Saturday, October 5, 2013

EBBC Vice Prez Powers West Coast Greenway on Early '90's Counterpoint Presto!

Tom Ayres, whose bio as VP for the East Bay Bike Coalition I have attached below, emailed me to let us know he just arrived in San Diego on his bike ride from San Jose! In his 60's he did it on a Counterpoint Presto recumbent bike  at an average of 80 miles a day! Nationally sought for his expertise as a human factors consultant, he needed to be in San Diego for a conference, so he rode the 650 mile distance on a once cutting-edge machine that can still perform!

And he did it on the West Coast Greenway that we are fine tuning per what you can find HERE. What's more is that Tom is considering helping us do our inaugural Mayors' Ride run from Seattle and/or Portland to San Francisco on it this next May..

Board Vice President Tom Ayres, Kensington

Tom Ayres is a bicycle safety instructor who relies heavily on his bicycles for both utility and recreation. Formerly a member of the board of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, he now lives in Kensington, and represents Contra Costa County on the board of the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition. He volunteers on the annual AIDS Lifecycle rides, including as a training ride leader, and has made the 550 mile ride on his cwb recumbent. Tom has a PhD in experimental psychology and has worked as a human factors consultant since he left teaching. He is especially interested in research to evaluate the effectiveness of safety programs such as bicycle education classes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

90-Year Old Rides Trike Kentucky to Florida, 930 miles, in 21 Days!

Bert Blevins of Louisville, a 90-year World War II veteran, just 
rode his recumbent from Louisville to Florida - 930 miles in 21 days.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Final Blog Post about Maria Parker's Epic RAAM Victory

Maria Parker, of Cruzbike, had her down days, as this photo and the 
blog post (written by her husband, Dr. Parker) below show, but in the end, 

She won these 2013 RAAM Awards: Seana Hogan Fastest Female, 
Rookie of Year, Queen of Prairies & Trane “Unstoppable”.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

HP Veloteknik Creates New Sport: Mountain Triking!!

First Annual Northeast Recumbent Rally Set for Sept 14, Oldest Century Route in World the Next day

The Nation'a largest recumbent dealer, the Bicycle Man, in Alfred Station, upstate New York, plays host to the first annual Northeast Recumbent Rally on Sat Sep 14. Followed by an early evening  barbecue also on their rustic grounds, the day's activities will find cyclists coming from as far away as Florida and Maine in attendance. Besides the opportunity to test ride from Bicycle Man's rich and varied stock of bicycles bent (over 100)  on beautiful back roads, there will also be a much awaited preview of the all-new 2014 Linear Bicycle models which are lighter, tighter and more performance oriented than ever before.

Attendees will also get a chance to see the cutting-edge hand and foot powered bikes that the Bicycle Man people helped to design for the nonprofit AMBUCS organization that supplies such machines to mobility and financially challenged individuals all over America. 

In the fun spirit of Bicycle Man, owner/founder, Peter Stull is even is offering a choice of two presentations at their Saturday exposition:

1. Their recumbent Museum: 1978 to 1995 or
2. The humorous history of their shop (1969-2013) which you can also find at this podcast (complete with side-show pictures of their shop and grounds)

The following day, Sunday 9/15, offers a century on a course that dates back to 1895, on the beautiful back roads surrounding Bicycle Man. Called the Alfred Century Tour for Habitat for Humanity, it is a perfect run for tandem and recumbent cyclists, the climbing never exceeds 2 to 3%. And the out and back course lets your pick the distance that suits you best. $20 Alfred Century Registration 2013

Want to make a weekend of it? There is a limited amount of camping available at Bicycle Man. Let Peter know:

The Bicycle Man website lists the many nearby lodging purveyors, one can choose from hotels to B&B's to a county campground with RV hookups!

Alfred Sun Sept. 26, 1895:

Alfred Cycling Club's Century

Sixteen Started -- Thirteen of the
Number intended to finish--Ten
Did Finnish the One Hundred Miles
in Good Condition

                last Sunday morning at fifteen minutes past five o'clock , sixteen cyclists met at Firemen's hall for the purpose of taking a "century" run to Olean and return, Three of the number intending to go only part of the distance. It was intended to average, as nearly as possible, a ten mile gait.
                The schedule, as laid out, called for a stop in Friendship for breakfast at 7:30 o'clock, the crowd arriving there promptly on time. Leaving Friendship at 8:45 the start for Olean, via Cuba and Haskel Flats, was made, with the intention of arriving there at 11, and after a few minutes rest, return to Friendship for dinner; but about four miles this side of Olean, a tire on one of the wheels exploded, causing a delay of over an hour to eight of the party who waited that length of time then went on to Olean, returning and picking up the unlucky rider who, by this time had his wheel in ridable shape, They then proceeded to Cuba for Dinner, with the exception of two who dropped out before reaching that place.
                At the time of the mishap five of the riders did not wait, but continued on to Olean, taking dinner there, and returning home by Hinsdale and Wellsville, arriving here about seven o'clock. Five of the party who took dinner in Cuba, after about an hour's stop, started for home via Wellsville, all reaching here inside the 16-hour limit, and would have accomplished it inside of fourteen hours, if the tire that caused the morning had held up as it should.
                Taking it all in all, it was a first class run, and the riders of the club may well feel proud of the showing they made. Every one of them made an exceptionally god ride. If there had not been a misunderstanding, every one of the thirteen would have ridden more than a hundred miles; as it was, one covered about 83 miles, two 95 miles and the mileage of the others was from 100 to 108 miles. The pace makers were F. S. Whitford, Dr. C. M. Post, L. D. Bronner, L. K. Burdick, F. G. Place.
                We give below the names of those who completed the "century" L. K. Burdick, Prof. W. C. Whitford, L. D. Bronner, F. S. Whitford, Will H. Basset, Dr. George E. Burdick, Clark Stilman, Dana Shaw, Harry Greene and F. S. Place.

There are still local buildings and roads named after the riders on this century!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More German Cycle Tourists (on recumbents this time) in Ireland

Not a good idea to stop cycle tourists from Germany outside of a bar. I wanted to find out about their recumbents and their ride, but everyone in the pub, having seen my picture in the paper, wanted to talk to me.

I was dressed in the County Mayo, Ireland colors for a Gaelic football game.......

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Best History of the Recumbent - Why it's Faster & How it Came to be Banned

Francis Faure in 1933

The history of the recumbent bicycle is filled with intrigue. Only a few people today realize that the current surge in interest and ownership of recumbents is a renaissance of what occurred at the end of the previous century and in the early years of this one.

The banning of recumbents from bicycle racing in 1934 had the effect of putting the recumbent bicycle design in the closet for fifty years, until it was re-discovered there primarily by MIT professor David Gordon Wilson and his student. To him, I and thousands of other laid-back cyclists will be eternally grateful.

But let's go back to slightly before that foolish day in 1934 and look at three recumbent pioneers: Charles Mochet, his son George Mochet and cyclist Francis Faure.

Before World War I Charles Mochet built small, very light cars. His wife had decided the common bicycle was far too dangerous for their son George, so Charles built him a pedal-driven four-wheeled vehicle.. The four-wheeler indeed reduced the danger of falling over. Nobody had guessed what else it might lead to. The four-wheeler proved to be exceedingly fast. Little George was delighted with his 'human powered vehicle' (HPV) when he easily left the other kids on bikes behind.

This soon led to a demand for the vehicles and Charles Mochet ultimately decided to give up the building of automobiles in favor of devoting himself to the construction of HPV's. He built a two-seated, four-wheeled pedal-car for adults that he called 'Velocar'. They had the comfortable seating position and the trunk of a car, with the pedal propulsion of the bicycle. The technical equipment included a differential, three gears and a light fairing made of the airplane windshield material Triplex. After the First World War the poor economy in France aided their sale. Buying a 'real' car was an unreachable dream for many Frenchmen, but Mochet's Velocar was affordable. So Charles Mochet was able to sell many of his HPVs. Until the thirties the sales of the Velocar steadily increased.

velocarsIn practice the Velocars turned out to be very fast. From time to time they were used as pace vehicles in bicycle races. The Velocars soon reached their limits. At higher speeds, that were easily achieved, cornering got very dangerous. Every curve meant having to brake hard and then re-accelerate. One had to pedal hard to be fast on a curved path. Charles Mochet experimented and built a vehicle with three wheels, but its tendency towards falling over in curves was even worse than the four-wheeler.

The invention of the recumbent bike
Finally Mochet had an idea: Divide a Velocar into two halves. He built a two-wheeled version, in effect a recumbent bicycle. The bike had two 50 cm wheels, a wheelbase of 146 cm and a bottom bracket / boom that was about 12 cm above the seat and adjustable to the drivers height. It was possible to change the elevation of the seat and an intermediate drive provided the necessary gearing. During the development of his recumbent bike Charles Mochet acted deliberately: long and careful planning and much thinking preceded the actual building. Mochet not only wanted to show that the recumbent bike is faster than the common bike. He also wanted to convey to other cyclists that a recumbent bicycle is also highly suitable for touring and every-day use.

On the racing side Mochet was looking out for a good rider to ride his new recumbent bike in cycling events. At first Mochet had Henri Lemoine, a pro cyclist, riding it. Henri was astonished at the comfort and how easy it was to steer. Even so, he couldn't be convinced to ride the Velocar in contests. Perhaps it was the ridicule of other cyclists that kept him from riding it in competition. In any case Henri Lemoine never entered a single cycling event on a recumbent bike, much to his loss.

Mochet's second choice of riders was Francis Faure, brother of the famous cyclist Benoit Faure. Francis was a decidedly lesser rider than either Lemoine or his brother Benoit. But he was the first serious cyclist who really took an interest in Mochet's recumbent bike. After a few test rides he decided to enter a race riding it.

At the start this event the other riders laughed at him and said: "Faure, you must be tired and want to go to take a nap on that thing. Why don't you sit up upright and pedal like a man?" They quit laughing when Faure poured his annoyance into the pedals and left them all behind. They couldn't even get close to him. Afterwards they were upset that they couldn't even draft his funny bike. One after the other Francis Faure defeated every first-class track cyclist in Europe, taking advantage of recumbents' clear aerodynamic superiority.. 

The following year Faure was practically unbeatable in 5000-metre events. Even in races against three or four top riders, who would alternate pacing a leader, Faure would leave the Velodrome in the yellow jersey. Beside the successes on the track the Velocars and their riders won a lot of road races. Paul Morand, a road racer, won the Paris-Limoges in 1933 on a recumbent bike constructed by Mochet.

The hour world record
After Faure had established new world records on various short courses and other cyclists on recumbents had handily beaten their competitors at road races, Charles and George Mochet as well as Faure decided to attack the hour record, long considered the 'ultimate' bicycling record. Mochet wanted to be sure that a record with his split Velocar would be acknowledged. He therefore queried the Union Cycliste International (UCI) in October 1932. He received a positive reply to his letter: "The Velocar has no add-on aerodynamic components attached so there is no reason to forbid it."

From the beginning of the century until the thirties the French cyclist Marcel Berthet and the Swiss Cycling-idol Oscar Egg battled over the hour record. In 1907 Berthet established a record of 41.520 kilometers per hour. During the next seven years the record passed six times from Oscar Egg to M. Berthet and back, before Egg covered the sensational distance of 44.247 km (27.4) in 60 minutes. This record lasted almost 20 years - up to 1933. During the war many cyclists lost their lives, were disabled or neglected their training so it is understandable that there wasn't a serious record attempt in the years immediately after the war. Nevertheless the record by Oscar Egg has to classified as an outstanding performance.

In the meantime various designers and bike enthusiasts had begun experimenting constructing cloth fairings. In 1913 the French man Etienne Bunau-Varilla began offering a fairing that could be fitted to a regular bike. German bike manufacturers like Goericke and Brennabor let riders of their teams take part in races with cloth-faired vehicles. In the following years various faired bikes competed with each other. The first race of this kind took place in Berlin in 1914. The Dutch world champion Piet Dickentman and the European champion Arthur Stellbrink from Berlin raced. The world champion crashed and died. Possibly as a result of the fatality, the UCI changed the rules in 1914 and specifically prohibited add-on aerodynamic devices such as fairings or nosecones. The faired racing events soon fell into oblivion.

The 7th of July 1933 was to be the decisive historical day. Francis Faure rode 45.055 km (27.9 miles) in one hour on a Paris velodrome and thereby smashed the almost 20 year old record by Oscar Egg. Faure and Mochet's Velocar abruptly grabbed the media's attention. In journals and cycling magazines pictures of the record setting vehicles were being published. Soon questions were asked: Is this actually a bike? Will the Faure record be acknowledged? Will the common bike be made obsolete by the Velocar? Statements, interviews, comments and "political" cartoons all addressed this issue.

It was utter chaos. A decision became absolutely necessary on August 29, 1933, in Saint Trond France when Maurice Richard, on an upright, also bested the hour record set by Oscar Egg, who had ridden 44.077 kilometers in one hour. (27.4 miles). Which record was legal? The recumbents or the upright's? Who was the world record holder-Richard or Faure? Would the recumbent be legitimized as a legal bicycle to ride in UCI-sanctioned competitions, or be banned forever from the sport? A decision had to be made.

It had become apparent to all that the hour record set by Francis Faure riding the newfangled half Velocar developed by Charles Mochet was going to be hotly debated at the 58th Congress of the UCI on February 3, 1934.

An amateur rider demonstrated the Velocar to the Congress by pedaling one around the officials conference table. The officials were all amused and interested, but their opinions on the bike's legality for racing diverged sharply. The English UCI representative was surprised that the recumbent was so safe to ride, and prophesied a great future for it, saying that it could be the bicycle of the future. The Italian Bertolini, on the other hand, was of the opinion that Mochet's invention was not a bicycle at all.

In addition to factual arguments presented for and against 'allowing' recumbents, non-technical issues also entered the discussion. Some officials were of the opinion that a second-class cyclist like Francis Faure hadn't earned the right to participate in a world record setting event. Faure had only shown his skills in short races and sprints. How could such a cyclist now presume to hold the highest of all records, the hour? These critics preferred the clearly stronger rider, Richard, over Faure.

Rousseau, the French UCI commissioner, brought the issue back into focus. He stated that the UCI and its rules were intended to regulate races, define the legal length and breadth of the bicycle, to prohibit add-on aerodynamic aids, but not to define the bicycle itself.
The other commissioners apparently disagreed, and designated a task force which would define, or in effect, re-define exactly what was or wasn't a bicycle. They then voted to recognize the (upright) record of Maurice Richard. Immediately thereafter the [new] definition of what constituted a sport bicycle was accepted by a 58-to-46 vote. The following rules would be in effect in UCI sanctioned racing from that point in history on:  
  1. The bottom bracket had to be between 24 and 30 centimeters above the ground.
  2. The front of the saddle could only be 12 centimeters behind the bottom bracket.
  3. The distance from the bottom bracket to the axle of the front wheel had to be between 58 and 75 centimeters.
According to these rules, a recumbent wasn't a bicycle, but something entirely different, despite having two wheels, a chain, handlebars, a seat, and human propulsion. The ruling would take effect on April 1, 1934. It was to be recumbents' darkest day. Faure's record was shuffled into a new category called 'Records Set By HPVs without Special Aerodynamic Features'.

Embittered by the decision of the UCI, Charles Mochet wrote an appeal letter to the Union. No luck. Rumors at the time were that the decision 'banning' recumbents had less to do with sportsmanship than with economics: The upright bicycle manufacturers and professional riders had money and contacts and together formed a powerful lobbing force.

Had the UCI had decided otherwise a lot more riders might be riding recumbents today. The UCI's decision did, however, make Richard and Faure famous, and left Henry Limone behind in cycling obscurity. Promoters were organizing races between the two of them all over Europe. Francis Faure was unbeatable on his Velocar, but the fame belonged to Richard. The public loved to watch the races of these 'forbidden' machines and their infamous drivers!

The streamlined Velocar
The idea of a streamlined bicycle was not new. Marcel Berthet demonstrated an upright bicycle with a fairing in 1933. At the time he wanted to be the first cyclist to break the 50-kilometres-in-one-hour (31 mph) barrier. He almost did it: On November 18, 1933 the measurement at the end of the hour showed 49.992 kilometers. And Berthet was 47 years old! His record was also placed in a special category created by the UCI for 'sport bicycles' with aerodynamic components.

In 1938 Francis Faure and Georges Mochet decided to try to better the record of Marcel Berthet in the special class. Francis Faure also wanted to be the first cyclist to ride more than 50 kilometers in one hour. They produced a faired Velocar. The frame was modified: Faure sat lower and a smaller front wheel was installed to reduce drag.

The two men tested the first model by doing laps on the 4000-metre track at Vel d'Hiver in Paris. The first timed lap took place with Faure's head exposed and no bottom fairing. Faure achieved 48 kilometers per hour, (29.8 mph), able to complete a lap in five minutes - 20 seconds faster than a cyclist on a normal racing bicycle. This was significant in light of the fact that the faired Velocar weighed 11 kilograms (24#) more than your typical racing bicycle of the day. Still, this lap speed would not be sufficient to beat the one-hour record, so modifications to the Velocar were made. In the next run the vehicle was modified to have a smaller opening for Faure's head. His average speed rose to 49.7 kilometers per hour, saving an additional ten seconds per lap.

A bottom fairing was added for the third attempt. Francis Faure was now able to shave an additional 18 seconds off his lap time. The fourth run took place with the track having been polished. This time Francis Faure beat the 55-kilometres-per-hour mark, requiring only four minutes and 20 seconds for each 4000-metre lap It was decided to make the attempt at the one-hour record with this configuration. The record attempt had to be aborted, however, because the wind in his eyes was causing Francis Faure to lose control of the vehicle.
A fifth attempt was going to be made. Georges Mochet built a Triplex fairing to enclose Faure's head. It worked fabulously. On March 5, 1939, Faure rode 50.537 kilometers in one hour requiring under 4:15 minutes to circle the 4000-metre track!

On March 5 1938, the eve of the Second World War, Francis Faure became the first cyclist to travel 50 kilometers in less than one hour without a pace vehicle. He rode 50.537 kilometers on the Vicennes Municipal Cycling Track. The press went wild, both in Europe and the US Pictures of Francis Faure, Georges Mochet and the Velocar appeared in all the bicycling journals.

When the war broke out, Francis Faure moved to Australia, where he died in 1948. George Mochet continued to build Velocars and moped versions thereof. These sold well clear into the '60s, because they could be driven without a driving license. Eventually a change in the law spelled the end of the motorized Velocars.

Still unbeatable
Velocars are still in use. In Marseille you can rent these old HPVs and tour the city in an ecologically sound fashion. The rental shop manager has let it be known that he is looking for a manufacturer because after 30 years some of the bicycles are starting to wear out beyond repair. He feels few manufacturers can come close to the quality of the Velocars, so in the mean time he has chosen to continue to repair the old ones as much as possible.
velocar in ManchesterFrancis Faure, Charles and Georges Mochet showed the bicycling world what recumbents are capable of. The UCI ban showed the world the power a few misguided, narrowly focused individuals can have on the future of a sport like bicycling. Their decision set back the acceptance of a safer and more aerodynamically efficient bicycle by 50 years. The formation of the IHPVA and other organizations dedicated to racing and promoting human powered vehicles regardless of their recumbent or upright configuration is largely responsible for undoing that damage, as the present renaissance of recumbent bicycles so clearly demonstrates.

Georges Mochet is retired now, and lives with his wife Francine in St. Aygulf in France. He is involved with the French HPV Association, which has now been in existence for a year. His one-hour record from 1939 remained unbeaten in France until very recently.

The Mochet recumbent found a place in the German bicycle museum in Einbeck. The Mochet automobile may be seen in the automotive museum in Osnabruck.

1996 Update

The USCF has for all practical purposes 'continued' the ban on recumbents in the US bicycle races they sanction, although more sympathetic(?) commissioners will persuasively argue that recumbents aren't 'truly' banned. Those recumbent riders who have attempted to enter recumbents in USCF races (through 1995) have been disqualified for a variety of 'safety' issues such as exposed gearing, bicycle overall length and so on, all in the 'name' of safety, but having the overall effect of banning recumbents from competing. Not that there are that many recumbent riders strong enough to enter USCF events, but those few who have been so bold to attempt to do so have in general given up after being given such a inhospitable reception. Most of these 'bent riders have retreated to IHPVA and Midwest Streamliner racing events where 'bents are both welcomed, and the norm.

An attempt to get the USCF to come out and flatly say whether recumbents are or are not allowed in their races fell flat. A letter I wrote requesting a 'simple decision' faxed, copied, and emailed to several USCF officials went largely unanswered. One friendlier official responded - he quoted me all the various minutia and rules that apply. In effect, what this says to me they (the USCF) is (still) saying: "We refuse to come out and make a decision as to whether a recumbent is a "legal" bicycle." Wake up guys, it's 1996. WHN :)

This article has traveled a long journey. It was edited by Wade H. Nelson with permission back from a German translation by Gunnar Felhau of an adaptation of an article which originally appeared in a 1990 issue of Cycling Science. Translations back from German thanks to Paul Goodrich and Volker Hilsenstein. The original article was written by Anfried Schmitz.

The above article appears at the web site for the now defunct Cycle Genius and is referenced by Cruzbike. There the author makes the point that the recumbent was banned the same year Hitler came to power in Germany. Dr. Parker, the Cruzbike founder also makes the point that  two years later, in 1936, Hitler tried to ban blacks from the Olympics because  “their physiques are stronger than those of civilized whites”.  

Fortunately the Intl. Olympic Committee voted him down. While the  UCI has perpetrated a ban that has very successfully kept the recumbent bicycle looked down upon for generations.....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

65 mph Cell Phone Driver Almost Killed CruzBike's Maria's RAAM Victory

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 Maria's RAAM finish as the top women rider has become even more astonishing. Here is her husband's report about the 65 mph woman, distracted by her cell phone, that crushed into Maria's slow moving follow-vehicle in Arizona. Besides losing three crew members, ending up with a bleeding son in need of careful observation less he have brain trauma and having to sort through twisted metal and broken glass and plastic to  salvage usable bike parts, clothing and other gear at an Indian reservation junkyard, Maria almost lost her one remaining bike later that day when a crew member drove it into a garage overhang. This almost reads like fiction:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cruzbike Maria Tops RAAM Women - Her Victory Speech

In the video above, you can watch a true recumbent bicycling ambassador in action! As some of you may have seen yesterday, Maria Parker, finished RAAM, in 11 days, 20 hours. She was the first female finisher by several hundred miles. And did so by being forced off the road for a full day because her support van and three of her crew members, were lost because of a car accident.

The recumbent and  Cruzbike communities rallied around this amazing 50-year old mother of four and she rewarded us with what is being called the biggest comeback in the history of RAAM!! She showed all of us that her heart was as strong as her very f a s t  machine. Too exciting!

  Yahoo Maria!!

btw: In case you missed it, HERE is the interview she and I did just before her epic effort!


Friday, June 21, 2013

A 2013 RAAM Recumbent Casualty

Sergey Zimin the Russian rider aboard the titanium recumbent he built himself has abandoned his second attempt at RAAM. He had reached Prescott, Arizona, some 441 miles from the start, falling short of his 2012 attempt in which he made it 536 miles to Flagstaff. 

Two Female Recumbent Giants Exploding into Prominence

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We just had the honor of finding out what makes one of America’s most loved recumbent bicycle minds  tick. Through Coventry Cycle WorksMarilyn Hayward is gaining widespread acceptance for the supine position in the Pacific Northwest. In the FOLLOWING INTERVIEW, you will hear some of the near insurmountable obstacles she has had to overcome on her way to also becoming so widely revered.
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And after a full day off the road because of the accident that consumed her support vehicle and three members of her crew, Maria not only leads the women on her pretty much stock Cruzbike, but she is in Ohio, a little over 500 miles from the 2013 RAAM finish line in Annapolis, MD!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cruzbike Maria making biggest comeback in history of RAAM

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Maria Parker, now in Missouri, well beyond the half way point in the Race Across America, is now the women's race leader! Toward that end, she is making what race officials are calling the greatest comeback in the history of RAAM, if not all of sport. This is all too exciting. Here after she loses her main support vehicle, three of her crew members,  her two back-up bikes, most of her tires and wheels, food and miscellaneous supplies too numerous to itemize, and  she's now on a pace to claim the all-time fastest female crossing of America ever!!

This as the support for her sister and brain cancer research is pouring in from all over the USA! HERE is the article the RAAM people featured about Maria at their site. HERE is video they are running about Maria. HERE is the podcast she and I did in April. HERE is where you can keep up with her or donate.

      Go Maria!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cruzbike Maria Roars Back in RAAM from Horrific Van Crash

Details are still being pieced together but Maria Parker has climbed back to second place in her division after being forced to temporarily withdraw after a wreck  destroyed the support vehicle  that was following her.
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The only recumbent in a field of dozens of other bike racing competitors,  Maria had pedaled nearly 600 miles and two days straight when the van following her was rear ended   just east of Tuba City, Arizona. In addition to the  several crew members who suffered minor injuries, including scrapes and bruises, one had a head injury, how serious I have been unable to ascertain.  If that was not demoralising enough. Maria's back up bike, tires and food (her liquid race diet) were all destroyed.

However, the Cruzbike community answered her call for a bike with a plethora of offers to help with their own personal machines. Local bike shops have pitched in. And another support vehicle has cropped up.

And Maria is back in the race hunt all over again! She even just passed Kathy Roche-Wallace, the holder of the current female RAAM record of 12 days, 15 hours and 59 minutes. In her division, only RAAM legend Seana Hogan—the event’s only 6-time winner— who is back for her first RAAM since 1998, stands in Maria's way!

To learn more, be kept abreast and/or to see Maria in action along with all the loving support she has surrounded herself with, 3ktoacure is a public page that will greatly inspire you!!

Visit to donate or text "RACE" to 20222 to give $10. Updates on Parker's race can be found at

No doubt the world's toughest test of endurance, Maria Parker, a 50-year old mother of four young adults, is showing the world she has as much power as her indomitable Cruzbike!!


btw: To hear her talk about her sister who has brain cancer that she is doing this ride for and how trained for it, go HERE.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bias Against Recumbents and the Lance Myth


And then there are the people who ride recumbent bicycles, a marginalized population of cyclists indeed. They are seen by many of the mostly younger cyclists who ride traditional upright bikes, as being less capable. They dismiss the recumbent rider as being a man or woman who is limited by age, health or weight problems. So the fact that since 1982, I had only been riding recumbents, partly in an attempt to get attention for the National Bicycle Greenway, seemed to communicate that I had special needs; that I couldn’t ride a “real” bike. It seemed to be telling people who had no visible way of knowing that I had already crossed the country on an upright, that I wanted a Greenway so I would have a place to ride my ‘sit down’ bicycle.

I had not realized that I was limiting the support I needed for our vision until I started riding the HiWheel. In hindsight, however, I do take comfort in the fact that I am still cycling all these years later. Looking back I had seen so many of the same upright cyclists who looked down on me for riding a recumbent, fall by the way side because of the discomfort their bikes were causing them as they got older. 

While my pedaling kept me fit, I watched as the familiar faces around me were in a constant state of change. While I knew some of them had simply moved to new cycling turf, I was also sure that an even larger number of them had traded in the two-wheel road for the luxury and unhealthy ways of the automobile. This was corroborated for me once in a while when I would spot one of them filling up at a gas station or sitting behind the steering wheel of a car at a traffic light. 

Besides the butt, shoulder, neck and sometimes arm pain that forced a lot of them off the saddle, there are also the issues of attire, functionality, even peer pressure. As many of us grow older, only to find more and more demands placed on our time, the conventional bicycle often becomes less and less attractive because it is harder to build into our lives. In terms of special wear, padding and chamois for one’s hind quarters must be bought, kept clean and just changed in and out of with each ride in order for one to be an effective upright cyclist.

Besides wearing the right, tight-fitting bike clothes for two wheel efficiency, there is also the subtle pressure the upright bike industry (97+% of bikes sold) places on its cyclists to remind them that they must look and go fast. From what their helmets and upper body wear (preferably brightly colored jerseys with lots of corporate logos on them) are supposed to look like to the kinds of biking events that appear on our TV screens (the Tour De France and to a lesser degree the Race Across America), to how cars are needed for our activity (at such races, we see a mass of cars and motor homes with bikes on top of them following the two wheel speedsters around), etc, there is both a dress code and a code of conduct anyone who wants to be seen as a serious cyclist must abide by.

Despite the fact that recumbent cyclists do not need special clothes and their bikes can carry more, something we’ll talk more about later in this chapter, those who ride them, even if they look young, healthy and fit, are still dismissed as being lazy cyclists. This notion was affirmed by the UCI when they banned them from racing in 1934, saying bike racers should not be allowed to gain advantage because of their machines The now defrocked bike racer, Lance Armstrong, helped to embed this attitude in the mass consciousness. For the better part of two decades, the myth of who he was served to define the meaning of the term serious-cyclist.

For the many millions of cyclists following his lead, results took on far greater importance than how much fun they had when they cycled. It became necessary to look like you were working for your miles. Smiling or waving at one another was frowned upon. And no longer were your rides about processing thoughts or communing with nature or your Maker. You achieved esteem by calling your time spent in the upright saddle a “training ride”. Made all the more important by how well you watched your various metering mechanisms, your watch, speedometer and/or your power, cadence, or heart monitors, etc.

In such a way, not only was comfort on your bike a secondary consideration, but the real heroes of bicycling, those who replace car trips, are cast by the wayside. As a result, the needs of transportation cyclists are not placed on center stage. Instead, those chasing speed become the unofficial ambassadors of what is supposed to be seen as a sport that also requires motorized support. 

While there are becoming more of those who make, sell and promote conventional bikes that are designed for comfort, even transportation, the market of such users is always reminded that they are B-League cyclists. Because such pedal machines go slower, those who ride them are made to feel almost like they need to apologize for not being young and able to withstand the pain of a traditional road bike any longer.

When I say conventional bikes are limited in how much they can carry, the racks and saddlebags that can be added to them change the handling characteristics of the bike. And odd shaped purchases or things one might have to get to, and/or from work, school or play, are more difficult to mount on a traditional pedal machine. 

All of this changes on a recumbent. Because the seat is shaped more like the chairs found at one’s dining room table, besides the comfort of a large seating area and then having your back supported, it is easier to hang or drape things off of them. All this as the recumbent cyclist pedals away in loose fitting clothes that one does not have to change in and out of in order to do a strong ride. If all this is not enough to warrant that we should see more of them on the road, if for no other reason than to keep older cyclists out there with us, the higher speed potential the UCI affirmed in 1934 when they banned them, keeps growing. 

In fact all the present day human powered land speed records were established using the recumbent design. They are pushing 83 miles an hour with the recumbent power plant. Even the English Channel was flown over by a man pedaling supine because engineers determined that that was the only way they could get enough power for such an effort.  And if one wanted to spend the money, depending on their fitness level, there are recumbents a person can buy that will put them at the front of most any racing pack.

Recumbents are also safer bikes to ride. Because you are much closer to the ground, the impact of a fall is not nearly as great. Over the years, I have known more than a few upright cyclists whose lives were ruined, some of whom even died, by crashes from a machine, the upright road bike, that makes the head and not the butt the point of impact. Nor is the recumbent rider so low that he or she cannot be seen. Not at all. In fact the biggest part of their body is what is most directly in the car driver’s field of vision instead of legs or skinny bike tires.

Besides their comfort, safety, speed and practicality, are there other reasons why do we not see more recumbent bicycles on the road? To begin with, we do not see many of them in bike shops. And if they do show up there, they are often not supported by an enthusiastic sales staff. This is so because the same pressure the ad man uses to tell a person what serious cyclists are supposed to look like, finds its way into the bike shops where most of the employees have not reached the age where comfort on a bike is a concern, Since they tend to sell and be knowledgeable about what their conditioning has told them is acceptable, even fashionable to ride, the recumbent is an unknown oddity to them. As are those who express interest in knowing about them. 

Sure one can go out on the web and find such a machine. However, since mechanical support is harder to find from the bicycle marketplace, a lot of shops for example do not like to even do repair work on recumbents, interested buyers will often need some mechanical aptitude in order to build one out of the box. And once they get it out on the road, they must be able to play the game of being an instant cycling authority as they answer all the many questions that will always be asked. 

If however they are new to cycling or have been away for a number of years, much strength of character will be required in order to consistently ride a recumbent. This is so because as they redevelop their skills or learn new ones, it will be harder for them to remain anonymous. Insecure in themselves as cyclists, it will be harder for them to ignore the looks of disdain or outright disapproval that will also come their way once in a while. 

Such a cyclist, lacking in confidence, will also have a harder time laughing at comments such as  ‘get a real bike’, ‘quit laying down on the job’ or ‘where’s your remote’, etc, that they can expect to hear on occasion. And yet new or returning bike riders, the ones we most need to grow the activity, are the same ones who may never get a chance to really ride the only bike that it makes sense for them to ride.

I could not wait to return to the speed and the comfort of a recumbent bicycle but for now I was a man on a mission.

The above is excerpted from "How American Can Bike and Grow Rich, the NBG Manifesto", an e-book that can be found HERE