Saturday, September 22, 2007

Trip to Nova Scotia

We just got back from a 2 week tour to Nova Scotia in our RV. We went to New Brunswick (NB), Canada, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and then Nova Scotia. The scenery along the Fundy Trail in NB was breathtaking. PEI is a must for anyone traveling in that area. It is one of the most beautiful islands we visited. It has a spectacular coastline with great restaurants over looking the water. We followed the Cabot trail and stopped for whale watching. It's amazing how many Pilot whales there are.

I didn't get to do any cycling there, but was amazed at all the self-contained cyclists we saw. The coastline is very mountainous with small shoulders and no shoulder on the steep uphill grades where it becomes 2 lanes for truck passing. Anyone riding there had to have legs of steel.

We changed course heading west through Bangor, Maine on our way to New Hampshire. It was there that we had our first moose sighting. We had travelled in moose areas before and began to believe those moose crossing signs were a joke, but there on the side of the road, larger than life, was a moose. It was one of the highlights to our trip.

Finally in Gorham, NH I got to ride 10 miles on my bike. Very hilly with tiny shoulders and not bike friendly truckers. In Vermont we stumbled across a guy who made beautiful wood carvings of birds and purchased some for gifts. He also suggested visiting the Cabot Creamery, which had great cheese samplings and a very interesting tour. We finally finished our trip in the Catskills and home.

Another adventure to remember. 6 states, 3 Provinces and 2400 miles and the best traveling companion and navigator, my wife, Janie.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Laid back and loving it

Laid back and loving it
An intro to getting Bent

Marty Garnick

In 1998 I was becoming a real bike enthusiast. I road 5000mi, my most mileage in a year. I had a Bianchi road bike, which I loved but just couldn’t get quite comfortable. I swapped out the stem, seats, and tires. Still no luck. That’s when I discovered recumbents. I bought my first compact long wheelbase (CLWB). a Bikee. It was a new mass- produced recumbent, and could be found in most bike shops. It also had no learning curve. Within no time, I was riding in comfort.
Recumbents offer the rider comfort with it’s reclined large seat. No more back, butt, neck and wrist pain on long rides. It also offers a panoramic view. No more straining to keep your head up. You notice things not seen on routine rides. The only thing hurting after a long ride are your legs.

I think the reason recumbents are not more mainstream is that there are so many styles. Long wheel base (LWB), Short wheel base (SWB), Above seat steering (OSS), Under seat steering (USS), big wheels, small wheels, same wheels, different wheels, 3 wheels. It is initially confusing and intimidating. Recumbent manufactures are also smaller. Bikes are hard to find and test ride. Fortunately the WWW has made our world smaller. One great site is where you can find reviews, classifieds and general discussion groups. Another great source of information is

One misconception is recumbents are hard to ride. While some do have a small learning curve, most can be mastered in a few minutes. Be aware that “Bents” use different leg muscles than Diamond frames(DF). It takes a few months to get up to your usual speed. Recumbents are more stable at speed with their lower center of gravity. In spite of their lower height they are actually more visible to cars and are generally given a wider birth when passed. Can bents climb? Some bents climb better than others. Usually a High bottom bracket(SWB) climb better than a Low bottom bracket bike(LWB), but not always. I think climbing has to do with the motor and proper gearing. I think most road bikes are geared for Lance and not your average rider. Why do you think those heavy mountain and touring bikes climb so well.

Recumbents cost more than a standard bike. They usually start at $500 and go up depending on groupo and frame material. $800-$1500 will buy you a good quality bike. Some larger bent manufactures are building oversea with excellent quality , helping keep costs down.

Unfortunately there is nothing like a hands on test ride, and NJ has only 2 shops I know of;
Northeast recumbent, Fairfield, NJ (Very knowledgeable and helpful, good selection By appt only)
Economy bikes, Hamilton square (no info)
Jays pedal power, Philly, Pa ( Nice selection, some knowledge)

Recumbents are a great way to add to the excitement of cycling and that perpetual recumbent grin. When searching for that next bike why not consider Getting Bent.


Questions, further information and test ride of my 2 bents

Sunday, September 2, 2007

By the Seat of our Pants

*(I wrote this article 4 years ago in 2003.)

I have always wanted to do a self-contained tour. Not being able to take three months off for a trip across the country, I opted for a four-day, three-night excursion around southern New Jersey. I picked southern NJ because it’s flat and I didn’t know how well I could ride with a loaded bike. I approached my 21-year-old son, who was very excited about the idea. We decided the last week in August would fit into our schedules. I purchased a Hagstrom Southern NJ map and Geograhia Quickfinder Southern and Central laminated maps. (Very good, I might add). We decided that the state parks were the most economical way to go. We mapped out a triangle from Englishtown to Bass River to Parvin to Lebanon (now Brendan Byrne) and back home.

Over the years I have purchased tents, panniers, air mattresses and sleeping bags, all with the purpose of being light weight and easy to carry on a bike. We packed Sunday and rolled out Monday at 7:30 am with my wife and in-laws taking pictures and wishing us luck. The bikes and equipment weighed well over 50 pounds and I was a bit nervous as to how well they would handle over some hills. We were pleasantly surprised.

The bikes we used were a 2000 Rans Stratus fully equipped with fairing, fenders, rear rack, Lights, compass, and battery radio. I used Arkel 2550 cu in panniers, which are cavernous. I did not use front panniers, as I like the fairing. I also felt the bike has too much tiller up hill when riding below 5mph. I felt panniers in the front would make it worse. The other is a 2001 Rans Rocket; equipped with fenders, rear rack and computer. I had an old pair of Cannondale panniers, I use for every day and a Rans Aero bag behind the seat.
We arrived at Bass River at about 80 miles after many stops to check our maps. We set up our tents and showered and were ready for dinner. Unfortunately state parks are in secluded areas. We had to travel another seven miles to town for food. We found a local tavern and had great burgers and cold beer. The seven miles back in the dark was interesting. I must say the Cateye micro lights are quite good and we used them as flashlights too.

Tuesday, at 7:30am, we headed west to Salem county and Parvin State park. It was 20 miles before we found a place for breakfast. We were a big hit as the locals admired our loaded recumbents. Eight miles before Parvin we had lunch in town and purchased sandwiches and drinks for later. We took all the equipment out of the Aero bag and jammed them wherever we could. We lined the Aero bag with plastic and put 12 cans of drinks and a bag of ice, our own cooler. My son was having trouble handling the Rocket with the high center of gravity caused by our cooler. The front end was light and twitchy. Next time we will use an under-seat rack and panniers. At 60 miles we hit Parvin.

Wednesday we headed northeast to Lebanon. This was by far the most scenic country in the southern area. Five miles into the ride, the crank came loose on the rocket. I brought some tools, but did not have a socket to tighten it. We were in nowhere land and we knew it could be another ten miles before we reached civilization. Fortunately, we found a mobile glass shop just 3 miles down. An employee of the shop fixed our bikes and advised us of a great diner down the road. He was right and we were right on track for our quest for Lebanon. Two miles from the park it started to get dark with thunder and lightening. Just as the first few drops hit we saw a country market and tavern. We had a great lunch and then the rain had stopped. Three miles more and we had set up shop at Lebanon. 60 plus miles for the day. We later went back to the tavern for dinner. We talked with the locals who had a horseshoe contest and reminisced over our perfect day.

Thursday we headed home, a bit sad it was over, but excited about our accomplishment -- 271 miles in 4 days. Great trip, great company. An experience we will cherish forever.
In closing I would like to add, the Stratus is by far the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. It performed flawlessly. The Rocket will work for loaded touring, but needs under-seat racks for stabilization. I feel loaded touring requires 2 sets of panniers and under-seat racks are the way to go for recumbents.

My First Blog Post

Welcome to my Blog! I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences riding my recumbent around NJ.