USA Recumbent Trike Trip: 14,000 miles!
From the evolving website of two awesome trikers comes their story:
BACKSTORY AND LESSONS LEARNED:
By Deb Aker
Being on the open road on a trike is the closest thing I have ever found that feels like total peace & an adventure at the same time. You get to see everything at 10 & 15 miles an hr, up close & personal with nothing to obscure your view. What could be better than that! May 15 2016 my husband & I are leaving the Spokane area heading west for a USA cycling tour on Recumbent Trikes. We will be riding 12,000 to 14,000 miles. We will be bypassing all large cities, opting to stick to back roads & rural areas.
I want to share this with you. Myself & my Husband, both in our mid 50s at the time, both in horrid physical condition, he having been an over the road trucker for 22 years & myself having worked various jobs for years, decided that we wanted to follow a dream & take a long bike trip.
Problem was we were not physically conditioned at all & I could not ride a 2 wheel bike, so we could not join a traditional bike touring group. I have arthritis in my hips & knees, degenerative disc disease & scoliosis. Plus I weighed over 335 lbs. My husband was more than 80 lbs over weight & had done nothing but sit in a truck seat for years. But we were determined to take a bike trip down the Oregon Coast regardless.
So we bought a used Terratrike Path we found on Craigslist for me & a new bike for Bill, 2 pull behind bike trailers and made plans to take our Oregon Coast bike trip on our own. Our friends & most of our family didn’t believe we would go through with it & were sure we wouldn’t be able to make such a trip. But we were determined to do it no matter what, so we packed & hit the road. Now let me tell you, it was hell! And the first 18 miles of our trip was uphill ( we just couldn’t believe that ) We had to stop and rest at every reflector post up that hill!
At the end of the first day we were both in agony, we felt like calling the whole thing off. But we set our tent up by the road, ate and fell into bed. When we got up the next morning we got back on our bikes & pushed on. On a good day in the beginning we got 10 miles in a day, on a bad day we only got 4 to 6 miles in a day & every night we set our tent up by the road & passed out from sheer exhaustion. Every time we felt like giving up some stranger would stop us & encourage us on, we were offered free coffee, meals & kindness we had not expected, we learned how truly awesome strangers could be, which gave us the strength to continue on.
At the end of this 400 mile physically exhausting trip we were both considerably lighter, I had lost 3 pant sizes, my husband had lost 4 pant sizes & we felt like we had accomplished something fantastic, it gave both of us a new found confidence! The most important thing we got from that trip was to set your sites on what you want to do & do not let anything stop you.
Now a few of the important things we learned!
Never, Never try a cycling trip like we did!! First, Terratrike Path is an 8 speed trike, yes you read that right. Bill also bought an 8 speed bike so we could be evenly matched on speed. Stupid, Stupid idea! We literally had to get off and push our loaded bike/trike up every semi steep to steep hill. Our new trikes are upgraded to 81 gears, with 27 of them being Super low to low gears, 27 are what I would call chilling, easy riding sight seeing gears & 27 gears are for hauling major butt!
Next, trailers, Stupid! If you feel the need to buy 1 for a trip, be smart enough to get a proper 1 wheel trailer or a bike trailer that is made for touring. Don’t just go to a store & buy any old trailer. In Bandon we took 3 days off to enjoy the area, which meant leaving the trailers behind. Without those lousy trailers, we rode more miles with much greater ease and were able to travel 6 to 10 miles in an hour instead of a day. My new thought, if you cannot carry it in your bags & on your rack, then you don’t need it!
Now lets talk about food. Again the word stupid comes to mind! Do not buy food in cans!! Avoid carrying that kind of weight. Opt instead for carrying a few servings of hearty fresh fruit & veggies, dried meals that have been un-boxed & stored in zip bags, healthy granola bars, dried milk or PB2 for morning oats, you get the point. Do your research & look for healthy light weight food to carry along. Also, a lot of campgrounds are close to a town, drop by a local grocery store & pick up what you need every day or 2. Honestly its all about using your head. If you will be going through an area with stores everyday, buy as you go. If you will be riding through a less populated area carry extra – light weight food.
Water. Any cyclist can tell you that water is your lifeline. Never underestimate how much water you may need in a day. Having been there, nothing is worse then running out of water. Suggestions: carry as much water as you can, you will drink close to a gallon of water a day. Also buy a mini Sawyer Water filter.
Weighing in on clothes! Ever notice all those cyclists out there in those cute little tight bike clothes, looking all fancy & spiffy? And like an idiot you say to yourself “ Self; you would not catch me dead in clothes like that, every bump, wrinkle, pucker & bulge on my big butt would be on public display”. Humiliating right? Well all I can say is you will learn to get over it when half of your precious cargo space is filled up with clothes that weigh a ton. You may look like crap in those fancy cycling clothes, but they take a fraction of the space & weigh a fraction of what those jeans or sweats do that you decided to take along. Cycling clothes are easy to wash out in a creek, river or restroom sink. They dry super fast. They weight almost nothing & take almost no room. They allow you to have ease of movement & are cool on hot days. My choice: if you don’t like what my butt looks like in them, then don’t look!
Now for everything else:
Your space is a precious thing, so when looking for camping supplies go for Small! Your trike headlight can double as a flashlight, so look for 1 that is easy to attach & un-attach. Look for light weight gear that is as compact as you can afford. Get a small, lightweight sleeping bag. If it isn’t warm enough in colder areas, you can use wide tape & emergency blankets to make an envelope to slip your bag into. Always carry emergency blankets if there is a chance you could get caught in colder weather. You can use them to cover your tent for extra insulation, make a wind break, reflect heat from your fire by string a couple up. You get the idea, they can be a lifesaver! If you search Pinterest or Youtube you can find directions for making tiny cooking stoves out of Altoids tins, that’s what we are using on our trip.
If you plan to cook, carry a small pot & pan. We carry a small french press which is made out of stainless steel. I live by the motto: no coffee no life! For Bike Panniers, we have purchased medium priced large bags. Each bag will be lined with a plastic bag to keep stuff dry & lets remember not to over stuff them because we don’t want to split the zippers. Sleeping pads can be a bit pricey, but seeings how I am pretty messed up I just can’t get along without 1. Just do your best to find Small & Compact. And last but far from least, Light up your trike!!! Light up your flag poles, light up your wheels, light your front, light your back. Be safe & visible out there!
I could go on & on about all the crap you may need to take along but the best thing for anyone to do is to sit down & make a list of anything & everything you can think of, then eliminate what isn’t necessary.
Training for our trip:
Everyone knows how important it is to get in the best shape you can before you set out on a huge trike/bike trip. Something we did not do before our first long distance ride. It made it much harder but it also proved to us that if you set your mind to something, it can be accomplished. Anywho, for our upcoming trip we are actually physically preparing for it. You’ve heard the saying: Your body is your temple? Well actually mine is more like 1 of those Mayan Temples that was abandoned hundreds of years ago, It is beginning to crumble & fall apart but is still somewhat structurally sound. So the idea is to begin the restoration from the inside out. We have changed our way of eating. No trash or chemical filled foods, we are putting 80% fiber filled fuel consisting of fresh fruit, veggies, grains & legumes into our bodies. We have cut our red meat consumption to 2 servings a week, added more poultry & yuck fish, only healthy fats & have cut out all foods that contain sugar. Its important to clean the crud out of the pipes once in a while!
Mileage calculated for our trip on Google maps following the outer U.S. routes is about 12,000 miles. We will be sticking to more back roads & skirting large cities, so our mileage may be much higher. We are planning to stop & visit our kids & do some major sightseeing along the way. In the end we would be happy to finish this trip in 14 months or under.
And YOU are invited to follow us on Youtube, the “Trike Asylum” web site, our web site & see our pics on Shutterfly as well. Just look for bent_tourists! Also if we are going to be in your area Please feel free to come ride with us.
Click HERE now to go visit their evolving website documenting this incredible journey!