bike is rolling once more. And this morning I rode it to work, I thought along the way of the Princess that my former ‘Cinderella” bike is becoming.

Flor de St. Paul 3 / Flower at St. Paul 3

Flor de St. Paul 3 / Flower at St. Paul 3 (Photo credit: Marcio Cabral de Moura)