Friday afternoon, I took the bike out on quiet streets and rode a 1/4 mile stretch back and forth about 20 times, starting and stopping. Unlike Illinois, there are no flat areas around here, so I got plenty of practice starting on hills. After about half an hour, I wrote the 2 miles round trip to my children's school and back as well as another jaunt for another 2 miles in the neighborhood. I was getting pretty good although I was pretty exhausted as well.
On Saturday, I took the bike out for a standard 9 mile ride. I averaged 10.5 mph and dealt with grades of about 6-7% with no problem. It was already clear to me at this point that I am going to like this bicycle. On Sunday, I did an 11 mile ride (similar path to Saturday's ride with an extra loop) averaging 11.5 mph. I was quite tired at the end, but that was a very enjoyable ride.
Monday was a vacation day from work, and Kate (my wife) and kids came a long for a ride (I pulled both kids in a trailer). You can see the ride and stats here. Pulling the kids, I only averaged 9.5 mph for a 9 mile ride (this is pretty normal for me pulling both of them). The Sofrider comes with a double front crank (48-34) and an 11-34 cassette. The cassette has enough range, but I was worried that the front crank didn't. After pulling the kids up the hills, I went ahead and ordered a triple crank (48-36-26) that I think will make the hills much easier.
Now that I've ridden the bike about 40 miles, here are my impressions:
- I like it a lot. It's a lot of fun and I find it much more comfortable than my folding bike and quite a bit more comfortable than my "comfort" bike.
- As far as my legs go, I can tell I use different muscles than my upright bicycle and even a bit different than my long wheel base recumbent bike. My forearms and shoulders were (the good kind of) sore after my Sunday and Monday rides, so this is using my upper body more.
- It is a front-wheel steering bike like almost all others. But it almost feels like a rear wheel steering bike. I think that this is because I am sitting so close to the steering pivit point and suspect this is probably true of short wheel base recumbent bicycles in general (but this is the only one I've ever ridden).
- If you are riding and feel like you are losing control, take your feet off of the pedals.