Pain can be transformative. And transformation can be a good thing. So therefore, pain is a good thing...right? RIGHT?!?!?!
At the end of April I had a re-occurance of a rotator cuff issue that has plagued both shoulders over the years. Usually it hurts for a week or two, and then gradually gets better, sometimes requiring some physical therapy to help it along. This time was much worse though, and even with PT it was healing so gradually that I had become really frustrated and impatient, and was very worried that I might finally need surgery. Riding a bike became excruciating, and was obviously agravating my shoulder and only making it worse, so I stopped riding to give it a rest. The timing couldn't have been worse because I had just built a brand new, totally custom, titanium fatbike and now I could barely test ride it, let alone get out for an adventure on it. I was sinking into a deeper and deeper depression, gaining back the weight I had worked hard to lose, losing the fitness I had worked hard to gain, and becoming even harder to be around! Something had to change.
Then I had an idea. I simply needed to rethink my approach to cycling. Biking was foundational to my lifestyle and fitness routine, I just had to find another way to keep riding while my shoulder was healing. And what kind of bike would allow me to ride, but keep any weight off of my shoulder? What would be my "new normal?"
Wait for it...
A recumbent would be my only option if I wanted to keep riding!
I started doing endless research online trying to find what I thought would be the best bike for my needs. I wanted something comfortable, efficient, fast, manueverable, with resale value so I could recoup my investment once I was healed up, if I decided to sell it. I had narrowed my choices down to a few well known brands and models, but there were very few recumbent dealers around. I knew that I absolutely had to test ride before buying, it was just too strange of a beast to buy without riding it first. I finally found Rose City Recumbents down in Portland, and after numerous emails with the endlessly patient Jonathan, I arranged for a day to come down and do some test rides. I am so glad I did, because there were several models that I thought would be great options, and after riding them for only a block or two I immediately knew that they were not at all what I was looking for.
At the top of my list was the Lightning P-38, a short wheelbase speed machine that had set many records over the years, but also had a reputation for being the best all around recumbent on the market. It was a major stroke of luck that Jonathan had a used P-38 in stock, in my size, and in my color...BLACK! Several test rides later and the choice was clear, the P-38 was by far the most comfortable and easy to ride bike out of the several bikes I rode. And being lightly used, the price was quite reasonable for a niche bike. So, I added a new horse to the stable!
I brought it home and almost immediately took it out for a ride. I ended up riding almost twenty five miles which was pretty good for the first time on a new bike in a new riding position, and after being off of any bike for a month and a half. My legs were tired, and my knees were a little sore from the boom being set too close, but most importantly my shoulder didn't hurt at all!
It's going to take some time to get used to this new beast and getting the fit dialed in, but I am looking forward to rediscovering cycling in a new way, and getting some exercise and fitness back into my life again. A long term review will be forthcoming, so stay tuned!