When I started randonneuring in 2002 I was riding a very second-hand bike built up from a frame acquired from a pawn shop fitted out with parts from what I had available under my house.
It had served me well, having been used as my daily commuter and tourer over a number of years.
During my first 400 I suffered from should and neck pain and decided I needed to do something about that.
I had been interested in recumbents and wanted to build one but lacked the necessary workshop and skills.
After a lot of reading I contacted Ian Humphries in Sydney and visited him while he was building a recumbent tandem for a ride across Australia.
I ordered a custom built FlyingFurniture PBP Special which I took to France in 2003 for PBP and two months of touring before and after the event.
My first recumbent:
2002 FlyingFurniture PBP Special in France
The bike handled exceptionally well and I was very happy with it, apart from being unable to keep it upright on unsealed surfaces. The narrow high pressure tyres were fast but gave a harsh ride on the road and dug into soft gravel.
Fitting 2″ BMX tyres after I got home made it more comfortable but considerably slower.
I sold the bike after moving to NZ in 2005 and tried many other designs, most of which included suspension.
Fast forward to 2019 and I saw a PBP Special advertised in Melbourne.
At the time I was not happy with the various bikes I had as viable touring machines and I knew the Flying Furniture machine could be fitted with a tailbox and under-seat bags to carry a load without creating too much turbulence.
My daughter had invited me to join her on RAGBRAI 2019 in late July which fitted in with my plan to go to France for PBP in August.
My new acquisition was yellow (including the wheels) rather than the fire engine red of my original. The only other difference was a rear disc brake instead of the V-brake on my first one.
Fitting wide Schwalbe Shredda tyres made a huge difference in the ride quality – the harshness is gone and they are fast.
For this trip I fitted a Rohloff rear hub and SON dynohub on the front.
The bike is not a lightweight to start with and the Rohloff added to that but it is reliable.
With the corflute tailbox I made it weighed about 17 kg all up.
I was pleased to find that it is remarkably comfortable to ride although I was having trouble with painful shoulders caused by calcification problems on my initial rides.
Ultrasound treatment fixed that over the next couple of months and I found changing to tiller handlebars worked well.
On RAGBRAI the bike was faster than almost everyone else on descents but I am not as strong as I was 16 years earlier on the climbs. (The route was a lot hillier than I expected.)
After RAGBRAI I flew from Chicago to Bordeaux and rode from there to Fougères, about half way along the PBP route. I followed to PBP route back to Rambouillet and stayed for a week or so with friends before heading north to Dieppe.
From there I took a ferry to Newhaven and rode to Romsey, near Southampton, to see my son.
When I got home I rode my FWD MBB bike and was amazed how quiet it is compared to the FF bike. I will have to see if changing idlers and/or chain tubes can help reduce the transmission noise. The Rohloff hub does make some noise too.
The short chain and derailleur system on the MBB bike is much simpler and quieter.
I am now working on a new MBB bike that I hope will be easy to pack up for travel.
My current project
It is assembled from what I have had in the shed and a recently acquired tailbox and Cruzbike front end. First ride feels good but there is a lot of work to do to finish it.