14
Jul 2004
by mark

Test driving a Rans V-Rex recumbent bike

Today was the first real test of my new Rans V-Rex ‘bent. After a week of waiting, the new derailleur was finally installed. I planned a twenty mile solo trip to Whitewater, Indiana and back. Out on my own, I was going to find out how the new bike compared to my old one longer trips.

One part was no surprise. As a recumbent, it was definitely a more comfortable ride. The only part of me that was a little sore coming home was my legs.

The ride to Whitewater was a little disappointing. I just wasn’t keeping the speeds that I wanted to. The terrain was some of my favorite– the rural gently rolling hills of Indiana, with peaks and valleys that are often only 10 or 20 feet apart in height.

I did notice suspiciously that each new peak seemed a little higher than the last. When I arrivied at Whitewater, my average speed was lower that I would have liked: about 14 mph.

I had not been to ‘downtown’ Whitewater before that I recall. As I ride through each of the small towns around Richmond, I have almost always discovered a new General Store or cafe that I hadn’t noticed before.

Down Devil's Hollow Hill Whitewater had no such surprise waiting for me. The general store was out of business. Destinations for food and drink in Whitewater appeared to have been reduced to a Pepsi machine outside an anonymous building.

I recalled that I hadn’t had breakfast and thought that was reason enough to put my emergency energy bar into service. Perhaps this would be the key to higher speeds!

I started for home at a slow pace, emphasizing comfort and enjoyment over speed. I soon found I was cruising comfortably around 18 mph. As I turned south on Arba road, I found my speed rising. I was comfortably travelling over 20 mph, with occassional bursts towards thirty.

I realized what was happening. Although the road seemed mostly flat on my return trip, I was know finding that each new peak was a little lower than the last. I had made a gentle and deceiving climb into Whitewater, and was now enjoying the fun 10 miles ‘downhill’.

Back at home, I researched the elevations of Richmond and Whitewater to confirm my suspicions. Whitewater is 161 feet above Richmond, not counting all the micro-climbs I did to get there.

My total average speed for the 22 mile trip was about 15.5 mph. I felt good about this ending. Besides the climbing, my legs are just beginning to adjust to the new bike. My best average touring speeds on my last road bike was 18mph, carrying a lighter load.

This maiden voyage confirmed for me that my goals for my new recumbent bike are reachable: I can have a more comfortable ride without sacrificing the fun of high speed riding that I had come to enjoy on the road bike.

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