Sunday, September 9, 2007

Long Distance Recumbents

This site is dedicated to providing you with a listing of riders who are successfully using their recumbents for long distance rides [randoneering & ultra racing]. Each rider profile is listed alphabetically and will discuss what recumbent they are riding as well as how they have set it up.

The variety of recumbents being used highlights the fact that there is no one "right" solution to long distance riding on these types of bikes. If you are new to recumbents by reading the various profiles you'll see what is working for others and hopefully get some inspiration as to what might be a good solution to your own needs. If you are an experienced recumbent rider it is hoped this site will give you some ideas that may improve your own long distance experience. If you are a long distance bent veteran with randoneering and/or ultra racing experience and wish to contribute to this site your input is welcomed.

PBP 2007 pics from Velovelo.

How to find an entry?

By rider: the entries are alphabetized using the rider's last name.

Search: you can enter any search string into the search box at the top left of the page. It will bring up any entries that match.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

David Cambon - Easy Racers Gold Rush

Hell Week 600 Start

Hell Week organizer Ken Bonner @ Finish of 600 w/ David Cambon

David is still evaluating this bike for rando use, but has a preliminary report here.

In the meantime you might want to read David's article on PBP Recumbents.

Update - here are David's thoughts after some serious miles on his bent:

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Rando experience: 22 years of on and off randonneuring including 2 Paris-Brest-Paris.

Bent Make/Model Current: Easy Racer Gold Rush.

Why did you start riding bents? I tried a Rans Rocket at a bike shop. That bike was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I bought it and I got hooked on ‘bents.

Why did you pick this model? The conventional wisdom would dictate that a laid-back hiracer or midracer or semi-lowracer would be the appropriate bike for randonneuring, due to the comfort of a laid-back seat and the lack of requirement of a fairing to achieve an aero advantage. However, I like a fairing for cold and wet weather and for sun protection in the summer. An Easy Racer is the ideal bike for a fairing.
Other things I like about the Gold Rush:
  • It’s the best climbing ‘bent I know of. The upright hardshell seat, the direct drive-side chainline and the stiff frame all add up to good climbing. Randonneuring in British Columbia is all about climbing.
  • The long wheelbase is very comfortable and makes high-speed descents a confidence-inspiring pleasure, with no scary short-wheelbase issues that some bikes have at 100 km/hr.
  • The upright seating position offers a good view, which is especially important at night when trying to spot potholes and rocks etc.
I have another Easy Racer (a Tour Easy) that I use for commuting and touring. This Gold Rush is a new bike that that I had not done a brevet with so I picked the first big rando event of the season to try the Gold Rush just so I could write this report for Vik’s blog. So I took the Gold Rush to the Vancouver Island 2008 Eau de Hell Week in mid-April.
Hell Week is an excellent way to test a bike for randonneuring. Hell Week is held very early in the season (before adequate training and butt-hardening) and Hell Week is a whole rando series in one week, so it’s a ride that is likely to produce upright seat recumbent butt if anything is going to produce recumbent butt.
Hell Week consists of a 200 km brevet immediately followed by a 300, a 400 and a 600, one day after the other. There’s plenty of tough climbing too (11,500 feet on the 300, with 15% grades and blistering downhills). I also pulled my 90 lb trailer 200 km back and forth to the start of Hell Week (one direction in 25 cm of fresh snow) and I did some bonus miles when I became horribly lost on the 400.
The only time I got recumbent butt was during a cold 60 km relentless push into a strong headwind (and salt spray!) along exposed oceanfront during the 600. The rest of Hell Week I successfully avoided recumbent butt by stretching during the downhills, occasionally lifting my butt off the seat, riding in different positions (eg, lean-forward position) and generally squirming around as much as possible.
At no time did I get recumbent butt severe enough to slow me down. The secret is the minimal padding on the carbon Cobra seat on the Gold Rush. The other secret is that you can lift your butt off the seat by pushing into the seatback.
Don’t even think about using the mesh-back (Koolback) seat for randonneuring. The carbon Cobra hardshell seat is lighter, much faster and more comfortable for marathon cycling (I have used both seats for randonneuring).
The Gold Rush is as fast on a brevet as my normal person’s bike even though it’s heavier and I have more accoutrements on the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush was more comfortable than a normal bike at Hell Week. I don’t know what it would be like at longer events. Hell Week is only 1500 km. Perhaps Peter Noris could comment (I believe Peter has a considerable amount of rando-mileage on Easy Racers).
If you want to go fast on a Gold Rush keep it light. Use a carbon Cobra seat, a carbon fork, a light stem etc (but use durable wheels – no ultralight boutique wheels for randonneuring please). The Easy Racer carbon fairing is lighter than the Zzipper fairing that I use.

Modifications from stock: I built my own rear wheel with a Mavic CXP 33 rim because I wanted a heavier rim for durability. I also put on a 9 cm 30 degree rise stem to bring the handlebars closer because I have long legs. The Velokraft fork on the Gold Rush does not use a compression plug so I put a cork in it to keep water out. The cork is from a bottle of 2004 Château Cambon La Pelouse Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois.

Lighting: DiNotte 200L AA in front, Planet Bike Super Flashes, Busch & Müller DToplight XS Permanent AA light in back, Planet Bike helmet-mount light attached to Carbon Spider visor, two spare Planet Bike headlights all with lithium batteries or rechargeables. I can’t say enough good things about the DiNotte. The Super Flashes are not waterproof and I have them sealed with electrical tape. I only use the Super Flashes when no cyclists are behind me.

Luggage: Arkel Tail Rider, Easy Racer Gold Rush frame bag.

Navigation: No navigation equipment. I tend to get lost.

Bent specific riding techniques: I remind myself to spin low gears up the hills.

Riding with other bents & DF bikes: I will sometimes ride with DF riders to chit-chat or to pace myself off them. I don’t draft when riding ‘bents. There’s no need to draft. I can go just as fast alone on my ‘bent as I can pacelining on my upright bike. It’s great not having to draft.

Eating on a bent: I stop and stuff my face at the controls. Between controls I sometimes store a PowerBar in my jersey pocket (the outside pockets are outside the edge of the Cobra seat) and I usually have a miracle drink (like Hammer Perpetuem) in one of my handlebar bottles (I have four bottle racks on the bars so I can carry more water in hot weather). I will also stop every 25 to 50 km or so and grab something out of my tail bag/rear fairing which I’ll munch on while riding.
It’s appalling but you can do all the same things at the handlebar of an Easy Racer that you can do at the steering wheel of a car (like steering with one finger, while holding a sandwich in one hand and a bottle in the other).
My actual diet while randonneuring consists of whatever sandwiches and cookies I can find supplemented by a Halloween party of candy, junk food and chocolate milk which I’m sure does nothing for my randonneuring but sure is fun.

Hydration: I like having water bottles right in front of me on the handlebar. I find hydration bladders to be a bit fiddly to fill during brevets.

Fenders: I could not get the Easy Racer carbon fender to work with the 451 front wheel without rubbing. I finally chopped off the front part of the front fender and I put a block in the wheel-opening of the fairing to keep tire spray out of my face. A full coverage front mudguard would be better (see Bicycle Quarterly Jan Heine’s comments on mudguards).
The back Easy Racer carbon mudguard works ok but of course a Honjo mudguard would be best.

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? I would get the same bike. The Gold Rush really did what I wanted it to do and let’s face it – the Gold Rush and Ti Rush are the ultimate long-wheelbase bikes. There’s nothing to improve. I will continue to experiment with different bikes for randonneuring but I have found I like being up fairly high (like on a Gold Rush) to see better in city traffic and to avoid road spray from cars and trucks, to a certain extent. If someone would come up with a 700 x 20 hiracer/midracer to suit my tastes for randonneuring, with good high-speed handling characteristics I would try that bike too.
My one quibble is that the back of my particular Gold Rush has a V-brake (for mudguard clearance). V-brakes are, of course, an evil conspiracy designed to drive cyclists insane and they make it a pain in the ass to fix flats. The Gold Rush is available with dual (front and rear) caliper brakes.
Some people don’t want to try bikes with two different sized tires. However, the reality is the front tire of an Easy Racer is very lightly loaded and tends not to attract the puncture fairy. I’ve never destroyed the front tire on an Easy Racer and I don’t carry a spare front tire. I have yet to have a flat on the front of the Gold Rush with the IRC Roadlite tire (a really nice tire, by the way).

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Drew - Cobrabikes Royale, Reynolds T-Bone & Trice S

Drew rides with the DC Randonnuers and has a nice blog with brevet and tour reports.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Glenn Druery - Velokraft Nocom

Location: Sydney Australia

Rando Experience:
  • RAAM 2005
  • RAAM 2007
  • 2003 Paris Brest Paris
  • 2007 PBP
  • 200km Audax Australia Alpine Classic LOTS of times.
  • Numerous 12hr, 24hr, race events
  • HEAPS of 600km, 400km, 300km 200km and Brevets
  • LOTS of long distance touring in Australia, France, Germany, USA, Canada, Switzerland
  • Sri Chinmoy 400km cycle race in 11hrs 57mins
  • member of:
    • the UltraMarathon Cycling Association
    • Australian Time Trials Assoc
    • Audax Australia and Waratahs CC
Bent Make/Model: Velokraft No Com & Optima Baron (not used since 04 would you like to buy it?)

Why did you start riding bents? Speed and comfort

Why did you pick this model? Speed and a very cool bike!

Modifications from stock: lights for Brevets

Lighting: 2 x Cateye 530

Fenders: none

Luggage: Storage in splitter plate cavities

Navigation: follow vehicle in RAAMs & route notes for Brevets

Riding with other bents & DF bikes: No problems

Eating on a bent: All the time

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? LOVE the speed and style of the No Com but would like a High Racer for touring

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Larry Graham - Bacchetta Aero [Ti & Carbon]

Location: Westerville Ohio, USA (central part of the state)

LD Experience:
  • Super Randonneurs on Traditional frame, Tandem (traditional/ wife) and Recumbent
  • Last Chance 1200 in 2006 w/ time of 59:08.
  • Had lowest 600km time in 2006 for RUSA of 22:14.
  • Mutable time UMCA 12 & 24 hour series champion.
  • Numerous 12 & 24 hour records.
  • Ohio E-W record of 12:34 (traditional frame record E-W is 15:40)

Bent Make/Model: Bacchetta Ti Aero, Bacchetta CarbonAero

Why did you start riding bents? I started riding recumbents to go racing and to break a cycling record. I noticed that the recumbent records seemed reasonably obtainable.

Why did you pick this model? This bike picked me. I started out on a borrowed Rans V-Rex. I then worked with a local enthusiast that wanted to make recumbent frames. I helped him with some design and most of the testing. I rode one of the early prototypes to a class record at the Sebring 24 hour drafting class in 2005 of 412.5miles (overall drafting class winner). Before the race the builder and I had a falling out over direction of the project. This was going to be a one race deal. Team Bacchetta was at the Sebring race and I finished second to Jim Kern. Afterward I went up to Rich Pinto and stated “I’m Larry Graham and I’m looking to buy a bike”. Rick’s response was “Your Larry Graham! Did you really ride 425 miles on a V-Rex at the New England 24?” “Call me when you get back home”. I’ve been with them every since.

Modifications from stock? Reynolds aero fork. Teracycles idler. Bar end shifters. Zipp 404 wheels (the rear is used on hilly and wind less races) Renn rear disc. My own designed headrest. Tektro reverse mount front brake. Shimano external Bottom bracket crank with TA and FSA chain rings. Sram brake levers. Vintage Shimano front derailleur.
The Ti Aero is set up more for training and Brevets; The CarbonAero is more for races and fast ultra events.

Lighting: I use an old Nightrider Digital Headtrip with custom batteries as a helmet light. I have a Cateye LED mounted to the bike with a Teracycles light mount. Cateye tail light mounted to my headrest.

Fenders: With a solid seat I don’t use fenders, but I have set up a SKS quick mount fender just in case.

Luggage: I use a Bacchetta All in One bag if I want to use a lager water bladder or the Bacchetta Brain Box if I am using water bottles primarily.

Navigation: I use a Garmin 60csx with my own custom mount for Brevets.

Bent specific riding techniques: I’ve learned how to climb better with the right use of power, cadence, and gearing. I’ve learned what My strengths and weaknesses are. It's important to learn what your bike is capable of and what’s it not.

Riding with other bents and DFs: Learning to ride with DF’s is a challenge. It is important that the recumbent rider take a positive approach. Don’t force yourself in where you are not wanted. But then again don’t shy away from jumping into the mix. I try to find the shortest person in a rotating pace line and tell them that they will get a great draft off me and they will be able to see right over me. Just stay tight. I prove that I can ride straight and that I know that I’m doing. I take my pulls unless I’m in the way. Then I’ll just hang at the back and let riders falling back in line that is clear to do so. I try extra hard to be friendly and positive riding a recumbent. I will often do a “Demo” of how fast a recumbent can climb, sprint or pull the group. By the second or third time riding with a group, I’m generally accepted.

Eating on a bent: I have two bottle mounts on the bike with the option of a third. For ultra events and races I am on a liquid diet. For Brevets I just eat what I find along the route along with some of what I race with. Hammer Nutrition Products mostly.

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? I’m lucky in that I can ride anything that I want. To do what I’m doing, the Bacchetta can’t be beat. It does everything that I could ever hope from a bicycle. Now, if I decide to tour across the country fully loaded, I have a friend that has a Ryan Vanguard that would be first on my list to take. If I ever get the chance to race in RAAM, you can be assured that it will be on a Bacchetta. I really think that the 650c wheel setup on the Bacchetta is a great compromise, I like to ride a bike that was built with 700c wheels. If for no other reason for the simplicity of tire and gearing choices.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Peter Heal - Lizard DIY Bents

Location: Canberra Australia

Rando Experience:
Been doing reasonably long rides for last 20 years. Started riding Audax Randonees seriously in 2004 and became addicted. 2004 – Rode 18,000km. Completed 2 x Super Series. Completed the Great Southern Randonee 1,200km in Victoria Australia. 2005 – Rode 16,000km and completed 1 x Super Series. 2006 – Rode 20,000km. Completed 2 x Super Series. Completed the Perth Albany Perth 1,200km event in Western Australia and a 1,000km event. 2007 – Aiming for 18,000km. Complete 1 x Super Series. Last minute decision to do PBP paid off with completion in poor conditions.

Bent Make/Model:
I generally ride my own self-built Lizard steel two wheeler quasi lowracer recumbents. Did almost 20,000km on my white Lizard. I am currently riding a dual 406 bike for most commuting and Audax rides. This bike was a project to make a lightweight steel bike and turned out fairly well at 11kg complete. I have a couple of Velokrafts in the fleet. Wouldn’t think of using the NoCom on an Audax ride. The VK2 is a nice bike and speeds are matched with the dual 406 bike. I haven’t ridden the VK2 more than 200km due to the Hamster Handlebar position resulting in sore elbows. No such pain on the U-bar position for me.
Why did you start riding bents? I have been building bike frames since around 1989 and built my first bent in 1997 or so. I had an injured disc in my back at the time which was part of the reason, but I also had experience with the technical intricacies and speed benefits of tandems. Recumbents gave me the same kick of tandems. I’m up to about 15 recumbent builds and every one has been different and hopefully an improvement over previous versions.

Why did you pick this model? The bent 1.75” main tube was the lightest that could be bent to mimic the lines of Barons and similar. Dual small wheels and tucked in rear end to minimise weight, make airline transport a bit easier and limit spare tyres etc to be carried. This was the first time with a hard shell seat for me as previously I had always used mesh. Seat was hot and uncomfortable until I discovered Ventisit pads – hallelujah!

Modifications from stock: The Orange bike has Capreo rear hub and cassette with a 9-26 spread. This enables me to use a standard size road triple up front and still get low and high enough gears for Randos and touring without extreme chainrings. Lightweight again! Bike has a Velokraft carbon seat and fork – very nice.

Lighting: Have used SON hub and E6 light but found a simpler and much lighter set up by building my own lights using Luxeon 3 watt LED’s and a simple pack of three alkaline c-cells. These run at least 18 hours and have the equivalent beam of the E6 without the weight of the hub. Two 3 watt Luxeons and battery packs weigh half the extra weight of the SON hub.

Fenders: I like these to keep stuff like “giant PBP slugs” and worms off the bike but find that it is the spray from the tyre contact point that gets you wet on a bent. A simple corflute guard zip tied to main tube in front of seat handles most wet day issues and can be removed quickly. My seat bag keep the spray from rear wheel from going down the back of my neck.

Luggage: What else? Self built seat bag and under seat bags custom fit the current bike. The seat bag is probably too big but that doesn’t matter on a bent as you can just be less critical in packing stuff. The seat bag alone would have been enough for PBP. Holds my 2 litre water bladder, pump, tubes, tools, jacket, thermals, space blanket, first aid food etc.

Navigation: Started using a mapping GPS (Garmin Etrex Vista) in 2006 and find it very good for just checking my otherwise pretty good navigation skills. I anguished over whether to buy the pricey French map-set before PBP and my French trip. I was so glad I did. On PBP having the accurate official course loaded enabled me to make sure I was on the correct route and when the normal computer magnet jumped ship it gave me distances and average speeds etc. This was very helpful when the lads turned the signs during the first night of PBP. Would like to upgrade to a colour screen version soon.

Bent specific riding techniques: Depends on the distance involved. On most local rides the number of participants is very low and I’m the only bent, so others usually say goodbye to me at the start. I generally average 22kmh elapsed including stops for rides where there are no sleeps. Spin, ride own pace, coast all downhills.

Riding with other bents & DF bikes: The disparity between different platforms usually means I’m riding by myself. I try to stay with them – honest, but DF’s are just so darn slow on the flats and downhills. Usually well ahead by the time I reach the hills, so they think I am a great climber too. It would be so nice to have a recumbent rider of similar fitness, speed and mental deficit as me to ride along with but that’s not going to happen.

Eating on a bent: Eating is good. I nibble from food in my waist bag or jersey pockets and have big meals at controls. I’m a real food man and don’t really get into liquid food and supplements. Hmmm pasta….. Carrying more food than I really need has always paid off.

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? What’s the perfect recumbent for Randonees? That’s hard. I think the 406/700c rear drive setup is ideal. Visibility is important. The big rear wheel seems to add some speed at the top end. Dual 406 wheels are a compromise. The bike doesn’t need to be extremely low. The VK2 has too high a bottom bracket I feel and the hamster bars don’t suit me. A functional tailbox is very useful. Main reasons being increasing rearwards visibility and for carrying all the junk. A tailbox adds a viable speed advantage in my experience over a long distance ride. Even if it doesn’t mean you are going faster, you will be using less energy. Curved corflute tailboxes have been successful for me although purists turn up their noses at the unrefined appearance. I’ll be building a hybrid foam and fibreglass “curved and beautiful” tailbox soon that will hopefully meet all the criteria.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Joe Keenan - Bacchetta Giro 20 & RANS V-Rex

Location: Home is Portland Oregon but living in Shanghai China 10 months of the year.

Rando Experience: Started in late 2001 because I enjoy long distance cycling. Complete full SR series in 2003.

Bent Make/Model Current: '06 Bacchetta Giro 20 & '98 V-Rex customized with Bacchetta seat and handlebars along with S&S couplers for traveling. SOLD: '99 Bike Friday SAT R DAY, '03 Bacchetta Strada

Why did you start riding bents?
Bad back and hurt like crazy to pedal uphill on a DF. Fellow DF member said: "You might try a recumbent".
- why did you pick this model Bought a '98 V-Rex in the fall of 1998. Few companies then. After much internet discussion it seemed like the best bang for the buck. Glad I bought it.

Modifications from stock:
Exchanged RANS seat for Bacchetta EuroMesh seat. Changed rear cogset to an 11-34 along with small ring to a 26. Changed RANS handlebars for Bacchetta "tweener" handlebars.

Lighting: Basic lighting is a Cateye EL500 and a Cateye Power OptiCube. On Rando rides use a Petzl Duo Headlamp. Rear or standard Planet Bike tail lights. - fenders Stock Rans and Bacchetta fenders.

Luggage: Bacchetta OFA and Brain Box bags supplemented with Fastback Norback tool pack.

Navigation: Cateye Seven Wireless and a Garmin Foretrex 101.

Bent specific riding techniques:
On long rides I simply pick gears that let me know I'm working but not exerting and I don't care what speed it is.

Eating/drinking on a bent: Gatorade only. On rides less than 300K I will use only Gatorade and GU. No foods of any kind. On rides of 300K or longer, I will only consume SPIZ.

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? I'm happy with my current steeds, BUT if I was go buy a bent for strictly rando or long rides, I would go test ride a LWB faired bent (i.e. Tie Rush or Gold Rush or the new Rans V3) If I stayed with a SWB, I'd look at the Titanium Aero Basso. My main objective would be which bent climbs best and that's the one I'd use for rando rides. For strictly social rides or fun rides, I'm staying with my Grio20 and modified V-Rex. If I wanted as fast as I could go rec or social rides, I'd go to a Bacchetta Corsa and would also consider that for rando rides.