By Laurie Keve, Development Manager
Rosalba Bellen seems to me a force majeure: Unstoppable, joyful, and absolutely passionate about her recumbent electric-assist bike.
One warm June afternoon, Rosalba and her Lancaster Recumbent bike zipped into my Colchester home driveway. She hopped out of the seat, introduced herself, and asked about my kinetic brass garden sprinkler and of course, I asked her about her very cool recumbent bike. The bike has changed her life, she said, in so many ways. She rode a regular bike until recently, but she decided on a recumbent bike when vertigo made riding uncomfortable and unsafe. She purchased this one last fall and now arranges her days around the best time to get out for a ride. She hits the road nearly every day, weather permitting.
On the afternoon of our ride together, Rosalba arrived -- and I do mean arrived -- with her favorite Andrea Boccelli station playing, a high-viz helmet, and neon-colored flags fluttering. Off we went on a 10-mile round-trip ride to the Colchester causeway and the Local Motion Bike Ferry. She flew along Colchester Point Road which she prefers to the loose gravel path at Airport Park. Unphased by 35 mph cars passing us, she zipped right along as we chatted.
When we arrived at the start of the causeway, she left me in the dust (although I’m also riding an e-bike) and I stepped on it to keep up. When I caught up to her, I found her laughing out loud and grinning. As we rode, I couldn't help but notice the fascination on the faces of passersby, and some folks stopped their conversations to watch her ride by.
The bike was expertly custom-fit for her body including a modification to the boom length and a small extension added to one pedal to make it more comfortable. There are straps under her heels to help keep her feet in place. The Bosch electric assist buttons are on the left-hand grip (from zero assistance to "turbo" assist), and the shifter for the 7 gears is on the other. The Bosch motor is located along the boom, in the hub between her feet. She mainly uses the electric assist for hills, she says. It’s a great ab workout too, apparently, and a happy side effect is some weight loss. The only thing she plans to add is a cargo basket when she figures out how to make one fit properly.
We stopped at Airport Park on our way back, and when a lady admired the bike and said it looks like fun, Rosalba offered to let her try it out. She told the lady all about it, and her excitement and pride was palpable.
And finally, we arrived back to my driveway, and off she flew with Andrea Boccelli playing as she rolled down Windemere Way toward Burlington.
With her recumbent e-bike, Rosalba has rediscovered the joy of cycling and has made it an integral part of her daily life, which certainly resonates with me as I have done this past year with my own e-bike. So the next time I’m wondering whether I have the umph for a bike ride today, I’ll think of my ride with Rosalba, and kick it into gear and just get out there and celebrate *cycling for every body*.