Thursday, August 19, 2010

Future bikes

Back in the distant past when I used to ride my red racing bike to Brittany in summer, I would cover the distance of some 500 kilometers in two days. This meant that I would average about 25 km/hour, and simply stay on the bike for a total of ten hours a day. I would stay overnight in a hotel. I carried almost nothing with me on the bike, apart from a bit of food. So, this excursion was only possible when I could join up with Christine in Brittany, where I could wash my sweaty clothes and find replacement clothes for wandering around the Rufflet property for a few days before heading back to Paris.

The only danger, in the context of this excursion, would have been rain… but I don't recall ever encountering this problem. In those days, there was a set of pleasant country roads between Paris and St-Brieuc… but they seem to have disappeared mysteriously since then. I don't have the facts on hand, and I don't claim to understand what exactly has happened, but the roads between Paris and Brittany appear to have become packed with speeding automobiles, which would make such an excursion unthinkable today.

I remember that the most difficult part of the excursion was getting back onto the bike on the second morning. It's amazing that such a machine can bring about a sore bum in such a stealthy but total fashion. You don't feel the soreness creeping up on you during the first day. It's a binary phenomenon, which simply switches on overnight. And the funny thing is that, on the second morning, the soreness quickly disappears. I don't know whether researchers have written doctoral theses on this subject, but it's really quite intriguing.

These memories reoccurred to me when I came upon this photo of a so-called recumbent bicycle, designed in Japan:

[Click the photo to see other images.]

Maybe this is the ultimate solution to the sore-bum problem that besets casual cyclists. But I can't help wondering what the rider's abdominal region would feel like after a day on such a machine. Is there a risk of falling asleep when gliding freely down the slopes? Besides, I have a gut feeling (no pun intended) that a cyclist can only use his legs efficiently if he's in a seated position on his bicycle. But I'm prepared to agree that this feeling could well be false.

Unfortunately, since the beginning of my rural life at Gamone, I've never really got involved in cycling. The basic problem, here, is that there are simply too many slopes.

ADDENDUM: I've just come upon an intriguing article entitled Apple Patents the iBike [display], suggesting that "our favorite Cupertino company could be getting into the bike business — the smart bike business".

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