Cheryll's Writing Journal

Musings, rants and ravings, plus gems of insight nobody wants to hear now that I've finally got them. Also neat stuff I found on the 'Net when I should have been updating this blog....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My New Ride

Well, it's here, the touring trike I have been lusting after for many years:
This is a RoadRunner recumbent trike by Lightfoot Cycles, and is probably a bit big for me until I get back into shape, of course, but is still way smaller than the original one I wanted:
The Transporter is a working cycle, capable of moving refrigerators, hauling logs, and plenty of touring camp stuff -- none of which is any longer necessary for me, even in fantasy, LOL.

As you all know (having listened to my whining in the past) I have not been able to ride a bicycle since I broke that ankle in 2001, but it was not the leg that was the problem. It was the seating!  I discovered in physical therapy that a recumbent works just fine for me, however.

Recumbent bikes and trikes have been around for a while, but many of them are designed for racing, so they are very low to the ground for speed and riders are almost prone to improve stability.  Unfortunately, this makes for dangerous riding in places like Michigan, where people aren't used to dealing with a mix of cars and cycles.  (Bike lanes, when they occur on city streets around here, are used by cars for passing!) 

We live out on a two lane road without paved shoulders, in fact, often without any shoulder at all between pavement and ditch.  So Lightfoot's frame design works best for me, since the seat puts me right at eye level with drivers in most cars.  The shear size of their trikes also gives me more road presence than a bicycle would.  I'm hoping that helps, but recently some local guy ran into the back of a fire engine with all it's lights on 'cause he didn't see it' -- so I'll still have to ride defensively.

There are some differences between a recumbent and an upright, as well as between two and three wheelers. One can't stand on the pedals to rest the back, tush, or cushion the shock of bad road surfaces. On the other hand, when one gets tired, there is already a nice place to sit!

Turning is very different, I find, because on a bike, I hardly ever turned the handle bars when riding, just leaned into the turn. A bike feels very solid and all one piece. The trike does require moving the handle bars, which feels very loose and separate from the rest of the vehicle, even wobbly until I got used to riding without leaning on them. I do lean into turns a bit, but right now can't go fast enough for tipping to be a problem, LOL.

Here's the calendar of accomplishments, so far:

Thursday a week: it arrives! Two hours to uncrate and put pieces together, adjust fit and take the first short ride (halfway down the driveway).   Then across the lawn to put it up on the deck to cover it against the rain forcast.

Sunday (Took two days to recover from the workout and besides, it rained): rode it up and down the driveways out to the small barn and back across the lawn.  The neighbor's children (6&4) rode their bikes in circles around me and thought I was pretty tame to be puffing and quitting so soon.  But they had unfair advantage: they have been riding their bikes for a couple months!  AND, riding across 60 feet of very soggy lawn is NOT easy.

Tuesday: small loop around the lawn and out to the mail box.  More than enough.  Put together draft verson of parking garage made of pvc piping draped with tarp. Learned that even protected on the deck, the wind and rain blew it down, as nothing was tightened up and water weighs a lot.

Thursday: driveway loop morning and evening, maybe half mile, total.  Felt pretty good.

Friday: double loop, all the way out to the big barn, 2/3 mile.  4 yr old rode with me, but thought I was going too slowly.  Finished the parking garage and moved it to the side of the house, off the deck.  Tested out the theory that we could, indeed, fit a RoadRunner trike into a Honda CRV if we lowered car seats, trike seat and handle bars.  Two of us can do it, not so much because of weight as to have both ends guided.  Figured out that it is easier to park in its garage if we back it in, again because, unlike a bike, it doesn't move as one piece.

Saturday: Put it in the car, drove to a nearby flat subdivision at 8 am (on a 3-day weekend, nobody was up yet, no traffic, so we didn't frighten the neighbors) unloaded, reset seat and handle bars, and rode for about a mile and a quarter.  Felt great.  Spirit was willing to make another loop, but flesh said no.  Passed a barn sale on the way home and stopped to see if they had any bikes (for him) but bought a bright, reflective vest for me.  Matches yellow trike!

Goals for this summer:
- Explore the various nearby rails-to-trails and metropark rides.
- Increase distance (not to mention hill tolerance, which is about 4 inches at the moment) to at least 6 miles, which would allow for grocery shopping and banking about 3 miles from home.  I've mapped out a backroads route to lessen traffic, but means most of the ride will be on graded, not paved, roads.
- In Fall, be able to make a ride to A&W in nearby town, which would be about 12 miles round trip.  Because there are no low traffic back roads for this one, I must strong enough to handle traffic on a two-lane paved road without shoulders.  Right now, that seems like a very big deal.

Over winter, which they DO here in the Midwest, trike will be in storage and I will use recumbent trainers at our local gym, with hopes of staying in shape enough that:

Goals for next summer:
- Regular errands on the trike instead of the car.
- Some short tours, multiple days, up to 100 miles.  Fun to do around here, since most of the county is parks or conservation land, with campgrounds, B&Bs and many miles of bike trails.

So there it is.  You are now my witnesses and support group.  :D