Why is it that people’s first reaction to a lot of my riding or any suggestions about riding is “you can’t do that”. There are unspoken preconceptions of what you can and cannot do on a bike, and even what is “normal” to do on a bike.
In general, riding more than 5km is not “normal” on a bike, riding fast is not “normal” on a bike, riding for more than like and hour is not “normal”, folding a bike and taking it on the bus is not “normal”. The list goes on and on, but I will spare you the rambling.
So this comes down to a problem of how we define “normal”.
For most people, this is how it comes out. They don’t do those things like that, so why would anyone else.
Well, here are some of the things that people do on bikes that are slightly out of the ordinary.
A recent post on Taiwan in Cycles talked out Jure Robic, a Slovene who is considered to possibly be the world’s greatest endurance athlete. The picture above is him after 2,530 miles and 7 days, 9 hours and twenty minutes on the bike. In that time he only got 9 hours sleep and consumed a mind boggling 100,000 calories. At a different time he set a 24 hours riding record of 834.7 km.
The article in the New York Times outlines the metal breakdown he goes through in his attempts at RAAM, a non-stop race across the USA.
Definitely not “normal”
Speed & Distance
Bicycles are usually considered fairly slow, but here are some figures…
- 200m flying start record (HPV): 132 km/h
- downhill speed record (on snow): 210 km/h
- 24 hour distance record (HPV): 1041.25 km
These are all records that were set on human power alone. The reality is that these were all achieved with very specialized bicycles and in perfect conditions, which might lead you to discredit them.
But not so fast, because the entire Human Powered Vehicle crowd are basically University students and people who do it as a hobby. There are no big sponsorships and to use a computing metaphor is closer to the open source crowd than to the battles of the big names.
Big Stuff Transport
Let’s get a little more practical. Moving big stuff is often a reason for cars, but just like trucks are specialized motorized vehicles more moving lots of stuff, so there are also bike for doing the same thing.
Introducing the Long John. Nope, not a pair of underwear to keep your precious bits warm in the winter, but a bike for hauling big things, typically up to 120 kg or so.
Not for long distances probably, but definitely convenient for errands.
As a parent of two, one of my main struggles is with just how to take the kids along on rides. Oftentimes it is just me by myself, so I need to be able to get both on one bike.
My solution is to take a very standard production bike, put a kid seat on the back and another one between the seat and handlebars. It works, but does lack a bit of comfort for longer rides, which is where my other favorite kind of bike kicks in.
The cargo bike is designed with a very long tail, which adds stability when putting lots of weight over the rear end of the bike.
Take Them Anywhere
And finally, if you really need to take a bike with you and are short of space, something like the little guy below fold really tiny and can take you short distances.