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Recumbent riders visit Museum

15 May 17

One of the more striking bikes on show in our Freewheeling exhibition is a recumbent bike ridden by Canberra cyclist Peter Heal when he set two of the most fiercely contested solo distance cycling records in Australia.

Many people see recumbent bikes – where the rider is in a laid back or reclining position – and wonder what they're about and what they're like to ride. Freewheeling curator and cyclist Daniel Oakman found his recumbent ride comfortable and fast.

Recumbent bicycles can be up to 30 per cent more efficient than an upright bicycle. The horizontal position of the rider reduces wind resistance and makes the bike more aerodynamically efficient. It makes them ideal for breaking records.

Peter Heal's long-distance records

In 2009, Heal pedalled the recumbent bike on show in Freewheeling from Fremantle to Sydney in just short of 12 days, breaking the record for a solo and unsupported crossing of continent by more than two days. In 2010, Heal covered around 15,000 kilometres on the same bike, cycling alone around Australia in 48 days, lowering the previous record by about two days.

Human-powered vehicle milestone

Cyclists from OzHPV (human-powered vehicles), a national organisation representing Australian recumbent riders including Peter Heal, visited Freewheeling after a ride around Lake Burley Griffin at the weekend. OzHPV celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2017– a testimony to the growing popularity of these bikes in Australia.

Group of people with bicycles, standing under and in front of outdoor cover
OzHPV riders take a break on their 20th anniversary ride, which included a visit to the Museum’s Freewheeling exhibition. Courtesy Peter Heal.

See Peter Heal's recumbent bike and learn about other great cyclists and feats of endurance at Freewheeling, on show until 9 July 2017.

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