Learning to Ride a Bike

I thought I had done this. Having spent quite a while mastering the Brecki I assumed that I could ride a recumbent pretty well.

ride-bikeBut the Grasshopper is quite a different beast and although it seems to be more stable on the road I’ve had to go back to school with the basic manoeuvres such as starting, stopping, negotiating tight situations and even getting on and off.

Starting is always the first challenge on a recumbent and I’ve had a good share of wobbly starts as well as some total failures, a couple ending in embarrassing falls. The problem seems to be particularly with starting uphill.

As well as it being inherently less easy to control a bike when sitting like a sack of potatoes, starting is extra hard work because you can’t just stand up on the pedal and let your body weight do the work for the first turn of the crank that gets the bike rolling. All you have is straight muscle power and woe betide you if you choose too high a gear, or give it less than your full effort.

Also the Brecki seat is more upright and putting a foot down to stop is easier. In the reclining Grasshopper couple of times I’ve not got enough momentum, flopped over to one side and my foot reaching out has been in the wrong place to prevent a fall. Extremely embarrassing in city traffic. I’ve been using the Grasshopper for my daily supermarket trip which is downhill out and uphill, when loaded, back. There’s one particular junction on the return trip where you start on a slight uphill and it’s all a bit tense with traffic coming quite fast from both sides. I’ve failed to pull away two or three times there.

City conditions are not the best place to learn but it’s where I am and certainly the Grasshopper reveals some of the really horrible ways the planners force bikes into very nasty tight corners. I’ve decided that I’m unlikely to use it as an urban bike even though the Brecki did quite well around town.

But I’ve been practicing hill starts and stopping smoothly and getting off and gradually it’s working better. I daresay after a week on the road next week it will all feel very different. Meanwhile the Grasshopper has made a big difference to my normally aggressive style of urban cycling, everything is much more cautious.


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