Archive for the ‘ Recumbent ’ Category

Norfolk Recumbenting

Gentle ride in the country between Norwich, Dereham and Fakenham.

Audax 2014 – 100k – Winchester Winter Solstice

As a counterpoint to our summer solstice 400k to Weston-super-Mare, cycling buddy Dave and I had been planning a ride for the winter solstice (ice permitting). Due to Christmas party commitments, I had to talk him down from a Woking- Cambridge – Oxford 400k loop, then we finally gave up on doing anything much more than a 100k. I had decided that to do something different, I would take the recumbent on the ride. Knowing this, I planned a flat as possible A-road route to Winchester taking in some big roads because of the early start time.

Knowing most of the ride would be in the dark, I decided it was finally time to get creative with the reflective stickers. Coming up with the evil eye to ward off errant motorists:



This seemed to do the trick and we had no hassle from bad driving. In fact, one car refused to come close to me from Fleet to Aldershot, so ended up going 15mph for about 3 miles! Dave tells me that from behind it looks rather like a snake, so success.

Our ride to visit King Alfred in Winchester was a success.


However, we suffered several mechanicals en-route. First, my chain un-shipped a couple of miles from home over bumps requiring a quick stop. Then a rubber band on my GPS holder failed. Thank goodness it didn’t fall off completely as we were on a quick descent along the A31 at the time. I thought to give up with the GPS at the time. but then stashed it in my bag. This is why the track is in two parts. On the descent into Winchester (about 1km from where the photo was taken), Dave suffered a front puncture, then just before the turn for Axford along the A33, Dave’s chain also un-shipped!

Upon arriving home, I was rather disappointed about our finishing time (about 4 hours 45 minutes, where a good 100k will take 4 hours) but the average moving speeds aren’t too shabby, so I think the many small stops hurt our time. Probably jumping straight into 100k with no preparation on the bent was a mistake, because my legs didn’t recognize what I was forcing them to do and I’ve been un-able to bend my knees for a couple of days. I also had the feeling that rough roads (washboard rather than potholed) really slowed me down. When I was on a smooth piece, I’m sure I could make 10kmh more for the same effort! I feel this somewhat on the upright and not having done that route before I have no direct comparison, but it could well be the difference between the 700c and 20″ front wheels. Maybe it’s time to get myself kitted out with a 26″ front.



Audax 2014 – April – Raptobike Attack

The Raptobike has finally been blooded on an Audax distance. I didn’t want to go insane, so a “mere” 100km route.

The speed wasn’t bad, though a touch off what I’ve managed on the race bike. The moving speed is probably the most realistic reflection of the pace because I had a couple of stops that weren’t necessary last time. First was to adjust clothing after a cold start, the second was to take pictures. While the average was similar to previous rides, I did have the satisfaction of burning up about 5 roadies on flat and rolling sections. They would initially try to chase, but would inevitably dwindle to nothing in my mirror. I only caught one up hill, but no one ever caught me, so it can’t have been bad. There were a few hills reaching 15% gradient, which I managed to handle ok.

Putenham Rapto Rapto Putenham 2

My lack of recumbent legs is showing, in that I’ve been crippled for the remainder of the day. Also while the bent was fine for the majority of the ride, there were two weaknesses. A couple of road crossings, I only felt safe getting off and walking across. This was partly because I couldn’t stick my head out the front, like a normal bike to look round the corner and partly because uphill starts are still tricky if not impossible on a slippy surface due to the front wheel drive.

Even in a low gear on greasy tarmac, my initial plant on the pedal caused wheel slip, which meant I lost my speed and had to put my foot down. The front wheel drive didn’t seem to be a problem when actually in motion as as mentioned earlier handled 15% hills. I think it might be a problem if things got much steeper, but then I think my legs couldn’t take anything above 20%.

All in all though a fun ride, hopefully my knees will work again tomorrow!


Back in action

After a good three months of feeling ill or my wife being horribly ill, I’ve finally gotten a ride in. Also the first trip with the Raptobike tailbox. Unfortunately, because it was only 20 miles, I didn’t really need it to carry anything. I put a rain jacket in it anyway, just because I could.

The speed wan’t as good as it has been, but the wind was strong, so I probably couldn’t have done that time on the race bike. In fact, there was a good lowracer demonstration. A “team kit” type on a road bike followed me up a 5% hill. Then we turned into the wind and only a 1% hill and the poor fellow dwindled into a tiny dot, then disappeared.

Velokraft Tailbox

I took delivery of my Velokraft tailbox today (after only 4 months wait!), and a very nice piece of kit it is too. It’s about the same weight as the mudguard that needed to be removed to fit it! The nice people at Bikefix fitted it for me.

Here’s a picture of the assembled beauty, taking advantage of South West Trains’ bike space. Glad I didn’t try this at rush-hour!

Raptobike with tailbox

There was much appreciation of the box outside the shop from various recumbenteers, including a velomobile rider. Also, someone wandering about on his lunch break took the time to say, “that’s awesome” as I waited at lights.

Looks fast, goes fast

Took the Raptobike out on it’s first “long” ride (ok, only 20 miles, but you have to start somewhere).


Looks pretty fast standing still and as I suspected comes into it’s own over a longer distance that’s beyond a sprint.

In a previous post, I was very pleased with the speed of this ride:

This time out on the Rapto after a month of no use and zero recumbent muscles:


Cycling Belgium

I attended a friends stag party in the Belgium city of Leuven (about 10 miles from Brussels). Apart from the drinking, I managed to get in some cycling experience.

First, it was interesting to see what a nice town it was, in part because of the amount of cycling and the converse lack of cars. All across the weekend, I only ever saw a few cars at a time, but plenty of people cycling, often with their children. Bear in mind it was at least -4 degrees with ice and snow around.

Belgian cycle paths Leuven Giant cycle parking

Some nice pics of Belgian cycle paths, the bike infested town and nice big cycle parking provision in the centre of town.

As well as observing the cycle culture, I took a punt at looking for Challenge dealers and found one next door to the hostel. The excellent A bikes: As well as stocking Challenge recumbents, they also did a fine range of Rholoff bikes and child “solutions”. Despite clearly not having any intention of buying a bike then and there (and unlikely to return to Belgium just for the purpose), the owner let me have a go on a Fujin SL1.

My friends who had come to watch me fall over on the ice were surprised when I disappeared off round the block. Conclusion, very nice handling for something so laid back and it just felt like it wanted to move, would have been awesome to do a longer ride (not in the snow). Proximity to vehicles wan’t worrying, but I could have done with a mirror.

Visit to Bikefix – Raptobike experience

I’ve been wanting to try the Raptobike midracer and a lowracer for a while and I finally got my chance.

While central London may not be ideal recumbent conditions, I did get to do alot of low speed fooling.

The Raptobike midracer was very competent. The mechanical drag didn’t feel any greater than the Bacchetta Giro, while it also had a seat about 4-5″ lower and comes apart in the middle for storage / transport. I found the seat a little too reclined for city riding and had one or two heel clips while trying to do u-turns.

As the lowracer example, I tried the Raptobike lowracer. I only took it a few hundred yards, but was pleasantly surprised that it was no more difficult to balance on than the midracer and perhaps easier to start on because the bottom bracket was closer to the ground (if the same height above the seat). It immediately felt faster (probably because of the skinnier tyres) and I don’t think bumps would be an issue because I bumped it off a kerb without any trouble. I tried to stop and balance on my hand, but the bike never “fell” the right way when I stopped. I did manage to start from a hand stand though.