The following article was written in March 2015, shortly after I sold my Catrike 700 in order to raise additional cash needed to acquire a new fatrike. More can be read HERE.
From a very early age in childhood, around the age of three or four, or thereabouts, as my recollection of such distant early times is rather nonexistent, I have been an explorer of the wild world around me. I would go out to places like the Mojave Desert with my mom, dad, and sister, camping and hiking. I loved it. The need remained with me, eventually leading to the purchase of a four wheel drive vehicle once I was old enough with a job to afford one. As a matter of fact, my dad and I used to ride motorcycles out in the wide open desert on dirt trails even prior to the state issuing me a driver’s license. My passion for exploring what’s around the next bend in the road, and up the next mysterious canyon grew to insatiable heights, and over the years, exploring in my old Jeep was the prime thing to be doing. I learned all the roads out there, but I still loved to read backountry maps.
My old 1975 Jeep CJ-5 allowed me to explore the most distant locales … on dirt roads!
When I lived in the high country of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I kept on exploring on the old mining roads above timberline, reaching dizzying heights, seeing the world as a bird might. I kept up my hiking also, and climbed some fourteen thousand foot peaks too. In all this outdoor wilderness wandering, I was also enraptured by fast automobiles, due to my dad’s automotive journalism career. At a couple of points in life, I sold my 4WD rig and bought a Corvette, but it wasn’t long each time until my passion for the backcountry would overpower my need for speed, and I rather quickly ended up selling each Corvette in order to get a new extreme terrain vehicle. The wilds were my way, not the paved and crowded human mazes where cops sat in wait for me to speed by.
Up until 2008, I kept merrily exploring the outback in my petrol powered vehicles, on roads most rational folks would not even consider roads. But finally, my love of respecting the air we all breathe outweighed my selfish desire to drive toxic Jeeps into the wilds. The explorer in me had not diminished one bit, but I could no longer personally rationalize my use of vehicles that ran counter to my need to breathe fresh air. Thus, 42 years of car use came to a screeching halt, cold turkey, leaving everyone who knew me dumbfounded over the supposedly sudden twist of direction. It wasn’t sudden however. I had been thinking it over for quite some time, and 2008 was my year to cease being a hypocrite. I had been talking the clean-air talk, but not walking the clean-air walk.
Car ownership was no longer a part of my ride on this planet, but to me, that didn’t mean I had to give up exploring the outback. My resolve was simply to transfer over into a way of exploration that used my human power. I had always been a hiker, but there were still times I wanted to experience the mysteries of my planet in places that were too distant to reasonably reach by foot. My plan in late 2008 was to find and acquire a human powered extreme terrain vehicle, so I could explore in an environmentally friendly manner.
There was a problem I soon discovered, and that was in early 2009, after spending much time searching the internet for a human powered extreme terrain vehicle, it became clear that there was nothing in existence that met the needs I found in my old Jeep. I wanted a quad or trike, and envisioned myself still on the same roads I had always driven, but the only thing I could find was a quad, made by a company that had suspended production the year prior, probably because the highly sophisticated off-road vehicle was too costly for the average Joe or Josephine. It was fully suspended on all four wheels, with hydraulic shocks, and would have been loads of fun, but I couldn’t have one.
In the three wheeled realm, no such animal even existed (the Berserker, while notable, did not have wide floaty tires I would need in sand). And neither did the two wheeled world have such an extreme rig. Sure, there were mountain bikes, but they were insufficient for my needs. I wanted comfort, just like my Jeep, and I wanted large storage capacity, just like my Jeep, because I loved going out for a week at a time into the middle of nowhere, being totally self sufficient. Everything out there had skinny knobby tires, offering hardly any traction in sand washes or snow. I chose not to compromise.
About this time in early 2009, I was invited to present at an author’s breakfast in Death Valley, having written a huge book all about the place. I had no car. I had a problem, it seemed. But then, I was told a local man was selling his recumbent tadpole trike, so, in a moment of need, I bought it, got familiar with it, and set off pedaling for Death Valley. It was 900 miles away. Man, what had I gotten myself into? The trike was really comfy and quite capable of packing all my supplies, and I learned to love it. It was a 2007 ICE Qnt.
Nearing Death Valley National Park in 2009 on my 2007 ICE Qnt trike
Then, in 2010, I started this Trike Asylum website to help others searching for trikes. It took me tons of time to discover what little I did, because there was no central place that presented recumbent tadpole trikes at a glance, so I created one. Of course, you know the story from there on out, because I’ve been writing volumes of stuff all about it. The trusty Q found a new home in late 2013 (quicker to sell it than to put a new chain on it :-), and I relived my former Corvette days on the coveted Catrike 700, the same color as my first Vette, by the way. The 700 was like getting into a Lamborghini and mashing the pedal to the floor, at least in human powered comparisons. What a trike! And then I discovered how I could tour on it, and had the most enjoyable and comfortable paved highway trip I had thus far taken on a trike. I was in clean air heaven!
I was addicted to speed on my 2014 Catrike 700!
During this time, I had also been watching with envy as Maria Leijerstam began planning her expedition to the South Pole of Planet Earth … on a recumbent tadpole tricycle. Wow, that got my attention. One look at the trike ICE was custom building for her endeavor at once brought back images of my old fat tire Jeep. Here was the go-anywhere extreme terrain vehicle finally realized in a trike! Maria was going to have a world-first vehicle. No thought crossed my mind that I would be paying to have one custom built for me though, so I contented myself with all the fun I was having on the 700. But then things changed. In a seeming flash, the landscape of cycling moved into backcountry exploration in a very big way. Fat bikes were getting started, looking more like motorcycles than bicycles. The thought crossed my mind, but still, I really like sitting in a comfy seat to explore my vast world, not straddling a metal pole with a thin strip of leather inserted into my rear end.
Maria Leijerstam on her custom built ICE backcountry recumbent tricycle
Then, it happened! The glorious days arrived just a moment ago, where fat tire extreme terrain tricycles popped onto the scene, with ICE leading the way, but with Azub in close pursuit. The wave had begun, and there was no stopping the enthusiastic response from the triking world. More companies jumped in, and as I write, it is only becoming more and more popular. There is serious money to be made in the extreme terrain trike venue, and the manufacturers are seeing it. Today is different than in 2014 when I ordered the 700.
Things have come full circle. What did not exist in 2008, the vehicle that I actually truly wanted, became reality in 2015. All of a sudden, I realized that I could now return to my lifelong addiction to the natural world, get off the boring pavement as I did in my Jeep, and get back out in nature, only this time, without poisoning the air in my wake. But then I thought, how ridiculous – I just got the new Catrike a year ago! What am I thinking? A new trike again in 2015, just over a year later? Well, yes, that was the path I opted to take and that is where I now am, having ordered the new trike March second of this year.
With all new products however, there can be wait times as manufacturers ramp up for full production, and iron out any initial bugs. The leading edge is also known as the bleeding edge for a reason. As you have very likely guessed by now, after all this ranting, is that my new trike is a fatrike. For me, this new trike was going to be either an Azub or an ICE, the two that, after having a good look at the present field, stood out in my own thoughts as the one’s best suited for my rugged backcountry needs. My new trike needed to be bomb proof, as the saying goes, able to carry supplies, and take me out to wild territory where, if something broke, it could mean my life! For me, this is serious business. I am not just some weekend warrior who wants to use a fatrike for local outings within walking distance of the house. In fact, the first expedition, which I presently plan on starting later this year, leaves no room for any mistakes out in the field. Second chances are rare out there!
As I write this, there are still several weeks until I leave, and my return to the wilds, after six years of vehicular abstinence, is greatly anticipated. I am like a kid in a candy shop. Street riding is fun, no doubt about it. Dirt riding is the epitome for me however. My wild side really will be wild once again – this time on a mega fatrike, going where I only used to go in my Jeep CJ-5. Yee haa … time to get down and dirty!
Since I do not have my fatrike yet, I cannot write about it. Or at least, I choose not to write about what currently does not exist, except in my mind. Once I get it, I’ll share it here for those who are interested. In fact, the next time I return to this page for updates will be once the monster trike has joined my quest for ultimate adventure. Which one did I finally choose to get? That, my friends, is the next chapter …
Exploration, not Destination, is my new mantra!
BTW: I forgot to mention that I seriously considered an HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs26 Enduro, based on three friends of mine who have fs Scorpions and swear by them. The reason I ultimately opted not to go with the Enduro is twofold: 1) The tires, while knobby, are still rather narrow, and will not float on sand and snow like the fat tires, and 2) The ground clearance of the Enduro, while sufficient for most dirt roads, is too low for some of the stuff I envision from my days in the Jeep. I chose not to compromise this time, thus a fatrike it shall be. The HPV Enduro is well suited for most backcountry trikers however.
Learn more about fatrikes HERE!
and if you get one, you can …
The ICE Adventure seems lilliputian compared to the ICE Full Fat!
Mark Waters sits happily upon one of the first fatrikes delivered to the United States.
Initially, I also considered the acquisition of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion Enduro as a possible alternative to the Azub and ICE fatrikes. I eliminated this trike as a possible backcountry buggy for two main reasons: 1) While the ground clearance was fine for most riders and uses, it sat too low to the ground for my needs in extreme terrain at times, and 2) The Enduro had typical mountain bike tires, not the larger fat tires that provide superior effectiveness in many scenarios, such as sand or snow. So although the Scorpion Enduro is a very fine trike, it was not best suited for my unique needs.
The HP Velotechnik Scropion Enduro off-road recumbent tricycle