Recumbent Bicycles High on Comfort, Gawkers

WE'RE careening down a residential street in Long Beach's California Heights, stretched out like Olympic lugers, eye-level with a Labrador retriever racing alongside. Nestled in a tandem recumbent bike, Jonathan Dietch and I sail past carefully trimmed lawns and exuberantly-flowering Monet gardens, over a carpet of jacaranda petals -- a blur of purple below.

People on the street stop and stare; some holler and cheer.

"When I'm on my recumbent, people wave and say hi," yells Dietch, my driver and brakeman, over his shoulder. "Even the transients wave at me." He takes a turn, and we sail past a line of parked cars -- door handles at eye level, but he's not worried. Drivers notice this bike.

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