If you are going to take a long journey on a human-powered recumbent tadpole tricycle, be ready for celebrity status. Be ready for endless questions you’ve answered many times before. Be ready to pose for the cameras of just about everyone who talks to you along the way, and don’t be surprised to see someone who remains distant taking your picture too. Trikes are bizarre by nearly anyone’s standard, and when folks see weird things, the natural human reaction is to whip out the digital camera and grab the image to show everyone else back home.
Some trikers I know simplify this process by handing out a business card that has an internet address the curious onlookers can visit to read about the trike tour later. A few trikers grow tired of this ritual that occurs everywhere they go, and try to avoid it, but most seem to enjoy the attention. So it is with me. I love talking to people about things for which I have a passion, and tricycles fall into that category. For me, this sharing of my exploits and the amazing machine I ride is just a fun thing to do. Decide ahead of time how you wish to handle this on your own trike tour, for it is guaranteed you will be approached many times over the days and weeks.
One day I had to install a new inner tube inside one of my trailer tires that had finally seen the last of its useful life, having been punctured a week and a half earlier by hundreds of goathead thorns. Just after I had replaced the tire and wheel on the trailer, a very cordial elderly Asian couple walked up with big grins on their faces. They spoke hardly any English, but it was clear that they were curious about my vehicle. We talked as much as we were able considering the language hurdle, and then they asked to take photographs in their broken English. So, I was a momentary celebrity as the husband took digital pictures of me sitting on the trike with his wife standing next to me. Smiles and slight bowing of heads signaled the end of our pleasant visit, and they watched me ride off.
A few days later, another celebrity instance appeared shortly after daybreak. Pedaling across the pavement to some picnic tables, I found a nice wooden table in the sun, which felt perfect this early. Later in the day however, I would be seeking shade. Out came my dining supplies from my small trailer, which I spread out with total abandon on the table. Having been eating atop my trailer for so long, it was pure luxury to have such a big expanse on which to eat … and to be able to sit down while doing so, no less.
While I ate, a couple of early risers walked past and questioned me about the trike and my journey. I enjoy sharing my epic adventure with all who ask, so I commenced to talk. It was clear they were impressed with the whole idea of what I was doing. They may have thought I was crazy, but hey, they were talking to me all about my trike trek, so I had an audience, which is more than I can say for people who travel by conventional means. I stand out as unique in a sea of mediocrity. Yep, I guess I really am a wilderness rogue.
Later that day, sitting back on my trike seat again, under the shade of a tree near the front porch of the lodge at the highway’s edge, I contemplated potential daily activities. A very nice elderly lady walked up and asked if she might take my photograph on the trike. Now used to such requests, I smiled and said sure. Pictures taken, she showed genuine interest in the tale of my journey, and continued asking many questions. There could be no better use of my time than to be an ambassador for trikedom, enlightening the motorized humans of this planet about the joys of three human-powered wheels. I never tire of such interactions, which will hopefully shed light on alternative methods of travel for a society that is entrenched in the status quo.
“What’s the nature of your infirmity?” were the words I heard off to my right as I was again seated on the trike, finishing up a few journal entries after lunch the next day. I looked up (you’re always looking up on a trike) to see another older woman sincerely interested that a man with some sort of handicap was still able to get himself around on his own. She moved around to the front of my trike so she was facing me.
Matt Jensen also had told me that folks would believe me to be physically handicapped while on my trike. He said that since it resembles some odd sort of wheelchair that this thought comes to mind for many people, so much so that trikers in general are aware of this dynamic response. As this lady was standing over me, guru Matt’s teachings came to light yet again.
Time to have some fun!
I closed my journal and stood up from my low recumbent seat. Next, I moved away from my trike and jumped as high into the air as I could. The lady watched all this with awe. Then, I said to her that physically I am fine, and if there is any handicap, it’s only in my head! To this, we both had a good laugh, and I launched into describing what this bizarre looking contraption was, why I was on it, and where I was going. She also wanted to know how I ride it on the freeways.
Life on a trike is always exciting, even when things are slow.
On another occasion, a young Japanese couple came up to me, curious about my wheels and mission. They spoke fluent English, probably because they lived in the United States. After asking the usual questions and hearing the usual answers, the fellow asks if I will stand next to his girlfriend (or wife – I don’t recall now) in front of the tricycle for a photograph, to which I happily consented. Then, he inquired whether I would let his lady sit in the seat for another picture … not a problem! I demonstrated how to gracefully sit backwards into a trike, and then helped her get into position. Somehow, her tight mini shorts and wide high heel shoes looked oddly out of place on the three wheeled beast. She couldn’t even reach the pedals. It wasn’t until later that I realized she had left her sunglasses on my machine, but alas, it was too late to locate them because they had driven off and were far away by then.
Thousands of foreign visitors flock to Death Valley every year from all over the world. Germany is a popular country when walking around here, as you can hear quite a few German conversations. As you may suspect by now, Japan and other Asian countries also supply their share of visitors. On my final day of the tricycle expedition to this renowned national park, I took on its most notorious mountain pass. Midway up the epic cycling challenge, I stopped in a rare spot of shade at a rest stop … to rest, rehydrate, and pump some much-needed calories into my body on the hot day. Even then, visitors saw me and were curious.
A bus full of people milled around for a while, with some asking questions, and then two guys who had just pulled over in their white Toyota sedan were briefed about me by someone else, so they came up to talk. One fellow from Japan was here with his Japanese/American buddy, and wanted his photo taken next to me (even though I’m sweating like a pig). We had to go through a translation mode with his friend, as the guy who wanted the photo spoke no English. We were all smiles and had a good time. They wanted the address to the Badwater trike blog so they could later read all about the trip.
Yep, you’re a celebrity for sure whenever pedaling your triangle across the miles. Be a good sport and indulge the curious masses, even if it means a slight delay in your itinerary. The way I see it is that we are all ambassadors for the world of recumbent tadpole trikes, and it is incumbent upon us to step up to the plate to pitch our machines and personal missions. Remember this: For every positive contact you make, that’s one more person who will from then on give the respect due us while traveling out on the open road, one more person who will say, “There’s another one of those cool tricycles! I’ll give them plenty of room.”
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Not all is as it seems. Occasionally, trike pilots can be fooled. They make mistakes in judgment. Estimating each day’s mileage ahead of time can be tricky business, which is one reason that any triker who prefers motels each night is well advised not to book ahead of time. Even if familiar with the route, unforeseen circumstances can crop up at the last minute that will cause a premature end of travel for a given day (flat tire, mechanical malfunction, etc). One thing I have learned repeatedly in life is that things usually take longer than originally expected, and building in some slop time is a good idea. Mountain passes offer us a good example.
I spoke earlier of my final day on the tricycle expedition, and a ride up Towne Pass. Spending many days and hundreds of miles on a recumbent tricycle pretty much results in one’s ability to fairly accurately assess most terrain on the route, both by actually looking at it in person, and by mental calculations of elevation profiles on a map. A trike pilot takes into account the degree of grade on mountain passes, and allows a certain time frame for making the ascent, knowing that the descent on the other side will make up for lost time. With experience, these assessments come close to hitting the mark on what actually develops on the road, but not always. My assessment of the Cascade Range in Oregon, for example, was so far off that it put my life in jeopardy. New lessons are learned every day while touring on a trike.
Well, anyway, I had more than one option for leaving the national park, so each day prior to departure I mulled over the choices before me. One option was a ride over Towne Pass and down into the Panamint Valley on the other side. Towne Pass has an elevation gain of 4,956 feet in the 17 miles from Stovepipe Wells, which is at sea level. It is a pass that is notorious for overheating cars. That works out to an average vertical gain of 292 feet per mile, which is quite severe from a triker’s standpoint. Extreme grades like that are why I put the 24-tooth chainring on the front so that I could pull my heavy load no matter what.
My inclination was the Towne Pass exit for three reasons. First, I wished to have that feather in my cap, which is purely male ego of course, but nonetheless, I covet the experience and mental rewards. Second, the twelve miles down the south face of the pass would be the ultimate thrill ride on a tricycle, surpassing any downhill pass thus far. The south face is even steeper than the north face I would be ascending, and it has many curves. To ride it on a trike would be the definitive experience for a triker, as speeds of more than 50 miles per hour are entirely possible. Third, I have spent many years of my life exploring the Panamint Valley, and am well versed in its terrain and history, and to ride my Q into it from Death Valley would be pleasing to my spirit.
Thus, I opted for this choice, but got a late start that day because my speaking engagement and book signing event took longer than anticipated. I only had 17 miles to the summit, which I figured was doable, even though I didn’t depart until 10:15 that morning. I was truly looking forward to speeding down the south side of the pass by late afternoon, when I could watch the evening shadows overtake the Panamint Valley. It was to be my crowning experience! But out in those parts, distances are terribly deceptive, to the point that sometimes a person’s perception has gotten them killed when they think they can make it to a certain place. This is especially true on a slow moving vehicle powered by human legs. This is also one reason visitors are advised to remain with their car if it breaks down. You don’t want your mind or body to break down too!
Although my ride up to Artist’s Palette several days earlier was more of a vertical gain when figured on a “per mile” basis than Towne Pass, that ride’s brutal section was only three miles long instead of seventeen. The Artist’s Drive road begins at 163 feet below sea level, and rises to 960 feet above. That is in the first three miles! This works out to a 1,123 vertical feet elevation gain in the three miles, or about 374 feet per mile! By comparison, the Cascade Range ascent I traveled early in this expedition was a 4,000 vertical feet elevation gain in about 31 miles, or roughly 129 feet per mile. So Towne Pass was somewhere in between at 292 vertical feet per mile. Any way you look at it, these radical ascents really test one’s mettle, improve one’s heart, and are ripe for time miscalculation.
I figured that even if I averaged only 4 miles per hour on Towne Pass, that would put the summit four hours and fifteen minutes away, not including rest breaks of course. At that speed, I’d make the top at 2:30 in the afternoon, or shortly after 3:00 at the latest, giving me plenty of time to descend the other side in daylight. If I averaged 3 miles per hour, it would require about six hours, putting me on top between 4:15 and 4:30 PM, still very workable. This was in my ability I thought.
Returning to the road angel subject momentarily, the night before the Towne Pass summit attempt, dinner was courtesy of my most ardent road angel. Mom insisted on treating me and Jack Freer to a feast at the cozy resort restaurant, and as always, I never argue with anyone who wants to feed me, especially when the next day would bring such a massive physical outlay. She wanted to include Jack because of his continued help on this journey of her son.
Here are a few excerpts from the Towne Pass experience on a trike:
“Seventeen miles of uphill separate me from the heady thrill ride of a lifetime. This is a steep pass on both sides. Any cyclist at the top going in either direction down will indeed learn the true meaning of very serious speed on a human-powered cycle, whether it be two wheels or three. There is no denying it, even automobile drivers find this pass intimidating. The side I will be going down is even steeper than the side I am now starting to ride up. I’ll get my hide up to the top as fast as I can because I want to see the grand spectacle of the Panamint Valley as I rocket down out of the park.
“I suspect it will be mid to late afternoon by the time I go down the other side. Sunsets and sunrises are the prettiest times out here, so it should time out well. Seventeen miles is nothing normally. I did the 24 from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells in about three hours. The Towne Pass road is a steep grade as it crests over the spine of the northern Panamint Range, but my load is lighter than it has ever been now, so I hope to make decent time. Six hours should do it, putting me at the summit around 4:30 PM, with enough daylight to easily reach my destination for trip’s end.
“Looking at the road ahead can be discouraging at times. It is so darn long and straight at the beginning, but I am on my middle chainring, keeping up a good pace. As long as I can stay in this gear range, for most of the way, I’ll meet my expectations. At the 1,000 foot mark, Jack is taking my photograph, with Stovepipe Wells now a tiny white speck on the desert floor below.
“There is no shortage of heat. The sun, although mild by summer standards, takes it performance toll when pedaling up this steep grade. I freely perspire, and freely do I also suck up new water from my water bladder tube that comes over my left shoulder, for water on the go. Behind my recumbent seat on the left side, I have mounted a Camelbak hydration system in a Fastbak pouch, which allows easy access to water anytime. The Radical Lowracer panniers keep the water supply in the shade. All of this is behind and under my left arm. I also have two BPA-free water bottles mounted on the frame between my legs. Water will be no problem today though, for I have two vehicles with plenty of supply that are tracking my progress. My success is practically guaranteed.
“Up ahead, there is a noticeable bend in the road, where it goes from a predominantly westerly direction to more southwesterly bearing. I spin into this corner with great enthusiasm of maintaining my momentum, and it seems that I can do no wrong. Before long however, this second stretch of road ups the ante on my efforts. A shift is made down on my rear cassette. Then another, until finally I am at the lowest point that the middle chainring can handle. My next shift will require changing to the smallest front chainring. Valiantly I attempt to maintain this speed as long as I can, but eventually, despite my best efforts, it is now clear that low range gearing is necessary.
“By shifting onto the small 24-tooth chainring from the 36-tooth middle ring, I can now upshift my rear cassette a few notches, into the middle of the nine sprockets. This involves my right hand directing the cable to move the rear derailleur into a position that drops the 12-foot long chain down from the largest rear sprocket. In the rear, the largest sprocket is used for going the slowest, while in the front, the largest chainring is used for going the fastest. Here is the combo: front/small and rear/large means ultra slow going. Front/large and rear/small means ultra fast going.
“Even though I am eating bars and drinking water like there is no tomorrow, I am still unable to remain exclusively in the low/mid gearing. The farther I go, the more often I am forced to remain in the low/low gearing. Eventually, low/low becomes my reality this early afternoon, and only on the slightest of what appears to be very brief downhills am I able to upshift towards a low/mid gearing. They look like short downhill sections of maybe twenty yards, but they are not by any means downhill. It’s all one grand deception of my mind. These occasional teasers are still uphills, but due to the extent of this overall grade, they only APPEAR to be going down. Reality is closer to something like this: instead of a grade of 6-9 percent, these sections may only be 3-5 percent.
“It’s a strange feeling when your mind says you can really speed up for a ways, but your body says no way. Regardless, when one of these lesser grades comes along, I still eek out every last bit of speed I can. My sister Willow has opted to walk along behind me for the last mile or two, and she has no problem keeping up! Gee, is this ever a humbling ride today.
“By 1:45 PM, I pull into Emigrant Campground, sis hot on my heels … er, I mean trailer. It’s nearly two in the afternoon and I’m just over half way! I have been pedaling for three hours and a half, and only covered about nine miles of road. The math will reveal an average speed, but of course, it was significantly faster up to the first big curve.
“Slight doubts are beginning to creep into my mind now as to whether I can make the top before dark. The eternal optimist, I will give it my best shot. I want that ride down the other side so bad I can taste it. If it gets dark, I have a powerful headlight. Mom implores me to stop here and load up the trike. She is getting tired and wants to get home for some supper. She made similar request of me about three miles ago, but I forged ahead anyway. I tell her that I am only eight miles from the summit, way too close to stop now. The summit will be mine.
“After eating several energy bars, a few boxes of raisins, and two V8 juices, I’m on my way yet again. The air is starting to cool a tad now and then the sun is partially blocked by the massive mountains to my west. Eventually, I will be in the shade completely, but for now, it’s sporadic.
“There is no timepiece on me or my trike. The Earth is rotating and hiding the sun more and more. Now I am in the shade. My sister has chosen to keep me company for a few more miles. She says she will walk with me all the way to the summit, knowing that my high speeds going down the other side will be a different story. Not long after the 4,000 foot marker, I turn on my tail light for safety. It is getting darker. I tell Willow that she must get into the truck with mom up ahead because it is getting too dangerous for her to be walking on Highway 190 at twilight. Traffic seems unusually heavy today in both directions, and it’s no place to be on foot in dark clothing with no lights or reflectors.
“Willow agrees, and somewhere around 4,300 feet, I am on my own again. Around 4,400 feet, I feel it is necessary to turn on my headlight and strobe. The strobe fires right up. The headlight is dead … again. Even though the company claims 90 hours of runtime, this is the second set of batteries currently in my Cateye EL-530 headlight. Jack is about to pass me again in his Jeep. I flag him down by waving my left arm and pointing to the side of the road. He immediately stops and gives me new batteries for the 530. My Cateye LD1100 tail light is still on its first set of batteries from the start of the trip. It is living up to its claims. The strobe is on its second set, but seems strong enough tonight to make the final leg of the expedition.
“Jack drives on. Darkness finally overtakes my slow moving tricycle. Were it not for my ultra bright lights and abundant reflective devices, I would now be invisible to traffic. Even now, in complete darkness, the cars slow and pass completely in the other lane. There is no cause for alarm. The extreme physical effort needed to make this grade now feels good as the night air is rapidly chilling. I am on the verge of considering a light jacket, but am still fine as long as I keep moving.
“With no daylight to provide terrain clues as to my whereabouts, I have no definitive idea where I am on the mountain. I can only guess based on my prior experiences up here. It seems like I am getting close now. The curves are much tighter, which is what happens on this north side near the top. The two support vehicles play leapfrog with me on my climb. Sometimes when I pass mom and sis in the pickup, they stay parked with their headlights on to illuminate me for upcoming traffic. On Towne Pass, motorists generally keep the pedal to the metal to get up and over. Mom is clearly worried, but I have long since left that mindset behind on this journey.
“Now it’s getting windy on top of all the climbing I’m doing, and the wind is coming from over the top, meaning that I am pedaling into a headwind. Although still a light wind, it is doing me no favors as it heads north. A National Park Service law enforcement ranger has passed me twice tonight in his Chevrolet Avalanche patrol vehicle. He must surely think I’ve lost my mind.
“Up ahead, I notice two vehicles parked off the side of the road. I wonder if this is the summit. As I near, which takes what seems like eternity at this point, I can tell they are way off to the side. I know that this summit has an ultra wide parking area on top for cars to cool and people to stretch, so I hope this is where I can begin my descent.
“Yes, it’s a large parking area all right, and both the F-150 and Jeep are parked here, far off towards the west side, with their engines running and headlights on so that I can see them clearly. I pull up to the first vehicle I meet, which is Jack’s Jeep. He rolls down the window. I ask him if this is the top.
He says yes!
“I set the brakes on the Q and get up to stretch my legs. Mom’s truck is about 15 feet ahead. Jack tells me that it’s five minutes after six. Just in the minute I’ve been standing here, the wind, which is noticeably stronger at the summit, is really making me cold. After weeks of living out of my panniers, I know right where my down vest, polar fleece jacket, and rain/wind jacket are, and I waste no time putting them all on and fastening them completely. I also put on my polar fleece skullcap and heavy Shift Torrent motorcycle foul weather gloves. I can’t believe how cold it has become! It will be a cold ride going down into the Panamint Valley tonight, as I’ll be coasting all the way, expending little physical effort.
“Jack, who didn’t bring a jacket at all, and is only wearing short pants and a short sleeve shirt, has his heater going in the Jeep, and has the window down only about half way so we can talk. He wasn’t expecting this turn of temperature. We had both figured I’d summit during daylight.
“‘There are fist sized rocks ahead in the road in several turns.’ Jack tells me. He has done reconnaissance while I was making my slow headway tonight, and apparently enough rocks have fallen directly into the lane that he strongly feels that it would be very unsafe for me to continue in the dark. There is also a lot of traffic this Friday night, and Jack says that if I’m speeding down to the bottom and have to dodge these small rocks, I could end up crashing or hitting a car. The rocks pose no problem for automobiles, but could be disastrous for a speeding trike pilot at night.
“Mom comes back to talk briefly in the cold wind. She has already heard Jack’s report. Everyone is tired. I am so bushed that I can feel the beginning stages of hypothermia coming on, even with all my heavy clothing. I’m actually shaking a little bit, but I doubt it’s noticeable to them in the dark. After giving me her opinion of what I should do, she high tails it back to the warmth of her truck cab.
“I look Jack straight in the eyes. He has his interior dome light on. I ask what he thinks. Jack is a straight shooter. He tells me it’s finally time to call it a day. It’s just far too risky to go any farther under these conditions. I’m so wiped out that my judgment is probably impaired. To proceed now could put a bad ending on a good trip. It’s just not worth the prize of flying down this grade ahead of me. Nothing is that important.
“For a moment, I consider all this. I know he’s right. My condition is deteriorating rapidly now, and it wouldn’t take much to plunge me into a dangerous thermal regulation problem because coasting downhill generates little internal body heat. I make my decision, and tell him we end it here.
“Jack gets out and we wheel my trike over to mom’s truck. The wind is picking up even more as we begin the puzzle of getting it all in the bed for high speed transport to mom’s house in Apple Valley. I get my panniers inside the truck’s rear seat area, which is only a partial short seat, but enough for mom’s short legs. My sister will ride up front, for she is tall. All gear stowed at long last, Jack and I congratulate each other on our achievements, thank one another for the experiences during the past 37 days, and we say farewell. He will spend another day or two in Death Valley. He turns the Jeep around and heads back down the 17 miles to Stovepipe.
“It is so cold and I am so miserable, that all I can think about is getting into the truck. I will drive us home to mom’s. Willow had purchased a CD of one of the western singers she heard at the stage, and we listen to the songs on the way home. Partway down the grade into the pitch black Panamint Valley, I realize that there were no summit photographs taken. My old digital camera doesn’t do too well at night (at only 1.3 megapixels), but we are too far down and no one, including me, wants to go back up. We all forgot at the top. It just goes to show how minds dulled by tedium (Jack, Willow, and mom), as well as a mind dulled by extreme exhaustion (me), are not the best decision makers.
“What a great shot that would have made, with me and the trike under the pass sign at night. Not only didn’t I get my ride down, but I didn’t even get to bring the moment at the top home in pictures. Oh well, this has been an expedition of a lifetime, and I am still very satisfied with how things turned out.
“Down below and across the valley, we see the lights of the Panamint Springs Resort off in the distance. We turn a few miles short of that, and head south past Ballarat and over the next mountains into Trona. From there, we pass through Red Mountain, Kramer’s Junction (Four Corners for all you old timers), and then south to Victorville. Once in Apple Valley, we refuel the truck so we don’t have to do it tomorrow morning when mom and sis return it.
“We pull into mom’s driveway, and she suggests unloading the truck in the morning. I just as soon get it done tonight. It only takes about five minutes. The trike is secure in the garage, and the panniers are placed in my guest room. Around 11:45 PM, my head finally hits the pillow. It has been one very long day …
I think I’ll sleep in late!
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Let me finish this written gem of nonfictional prose (lol) with but a few select passages from my many post-trip writings in 2009. The topics covered below speak to a multitude of trike touring experiences, some of which you may find helpful in your own touring. These words were written in the days immediately following the end of my Death Valley journey, when the sensations of that trek were yet freshly burned into my memory. Some thoughts are technical in nature, while others become quite philosophical. Touring on a trike is so much more than just pedaling a human-powered vehicle for exercise. It ventures deep into ideological realms for me, transporting my mind far beyond what the average motorist sees as I pedal along. When I’m on a trike, it’s like Scotty from the Starship Enterprise has beamed me into another world. So, as my favorite Vulcan would say: Live long and prosper …
“Scotty, beam me up. There’s a Klingon bird-of-prey decloaking off my port side!”
Here then, are my final musings from late 2009:
“Today, freshly on the heels of the Death Valley Tricycle Expedition, I wish to consider and share a few elements of this odyssey, a life-altering experience that I am pleased to have accomplished. An odyssey may be defined as a journey fraught with numerous challenges and unexpected perils. It is a term often associated with a hero of Greek mythology who overcomes adversity to achieve a noble goal, and in a romantic vision of myself, I suppose the image does fulfill a certain internal and private need to rise above mediocrity. The status quo has rarely been my way, and as I grow older, the thought of doing what everyone else does everyday is not a part of my desired life paradigm.
“It may be true that I am a wilderness rogue, intent on writing my own rules.
“American tradition virtually demands that I hold a 9 to 5 job for 42 years after a four-year college education, retire with excellent benefits at age 65, live the next ten years in a relaxed manner during a typically escalating time of deteriorating health, and then frailly leave the world of the living three-quarters of a century after I entered it. This is expected reality … for the oblivious masses willing to accept it, a long-established way of life that we have been seduced to believe since childhood. Well, I unthinkingly accepted this routine for a while, as most of us do, wanting to be part of the social norm, before it began to dawn on me that there may be better ways of taking my journey on Earth … ways likely unsuitable for most.
“It could be potentially construed that my ramblings here have gone astray temporarily, into an irrelevant rant about the ills of humanity, yet this maverick ideology to which I hold is at the very core of the Death Valley Tricycle Expedition. It may have been apparent that my path was straying back on December 22, 2008, when I relinquished ownership of America’s most essential possession … the automobile. My way demands that fitness and longevity be the guiding forces in all that I do, and dismissing the venerated car from my model of life realized several health goals at once, things considered important to me, such as achieving notable fitness levels with human-powered mobility, and doing what I can to keep the air I breathe pristine. Of course, aspects like not financially supporting the petroleum industry at the gas pump, as well as no semi-annual payments of insurance, and the cessation of tossing money into maintenance and repair shops were also a plus.
“Extremes have been the hallmark of the Death Valley Tricycle Expedition. Over the course of this journey, I have encountered rain, wet forests, ice, snow, sub-freezing temperatures, frozen water and food, hypothermia, sun, dust, triple-digit temperatures, hot water, high winds, dirt storms, overheating, and vast deserts. My hands have been so cold breaking down the tent that I had to do it in short bursts to allow my hands to re-warm enough to have another go at it, while at other times, the campsite was so comfortable that I didn’t want to even break camp. I have seen geese flying along side me on the Umpqua River, horses running along side in northern California as the stallion was excited about my passing, coyotes furtively looking for food, rattlesnakes and tarantulas crossing the road, and deer curious about what I was. And dogs, the bane of regular bicyclists, refused to get close to me, as my image was not in their understanding – simply heading in their direction sent them packing.
“I have met interesting people along the way, like the fellow who was riding a bicycle and trailer from Fairbanks, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina, a 15,000 mile overland trek that hit the 5,000 mile mark at Badwater. He stayed two nights at my camp in Furnace Creek, and we shared the joys of solo cycling. I met the man who founded an extreme cycling organization that organizes and promotes long distance endurance events in Death Valley, one of which raises money for diabetes research for children. A lady made my acquaintance who had cancer, and walked a daunting distance in Death Valley by herself to strengthen her own resolve to beat it. Her solo walk has now morphed into a yearly event attended by others to help cancer victims. I met a former psychologist who determined he had made enough money in his practice and didn’t need anymore, so he gave it all up and walked across America. Now, he is a ranger for the National Park Service. I met two gals who had been backpacking for 5 months straight, from their home in Nelson, British Columbia, with the goal to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. One of the ladies had an injury that terminated her trip in southern Oregon. The other continued on alone. These folks inspired me tremendously.
“I have learned that venturing out where the masses fear to tread brings special rewards, and puts one in touch with other adventurous people. I have learned that when two extreme explorers meet in the wilds, there is an immediate and powerful kinship, based on an unspoken understanding of what each is experiencing alone on the journey. I have learned that it takes just as much mental and emotional strength to carry out these extended overland trips as it does physical ability. I have learned that incredible memories are formed each new day, and any normal folks who I happen to encounter are eager to hear all about what it’s like.
“I have learned that living outside the box is like being in a parallel universe, where I see the same things as those around me, yet my vision is a world apart. How I interact with this planet, other humans, and the wild creatures about me is on another level that most do not experience. This reminds me of John Muir’s statement of so long ago: ‘Most people are on the world, not in it – have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching, but separate.’
“I have learned that my journey of life is the reward itself, that no single place or destination is what I seek. The satisfaction of living comes from my daily experiences, from appreciating the natural world, from bringing a smile to my fellow human, and from my ability to remain a positive and uplifting force regardless of what seems to be happening inside the box of traditional reality. I have learned that keeping life simple, free from the imagined complexities of society, is what works for me. I have learned that opting out of the almighty status quo is the best way to find the new path to freedom and happiness.
“I have learned that there is yet much more for me to learn, and my path to this enlightenment is ever a beckoning call. I have learned that questioning even the most sacred of supposed cultural truths may open doors heretofore unimagined. Most importantly, I have learned to follow my own instincts, even when they transport me into remote places that are not on the map of traditional existence.
“I have learned that there is a lot to be learned while riding a tricycle to Death Valley … that a whole new world can present itself between sea level at the Pacific Ocean and 282 feet below sea level at Badwater. Whether atop a dark and frozen snow-bound mountain pass or cradled in a hot sun-baked salt playa, there are secrets to be learned. It has been one hell of a ride!
“I would like to chat a while about the mode of transportation, as its uniqueness has quite a bit to do with the interest that surrounded the trek through three western states. This was not an exceptionally long cycling journey when compared to the many other adventurers out there who ride thousands of miles on a trek, some over the course of many months or years. It was long enough however to teach yours truly the ins and outs of human-powered travel, giving me a fair amount of insight about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to trekking on a trike. I still have more to learn, yet for my first-ever such odyssey, the successes of this expedition have afforded me a base of experience from which I may now pass on my ideas to those who might find them useful.
“Let’s start with the most basic of items that keep our trikes rolling down the road: the tires and associated particulars. The last thing I wanted out on some busy Oregon, California, or Nevada highway with no shoulder was to have a flat tire. Not only would it waste my travel time, it would prove an unpleasant experience changing a tube under these circumstances. Could you imagine what it would have been like had a tire gone flat during my Cascade Range ascent at 2:00 AM, where my very survival was in question?
“So, I did what many advised me was overboard and totally unnecessary! I tripled my tire protection on the trike to eliminate the worry of this happening. I was intent on keeping the 70 pounds per square inch inside the tube rather than allowing it to escape into the air I was breathing. This involved purchasing what I determined was the best puncture resistant tire available today, even though each of the 4 tires cost me $56 (3 on the trike, with one spare under the trailer … just in case they really weren’t invincible). Schwalbe Marathon-Plus tires have an extra thick tread area that a thorn, or even a thumbtack cannot penetrate. They are touted as puncture proof, and I was advised that was all that was needed to keep my aluminum wheels elevated from the asphalt. This tire is one step better than the Schwalbe Marathon.
“Next, I lined each tire with EarthGuard tire liners. These are inserted prior to the tube, and provide yet another layer of thick and tough material that stands between the tube and the thorn, glass, metal, or whatever else lurks out there along side the automobile highways to stop cyclists (such as thin strands of steel from trucker’s tires that have exploded at 60 miles per hour – nasty things – stay away). Despite advice that I needn’t do more, I did anyway, by using Q-Tubes instead of standard bicycle tubes. These Q-Tubes are super thick and very durable compared to the flimsy tubes that come standard on most cycles. At this point, each wheel/tire combo weighed in heavier than what most road cyclists would want to have (weight is considered the enemy to cycling travel by many enthusiasts). For my needs however, I sacrificed the lighter weight for the bullet-proof setup that would get me through without any flats.
“My intuition paid off! The trike, which is currently sitting in mom’s garage in Apple Valley, still remains at normal height because all three tires are still fully inflated. None of them had a flat the entire trip. Every week or two, I checked them by feel and with a gauge to verify, and topped off the air if it had slowly crept down to around 65 (still acceptable). All tires lose air over periods of weeks and months naturally. At 65 pounds, the ride would have been softer, but since I was hauling so much weight on this journey, I kept them at the maximum rating to make my rolling resistance as little as possible. Based on this experience, I would recommend a similar setup to anyone contemplating a long distance cross country trip. Peace of mind is worth a lot.
“To contrast the tires on the trike and give you an idea of manufacturing differences, I’ll describe the two tires on my trailer. The Burley trailer came supplied with Kenda tires and normal tubes. I did not have the funds to outfit it with Schwalbe Marathon-Plus tires, but I wanted a little extra protection that would hopefully do the trick. I installed EarthGuards in each tire, which was my only modification. All was fine until I drove through that thicket of goatheads in Canby, California late one afternoon on Day 9. Goatheads are the nightmare thorns that will flatten just about any tire and tube combination. I had hundreds of these things literally covering every square inch of tread on all five tires. It took about half an hour to extract every last one. The next morning, all five tires were still holding.
“Well, over the course of the next day, it became apparent that the Kendas and the standard tubes of the trailer setup had been damaged. Both were losing air each day, enough so that it required monitoring and inflating. The right tire was doing better than the left. A few days later, the left wouldn’t even hold air for a few hours. I had two spare Q-Tubes in my possession just in case this happened, so I inserted one and was back in business for the remainder of the trip.
“One thing I noticed while changing the tube is the dramatic difference between the Kenda tire and the Schwalbe Marathon-Plus. The Kenda I could easily change out with just my hands because it was so thin, light, and flexible. The Schwalbe, on the other hand, is just the opposite (thick, heavy, inflexible, and a real bear to change), but the good news is that you would rarely, if ever, need to change the Marathon-Plus due to a puncture situation. During this changing of the trailer tire, I also noticed the huge difference between the standard inner tube and the Q-Tube: There simply is no comparison, other than they both hold air! The Q-Tube is thick and heavy by comparison, but when you’re out in the hinterlands of nowhere, it’s sure a great feeling to know your tires and tubes won’t let you down!
“Lesson learned? Do it right at home the first time! Don’t skimp. I should have bitten the bullet and equipped the trailer like I had the trike, but I figured I’d take the chance. I figured wrong. The right trailer tire loses its air over the course of a week, so I will eventually put my remaining Q-Tube in it. This tire/tube scenario is one of those things one really doesn’t learn except on a long overland trek. It made a believer out of me.
“The three wheels on my trike are all the same size, 20 inches, which works well for my needs. The smaller rear wheel adds to the trike’s hill climbing capability. High speed road trikes sometimes have 700C rear wheels, which helps the top-end speed, but since I was going to ascend many long and steep mountain passes on this expedition with a heavy load, I am happy to have had the 20 inch rear. Another plus is that I only had to carry one size of spare tube, tire, and liner. If anything went wrong with any of the five tires, I had what I needed. By way of comparison, a person riding a trike with 20 inch fronts, a 700C rear, and pulling a BOB trailer with a 16 inch wheel has to carry 3 sizes of spare tire, tube, and liner to be fully covered. I am a simple guy, so I like to keep things simple!
“The stock gearing on my Q was not the best for my needs. It was geared more for high speed and moderate hills. The front chain rings that came with the trike originally were 30-42-52, the 30 being fine for hill climbing with just the rider and the rig … no trailer or heavy panniers. I installed a crankset with 24-36-50 chain rings instead, the 24 being much better for climbing the passes with a heavy load, and the 50 being okay still for decent top-end speed on the flat. What I found surprising with the new setup is the middle chain ring of 36 teeth. This turned out to be just what I needed for moderate hills, as I could often remain in the midgear front, and by shifting down the rear cassette to low, it was possible to climb quite a few long, but moderate, grades without downshifting the front to the 24. In fact, the first few miles leaving Stovepipe Wells heading up notorious Towne Pass, my eyes told me 24, but reality turned out 36, all the way to the big sweeping curve that takes the road in a generally southern direction. From there on up, it was mostly the 24 however.
“With the new front crankset, came shorter cranks: 152 millimeters instead of 170 on the Campagnolo I removed. Matt wonders if the shorter arms led to my Achilles over-stress issues. I suppose that may be possible, as I was turning more revolutions per minute (RPM) and had less torque each stroke. Clearly, the fewer strokes over the course of a long trip, the less chance for a repetitive stress injury, as the rider is literally cranking out hundreds of thousands of revolutions each week. And with a shorter cranks, the RPM are higher. I will have to give this further thought. At the time I was looking into a new crankset, I could not find any with 165 to 170 mm arms that had a 22 or 24 small chain ring. I could have gone to a mountain bike crankset, which I almost did, but decided against it because the large chain ring was only 46 teeth if I remember correctly, which would not allow me enough top-end speed on the flat stretches.
“The rear of the Q received an 11 to 34 mountain bike cassette, which proved to be just right. The range allowed for low-end pulling power for the steep grades with my load. Matt installed the cassette for me, back when I was still in my initial learning phases. I also lengthened the chain a little, because Norm Nieberlein, the original owner of the trike, had shorter legs, which necessitated me lengthening the boom a fair amount. Essentially, these changes front and rear were akin to putting a new transmission and drive train in an automobile, the differences being that I could perform all this in my own garage for very little money and no labor. Once a person comes up to speed on doing these modifications, it becomes apparent that no longer does being chained to a auto repair business have to be a part of life. How refreshing, and easy on the pocketbook!
“My pedals are dual-sided, with SPD attachment points on one side, and nothing but a regular flat pedal on the other. They came off a Catrike. Initially, I was going to use my Shimano SPD sandals as my main footgear on this expedition, but chose otherwise at the eleventh hour. The decision was a good one, as it was nice to use just one pair of shoes, rather than having to change if I wanted to hike or walk around, and I also learned that my feet would have been way too cold if I had gone with sandals. This necessitated me having to install some type of foot retention device to the non-SPD side of the pedals, because if your foot slips off the pedal while in a fast downhill descent, your leg will be slammed into the cross-frame of the trike, which could break the bone.
“I used a product called Power Grips, a flexible and ultra sturdy strap that “locks” the foot to the pedal, only requiring a simple twist to get out. Unlike a bicycle, where the feet are above the pedal, on a trike, the feet are behind the pedal … there is no support to counteract the pull of gravity. The Power Grips took care of that little issue perfectly.
“I placed a rearview mirror on each handlebar end, which allowed me to see what was coming from behind. The panniers required me to turn the mirrors out a little more to see around them, and the trailer, which was offset to the left, required yet more tweaking of the left mirror. Mirrors are essential gear out on the road, and I highly recommend one for each side. It’s nice to see what is about to overtake you, especially when a shoulder-less bridge is coming up, or a blind right-hand curve. I don’t like surprises when it comes to 3,000+ pound automobiles whizzing by me unannounced.
“The shifters on my Q are the twist grip variety. Most experienced cyclists that I have run across to date seem to prefer the bar-end shifters over twist grip, however, I found no fault with what I have. I enjoyed them for a strange reason: the handlebars are longer than I would like, a condition that I believe is necessitated due to the fact that this is the narrow track design, and if they were shorter, they would interfere with the front fenders and tires when turning sharply. So, I often keep my hands down low on the grips, with my thumb and forefinger gripping the bottom of the rubber and the rest of my hand just hanging off below. With the twist grip shifter, I can still shift without having to move my hands up to where a bar-end shifter would be. Having never had bar-end shifters, I cannot speak from experience about them, but I can say here that I like the twist grips just fine for my application.
“Fenders adorn my front tires. I would not be without fenders on a trike. For one thing, my hands are pretty darn close to the front tires during travel, and occasionally, a hand can come in contact with a tire without a fender, which is not a good thing if speed is up. For another, when going through water or road gunk, it sure is nice not to have it thrown onto pant legs or elsewhere. I also have a rear fender, built into the rear luggage rack. Okay, the right fender rattles at speed on some roads, something I have yet to track down and eliminate, but hey, I’ll take that rattle for the benefits of the fender.
“The mesh seat is a wonderful invention, and lets me travel for days in comfort. It does take some adjusting of the rear tension straps however to get it just right. I have it mostly perfected, but still have to figure out how to relieve some tension on one of my mid-back vertebra, which is a little sore from the long haul. Fortunately, I had just enough rest days here and there that the rubbing did not develop into a full blown sore area that caused any unbearable pain, like a blister in a hiking boot might. I think that if I tighten the straps above and below the vertebra, and loosen the one immediately under the vertebra, it might be just the ticket. I plan on doing that this week while relaxing in the high desert.
“Another highly recommended item is the headrest! Although much of the time I prefer to keep my head in a vertical position, there are times that resting it is mighty fine and relaxing. This sometimes occurs on long tedious uphills, where hours may go by at a snail’s pace. On a really steep hill, leaning the head back is very comfortable. On steep descents, on the other hand, I prefer to not use the headrest. Also, if the roadbed is rough, using the headrest jars the brain too much for comfort. It’s just nice to know it’s there when I want it.
“Speaking of long steep ascents up mountain passes, my view of hills has changed over the course of the past weeks. Being a normal fun-loving adrenaline junkie, I wanted the downhills for the sheer excitement of the ride (40+ MPH is a real kick on a trike), and uphills … well, they are something that many cyclists would rather do without. Then, on my seemingly endless traverse of the Panamint Range on November 6th, my modest brain had a light illuminate an important, but overlooked, point …
“One of the main reasons I transitioned from a car to a trike was to add functional years to my life through ramping up my fitness endeavors. I realized that cruising downhill at high speed, only 9 inches off the asphalt, and with the wind whipping through my clothes, I was having a positive emotional surge, but what was I accomplishing for my body? Nothing, really! I was just sitting there … might as well be in a car, right? Clearly, uphills are my friends! I know, you’re saying that this guy has really lost it now. Who wants to spend all day pedaling up a killer grade? Well, for my life goals, these challenging ascents are precisely what I want, for the work involved in getting to the top is what works my heart, lungs, and determination.
“These things make me stronger and more fit … physically and mentally. My friends (the hills and mountain passes) will keep me alive and youthful when my contemporaries are suffering from atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. When others are being shoveled six feet under, I hope to still be disappearing over the crest of yet one more pass. If I have to go, let it be in the great outdoors with the freedom of my trike, rather than in an assisted living facility in front of a television, lacking the memory to recall my days on the Q.
“The trike and trailer were beacons visible from afar, whether the sun was up, or the night was dark as a cave. I had two flagpoles that topped out at 8 feet, one located on the trike, and one on the trailer. They were day glow green, somewhat faded now, but still visible. I had traditional day glow orange flags on each pole. I also had one large bright yellow flag on the trike pole, as a color blind friend of mine said that it is not uncommon for many color blind people to see day glow orange as just a muddy brown color, an object that would simply get lost in their visible spectrum. He told me that yellow is something he can readily see, and that it stands out clearly above any other color. So, I covered my bases and included both colors, as well as some day glow orange and pink surveyor’s ribbon on the trailer pole.
“I also had expensive reflective tapes adhered to the trailer and trike, which were like super bright lights for cars coming from behind at night. Several drivers said I was visible from far away at night when their lights struck my many reflectors. I also had a pricey 10-LED flashing red light array for the rear, and a marine rescue strobe, visible for miles in a dark sky. My front headlight was so bright that I could easily navigate with it in pitch dark, but of course, it went through batteries pretty fast, as it is on constantly. My tail light, which I kept in flashing mode, is still on its first set of batteries. The marine strobe is on its second battery.
“Day or night, I never had any issues with cars or trucks seeing my odd 10-foot long rig anywhere. Even in the heavy rush-hour traffic of Klamath Falls, Oregon (hit that just right, ha ha), I was given the utmost respect and afforded courtesies that I would not have received had I been in a car. I was a real sight, something that folks are not used to, a fellow that a fair number of people thought was disabled. Whatever they thought, my experience of this trip tells me that fearing traffic is not what one might suspect prior to venturing out on an overland trek of several weeks.
“In Death Valley, I even dispensed with wearing my helmet most of the time. The spaces are so wide open, and I was clearly visible day or night for a half mile or more, that I just stopped worrying about it finally. If you check out some of the photographs, you’ll see a tan baseball-type cap on my head, with flowing cotton sides that protect me from the sun. It’s a desert hat, designed by a company called Sequel for folks in hot and sunny climates. It was more comfortable than the helmet, and afforded excellent sun shade protection (I don’t use chemical sunblocks of any kind). The helmet I primarily wore in the event that I would accidentally put a wheel over the side of one of the many mountain passes I traversed, or if I had a blowout at speed.
“In the national park, the roads I took were open with no steep drop-offs, so by wearing the hat, I could get off, take a walk, or talk with people and not have to change headgear. I did wear the helmet over Towne Pass, during the final hours of this expedition, not out of worry due to motorized traffic, but rather because of my planned descent from the summit into the Panamint Valley. The descent, of about 10 miles, is exceptionally steep, and with speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour, I felt a helmet would be a wise head-topper. Having a trike accident at those speeds, while unlikely, is not something that a soft cap would handle too well when it comes to protecting my gray matter.
“The aluminum tube that I had fabricated to hold my headlight and tail light next to my head worked perfectly. I wanted to be able to turn each on or off by simply reaching up to the left side of my head while riding. I did not want to stop to do these things. On my planned night moonlight rides, this was great, as I kept the headlight off until an oncoming car was about a quarter mile away, and then I easily switched it on (the switch was not far from my left ear). I wanted my visibility lights to be near my head, to let motorists at night know a person was somewhere close by. Riding at night with the moon as my only illumination was a memorable experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. You just can’t feel this in a car under any circumstances. Only inches off the ground, at the level of plants and animals, it’s quite a rush getting to know the natural world as only a triker can.
“Each night, I removed my panniers from the trike, and placed them in my tent. Some friends of mine on a trike trip prior to mine did not do this, and they had one pannier eaten through by a squirrel one night. I learned that the easy way. I also had a large bell on the trike luggage rack, and one on the trailer. They are typically called bear bells, but that was not why I used them. Initially, my reason for placing them on my rig was to alert me at night if some thief were rumbling about my gear, or if some animal were to mount my rig in search of food or nesting material. The slightest movement of trike or trailer would cause the bells to emit a pleasant and soft jingle. I learned on this trip that any fears of this nature that I had were largely unfounded, as the bells never sounded at night.
“But an unexpected joy came from them! Traveling along the roads of rural America, out where my only company was the natural world, these bells would sing a merry tune when the roads became rough surfaced. I actually grew to enjoy this sound, and it became part of my expected daily sensory delights.
“Tagging along behind the Q every day was a flatbed trailer, loaded with a Rubbermaid 35 gallon Action Packer storage trunk. I chose to pull a trailer because of the extremely remote roadways that I had planned to travel, especially through the Nevada and California desert regions. This cargo area allowed me to be totally self-sufficient for long periods of time, which meant that if I didn’t find a store from which to purchase food, it was no big deal. Of course, the downside of pulling a trailer is the weight, which translates in slower mountain pass ascents, more stress on joints, and problematic situations when riding on non-paved surfaces. The upside is that on mountain descents, I picked up speed quicker due to the weight … more rolling mass kept things going well.
“I estimate that the trailer, Rubbermaid cargo trunk, and my food supply added up to roughly 130 pounds or more. I also carried 5 extra liters of water in the trailer. For me, it is a good feeling to know that I can pitch camp anywhere and have the supplies I need to eat, drink, and survive. I may seek ways to minimize the weight next journey, for I doubt I could do without a trailer on a really long haul through remote territory. Shorter trips, where towns are abundant, may not require a trailer. Let’s put it this way: If I could do without one, I would, as I prefer the speed and mobility of the trike unencumbered.
“When I first bought the trike, with its undersized Kenda road tires, and I looked down at the vehicle, my mind pondered what I was about to do. I was planning on riding this machine hundreds of miles, through three states, on the most secluded roads I could find … all this with no chase crew or backup close at hand. I must admit that after spending 43 years driving cars, and feeling secure in the fast-moving steel boxes, the thought of being so exposed on a tricycle, so low to the ground, with no heavy frame protecting my body was tweaking my mind in odd ways. Would this small vehicle actually get me where I wanted to go? Sure, it was made by the trike company that has been doing this for over 20 years, I told myself. They must know what they’re doing!
“Still, a low-level apprehension existed in my psyche at the onset. As the days rolled by however, and moved into weeks, it became very clear to me that the ICE Qnt was not going to fall apart or leave me stranded. Every day, it performed flawlessly, no matter the weather or road conditions. It got wet, frozen, dusty, and dirty, yet it still kept me mobile. Dirt got on the chain, dérailleurs, and sprockets, yet it all still functioned. The only problem I experienced was that I applied the parking brakes when I got to the Diamond Lake Lodge in the Cascade Range at four in the morning while I warmed up and ate breakfast … and when I came out in the frigid air, found that the cables were frozen in place. Lesson: Don’t apply parking brakes in sub-freezing weather! This was my mistake, not a flaw in the trike.
“I most assuredly endorse the trikes made by Inspired Cycle Engineering, and would not hesitate taking my Q on another expedition! In fact, that is what I hope to do in 2011, perhaps touring Oregon’s outback, a region seen by few of the state’s residents due to it wide and remote expanses in the southeastern quadrant of the state. I also think that a trip to Alaska would be quite the adventure. On a recumbent trike, only one’s imagination and determination set the boundaries of where travel is possible. There are so many upsides to trekking on a trike that it has me hooked. The ICE Qnt is quite a ride, totally capable of transporting me anywhere I want to go. The boys in Britain know their stuff, and do a great job in designing and building their trikes.
“This expedition forms my entry into future life explorations through the natural world, journeys that I will continue to make because I have learned that I feel at home while on them. Most of us search for who we are, seeking a purpose behind our fleeting time in this life. I believe I have found my path, one that my tricycle helps me travel. I do not fit into traditional cultural norms, so neither does my newly acquired means of transport. By embarking upon challenging physical voyages in the backcountry, my mind is also becoming stronger, and I can look at myself and feel strong in my convictions. And with the rugged explorers I met on this journey, who were also living on the edge and pushing their limits, I found a powerful connection that was instantly sensed, a tie that bonds through unspoken thoughts – this was one of my finest unexpected joys.
“Traveling on the ICE Q through three western states opened my eyes to another world. The stable and reliable recumbent trike allows for swift and comfortable travel that is not restricted by the specter of long distances. Leaving no toxins in the wake, my silent passage along the little known byways of the west permitted me to pitch undetected stealth camps in the wilds. It was a feeling of total freedom, not under the control of any petroleum delivery systems … a freedom powered by the trike pilot himself. Hiking and backpacking are also modes of travel I find enjoyable, and will continue to weave into the fabric of my human-powered existence. Get a trike … give a holler … let’s take a trip into a world known by few. I’m always open to new adventures and new friends! Take care …”
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LEARN MORE: If you are contemplating a long journey on your own trike, and would like much more information than appears here in this short article, you may be interested in acquiring a copy of my book called The Overland Triker, a comprehensive volume on how to pedal the long haul on Planet Earth.