Saturday, July 25, 2015

Recumbent Update

The summer got off to rainy start for sure here in Ohio.  Fortunately my area escaped the violent storms that hit other areas of the country but we have received plenty of rain.  Creeks and rivers have been swollen and while farmer's crops have been growing great they will lose a little bit of their yield due to standing water in the low spots.

 Other than my regular commuting on the upright Ti GP bike I've been riding almost exclusively on my HP Velotechnik recumbent bike.  A couple weeks ago I hit a notable milestone and logged 4000 miles on the clock.  It's safe to say the bike is broke in now.  I've not had any problems in all those miles and I love this bike more now I think than when I first got it.

If Jesus were around today I think he'd like bicycles.  Recumbents especially; they would go fine with his beard and sandals.  I bet he'd ride on water too.

Here's a shot from a week ago while I was riding the flatlands of Marion County. Note the water in the field.

Last Monday I wanted to stretch my legs a bit and do a longer ride.  I mapped out a route that utilized the B&O trail that I've ridden countless times but to add something new I added a 13 mile loop off the southern end of the trail.  

 Sometimes I ride east from the trail's end at Butler, Ohio a short distance to Mohican State Park and enjoy a big helping of hill country.  But I wasn't feeling like covering the same ground I've been over before.  Luckily it's hilly in every direction from Butler so I struck out east and then headed south on a country way called Bunker Hill Road that travels through southern Richland County .

I love exploring new places and it's always interesting the things one finds along the way.  Soon I came upon a miniature horse ranch and found this guy munching some fresh green grass.  He couldn't see me because he was wearing his mask to keep the flies out of his eyes but he heard me pull up.

Spread around the picturesque hills are little homesteads.  Some of them are modern and some have been around a while.  Below it's easy to spot the Amish farms because they have no electrical lines running to the property.

On that ride I finally accomplished something that I've always struggled with.  The first 25 miles of the ride was smooth sailing on the bike trail.  On the relatively flat surface of a rail trail it's always tough to hold back and not get rolling too fast.  I occasionally glanced down at my cycle computer and backed off the effort every time I drifted up over 14 mph.  I haven't used a heart rate monitor in years but I'm sure my system was running a pretty low BPM.

That all changed when I hit the hills.  Contrary to the rumors recumbents can climb hills just fine.  They don't climb fast but they'll climb.  The first few miles didn't feel so good but after a while I got into my groove and started even to enjoy the climbs.  And of course climbing big hills has a sweet payoff; that's descending down the other side.  On the decent into Butler on the last hill I hit a top speed of 45 mph.

Back on the bike path I noticed I had plenty of gas left in the tank and held 16 mph for the last 12 miles.  This was another benefit of the conservative effort expended during the first part of the ride.    


 This morning with coffee I was watching the second to the last stage of the tour.  I wasn't planning to ride today but needless to say watching the riders racing the stage that determines the winner of the tour in the Alps struggle along a route culminating with a climb up the Alpe d'Huez I had to go ride my bike.

Periodically I like to do a time trial style ride where I put it all out and go as hard as I can for time. Kind of a test to gauge my fitness over the long haul.  Usually I ride my road bike when doing and all out effort but I've not even got on my road bike this year so I said hell with it and loaded up the recumbent.  

I headed to the B&O trail which even on a Saturday isn't terribly crowded and provides the greatest distances between automobile crossings.  I decided the distance would be 30 miles and started from the northern end of the trail.  This time instead of holding back on the southern slightly downhill leg of the trip I easily managed 20 mph cruising speed and even with the crossings and slowing down for safety around other trail users I managed 18.3 mph average speed for the first 15 miles.

Of course I knew the going wouldn't be so easy going the other way but I persevered and contemplated on the spectacle I had just witnessed on the tour and figured my ride would be a simple warm up or the equivalent of a ride to the store for those guys.  But the inspiration payed off and I logged the best time I've ever ridden on the recumbent even bettering many of the times I set on the road bike.

 30 Mile Time Trial
Ride Time:  1:43:43
Distance:  30 miles
Avg Speed:  17.3 mph



  1. Nice RCT!
    Is that one of those dry counties you have in Ohio?
    I've been looking at Ragbrai tweets and their website. Lots of recumbents this year.

    1. Bents are perfect for multi-day rides like Ragbrai. I suspect they will become more and more common on these types of rides. A few years back Ohio's big tour called GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) came through my town. I saw lots of bents on that ride.

  2. Replies
    1. Not sure what total time was. My cycle computer pauses when I come to a stop. So other than the few times I had to stop for crossings (I Idaho stop if no traffic is present) my total time isn't much more than the rolling time noted.