Tag Archives: recumbent

The Curse of the Clipless Pedals

In spite of the title, I really do like my new clipless pedals but I have come to realize there is an added risk of injury while using them. From the time I bought my recumbent bike until I bought the clipless pedels eight months later, I fell off my bike a total of zero times, although I did have one or two close calls. In the 30 days since putting on the clipless pedals I hit the ground four times, and this was during a month were I had many problems getting out on the bike and only logged about a hundred miles.

To be fair, the first fall was not unexpected as I was trying to get used to unclipping. The second one was when my chain fell off and I lost my balance. The last two happened Monday morning within a block from my work.

I mentioned before that there is a small percentage of my ride where I use the sidewalk instead of the street because, until yesterday, I thought it was safer. I was on the sidewalk, not far from my work when I spotted a kid (I want to say “little bastard” but this is a family blog) coming toward me on his bmx bike like a bat out of hell. He was peddling as fast as he could and he was traveling in anything but a straight line. I slowed way down, expecting him to do the same, but he just kept coming as fast as he could. It was like a game of chicken and I lost.

I steered off the sidewalk to avoid a collision. I probably should have yelled. “Slow down you young wipper snapper,” but I guess I am not ready for that yet. Since I had already slowed down too much, when I hit the grass I was going too slow to keep my balance and I tried to unclip fast enough to catch myself, but the half second delay was too long.

I wasn’t hurt, just a little pissed at the…kid. I got back on the bike and traveled another two or three hundred feet until I was just across the street from my work. I looked behind me and saw there were cars coming but I had plenty of time to cross so I turned to the left and my rear wheel came out from under me and I hit the ground hard.

I was in the middle of the road with cars coming so I quickly got up, even though I was in pain, and limped to the center of the street. By then one car had already stopped and the others were slowing down. I was in too much pain to be embarrassed. I limped across the street, unlocked the door and brought my bike inside. I then had to sit down because the adrenalin had made me nauseous.

At first I attributed the accident to being distracted by what happened three minutes earlier but my co-worker pointed out something that made much more sense. He said the grass I rode onto was probably wet. That would explain everything. The bottom of the wheels had dried from the short ride but the sides were still wet, so when I leaned into the turn, the wet part of the wheels contacted the road and down I went.

It is just another example of how one bad thing can lead to another. I think the next time something happens that is bad enough to speed up my heart rate, I might just stop for a few minutes before resuming.

The ride home was difficult because, besides my leg being cut up, my butt hurt like hell. I pushed my seat forward a little because sitting forward was fine but leaning back was painful and this allowed me to push back farther in the seat so I was less reclined. Unfortunately, as a recumbent rider, less reclined in still reclined. It was the first time since I owned the bike that I would have traded it for a conventional bicycle.

I am still relatively new to the clipless pedals so I am sure I will get better at unclipping but I believe there will always be a slight delay and I will have to accept that risk. I also think it is possible that sitting upright on a conventional bike might be less risky. I don’t know. Perhaps someone with more experience could leave a comment on the subject. For now, I think once my butt heals, I will continue what I was doing but perhaps I will try to anticipate problems a unclip a bit sooner.



My Health Conscious Roots

Today I consider my lifestyle to be in the top 20 percent of Americans when it comes to healthy living. When you consider the way Americans live, that is not a difficult accomplishment and I am working on improving. For now, I would like to reflect on how I got here.

Way back in the mid to late eighties, I took a class in college called Personal Wellness. In that class, the teacher casually mentioned the downside of sugar and instead, focused on the evils of fat. She made it seem like as long as our calories were from less than 30% fat, we were eating a healthy diet. Coke has no fat so it must be healthy. That was message I got, although I never thought Coke was healthy, I just thought it was better than a bacon cheeseburger.

I moved to Florida in 1988 and my son was born in 1989. By the time he was around four years old I noticed he was becoming overweight and I wanted to try to buy healthier food. At the time, my ex did the shopping and was buying tons of crap food like soda and honey buns so I decided to do the shopping myself and I bought what I thought was healthy food. I know now it was really just less unhealthy. It didn’t matter though because my ex put up a big stink about it and the crap food came back into the house.

In 1999 I married Rose, my current wife. She was a bit more health conscious and would usually make nice home cooked meals rather that eat something out of a package. The problem was, about eight years after I met her I had gained over 35 pounds.

One day in 2007, I was listening to a radio show in Tampa Bay where the host was skewing a guy named Kevin Trudeau who wrote a book called Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About. He made it sound like the author was crazy nutcase that just escaped from the asylum. The fact that the host had no medical expertise made me think he was just a close-minded jerk. A few weeks later I saw the book and decided that I could read it with an open-mind, so I bought it.

I must say that it was an interesting and informative book that made a lot of sense but it was written in a somewhat arrogant style that put everything in black and white. This side is good, that side is bad and there is no in between. I decided to do research and found many natural health experts that agreed with much of what was in the book.

My research led me to another book by Raymond Frances called Never Be Sick Again. This was the best book on health I have ever read. The basic premise of the book is that all illnesses are caused by malfunctioning cells and cells malfunction for two reasons: lack of proper nutrition and toxins. So the book is about caring for your cells which in turn will lead to better health.

This made perfect because I had already concluded that a lifestyle similar to our early ancestors is how we were meant to live and everything in this book pointed in that direction. It also talked about all the toxins in our environment and how to avoid as many as possible.

From that point time on I was hooked on healthy living. My wife was interested too but not to the extent I was. This made it more of a challenge, and still does, but I still managed to drop from 222 pounds to 189 pounds in about a year or so. I stayed there until we moved to Myrtle Beach in 2009 when everything changed.

After the move I tried to continue my healthy eating habits but the weight started coming back. Even after moving back to Florida, I continued to gain weight. It didn’t come back as fast as I lost it, but after three years I was five pounds heavier than when I started my healthy eating habits. I should note that even though I gained the weight back, I was still much healthier than I was five years before. I had more energy and never got sick, except for what I would consider the beginning of a cold. My immune system always fought it off before it got bad.

The only thing that was different about my life these last three years was that the amount of exercise I was getting dropped to almost nothing. Before moving, I was walking everyday during my lunch time, but I did not take a lunch break at work in Myrtle Beach. I bought a bicycle to compensate but it is not a bike friendly area. As a matter of fact, there was absolutely no safe way to ride to work without adding too many miles to the trip.

Before I bore you with a long story, I just want to say that since buying my recumbent bike and riding the ten miles to work about three times a week, I have even more energy and the weight is slowly starting to come off again. I feel really good about my future and I plan to improve my eating habits even more.

My motivation to write this was because my weight this morning was 221, under the 222 that I was at before starting my new health habits in 2007 and six pounds less than when I bought my bicycle. I know six pound is not much but I also know the cooler, drier weather is coming so I will be riding almost every day. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Bike Wrappers

About six weeks ago I read a a review by David Padfield from All Seasons Cyclist. His is one of two blogs that I read that I find very informative (the other being David Clancy blog College Tri). He posted a review of a safety product for your bicycle called Bike Wrappers. I encourage you to read his article.

When I read it I initially thought that was exactly what I needed because the days were getting shorter and I would soon be riding in the dark. I then realized that they were made for conventional bikes and not my Sun EZ-1 Recumbent. I ended up putting them out of my mind for a few weeks but when I found myself leaving for work before sunrise, I reconsidered.

I asked David if they could be cut and he said they could but they would have to be sewn. I was hoping to avoid doing that so I contacted Brent Thomas from Bike Wrappers who pointed out that the one designed for the down tube was cut out for the water bottle and It might fit my bike. I decided to give it a shot. I knew I would figure something out.

The bike wrappers are reversible. One side is a highly reflective silver for night riding and the other side comes in various colors and designs for daytime. I bought the blue one because my bike is blue but I really don’t anticipate using the blue side.

First, I am not concerned about how pretty my bike is and second, I don’t think they will make me any safer during the day. Sure, I could get the neon orange, but I truly believe if I get hit during the day it is because someone (and I don’t exclude myself) is not paying attention to their driving and I could be riding down the road naked, wearing only a neon orange sombrero, and it wouldn’t make a difference.

When they arrived I was able to put the down tube wrapper on the cross bar (they stick together easily with Velcro). The cross bar wrapper, I wrapped around the brake and gear cables in the front which allowed them to be seen from both the side and front. I then put the smaller seat post wrapper around the crossbar on the handle bars. Later I realized it actually fit under the seat where it belongs so I moved it there.  Since I have a headlight and taillight, it’s main purpose is to prevent side impacts, so I wanted all three to be visible from the side.

As far as night riding goes, these Bike Wrappers seem like they will be very noticeable when hit with a cars headlights. I photographed them early Monday morning and used the flash to simulate a car’s headlight. I was actually surprised by how well they lit up compared to the rest of the bike.

Bike Wrappers at night

Bike Wrappers at  night

I would recommend this product to anyone who rides their bike at night, even recumbent bike owners. I would also like to suggest to the folks at Bike Wrappers to make a couple of smaller, standard size wrappers that could be sold separately. These could be only one sided to cut production costs. I could be wrong but it might be worth testing.

Bike Wrappers

Bike Wrappers around cables and handle bar.

After I changed position and put the small one under the seat.

The Photo Biker

I have been a photo enthusiast since my dad gave me a camera at around age ten. At eighteen I would bring my camera to parties. I know everyone takes pictures at parties now but in 1981, I was the only one doing it. Back then I was not interested in quality, only memories.

When I was around twenty-four my, dad gave me his Canon F1 camera, which was top of the line back then. My best friend Rick, who was in photography school,  taught me the basics, which got me interested in fine photography. That fall I took a photography class at the community college, which I loved. I took another class in the spring before moving to Florida. Money issues then stopped me from continuing that path but I never stopped enjoying it. You can see some of my photographs here.

When I moved back to Florida recently, I had difficulty finding a job and only worked part-time for a while. I have a Canon T1i that I would take on bike rides to nearby nature parks or I would ride along the Gulf looking for a good picture opportunity.

Pilings at Edgewater Park, Dunedin, Florida

Not far from downtown Dunedin, FL. Would have been a better photo at high tide.

As I mentioned in another post, you see a lot more while riding a bicycle than you would driving a car. Because of that, I almost always carry a camera with me. You probably would not have guessed that by the very few pictures I have put on this blog, but I plan to do better.

My Canon is too big to take to work so I have a little 12 megapixel Fujifilm XP20 camera that I keep in my pocket. It is waterproof, shock proof (although I have not tested that), dust proof and probably other proofs too. The pictures are not as good as the Canon but they are good enough and it has HD video that is easy to use.

I had this camera with me when I saw an unusaul looking turtle crossing the bike trail. I thought about stopping and taking its picture but I didn’t because a turtle on pavement was a boring, un-natural picture. I regret it now because I later searched online to see what breed it was but couldn’t find it. Who knows. It may have been super rare and I could have proven it’s existance…Or not.

I did get a chance to use my camera last week. I have been blogging about a rooster that lives on our property (romeorooster.blogspot.com) that had been missing for a couple of weeks until I spotted him on my bike behind a nearby plaza. He was standing next to a duck, which was also seen on our property, and her ducklings. I was able to use the photos I took in my next blog post.

My hope here is to inspire people to bring their camera with on their next bike trip. Even if you take no pictures, just having it with you causes you to notice things that you may not have paid attention to before.

Thanks for reading and if you have any photos taken while riding, I would love for you to share the link.

Going for the Gold

I certainly would not come close to making any Olympic team, but on a personal level, I am happy with my accomplishments.

Monday I made it to work in 65 minutes, a new personal best. Tuesday I did even better at 62 minutes. I felt strong on Monday after some rest and could have probably beaten the hour mark but I was not even thinking about it. I also made a slight detour along the way.

In any case, I would feel a sence of accomplishment if I made it to work in less than 60 minutes. On the other hand, if I push myself, it might just turn something fun into work.

I’ll bet if I lose my watch, I will naturally improve my time without taking the fun out of it…maybe I’ll do that after I beat the hour mark.

What’s a Little Rain…?

Last night when I checked the weather forecast online it called for scattered thunderstorms all day. This morning the forecast was much better.  It was as though the day shift at weather.com came in to work and found the night shift sleeping at the switch. The weather was nice this morning and the rain chances for the late afternoon ride home were for areas farther inland.

I rode to work in under 70 minutes, my best time yet and I was not even trying to hurry. Fortunately I remembered to bring a spare shirt with me, especially since it is still quite humid.

What I didn’t count on was getting sent home early due to lack of work. I started my return trip just after 11:00 a.m. After about a half hour it started to rain. I thought about adjusting my route to find a store to take shelter in but decided against. I could see the clouds ahead were darker and it was possible that if I stopped, I could be waiting a long time.

I decided to press on. At the moment, the rain actually was light and felt good. It got a little heavier along the way and then stopped unexpectedly. I decided to stop at my chiropractor’s office, which was almost on the way. I had a 5:30 appointment but I was hoping he could see me early, which he did.

From there it was just two miles to home. I made it about a mile before the rain started again. My main concern at that point was for my phone and iPod. I did not feel like stopping to put them in my bag. I also did not feel the need to break out my rain jacket. The rain was coming from my left and my phone was in my right pocket so that helped. It also helped that my iPod was clipped to the bottom of my shirt, which I was able to fold over a couple of times to help keep it dry.

The rain gradually increased in intensity until I got about 30 seconds from home, when it started coming down in buckets. I didn’t bother stopping at the sidewalk. I rode right up to the front door.

I must admit that except for my concern for my electronics, the rain really didn’t bother me much. I think next time I will carry a Ziploc bag in my pocket.

Back on the Road Again

It has been ten days since my last ride to work and it feels good to get back on the bike again. I was held up by a persistent afternoon rain that I thought would never end. Finally, yesterday, I was able to ride my bike again.

I thought the time off would be a problem but I made it to work in under 75 minutes, my fastest time. Now just to be clear, I think competing against myself could be good but I don’t want to worry too much about improving. I want to focus on enjoying the ride.

I did go out with my wife on Saturday. It was her first chance to ride her new bike so we decided to ride to the park. We got less than five minutes down the road and had to turn around because she was complaining about her butt hurting. I said she should buy a recumbent.

I got a new iPod Shuffle for my birthday, which I listened to yesterday. It is so much better than my last one, which was the 3rd generation Shuffle. That one had all the controls on the earphones which was a stupid idea. I had to replace them twice at $30 apiece because my cat chewed them (see http://badcatchris.com). The last set I lost, so I can’t blame the cat for that. This new iPod has the controls back on the device. We decided to take a trip to Germany next year so now I will be able to listen to German lessons.

I like riding because see some pretty interesting things on a bike that I would miss in the car. I always see rabbits on the bike trail but yesterday I saw a turtle with some interesting markings. I looked online but could not find one that looked like it. Maybe I will see  it again.

More Bad Weather

I knew when I bought my bike that we were at the beginning of the rainy season here on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Often the rain comes from small rain clouds that pop up, deposit a light to moderate rain for a short time during the late afternoon, then blow on by.

That kind of rain does not concern me and I can live with getting wet. Unfortunately, what I have seen lately is heavy rain accompanied by lightning. That is something I do not want to have to ride through so my bike has been stuck in the closet since Monday.

The good news is that it is not lonely in there anymore. The other day, as I was filling the gas tank of our car, I noticed a women’s Trek Bicycle at the pawn shop next door. My wife and I looked at it and found it to be in good shape and very light so we put a deposit down on it. We got it yesterday and now it sits in the closet next to my bike waiting for drier weather.

I just checked the weather for tomorrow and it calls for a 60% chance of thunderstorms for my trip home from work. I think I would ride to work if the chances were 30%, perhaps even 40%, or if it was just rain and not thunderstorms.

I supposed I have become a little spoiled but I remember the last time I got caught in a heavy rain. I could not look in front of me while I was riding. I had to look down at my front tire and occasionally take a quick glance up to make sure I wasn’t going to hit anything. I also forgot my iPod was in my pocket. Do they make waterproof iPods now?

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.



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.