Monday, May 21, 2012

Early end of TrikeTrek2012

Sadly I’m back home, not that I don’t love my home but I was hoping to be cycling through Ontario Province today instead. My trike adventure is over for now. Now the recuperation period. My plan is to take a week off the trike, then short, low intensity rides on the trainer for a week or two, if there is no pain. Then some easy road and hill rides to get back. 
As my man Eastwood once said “A man’s got to know his limitations”. Well how do you know your limits it you don’t push to extend them? As of today mine are 627miles, +52,062ft elevation gain over 15days(Trip Total was 802miles and +60795ft gain). I’m actually very happy with these numbers, I’m a numbers kinda guy:) Gee I wonder how many spins of the crank, approximately of course, I did on this trip?

First a review of the Trident Stowaway 2 trike: So how did it work in the various weather and road conditions? Well in a word “Fantastic”!! I’m absolutely positive I could not have traveled on the rainy cold days I did ride in. Also I believe I was safer on the road than ever on a two wheel bike. And the +40mph blasts down mountains were awesome. 
I really had no problems. The grip tape on the right side is starting to unravel a bit. But other than adjusting the brakes and rear derailer no work was needed. Tires are getting a bit square but then that’s just a normal wear and tear item. No bent wheels is especially amazing since I did hit a few big pot holes. I think the 20” wheel is stronger than larger wheels is what accounts for this. 

Riding the trike there were a couple common questions I was asked several times regarding safety. So here they are…and my answers.
Q: Is the low seat and hence eye level a problem? Simple answer, No. Extended Answer: The recumbent position meant that my head is always up right and level. Next the stability of the trike means the I can constantly scan by moving my head side to side and to move to get better view of the mirror without disturbing the path of the trike. So I think my situational awareness was an order of magnitude better than on my hybrid bike. Also the complete lack of pain from riding position meant focus could say on the road and not my back, shoulders, wrists, butt, etc. Naturally later knees negated this advantage:)

Q. Isn’t the width of the trike a problem? In the first case they were asking about car/trike interaction since I was riding many roads with narrow or no shoulder. 
Simple Answer: No. 
Extended Answer: I had vastly fewer cars passing close, even in larger car concentration areas. This seems counter intuitive. I think a few things were going on but I suspect the main issue was a trike was unfamiliar to drivers and appears very wide, even though it’s only a few inches wider than a mountain bike. Since it appeared SO wide drivers realize there is not enough room to pass in lane with me. So only a handful were at 3ft, most were greater and many completely in the other lane! Of course a nod goes to ACA for good route selection!

Q. Isn’t the width of the trike a problem? In this case they, mostly bicyclist, meant three wheel tracks vs one wheel track of a bicycle. 
Simple Answer: Here they have something. 
Extended Answer: There is no doubt that finding a clear piece of asphalt is much harder on three wheels. This does mean I’m hitting rougher asphalt more often and there were times I wished for suspension. It was also true that many roads are so bad that there is no clean line. In this case the stability of the trike was great. So no ride is perfect, but I think it’s a small price for the benefits. 

Now a safety question that wasn’t asked concerning low seat height. The low seat hight made me much more wary of dogs. They seemed to react badly to this low ride. Why? I don’t know but horses and cows also seemed upset. Maybe down low I looked like a predator. I only had one instance were I was approached close enough, 2 to 3 ft, by an aggressive dog that I had to use the pepper spray. I’ll always carry pepper spray now and I never did on my bike. 

The next non-safety question was why recumbents and trikes by extension don’t climb as fast a bikes. I’m not convinced this isn’t just selection bias, i.e. young men buy race replica bikes to fit in to the peer group and mimic the racers. And race bikes are two wheel diamond frames since the major racing series have banned recumbents for a hundred years. For myself I looked at the technology and wasn’t swayed by the races for the same reason I drive a Toyota Matrix and not an F1 car on public roads. So until I see the elite cyclists train then race recumbents against diamond frames I’m not convinced recumbents are slower. I’ll admit I’m slow up hill and my reason is simple, I can’t fall down there is no worry or drama stopping mid 12% grade to take a picture, eat a snack, smell the roses or just REST. So my answer to why trikes may go up hill slower is “Because they can!!!”. 

Best part of the ride:
This has to be meeting the people of rural America and Canada. I have to admit that I was getting pretty cynical about people in general. I attribute that to my job. I’m constantly researching the economy, corporations and investments. I mean honestly, who can watch what the Federal Reserve, Wall Street and our politicians have been doing and not get cynical. But during this short ride I meet so many truly good people and I was so looking forward to meeting many, many more. People were helpful, considerate, encouraging and sympathetic.  I Love rural North America!

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