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Recumbent What IS that thing?! Recumbents may be odd looking, but they have many advantages over a "wedgie" bicycle. Discuss the in's and out's recumbent lifestyle in the recumbent forum.

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Old 08-18-03, 12:05 AM   #1
John C. Ratliff
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I need help convincing wife on recumbant

This is a plea for help from you to convince my wife about my decision to buy a recumbant. I have been looking at, and test riding, recumbant bicycles for five years. I've ridden the Trek recumbant, Vision R40, several Rans models, the BikeE (several models), and Burley's Limbo and Django.

Several years ago, I was involved in an accident where I got "T" boned by an SUV who turned in front of me in a bike lane. I was going straight, and had just come down a hill on my Trek 1420 road bike that I use for commuting. I had just gone through a green light that usually stopped me, and looked down to see how fast I was going (still over 20 mph). When I looked up, all I saw was red; it was the side of an SUV directly in front of me. I pushed the bicycle into the side of the SUV, and bailed out to the rear, kicking to ensure that I did not go under the vehicle. I ended up with a lot of scrapes, and a badly bruised right thigh where my leg hit the top tube as I dismounted. I went to the hospital for observation, was held a couple of hours, and released.

I began looking at recumbants more earnestly because had I been in a recumbant, I probably would not have been looking down at the critical time, and figured I could have better monitored the road. My wife was not thrilled about a recumbant, job situation was unsettling, and things were such that I simply continued looking at recumbants when I got the chance.

A little over a year ago, I had a second accident. In this one, the last thing Ib remember was signaling for a left turn approaching a "T" intersection downhill on the long side of the "T". There were several side streets, and after a thorough analysis (I work in the safety field), determined that apparently I was looking backward to clear myself, when someone came out directly in front of me. It is possible that my front tire actually touched the car's side or bumper, but I cannot be sure as there were no marks. I do know that I tried to brake, and sprained my left thumb doing so from the top of the bars (I was on a ten-speed road bike, a Schwinn LeTour). The bruises showed that I had tucked my head, but that I most likely came down directly on my head as my helmet was crushed on the right side near my temple area, and broke into a dozen or so pieces. I received a laceration an the top of my head, probably from a secondary impact.

Now, my hunt for a recumbant became much more pitched, as if I was in a recumbant, I would have had a rear-view mirror (necessary on recumbants; I was not using one as I was following advise from John Forrester's book, Effective Cycling , advise I now do not believe). Every week for over a month I needed to go to the hospital to get a large bruised area on my right hip drained. When I did, I took the afternoon off and after the procedure, went to the LBS specializing in recumbants to test ride some. One stood out, a Rans Stratus. I almost purchased it, but we still had kids in college, and had just moved, so things were still pretty tight financially. But I told myself, one more time and I would buy a recumbant.

Now, that third accident has occurred. I was riding a bicycle path on my Trek 1420, when parallel cracks in the roadway's wooden structure (we were over a wetland) trapped my wheel at low speed, and dumped me head first onto the path over the handlebars. This time, the only injury was a slightly sprained wrist (the City of Hillsboro has been very good about paying for a new wheel, and fixing the path's problem too).

But after this one, I found out that the Stratus was still available, and I put money down on it. When I told my wife, she was not convinced. She doesn't agree with my assessment (she's a skeptical scientific type in the medical field), and thinks that upright bicycles are safer in traffic. I was about to purchase the Rans Stratus, and then decided to do some more test riding in traffic with a SWB recumbant (the Burley Django). I was not impressed with the Django's high bottom bracket in traffic situations, and so I'm back to the Stratus.

I'm now, as a safety professional, becoming aware of the social pressures to do things that one knows are not as safe, because of the attitude of those who you care about interferring with my better judgement. It did not help my arguments with my wife that those who work in the LBS which sells recumbants all when home the other evening on upright bicycles.

So my question to you who do ride recumbants are these:

--What is your experience in traffic?
--After three accidents that I feel could have been prevented on a recumbant, is there any other approach to deal with my wife's skepism?
--Do you have any other thoughts?

I would really, really appreciate your thoughts here.

John
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Old 08-18-03, 11:01 AM   #2
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Recumbents have a higher wobble at low speeds than DF (diamond frame)
bikes. Expect to take 200-400miles before your control is good enough for
low wobble takeoffs. Recumbents do not start well uphill, you can't stand
to build momentum, hence the wobble factor is even greater. My wobble on
a Rotator pursuit initially was upto 5ft (peak to peak sideways), now it is only
a little more than the DF wobble. You can't do a header on a recumbent. It is
a good idea to use platform or BMX pedals for the first few hundred miles, clipping in while starting up can be frustrating to the new bent rider. If you commute in rain, you really need fenders, those smaller wheels spin faster and throw huge rooster tails. In theory lower bents have less visibility but I
have stopped worrying about that, it seems to make no difference, ditto with
dogs, haven't been a problem except for one overly friendly hound who slimed my arm trying to get petted at 16mph. Steve
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Old 08-18-03, 02:09 PM   #3
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you seem to have done the homework, you know the saftey issues for 'bents, Go for it. you will not be sorry. The Stratus is a sweet bike! today on alt.rec.bicycles.recumbent news group Ed wong posted:
"Today my club the Florida Freewheelers hosted a membership drive on
one of our local multi use trails, the Seminole Wekaiva Trail.
Several miles up the trail, several members were setting up a tent,
tables, etc. with soft drinks, water, Gatorade, brochures to hand out
to the riders in the local area.

It was a perfect morning and the trail is absolutely beautiful. There
were a total of three bents; a Vision V50, a RANS Screamer and yours
truly on his humble Scooterbike amongst 60-70 or more uprights. We
had a mass start and over the miles we thinned out into smaller
groups. As my group approached the north end of the trail in Lake
Mary, one of our members who was riding his carbon Trek road bike had
a mishap. We passed in the opposite direction two gentlemen riding
their upright road bikes. They were riding two abreast but close
togather and as far right as practicable so they were OK.

It seems that my fellow club member who was probably 30-40 feet behind
me was not watching the bike traffic coming in the opposite direction.
He was hunched over his drop bars and had momentarily concentrated
his attention on his cyclometer when he collided head on with one of
the two gentlemen we passed a couple of seconds earlier. I heard a
sickening crunch sound and as I looked in my rear view mirror, they
were still falling to the ground. I yelled out to my fellow riders
that we had an accident. There were several more club members behind
us and stopped to help our friend. It didn't look good for our guy.
The other man was shaken up and upset more than anything else. He was
not injured but our friend was in very bad shape. He couldn't move or
feel his lower extremities. He also had a bad gash over one of his
eyebrows. Someone in the group called 911 to have an ambulance
dispatched. They got there in under 10 minutes and proceeded to
secure him to put him in the ambulance. I pray that he will be
alright and recover soon.

Now I know it's not proper at this time to preach the advantage of
being able to see better on a recumbent than hunched over a handlebar
on an upright but darn if this alone is one of the best reasons why I
ride a recumbent. We have had several accidents in the club from
people who've collided with others just because they were not holding
their heads up enough to avoid causing the accident. Last year, a
young racer met his death in South Florida when he collided with the
back end of a truck during a training ride. It is speculated he was
not looking ahead far enough to avoid the collision. Combine that
with fast speeds those guys were going and you have the makings of bad
things that can go wrong instantly.

Next time someone asks you questions about your bent and why you ride
one, be sure to highlight the safety advantages of a recumbent. You
could be doing someone and yourself a great service.

Be careful out there.

Edward Wong
Orlando, FL"
hope this helps
Larry in Leduc CbikeE CT AT
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Old 08-18-03, 05:01 PM   #4
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Their are several advantages for the bent, IMHO.

1. Head is in a natural looking ahead position. 2. Head is closer to the ground. 3. Feet and legs would impact an object before the head in a head on collison. 4. A fall to the side, the seat can take some of the impact. 5. On Above Seat Steering, Looking at the computer still gives plenty of vision ahead (I took my computer off last year). All the information the computer could provide was not worth the risk of one accident. 6. Braking for long steep downhills allows me to go at 4 MPH if I desire since my arms do not get tired braking for long distances. This is really more of a plus than it sounds on paper. 7. Feet and legs hold you in place while braking. 8. Easier and less distracting to check mirror. I have a very large mirrow on my ASS RANS Rocket. 9. I pay far more attention to the road ahead instead of the road as it goes by the bottom bracket. Ran over a box turtle one time when I was not looking ahead. This kind of thing never happens on the bent. 10. Less fatigue which leads to better concentration.

Downsides: 1. Harder to see over cars. 2. Can not bunny hop sideways/over obstacles to avoid a road hazard. 3. Harder to swing steer around a small obstacle in the road. On the bent you usually see them earilier and can avoid them. 4. Butt takes more of the bumps than legs. 5. Diamond frame travels better on gravel, sand, road debris. 6. DF's are easier to start from a dead stop especially up hill.

Probably everyone could think of things I missed. Overall, I think the Bent is safer than the diamond frame. I am slower on my bent because we have so many hills to climb. I do not mind since I am so much more comfortable.
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Old 08-21-03, 12:17 AM   #5
John C. Ratliff
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Thanks to all who replied. I'll print these off soon, and show them to my wife soon. I'd welcome any other replies too.

John
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Old 08-21-03, 05:05 AM   #6
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This is quite interesting reading all this info on recumbents or bents as you call it. I was just wondering, cause I ride a df, what is the difference like with the widths, cause where I ride there is no cycle paths and generally no road shoulder to ride on. Does that matter with a recumbent or not.
Cheers-Andrew
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Old 10-29-03, 07:55 PM   #7
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Recumbent width vs. DF

Actually I have not thought about the difference in width. After getting use to the bent they will take up the same amount of room on the shoulder and where I live I have noticed the cars giving me more room than when I was on a DF. I guess they think I am handicapped and in a wheel chair!!! Although a fast moving one!

Rick
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Old 10-29-03, 11:08 PM   #8
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You're safer on a recumbent by far!

Rider's center of gravity (DF): well above the wheels.
Rider's center of gravity (bent): at or below the top of wheels.

Distance of rider above ground (DF): 3 1/2 feet or more.
Distance of rider above ground (bent): 2 feet or less.

Likely result of high speed tumble (DF): Broken neck, clavicle or skull from endo.
Likely result of high speed tumble (bent): road rash on hip, ankle and shoulder.

Rider's view in relaxed head position (DF): the ground forward of front wheel.
Rider's view in relaxed head position (bent): straight up ahead to the horizon.

Ability to draw the attention of auto drivers (DF): what's to notice?
Ability to draw the attention of auto drivers (bent): what the hell is he riding?

Gee, which do you suppose is safer to ride?

BTW, bent frame configurations differ tremendously - some are better than others in maintaining control and stability at very low speeds. Twitchy or wobbly handling is not universal. Personally, I found this to be one of many myths people have about bents. I can easily maintain a slow walking speed on my recumbent (but it's the higher speeds that get the ol' heart a pumpin'!)

If you are a confirmed cyclist and your wife really frets over your safety while riding, she should be doing handsprings over your choosing a recumbent bike. Except for recumbent trikes, there is no safer cycling mode.

Let's hope you make a convert of her.
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Old 10-31-03, 07:15 PM   #9
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I don't recall if this suggestion has come up or not ... but have you let HER ride one? Most LWB's and trikes would make a convert out of the toughest critic.
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Old 11-06-03, 04:21 PM   #10
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my missus objects when i ask her to do stuff lying on her back too
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Old 11-22-03, 07:25 PM   #11
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I hope you got the Stratus. Several years ago, I bought an Osell recumbent (LWB, above-seat-steering) and have never gone back. My husband bought a Stratus a couple years later, and we have since gotten a RANS Screamer. We did fall a few times on the Screamer, but I almost always ended up standing on both feet. I've seldom fallen on the Osell (once riding in the dark on a leaf-covered path that dropped off on the side, but any other slips have been recoverable). I've ridden it on ice, and just put my feet down to the sides as outriggers. It's easier to watch traffic in front and behind. You can mount so many lights on it that nobody can fail to see it. You never kick your panniers with your heel. You can't go over the front. You can get your feet onto the ground before it tips. If you do fall, it's not as far.

Go for it!
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Old 11-27-03, 12:08 PM   #12
John C. Ratliff
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Thankfully, I'm now bent

This Thanksgiving morning gives me time to reflect, and to say "Thank you" to you members of this forum. I have a lot to be thankful for, family, house, job, and I wanted you to know that you had a great effect in helping me to become "bent." Last Saturday, I picked up my Rans Stratus! It was a long process, including a two-week extension when we found out it had a recall and needed a part for its front fork. But having the fully-fared Stratus, riding it back home 16 miles through rain, snow, and sleet, and finding how wonderfully stable, ridable, and comfortable it is was a pleasure. I rode up over the Portland West Hills on Twilliger Blvd (for those who know the are), and down the Beaverton-Hillsdale highway. The first trip was 16 miles, and it was a pleasure.

I will follow up this post with some photos when they are developed. But wife is working (just because it's Thanksgiving doesn't mean they close hospitals), the sun is out, and I'm headed out on another ride.

Thanks everyone who contributed here.

John
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Old 11-28-03, 09:55 AM   #13
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Congratulations John! I'm still awaiting the arrival of my EZ-1 SC but I know it will eventually get here. Then I can experiance the recumbent grin! Enjoy, and happy thanksgiving!
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Old 11-28-03, 07:55 PM   #14
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j
welcome! i got 'bent back in feb '03 (bikeE ct), been contemplating since 1981.... anyway, enjoy your miles, and be safe!
tom
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Old 11-30-03, 03:37 PM   #15
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If I get the money saved up, my next bike will be a recumbent. I'm within 100 miles of the factory(disclaimer), but I've still been drooling over an Easyracer. The Easy Sport and Easy Sport LE both have a seat height of 26.5", and will position you a bit higher than a lot of other recumbents. I'm not as worried about low profiles and aerodynamics, I just want to have fun riding.
If it makes your wife happy, put all kinds of reflective triangles and tape all over the bike. One of the guys in my club has a Bike E recumbent, and he's no harder to see than anyone else.
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Old 12-08-03, 12:57 AM   #16
John C. Ratliff
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Here's my Stratus

I finally got my photos back, and here's a photo of my Stratus. It was taken at Coventry Cycle Works, where they were very patient with my for two years of testing.

My first ride was 16 miles back home, and it was very enjoyable. I was able to check the Stratus out in rain, snow, and sleet. I stopped on the way home at a small park that most people miss in the Portland Hills, with a beautiful view of the Willamette River.

Since I've had it, I've put more than 100 miles on it, and am really enjoying the Stratus. As you can see, I got it with a front rack, and that has come in handy on several occasions. More about that later.

John

Last edited by John C. Ratliff; 12-08-03 at 01:05 AM.
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Old 12-08-03, 10:22 AM   #17
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nice ride John!
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Old 12-17-03, 10:31 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
This is a plea for help from you to convince my wife about my decision to buy a recumbant. I have been looking at, and test riding, recumbant bicycles for five years. I've ridden the Trek recumbant, Vision R40, several Rans models, the BikeE (several models), and Burley's Limbo and Django.

Several years ago, I was involved in an accident where I got "T" boned by an SUV who turned in front of me in a bike lane. I was going straight, and had just come down a hill on my Trek 1420 road bike that I use for commuting. I had just gone through a green light that usually stopped me, and looked down to see how fast I was going (still over 20 mph). When I looked up, all I saw was red; it was the side of an SUV directly in front of me. I pushed the bicycle into the side of the SUV, and bailed out to the rear, kicking to ensure that I did not go under the vehicle. I ended up with a lot of scrapes, and a badly bruised right thigh where my leg hit the top tube as I dismounted. I went to the hospital for observation, was held a couple of hours, and released.

I began looking at recumbants more earnestly because had I been in a recumbant, I probably would not have been looking down at the critical time, and figured I could have better monitored the road. My wife was not thrilled about a recumbant, job situation was unsettling, and things were such that I simply continued looking at recumbants when I got the chance.

A little over a year ago, I had a second accident. In this one, the last thing Ib remember was signaling for a left turn approaching a "T" intersection downhill on the long side of the "T". There were several side streets, and after a thorough analysis (I work in the safety field), determined that apparently I was looking backward to clear myself, when someone came out directly in front of me. It is possible that my front tire actually touched the car's side or bumper, but I cannot be sure as there were no marks. I do know that I tried to brake, and sprained my left thumb doing so from the top of the bars (I was on a ten-speed road bike, a Schwinn LeTour). The bruises showed that I had tucked my head, but that I most likely came down directly on my head as my helmet was crushed on the right side near my temple area, and broke into a dozen or so pieces. I received a laceration an the top of my head, probably from a secondary impact.

Now, my hunt for a recumbant became much more pitched, as if I was in a recumbant, I would have had a rear-view mirror (necessary on recumbants; I was not using one as I was following advise from John Forrester's book, Effective Cycling , advise I now do not believe). Every week for over a month I needed to go to the hospital to get a large bruised area on my right hip drained. When I did, I took the afternoon off and after the procedure, went to the LBS specializing in recumbants to test ride some. One stood out, a Rans Stratus. I almost purchased it, but we still had kids in college, and had just moved, so things were still pretty tight financially. But I told myself, one more time and I would buy a recumbant.

Now, that third accident has occurred. I was riding a bicycle path on my Trek 1420, when parallel cracks in the roadway's wooden structure (we were over a wetland) trapped my wheel at low speed, and dumped me head first onto the path over the handlebars. This time, the only injury was a slightly sprained wrist (the City of Hillsboro has been very good about paying for a new wheel, and fixing the path's problem too).

But after this one, I found out that the Stratus was still available, and I put money down on it. When I told my wife, she was not convinced. She doesn't agree with my assessment (she's a skeptical scientific type in the medical field), and thinks that upright bicycles are safer in traffic. I was about to purchase the Rans Stratus, and then decided to do some more test riding in traffic with a SWB recumbant (the Burley Django). I was not impressed with the Django's high bottom bracket in traffic situations, and so I'm back to the Stratus.

I'm now, as a safety professional, becoming aware of the social pressures to do things that one knows are not as safe, because of the attitude of those who you care about interferring with my better judgement. It did not help my arguments with my wife that those who work in the LBS which sells recumbants all when home the other evening on upright bicycles.

So my question to you who do ride recumbants are these:

--What is your experience in traffic?
--After three accidents that I feel could have been prevented on a recumbant, is there any other approach to deal with my wife's skepism?
--Do you have any other thoughts?

I would really, really appreciate your thoughts here.

John
Last September when I was with a group riding from Switzerland to Spain, we met an English couple who were riding a tandem recumbent, something I had never seen before. The husband was sitting forwards doing the steering and the wife sat facing backwards. Some American living in England had made it for them. They had a huge space in the middle for their luggage and on the day they left the hotel where we also were staying, they had a monstrous sack of water, but were only doing a 80km round tour, which I thought was a bit overkill. Anyhow, you just get one of those things and your wife will love it.

c.j.monty
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Old 12-18-03, 11:13 AM   #19
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Tell your wife that:

1) It's cheaper than heart surgery.
2) More fun than the gym.
3) Goes faster than the couch.
4) Looks better than a hot, young mistress.

Grins,
Dave
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