Alternative cycling helps all kinds of people begin, enjoy cycling

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Not everyone learns to ride a bicycle on training wheels and with a patient mentor nearby for guidance.

Butu For those who didn’t pedal as youngsters or whose bodies may not tolerate long hours on a hard seat or traditional handlebars, alternative cycling options abound.

Manufacturers have increasingly introduced styles kinder to differing body types and easier for novice riders to grasp.

The Catrike Ebola is high-end recumbent and leads the way in the alternative cycling market.
The Catrike Ebola is high-end recumbent and leads the way in the alternative cycling market.

Recumbents, tandems and electric-assisted bikes are among the options for cyclists to enjoy when a more traditional road bike isn’t an option.

Simple but refined with a single shifter and 11 speeds, Eola riders sit low-to-the-ground, legs extended to the pedals and positioned far in front of the front wheel.

The bikes, generally priced beginning around $2,000, are particularly popular in social group rides. Several recumbent clubs are active southern Florida. One club uses the motto: “Recumbent cycling means never having to say you’re sore.”

“We know of plenty of people who meet for group rides, who have had discs fused,” Barton says. “They still need to get exercise, and it’s much better for them. We have people riding these bikes who have a bum knee.

“But it’s not only for people who have problems. A lot of people are perfectly healthy and have no issues whatsoever. They just want to go on long rides without as many risks.”

Cycling works better for some people as a team activity, particularly for those interested in pedaling off-road. Tandem road bikes, built for two riders, date to the late 1800s. But tandem mountain bikes are more recently introduced machines and allow two riders share trails together.

The rear seat rider on tandems is called the stoker and is generally a navigator. The front seat rider, the bigger riding partner, is the captain and steers. Both riders pedal, preferably in unison. Numerous manufacturers, including Cannondale (www.cannondale.com) and Co-Motion (www.co-motion) offer a variety of models for cyclists of all shapes, sizes and skill levels. Prices begin the lows thousands but can exceed $10,000.

A Cannondale tandem provide another grrat option for alternative cycling.
A Cannondale tandem provide another great option for alternative cycling.

For couples hitting tough trails together, tandem bikes might either be dubbed “divorce machines” or “relationship accelerators,” depending on their experiences.

While niche compared to age-group road racing competitions, regional tandem mountain races and citizens rides are held around the country, including in Florida.

Electric-assist bikes offer a third alternative in recumbents as well as single rider and tandem mountain bikes. Several additional manufacturers, including Pedego Electric Bikes (www.pedegoelectricbikes.com) with two locations in Naples, offer even more electric models.

Wiliam Shatner rides a Pedego Electric bike, an ideal form of alternative cycling.
Wiliam Shatner rides a Pedego Electric bike, an ideal form of alternative cycling.

Like recumbents, electric-assist bikes provide an alternative for cyclists who may need assistance while recovering from illness or injury or just as cycling preference. Many models can alternate between traditional pedaling and an electric option, useful for hills or for an extra boost near the end of a long ride. The bikes feature 500-watt hub motors that enable riders to pedal up to 60 miles on a charge.

Prices for Pedego bikes begin at approximately $2,600. The Pedego stores in Naples carry all of the company’s 12 models, foldable to multiple-rider options.

The company’s motto is, “If you can’t pedal, or you just don’t feel like it, that’s okay too. We’re not judging.”

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