Friday, February 5, 2010

Cycle Oregon By Recumbent

Well, the route has been announced. The party was as great as could be expected, and at the end it seemed like a LOT of people were signing up. If you are on the fence, you better get off it now because I have a sense that this thing will sell out fast. As expected, I ran into friends I have made on past Cycle Oregon experiences that I had not seen in a few years. Also ran into local friends I never even expected to see there - and made a few new ones. The route looks awesome as always. I am in. Question: Can we sleep at Terminal Gravity? 

A great read for those new to Cycle Oregon can be found at the Cycle Oregon Blog. It goes over tons of great information for anyone wondering how they can tackle such an incredible adventure. 
One question though does pop up each year. “What about those recumbent bikes?” Indeed, riding Cycle Oregon on a recumbent is an entirely different experience, it is a great alternative if you are not comfortable on a diamond frame style road bike. Dare I go out on a limb to say (sorry, forgive my bias here) that Cycle Oregon is best experienced from the pilot position of a recumbent bike.
As mentioned in the article by Dean Rodgersyou can complete Cycle Oregon even if you are a complete novice - provided you start today. This hold true for riders of recumbent bikes (or trikes for that matter) as well. If you have never been on a recumbent bike, starting early will give you plenty of time to acclimate to the different riding position and build the leg muscles needed for riding.
There are several flavors of recumbent bike - too many to go over - for one post here. If you are interested in them, I suggest heading over to the BentRider Online site to check it out. There are a lot of helpful folks there and information on just about every recumbent from mild to wild.
“Robert, why in the world would I try to ride CO on a recumbent?!” For some, a recumbent is necessary as riding an upright bike becomes too uncomfortable. Others just like to be weird. Some are speed (MPH) addicts. Most just like the view and comfort that comes with a recumbent. Some , like myself, are all of those things. Recumbents re-ignited my love of riding a bike - something I had not done much since High School. Here are just some points that will apply to any recumbent bike you ride - should you chose to dip your toes on the “dark side” of cycling:
You can ride very fast. Simply, recumbent bikes are screaming fast on flats, mild rollers, and downhills if you want to feel the rush of speed. You have an unmatched aero advantage over upright style bikes and gravity on a downhill is your best friend. Best thing: stability on a recumbent at speed is great. Check it out

You can ride very slow. I mean this in two ways. One - recumbents are very stable at slow speed once you get the hang of them. This is good if you choose to putt along and gawk at the scenery no matter the terrain. Two - it is very likely that you are going to climb slower on a recumbent bike, so slow speed stability is important. But - please don’t let this turn you off just yet.
Climbing can be pure pleasure on a recumbent bike. “But you are slower!” Likely. Will you be that much slower? That depends on your training, the type of recumbent, and your goals. “Isn’t climbing faster a good thing?” Maybe, but I dare you to experience an extended climb at a very slow pace when you have trained well on a recumbent. I will admit - when the profile came up on screen showing the Rattlesnake Grade I did squirm a bit like I was watching a horror flick, but no matter. I know that climbing it will be more relaxing that you might imagine. Slower climbing speed via recumbent is usually balanced out with the faster flats, rollers, and downhill speeds anyway, so when you are passed on a climb its a “See you on the downhill.” One thing is for sure - the reclined seating of a recumbent affords an unmatched view of the scenery in front of you with zero neck straining. This is very nice on an extended climb.

Recumbents are very comfortable. Once you dial in your seating position and get your “‘recumbent legs” you will be in cycling bliss. When you can ride an entire week like Cycle Oregon and have no pain or soreness whatsoever in your neck, arms, hands, wrists, fingers, shoulders, and back - with your leg muscles being the only sore point - you feel great and only want to ride more. 

Recumbents are great distance machines. Since you are comfortable, it is likely that you will cover more miles and you will find that reeling in big mileage is less overall effort. With the seating position, it is my opinion, that you experience more of the scenery than you might otherwise. No more catching yourself staring four feet in front of your tire for the last 10 miles. On a recumbent the panorama of the countryside is like laying back in your own private IMAX theater.
No matter what you ride on Cycle Oregon, you are in for a real treat. Given the options available in styles and types of bikes today, getting out and riding is better, easier, and more accessible than ever to anyone who wants to share in the experience.

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