The Recumbent Rally


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.


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)

Sampling the Recumbent Tricycle


Probefahrt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a rider of traditional, two-wheel, mountain bikes and road bikes, I had for years, looked on the recumbent tricycles with no small degree of scorn, both for the strange-low-to-the-ground appearance, and the quite lazy looking reclined position of their riders, whom sailed along the road on them, in the relaxed luxurious position of someone lounging in a bathtub. Certainly, I suffered no temptations whatsoever in terms of trying one of the recumbent bikes. My small home town sported only one recumbent model, ridden by a slightly eccentric professor, whom would zip down the road dodging cars, while zooming up and down hills, to the consternation of drivers looking down on him from their SUV’s.

Outside my hometown though, recumbent bikes were certainly increasing in popularity. The latest speed record on a bike was even set by a recumbent. But it wasn’t until I moved to Michigan, and began working at a bike shop, that I finally came to experience the recumbent.

Expecting to be working on and selling traditional bicycles, I was quite surprised to learn I would be selling industrial tricycles, and then even more surprised when I found the bike store had a very large collection of recumbent bikes, in many different brands and styles. With some skepticism, I began memorizing the important names, and matching them to the bikes hung up on display. At the high end were the ICE bikes, the Adventure and the Sprint. And another popular kind I soon learned, was the Catrike, whose name I immediately liked, along with that of the sly-sounding Kettwiesel. These bikes, despite their high cost were very popular, and apparently quite satisfying to the customers who purchased them. Still skeptical, I was somewhat appeased by the cool and sophisticated look of the Velotechnik Scorpion FX, which actually quite closely resembled a scorpion, its seat arching up like a poised-stinger; its front wheels in the tadpole style, looking like tough and dangerous glossy claws.

For several days, walking through the display room, I eyed the recumbent bikes, growing used to their site, and finally experiencing some curiosity as to what it felt like to try them. My curiosity must have shown, as a few afternoons later on a frigidly cold day, I was told to try out three different models of recumbent bikes. I was in for a big shock.

Riding a recumbent trike is incredibly fun, not to mention comfortable! As soon as I sat down and began to pedal forward– the bike took off– fast and smooth! I found myself racing like a professional cyclist within the first two meters, and instead of taking the bike once down the small parking lot and back, I changed my mind, and tightly cornered the bike, zooming it down a narrow winding road, I hadn’t yet explored. Several time’s I tested out the breaks, stopping quickly, and then suddenly accelerating. For several exciting minutes, I conducted the bike along the road, whipping it around hairpin turns, and then riding in figure-eights when I reached the big hotel parking lot at the end. I road back to the shop, where two more recumbent bikes were waiting for me to try. I tried out both of them, riding the same distance liking the Rover for its simplicity of design. After that first ride, I find myself waxing enthusiastic about recumbent trikes, and at last converted into a supporter of them. Starting off as a strong skeptic, I have finally shifted to the point where I look forward to purchasing my own recumbent bicycle, someday, and easily envision myself, whizzing down a mountain road, a book open on my lap, as I confidently and luxuriously ride. Image

Slim Paley Daily #2

A refreshing view of Springtime, as we near the end of winter. Fresh vegetables and fruit, sparkling with nutrients is a wonderful addition to a bicycle rider’s lifestyle.

Slim Paley


A Crusty Avocado Tart

in the gardens of “Maisons Des Reves” Dar Ahlam, Ouarzazete, Morocco

It’s Tart Tuesday!

(see what I did there?)

This was one of the most delicious dishes we ate inhaled during our entire holiday in Morocco.

The combination of melty, yet slightly grainy short crust pastry, creamy fresh avocado filling and crunchy baby lettuce & pomegranate seeds was positively dreamy.

So, Yay! Who’s your Mama?? I got the recipe and I’m sharing it with youse guys.


L1150099It took literally every ounce of will power (and the fact that I wasn’t alone) to not ask for a second tart.

L1150096Serve with some freshly toasted french bread, chilled white wine

(do not look at that Coke-it’s a mirage-we were in the desert)

and you’ll feel like you are …



Until tomorrow.


All photos Slim Paley, recipe filched from “Maison Des Reves”*

*Proper props will…

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Buying a kid’s first bicycle

Flickr contributor's description: Even kids on...

Flickr contributor’s description: Even kids on bicycle wear helmets. This kid could be the next Rossi! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At some point during the childhood of most kids throughout the modern world, there rapidly comes a time, usually right after they learn to walk, that we decide to finally purchase their first bicycle. As children, we meet the first bike with squeals of delight and admiration for the paint jobs, which are almost entirely a vivid pink or purple combination for girls, and for boys, a tough-looking bruiser with a jagged orange or green (almost always with black!) design. For the first time riders, training wheels adorn most of the tiny cycles.

And recalling my own riding experience as a child, the best moment was to finally shed those clunky little plastic wheels, and to experience the smooth, slick, and serene experience of gliding down the pavement on a genuine two-wheel bike, finally liberated from its training-wheels.

Teaching a kid to ride a bike, is something I’ve done many times, as a child teaching my peers, and then eventually as an adult teaching kids. It takes and afternoon or two, jogging next to the bike and supporting one of the handle-bars to prevent an upset– but then gradually you loosen your hold, and let go– first for a matter of seconds, and then for longer time periods, as your kid finally experiences the wonderful feeling of riding a bike, and loses that initial fear, so difficult to overcome, of toppling off to one side.  But once that fear is gone.. your kid zooms away on their bike with an expression of pure blissfulness.

But before this victory ride, it is a challenge to pick the correct size of bicycle. Pick too small and within a few months, the bike has already been outgrown. In buying a kid’s bike- buying the bike in a size that is slightly too large is actually quite a good idea, as such a bike can be good for over a year, and will fit perfectly as they grow into it. Thus much better, budget-wise, as it’s will be much longer lasting.

The best way to buy a bike is probably to bring your kid into the shop, to try out bikes– both for style and fit. But if it is a surprise bike, the next best thing would be to measure your kid, and then take those measurements- (the length from seat to ankle) into the store with you. For the very tinniest bikes, but mostly tricycles there are 12 inch wheels. Ages 3-5 have generally graduated to size 16. But if one is at five and looking for a bike, it is a better idea, still, to go with a size 20. (Sizes are written, sometimes a bit subtly on the wheels!) And along with the bike, a cooler- snazzier looking helmet will probably serve as a good motivator to wear it!

A big enough bike- Finding the right size

An often over-looked challenge, and certainly one with a great deal of stigma and social-pressure attached to it, is the oft-repeated message that one should “lose weight” or suffer the consequences which include negative stereotypes such as “lazy, irresponsible, weak, ” or “gross”.

Bike riding happens to be a great solution, for conquering the struggle. An excellent form of exercise, and an ideal form of transportation, it can be one of the funnest  activities there is.

But what if one is already overweight to the point where some bikes such as road bikes and standard racing bikes, make one shudder at the sight?

Will one of those skinny little racing bikes, with a seat as narrow as a banana fit comfortably, or even hold up? I should think it would appeal about as much, as being a size 22, and going into a store that only carries up to size 16, meanwhile enduring looks from size 00 clerks who lack sympathy. Discouraging, to say the least. In almost no instance of shopping can it be fun to be told that nothing will work for you, thus being singled out and excluded.

But; in this case, there is a great solution. There are industrial trikes, recumbent bicycles of multiple brands, some quite interesting, not to mention beautiful. And of these different varieties, several can easily handle weights of 350, 400, and even 500 lbs.  In Jack’s Bicycle shop, in Dearborn Michigan there is a select line of bicycles which are beautifully suited to carry curvy or extremely hefty riders. And for those on the opposite side of the struggle, there are sturdy, safe bicycles for very light-weight and elderly riders, in styles such as the “Fold and Go”. For weighty-riders; there is the Trident Titan, the Explorer in True Bikes, the green machine, the PAV3 and several more. And we will help, with patience and diligence in finding the perfect bike for the customer.