Learning to Ride a USS LWB Recumbent
Some thoughts on the transition from riding a diamond frame to a LWB USS recumbent:
1. Stop pulling with your arms. Yes, this was useful on your other bike but it is not useful if you have under seat steering. Learning to relax your arms and upper body is a key to comfortable riding.
2. Yes, you need to spin like Lance. Spinning saves your knees and gets you up steep hills. I know you think you were spinning on your old bike but you have just moved up to the big leagues of spinning. 80 revolutions per minute is OK but you should be shooting for a 100 now. You won't be able to stomp on the pedals and go over a hill for quite a while.
3. Be patient with yourself. You are leaning to ride again. This is the time to feel like a kid and enjoy every moment of this new experience. Old roads will look new and old pains will slowly go away soon you will be riding pain free.
4. Muscles develop slowly so be patient. It takes about a year for your unused muscles to develop. So don't be discouraged if your knees are telling you that this is enough for today and it is not what you wanted to do. Just marvel at how good you feel when you are on the bike and that when you get off only your legs are tired. There is no back, neck, hand, or butt pain.
5. Slow speed stability takes a little practice but will come fairly quickly. This is an important skill for climbing steep hills. You will be practicing it but practice is more fun if it is done before you start that mountain tour. Falling over even if your friends aren't there is no fun.
6. Yes, big heavy recumbents can climb mountains but not usually fast. Out of the box most bikes are not any more ready for the mountains than your beginners knees. XT Mountain Gearing (22 on the front and 34 on the back) will do it just fine if you have learned to spin and you are patient.
7. Climbing mountains on a LWB recumbent is a time to enjoy nature. You will be surprised at all the things you can see as you zip along at 3 1/2 MPH (remember, I said low speed stability would be important). You can observe the birds circling above and wonder what type of predator they might be. Or, you can watch ants as they build their mounds along the side of the road. You will learn to love the mountains not just because of the view but because no one can believe you made it to the top.
8. LWB recumbents become a force of nature as they descend. They are the closest that most of us will come to riding a luge. Now you will value that long wheelbase and plush ride. Yes, they are stable and fast on descents, but as you approach the sound barrier caution is advised. It is also nice if you have kept your brakes adjusted and are able to stop before entering the intersection with a red light at the bottom of the hill.
9. Nothing is hard if you aren't in a hurry and Nothing destroys a good ride like time pressure. Try to let those other thoughts slide away as you ride and enjoy the moment.
10. While you are riding occasionally look up at the sky and remember that your world is not the road. The road is under your tires. The world is out there in front of you waiting to be enjoyed.
11. Each season especially your first, miles will come before speed. I know this is the opposite of your experience riding a diamond frame. But the miles come from relaxed, pain free riding and speed comes as your new recumbent muscles build. The speed will seem to come slowly, but it will come if you ride.
12. When the ride is over, just sit for a moment in the seat of your LWB USS recumbent and think how comfortable it feels. Notice that your neck and hands don't hurt. Remember all of that you have seen now that you aren't looking at the road as you ride. Smile to your self but don't tell your friends, I am not sure it would be as much fun if they weren't suffering.
Also, see Why I Ride a LWB USS Recumbent