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High Racer – From Upright to Recumbent

Taken from the blog:

Recumbents are for old people…They’re not real bikes…

These are the types of depressing messages that bounced around my head in the fall of 2013 as I sat across from my third physical therapist discussing how there was nothing else he could do for me and I should consider riding a different kind of bike.

A lot has happened since that idea was placed in my head and I believe it may be valuable information for a few of you dedicated road cyclists out there who are struggling with your own bodies in rebellion.  Happily, I’m still putting at least 3,000 miles a year on the road and I’m still leaving all my work stress on the pavement – a critically necessary process for me and my family.

Amazingly, I’m doing much better than just getting in miles.  I’m still watching my data on Strava, still pushing myself for new PR’s, and occasionally I’m getting into some top 10’s on certain segments.  In short, I’m still having every bit as much fun exploring the mountains and farm roads of Maryland perched upon a miracle of physics and machinery.

My intent for this site is to share some facts, based in cold, hard data, for those of you that may have to be considering an alternative to the standard upright road bike.  Take comfort, my friends.  Your life on the open road is not over, you just need a slight change of perspective and geometry.  Believe me, it’ll be worth it.

The head picture of my blog is my own bike – the Schlitter Encore.  Let’s state the obvious – it’s a recumbent bike.  But the world of recumbent bikes is a far broader and wilder jungle than upright bikes.  The differences between upright road bikes is a very thin margin. Sure, you can tell the difference between the ride on a steel, or an aluminum, or a carbon bike. Sure, a nice set of wheels makes a big difference.  Components?  Yep, you can tell a difference in that shift.  But lumping all recumbents together in a single category would be the same as lumping a high end carbon road bike with a low end fat tire beach cruiser.  All that will result in this is a complete misunderstanding of the world of recumbents and their possibility.

I’ll admit right up front, I am not a recumbent expert by any means.  I’ve only had about one and a half years of experience with them and that time has been spent only on a single style of recumbent called the High Racer.  I’ve never ridden a different type so I am fairly ignorant to what the other experiences might be.  But I do have a very good feel for the difference between an upright road bike and a high racer and that’s what this blog is about.

So, let’s start to get into it.  Is your body telling you in subtle or obvious ways that it’s mad at you?  Is it telling you to stop what you’re doing on that bike?  It could come in so many different forms – sore back, stiff shoulders and neck, sore hips, tender hamstring/pelvis connectors, hurting knees, sore feet, just about anything.  Well, in the fall of 2013 my body was not just telling me something, it started screaming it and there was no way I couldn’t listen.  When you get to the point that you can’t sit at work, have to stand up during conference calls, can’t sit on your own couch at home and have to lay down on the floor, then believe me, you begin to really listen.

This is where I found myself.  It was the beginning of a lot of research, try, fail, try again, change, change again, rinse and repeat.  I’d like to share the story with you in hopes that it might help just a few or bring a small amount of comfort to anyone else swimming hard upstream to stay on two wheels.  I hope you enjoy…

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