archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

Trip Tip – The Ultimate High

Human powered recumbent tadpole trikes obviously offer up some incredible emotional sensations to riders, else they wouldn’t keep doing it. Regardless of one’s reason for triking, there are certain shared special moments while doing it, like feeling at one with life itself, appreciating the natural world, saving the air you breathe from petroleum toxicity, cheating the insurance companies out of their car premiums, laughing at gasoline stations as you pedal by, or knowing that you’ll never spend another penny at an auto repair shop again. You can probably think of more. But what is the ultimate high when riding a trike, especially on a protracted cross country journey?

Any distance triker will tell you the same answer, which begins with the physical challenge of reaching the top of a high mountain pass, the higher in elevation the better. You reach the top. You stop, stretch, take a photo of the summit sign, and then your heart starts to race … just like you’ll shortly be doing. When you get to the top, there is only one place to go, and that’s down. And that “down” is precisely the experience all trike trekkers relish, for not only is it a time of complete rest from hours of pedaling up a mountain, a time when you watch the mile markers zoom by with unbelievable quickness, but it is also the time that trikes provide the feel that no other transportation device can. Why buy a six figure Italian sports car, when for a couple grand you can experience an exhilaration that is superior to any Maserati, Lamborghini, or Ferrari? Yes, that’s how incredible tadpole trikes are at 40, 50, and 60 miles per hour! Are there any special considerations at these speeds?

Consider this: Assuming you’re on a low sitting tadpole designed for speed (which you probably are on an overland trek), you’re on a highly stable trike that can deliver these speeds with little likelihood of an accident. A few caveats however: Make sure your brakes work before casting off. Make sure your shoes are securely cleated to the pedals. Fasten any loose clothing that didn’t matter while slowly pedaling uphill. Ensure you are wearing sunglasses or other eye protection from the wind. Put on a coat if it is at all chilly. Reasonable prudence would call for a helmet. Keep a firm, but somewhat light grip on the handlebars, allowing them to move slightly with road irregularities. Stay totally focused on the moment, which will be easy considering the thrill. Watch far ahead; at 50 miles per hour, things can happen pretty darn fast. Don’t ride on the shoulder regardless of traffic density – take your lane at these speeds because you want some space between you and the edge of the road (and gutter debris). Keep your hands off the brakes unless absolutely necessary. If the curves get too tight, slow down gradually using both brakes. If you’re pulling a Burley, BOB, or Radical Design trailer, pay it no mind, as it is designed to travel at these speeds with total stability (assuming you don’t swerve violently or slam on the brakes). Keep your fingers away from the tire treads if you have no fenders. Don’t turn your attention to your rear view mirrors; keep it forward. Refrain from picking up stray objects on the roadway, like nails or hundred dollar bills.

Also, remember these fine points: Be a trike ambassador as you smile and wave while screaming past all the traditional diamond frame bicyclists who used to think that they were fast. Know that all the auto drivers and their passengers are in total awe at what they are seeing, and have little desire to pass you because it’s the best show they’ve had for miles since their last bathroom stop with the kids. Relish every moment, for we all have a finite number of experiences while in our human form, and it doesn’t get much better than this! Burn up that asphalt … and wave as I go by.


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