Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Friday, 2014.10.31
Stult's Report: Our problems are mostly behind us. What we have to do now is fight the solutions.

2007.03.25

WhaaaaaaaaaaHOOOOOOOO!

The Sammy Flyer has arrived!

Sammy Flyer 1

Here she is just before her first test ride. The bike arrived a couple of weeks ago, sans one key part which had to be sent separately. While waiting for the part, I assembled the pieces and tuned as best I could. I recognized all the parts, the the sum is rather alien, however.

Cool. But what the heck is that thing?

It’s a Linear Recumbent 3.0 bicycle custom built to fit my frame. In fact, it’s the second 3.0 Linear Recumbent built.

After Janet died, sitting amidst the wreckage of what had been our life together, I made a promise to myself that I would no longer accept, in so far as it was possible, living as a 6′ 5″ man in a world built for 5′ 6″ people. I began by replacing my wardrobe with clothes designed to look good on a frame my size. That’s expensive enough, but it wouldn’t stop there. When I decided to find a bike that fit, I was willing to go custom there, too. But there was more.

When the quest for a bike began, I had been studying cello for all of one month. This made the traditional bike design out of the question. After even relatively short rides, my neck would hurt from having to essentially tilt my head back as far as it would go just to look straight ahead, my lower back would hurt from compensating for the odd angle of my neck, my hands and wrists would be close to numb and my ass would hurt from the crappy seat design (all the seat designs were crappy for a guy my size.) All of these things are very bad for the emerging cellist.

I had seen a recumbent bike in an REI store sometime in the mid 1990’s. By then Janet was already fighting breast cancer and a $750 bike was just beyond reach. Didn’t matter anyway. The thing was waaaaaaay to small for my frame. I don’t remember the model, but it really was designed for someone around 5 feet tall. But it left an impression. “Someone must make one for my size frame,” I thought.

I don’t remember when or how I found Linear. But when I did, the recognition was instantaneous. “That’s it! That’s the bike for me!” When I met the opportunity to act on the dream, I made the call. That was 18 months ago. The original Linear company had been bought out by the folks at The Bicycle Man in Alford Station, New York, and they took it upon themselves to improve the design. And that pretty much explains the past 18 months. At least once a month I would call Peter Stull to find out how his re-engineering was progressing. Almost to a fault, Peter would explain what he was doing, how the testing was going, what the design, engineering or production problems were. But I say “almost.” A few times I called just for a quick update as I was between meetings or some such, but he always managed to keep me on the line for 15-20 minutes. Truly, I enjoyed these conversations.

First Test Ride

Simply put, the most fun I’ve had on two wheels since the gurney races in the long gone “catacombs” between Craig and Swedish Hospitals in the early 1980’s (That turn into the ramp just before the boiler room was tricky!) WhaaaaaaaaaaHOOOOOOOO!

Here she is, post ride – a 12 mile ride along the Highline Canal Trail.

Sammy Flyer 2

There are a few new things to learn about riding a recumbent, particularly if the bike has below the set steering. Your balance is different because the center of gravity isn’t what you are used to with a regular bike. The mere act of peddling seems to throw the rider in a constant state of imbalance. That is, until you get the hang of it. I found I was making constant micro adjustments to the steering as I rode just to keep in balance. I suppose that happens with a regular bike, but not in the same way. No big deal, and this may change as my body gets more familiar with what it feels like to ride this bike and how to keep my balance.

There are a few design changes I would like to make to the bike, perhaps in concert with Peter. There is great potential to make this a long distance buggy par excellence. This is not a bike for racing. It’s designed and built for comfort, not for speed. It’s built to carry the rider great distances in relative comfort.

And so it did. Following my 12 mile maiden ride, the only thing that hurt were my thighs. And that’s what I expected. No neck pain. No wrist and hand pain. No lower back pain. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet!

The Sammy Flyer?

The Christmas before last, my brother-in-law, Roy, and his stellar wife, Amy, sent along some cash to help me in my quest for The Bike. I told them this secured for them the naming rights for The Bike. And so it is named after my charming niece, Samantha, or “Sammy.”

I’m working on a more thorough review to be posted. But I just had to get this sneak preview out.

WhaaaaaaaaaaHOOOOOOOO!