Then I'll begin...
Remember how it felt first
learning to ride? Being pushed along by the saddle
with the assurance of "I'm still holding on,
go on, pedal, pedal!" then turning round to see
you're self-supported and falling over?
I'm right back there.
Almost 30 years on two wheels
and suddenly I'm feeling unsure of my command over
gravity. Laid Back Tours by name, wobbly uncertainty
Ever since I first saw a recumbent
bike I've wanted to try one. The appeal to the inner-gadget
freak is obvious by simple fact of being so different
to a 'normal' two-wheeled mode of transport. This
appeal reaches further than the bike-daft however,
as I found out later.
I've just met up with David
Gardiner, who as a nice little sideline runs Laid
Back Tours in Edinburgh. A recumbent rider for many
years (and graphic designer by day) David has a stable
of three bikes to tease those walking past the window
of Bicycle Works. The location is fortunate given
the proximity of a large park with plenty of soft
grass to fall onto if you don't get it right straight
taking out the Voss Bevo and Challenge Focus to begin
with. The Voss is a big machine, a slight oddity even
in the world of recumbents, with a more upright seating
position which fits more easily with what your typical
cyclist will be used to. But it still feels strange
sticking your feet out in front to pedal. Sitting
there having the Rohloff hub and various bits explained
to me I can't help thinking 'but how the hell do you
balance on it?' and then it's time to stop thinking
and time to start wobbling.
With David holding the seat
and giving a gentle push movement seems to bring an
immediate stability of sorts - I'm twitchy on the
handlebars but approaching something resembling straight
line motion, David running beside offering encouragement
and giving a commentary on how people usually react
to riding these things. I fit type. I'm now worrying
handlebars just below eyeline turning the front wheel
at least a foot behind the pedals turning is something
of an 'experience'. It probably feels the same as
driving that car at the start of the Pink Panther
cartoon. Leisurely is probably the correct way to
describe it, and turning in a circle narrower than
the Queen Mary might manage proves difficult at first.
It all seems a touch unconnected, but I'm willing
to give this a bit of time.