No doubt you will have seen pictures elsewhere but it is with great pleasure that I can report my wooden bike is now officially rideable. It was just before lunch that I connected the front brake up and realised that there was no logistical reason why I couldn’t take a test ride. So rather than prevaricate I wheeled her out front and then nervously tried to work out how to actually ride a recumbent. After donning extra padding on my elbows and a strong pair of gloves I sat in the bike and tried to set off. After several false starts I got both feet onto the pedals before toppling to a halt. It seems you have to be very smooth in the transition from ground to pedalling. With this glint of knowledge and a little bit of opposite lock I was on my way. The first lap around the block was a wobbly affair but not particularly dangerous and once under way it was very easy to keep going. I was beaming from ear to ear as I started the second lap, not wanting to stop for two reasons, not being able to start again and the sheer thrill of being mobile on two wheels after all these months. Lap three was started on the flat and proved as easy as a rolling downhill start. By now I was noticing a few curtains twitching and the strange looks from pedestrians but this is all part of the fun. I guess it panders to my attention seeking tendencies.
Lap four was a sort of bonus lap as I really should have quit whilst ahead. I set off and happened upon some traffic wanting to go the same way as me, so I stopped to let them go. This meant trying an uphill start and this was a bit of a problem as I haven’t acquired the necessary skill set to complete the task, I did however manage to fall off trying. After remounting, I then got my trousers caught in the chainring which brought the chain off and, this led to a chain roller parting company from its’ mounting. I decided against another uphill start and set off back down the hill and put the bike away, already considering the changes I need to make before riding again.
There are a number of issues that will have to remain, there is some flex in the front boom when I pedal, it is nothing serious and the front wheel is out of track with the rear by 20mm but these don’t diminish from the finished article as it was never going to be everyday transport. It has proved to me that I can ride a recumbent and put no strain on my arm at all and that I still want to ride a bike. The recumbent experience, casting aside concerns about visibility is amazing, the contact patch between rider and bike is spread from bum to shoulders rather than shoved up your backside, the seat is unbelievably comfortable, especially considering it is just a piece of plywood, not a bid of padding anywhere. The forward visibility is excellent, better than I managed on a road bike which always put a strain on my neck. Obviously the arms no longer support any weight and are just there to operate the controls and steering, as I sit here trying to think of negatives, the only one is the visibility issue. I think, judging by watching videos that from the front, with the thrashing of legs out front, a recumbent is more obvious. I have concerns regarding side, rear and traffic but so far the sight of an eccentric on a tory blue recumbent has made most cars stop and stare, two cars actually gave me right of way just to have a gander at what was approaching them, when I am sure they would have powered away in front of me on an upright bicycle. So comments that the unusual sight makes you more noticeable may have credence.
I have to get a few more rides under my belt before I decide whether to invest in a proper bike and to be honest the money won’t be available until someone decides to reimburse me for my losses, which could be years, so there is no rush. Mind you I could design a more robust and viable bike for the time being but that project will have to wait turn behind the ever increasing list of things I need to make in the workshop.