Yesterday I noticed a long and very interesting post on Facebook by Vernon Shaw calling for an International Recumbent Bike Day or International Recumbent Bike Week. Trikes, quads, and velomobiles included, of course! That day should fall on today, 7 July. I really like this idea and basically all we need to do is agree as a community that we want to have such a day and that today is the day. If we agree, next year we could already announce some events related to this day. What do you think?

In any case, I encourage you to read Vernon’s post, which I have copied here with his permission.

Thanks, Vernon!

A case for International Recumbent Bike Day…

Often at water break stops cyclists will approach me and ask questions about my recumbent bike. These questions usually display their misconceptions & prejudices about recumbents. Popular questions include … “Are those hard to ride ?”… “Are those comfortable ?”… “Aren’t those kind of bikes slow ?”. I answer these questions as best I can & hope that they walk away more recumbent-aware.

Over the years I’ve also heard upright/ diamond framed cyclists complain about their rides. I hear them complain about discomfort of different types, numbess, etc. I’ll recommend recumbent bikes as a solution to these problems. Instead of embracing the solution to their problems they usually reject recumbents out-of-hand. I often hear things like “I could never ride one of those”..or..”worst-come-to-worst I’ll consider a recumbent”.

People just tend to view recumbent bikes as odd because of their unusual geometry relative to mainstream bikes & because of their rarity relative to mainstream bikes. Because recumbent bikes are so far out of the mainstream folks tend to relegate them to an odd niche of “bike-like-contraption”.

But a couple of years into my recumbent bike journey I learned of a time in 1933 when recumbent bikes were in the spotlight. On July 7, 1933 a second (or perhaps third) class professional French cyclist named Francis Faure rode a recumbent bicycle (designed by Charles Mochet) to beat the world hour record. Faure established a new hour record of 27.996 miles riding an odd looking bike. Faure beat an established record that had stood for nearly 20 years ! (Oscar Egg had set the previous hour record of 27.4 miles on August 8, 1914).

Suddenly in 1933 a recumbent bike design stormed the cycling world by establishing superiority over the mainstream. Recumbent bikes were more than “odd” bikes, they were “innovative” bikes that pushed bike design & performance beyond the constraints established by the mainstream.

You might question why this event is so obscure. You might wonder why the mere mention of recumbent bicycles doesn’t conjure up images of superiority as established by Faure & Mochet in 1933.

The recumbent bike’s time in the mainstream spotlight was cut short in 1934. Shortly after Faure’s world hour record the govering body of cycling (the UCI) bowed to pressure from conventional bicycle manufacturers. The UCI imposed limitations on bicycle design that effectively banned all recumbent bikes. Per the new UCI limitations recumbent bicycles were not considered bicycles. I believe that this is when the recumbent bicycle was relegated to the niche of odd-bike-like-contraption.

In short, I suggest July 7th as International Recumbent Bike Day. What better way to endorse & popularize recumbent bikes than to remind the public of their superiority ? Manufacturers could sponsor shows, events, & bike rides to promote International Recumbent Bike Day. The accomplishments of Faure & Mochet in 1933 could and should be promoted alongside these events.

If July 7th is too narrow of a target (it does compete with Independence Day here in the United States) then perhaps International Recumbent Bike Week is more appropriate. One way or the other, I think the recumbent community is missing an opportunity to promote recumbent bikes to the general cycling public.

Let’s celebrate & promote the bikes that we all love so much. Let’s all push for International Recumbent Bike Day on July 7th.