Ride like the wind

This is my preferred mode of transport, around town and around the world.

I first read about recumbents in Bicycle magazine, May 1982: “Low slung and racy, the Avatar 2000 is one of the first commercially available versions of a new generation of bikes called recumbents.” The Avatar retailed at over $2,000, but I thought “some day…”

In 1999 Malachy’s friend Tom contacted me to say that he had been looking out for a recumbent for his Dad and found two good buys; he knew that I was interested—would I like to go for one of them? He got me this excellent PDQ second-hand from Bikefix in London and delivered it to my house early in February 2000.

Tom Hewins delivered my bent
Its arrival was quite an event
Now I travel in style
With a song and a smile
I’m so glad that’s the way that I went 

Technically it is a short-wheelbase semi-recumbent. It was made by Pashley, the English firm famous for the old-style delivery-boy’s bike. Its frame is sturdy, but not too heavy, since there is not after all very much frame. The greatest delight is the woven seat with a permanent bag that fits in behind it. Such comfort was never known on two wheels before, save perhaps in a well-upholstered gig or a rickshaw.

recumbentmanHere we are in Santander, at the end of our 2005 tour over the Picos de Europa and into Portugal. Michael and I cycled down to Porto and along the coast to Lisbon. Peter picked us up and drove us back to the ferry at Santander where we had started out. We have cycled so far in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, England, Scotland… I have Wales in mind next.

An article I wrote  for the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Earth edition) sets out some of the advantages of recumbents. Why are they still the exception?

7 Responses to “Ride like the wind”

  1. samwell Says:

    what’s the song?

  2. malo Says:

    is this the song?

    Oh sweet nad-cooling breeze,
    flow gently up my shorts;
    and give my body ease
    like beer in foaming quarts.

  3. recumbentman Says:

    That’s the one! Go to the top of the class.

    I’m most impressed, you did that by memory; I know I would have said “O sweet” using the vocative O. We were taught in primary school that two one-letter words take a capital: I and O. As in the Boss’s favourite Janis Joplin song, the only entire song I ever heard him sing, as far as I remember: O Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.

    Snipped from my original cycle diary, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single heave”, September 2000, complete with tune:

    O sweet nad-cooling breeze, l s d f s m__
    Flow freely up my shorts, m r s* d r t*__
    And give my body ease, d r m f s m__
    Like beer in foaming quarts. s* l* t* d r t*__

    I have put * to stand for the subscript 1 that shows the low notes.

    The second and fourth line of the tune are repeats of the first and third, transposed down a fourth; that delighted me greatly as I cycled along dreaming it up.

  4. samwell Says:

    sorry I asked.

  5. recumbentman Says:

    There’s lots more . . . but yes, enough for now.

  6. Aoife Says:

    That’s one of my favourite Janis Joplin songs too! I didn’t know I had that in common with the Boss!

    You left behind that cycling map I gave you, but I’m sure the cycling routes are available online, or easy to find as you’re cycling.
    It would be great to have to back here again on your bike!
    They do night mountain biking with head torches at Coed y Brenin, the national cycling centre you passed on the way.
    How about night recumbent off roading! EXTREME!

  7. recumbentman Says:

    Yes, I can’t wait for an opportunity. We are even considering tandemnation.

    Nice to see The Irish Times printed my letter today, the third attempt I made to get into the current cycling debate. They shortened it, but not brutally: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/0505/1224245939288.html

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