Monthly Archives: June 2012

Where are the Bikers?

On my ride to work on Thursday, just after I passed the entrance to the trail and before I noticed my mistake, I passed a man even older than me on a recumbent bike. We waved as we passed like we were two guys riding Harleys.

After I realized my mistake and found my way to the trail, I started thinking about the odds of running into another recumbent bicyclist. I wasn’t sure if seeing one on an eleven mile trip was good or bad. It occurred to me then that I saw very few people on bicycles, including on the bike trail. I estimated the number between five and ten.

Pinellas Trail
Pinellas Trail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That seemed strange because I recently lived in Dunedin, on the causeway that leads to Honeymoon Island. There, the Pinellas Trail crosses very close and even has an extension along the causeway. We had to be very careful every time we drove because there was a steady stream of pedestrians and cyclists. In contrast, I saw only one bicycle rider on the portion of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail that I was on.

On the way home I decided to count. I saw two cyclists on the trail and four more off the trail. That is just over one for every two miles traveled. Why is north-west Tampa so bike-free compared to west Pinellas County? I understand the appeal of the Pinellas Trail but does nobody own a bike in Tampa?

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Finally a chance to ride!

At last, the weather was dry enough today to ride my bike to work. I wanted to record some health factors so I can compare it a few months from now. I am 6’2″ tall (hopefully that won’t change) 227 pounds and my resting heart rate is 60 bpm. I wanted to take my blood pressure but I can’t find my blood pressure machine, or whatever you call it. (Can you tell I don’t work in the medical field?)  When I do I will post it, although it has always been pretty low.

It took me 90 minutes to ride the ten miles to work but I think it was more like eleven miles this morning because I rode past the entrance to the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and didn’t realize it for a half mile or so.The ride went better than I expected considering I used to ride only four miles to work and I haven’t done that since I moved in November.

Upper Tampa Bay Trail

Since than my bike has sat in the closet because I was sure my back couldn’t handle a longer ride.That is why I bought the recumbent and it worked because I had no trouble with my back when I got to work. I also did not feel tired or sore.

I did however feel a little pain in my butt as I got closer to work. I was surprised by that, given the big cushy seat, but I suppose that will get better when I get used to it. The only other problems I noticed is that the steering seems a little loose and there is a slight clicking noise that I can’t identify…yet.

The return trip was the killer. I don’t know why it was that much harder but I was pretty worn out with over two miles to go. As I got close to home my butt really started hurting and my fingers and toes were tingling. When I finally stopped and stood up the muscle in front, above the knee of my right leg (more evidence – see above) cramped up and I could barely push the bike inside. That only lasted 30 seconds or so and I felt fine afer that. I think I will rest tomorrow and ride to work again on Tuesday, weather permitting.

I noticed something unusual today but I think I will save it for next time.

 

 

Back on Track

Finally after a week of rain the weather is clearing up. Tropical Storm Debbie has moved off faster than expected and I am finally able to ride my bike. I plan on leaving early tomorrow.

Considering the poor shape I am in, I am allowing myself two hours to get there. I am sure it won’t take that long to go ten miles but that gives me time to make a stop if I have to. It also gives me a little time to rest and wash up before I start work.

I think I have everything I need. I bought a Frogg Toggs rain jacket but I probably won’t need it now. My main concern is space. I have a seat bag that is a good size but still limited. I need to pack in it my lunch, and I usually bring a salad, some fruit and some snacks. The salad takes up the most room. Then I have the rain jacket, which also takes up a fair amount of room, an air pump (which is a little too long to attach to the frame), a few tools, and I may want to buy spare tubes to keep with me. Since the tires are different sizes, I will need to carry two.

For now I will just bring my old rain poncho, which is cheap but small, and I will skip the tubes. My only other challenge will be to get out of the house at 7:00 am.

 

Rain Delay

Tropical Storm Debby has delayed my plans to ride to work today. We had major flooding here yesterday and it is still raining on and off today. The rain comes in bands, so we get short breaks and then get hit again.

Trial Run

I went out this morning for my first real bike ride. Before my first ten-mile ride to work on Monday, I wanted to get used to the bike and see what I could handle. After the first mile, I almost changed my mind about starting on Monday. My legs were tired already and it seemed I was in way worse shape than expected.

I put the bike in a lower gear and pushed on a little slower. After that I felt better and the rest of the ride was much easier. The best part is, after raising my wimpyness rating, I was able to lower it back down again.

I wanted to stay close to home because of the weather so I rode around the industrial park near my home for about 45 minutes. The last 20 minutes I rode in a light rain, which actually felt good, but the rain picked up and I decided to head home.

My newly installed odometer said I went 6.5 miles but I am not yet convinced that is accurate. I think I will Google Map the trip to work and compare the distance when I go there.

Now I just need to buy reflectors, which are surprising hard to find, spare tubes, and then track down a clicking noise.

Preperations

I’ve decided to make the ten-mile trip to work on my bike this coming Monday, weather permitting. This is a big leap for me because I could barely ride it for five minutes Wednesday without my thigh muscles feeling the strain.

I feel like I am preparing to launch the space shuttle. There is so much I need to do. Yesterday I bought an air pump and mounted it on the bike. I also partially hooked up a speedometer that has been in my closet for about a year. I bought it for my last bike (which I gave to my son yesterday) but never got around to putting it on. I am really less interested in how fast I am going then how far I have gone.

This morning I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a helmet. I considered getting one at a bike shop that was made for my big head, and I may still do that, but It would probably cost three times as much and I would have to order it and wait for it to come in.

I also got a mirror that fits on my helmet. I don’t really like the ones on the handle bars because my body tends to get in the way and the handle bars are closer together on this bike which would make that worse.

The only thing left that I can think of is a rear reflector and a rain jacket. Since I live in Florida, we get plenty of rain in the afternoon during the summer months. These last three days have been especially wet and it seems that trend will continue through Monday. Hopefully, if I get caught in the rain, it won’t be a heavy downpour with lightning.

Introduction

I would like to start by introducing myself and tell you what led me to want to start blogging about recumbent bicycle riding. I want this to be from the point of view of a true newbie. Hopefully, I can give you a first hand account of my triumps and failures and all my progress along the way.

My name is Chuck and I am an out-of-shape, middle-aged man who is about to turn 49. I have had a bicycle almost my whole life but unfortunately, ever since I got a license to drive, that bike spent most of the time in storage, except for about six months last year when I rode it the four miles to work once or twice a week.

I started eating healthier about five years ago and lost about thirty pounds but my life situation changed, the bit of exercise I was getting vanished and I gained it all back and then some.

I realized the best way to motivate myself to exercise is to start riding to work again, this is especially motivating at the end of the day when I have only one way to get home. Unfortunately, I now work almost nine miles from home (more if I want to ride safely) and that distance causes a strain on my back and a pain in my butt…literally.

It then occurred to me that a recumbent bicycle would be the perfect solution. I started looking into them and was hit by sticker shock. Most web sites I looked at did not have one under $1200.

Eventually I went to OTE Bicycles in Dunedin, Florida (at the time I lived within walking distance). They tuned up my current bike and  seemed honest and reasonable. They also sell used bikes there and was hoping they would have one I could afford. He did not have any used bikes but he said he could order a Sun EZ-1 for $500.

I took him up on his offer and two days later was disappointed to learn that it was discontinued and he could no longer get it. The next version up was $650, which I might have considered but the price had gone up to $850. The owner (or co-owner, his name escapes me) felt bad and even offered the other bike at his cost, which was just a little more than I wanted to spend.

Two months later I started looking again and decided to put a “wanted” ad on Craigslist. I got an immediate response from someone who had a first edition Sun EZ-1 for $275. My wife, Rose, and I went to look at it, somewhat expecting it to be junk, but were surprised it was in relatively good condition. It even came with a saddle bag and two cup holders. I decided it was a great value and did not haggle over the price.

I took it for a short ride after we got home and in just five or ten minutes I could feel the strain in my leg muscles. I want to ride it the ten miles to work on Monday which means I need to get used to it before then. I know the first day will be rough but I think if I leave early and take my time, it could be fun.

My new “old” recumbent which my cat is investigating. You can read about him at my other blog, badcatchris.com