I just finished my first real ride on the trike: 11.6 miles, my normal commute to work, and it was wonderful! I kind of thought I was going to feel unsafe riding next to traffic in a moderately wider vehicle, but traffic was nice to me and gave me a little more room than usual. I think they like looking at the trike as much as I like that extra buffer zone that’s needed so they can check it out as they drive by. I did find myself praying that they kept their eyes on the road so they wouldn’t smash into anyone in front of them while they were distracted. The 6′ flag pole that I bought at the Tractor Supply Store was a perfect safety addition to my trike. It fits right in the pole that goes up the side of the chair.
After putting 11 miles on it, I feel like I know the vehicle much better. It’s got some quirks that are no problem to deal with, and I found several advantages to trike riding as opposed to bike riding. First, the quirks.
Quirk 1) Pedal steering – when in a high (tough) gear, pushing hard tends to move the trike to the side that’s doing the pushing, but it’s not like it swerves the bike all over the road … it’s just a gentle movement. I found that my body was automatically compensating somehow in the steering mechanism after a short while, and the slight veering ceased.
Quirk 2) Less suspension / shock absorption than a bike. Even when you have no shocks on a bike, I think your torso and arms do a lot to buffer shock from getting to where you feel it most, your head. On the trike, you’re lower, you have more wheels to hit things with, and shocks that aren’t absorbed by the give of the seat easily travel up from the tail bone to the head. Personally, this sort of thing is really cool to me. It feels more adventurous and daring. Also, I did NOT stay on paved road. I went over planked bridges, gravel road, and even over roots, rocks, and grooved pavement. So I’m not complaining, just pointing this out.
Quirk 3) Extremely responsive steering! When going fast, the slightest twitch of the steering bar caused the whole machine to wiggle. I quickly got used to this and was careful not to twitch when moving along.
And now, the good stuff:
1) Excellent power transfer! Having your back against something and being able to push against the pedals allowed me to move super fast! I felt that my legs were getting a more complete workout, while my torso and arms got a chance to relax, which was really nice. Plus, even though I was moving well, I felt like I was kicking back and relaxing.
2) It makes it through those cement trail blockers … you know – those things that they put up to prevent motorized vehicles from getting on the trails? I was a little nervous that I would have to pick it up and walk it through, but it squeezed through with about 5 inches on each side.
3) Roots, rocks? No problem. Last week, I took a spin through the neighborhood and ran over a few roots in some yards to see what i could get away with. Today, in the woods, I got to a spot where there are a bunch of boulders with just enough space for me to squeeze through, but between them, there is a slight incline that’s full of rocks and roots. My first attempt failed because I was in too high a gear and did not have enough momentum. My second try in a low gear was a huge success! I couldn’t believe I got over that! a slightly knobby tire for the back may be a good idea at some point in the future.
4) Regular shorts and flip flops are OK! I like looking casual when I ride. No offense to those who wear the tight spandex stuff, but it’s just not for me. I was able to pedal in wearing baggy shorts and my flip flops! I know I need to be careful with the flip flop thing since there’s the threat of foot suck, but I didn’t even feel close to any danger at any point.
It was a very pleasurable ride, especially considering that today is one of those days when the weather people advise everyone to stay inside so as not to get a heat stroke. BAHHHHHH. Mind over matter, that’s my motto.
Incidentally, I just looked at my mileage on bikejournal.com and I’m going to be passing the 1000 mile mark for 2010 tonight on my ride home.