Like most other trike riders out there, quite often I get stopped and asked questions about my trike.
“What kind of bike is that?”
“Is that that thing motorized?”
“My wife has a bad hip. Would riding one of those be good for her?”
My answers to these questions are as follows:
“It’s a recumbent trike. It’s kind of like riding a La-Z-Boy”
“No, but you can get them with a motor and pedals.”
“Don’t know. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I never made it to med school..”
So how did I end up riding this “thing,” a recumbent trike?
In 2013 during my Summer o’ Surgeries™, a good friend (we’ll call him Billman to hide his true identity) asked me if I planned on trying to get back into any kind of regular exercising. I told him I really wanted to start riding a bike again but because of diabetic neuropathy in my hands, and other comfort issues, I wanted to ride a recumbent – a bike with a comfy seat and a riding position that takes the strain off the shoulders, back and hands. He asked me where they sold them and I told him about a nearby shop that only sells recumbents, Amling’s Cycle.
About a week later Billman called again and asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. I said sure, and off we went. During dinner he surprised me with a gift card from Amling’s. FOR A BIKE! I was stunned. And thrilled! He told me he spent quite a bit of time in the shop talking to the salesman and a key thing he came away with was that there was a definite learning curve to riding a recumbent bike, and no matter how much experience you may have on a standard two-wheeler, this was different..
Coincidentally, I had been talking to an old high school buddy about recumbents. He had always been, and still is, a cyclist. When I mentioned a recumbent he said, “look into a tadpole trike.” I asked him what that was and he told me it was a recumbent, but with three wheels – two in front and one in back. He said they’re great. Easy and fun to ride, no worrying about falling, and comfortable. I started researching them and it definitely was something that appealed to me.
So about a week before my heart surgery, the third and final surgery of the summer, I went to the shop with my wife. I asked for the same salesman Billman had spoken to. He knew who I was bcause people don’t often come into the shop and purchase gift cards good for any bike. I told him I was just getting back into riding and was interested in a recumbent. I told him I was leaning toward a trike based on what friend’s had said and what I had read, but I’d like to hear what he had to say about a two-wheeler and maybe ride one. He said, “Well, there’s a definite learning curve with a two-wheel recumbent. And, you’re going to fall at least once. Everyone does.”
Within a nanosecond Debbie (my wife) said, “No way you’re getting one.” Of course, being a guy, my first reaction was to immediately try to logically prove why she was wrong. But almost as quickly I found myself thinking, two and a half years of dialysis, a kidney transplant a few weeks ago, 150 mile ambulance ride for emergency bowel obstruction surgery just after the transplant, heart surgery next week, blind in one eye, don’t see so well out of the other … okay, maybe there’s a slim possibility she’s right. I said fine, no two-wheeler and asked if I could test ride some trikes.
The first couple I rode felt good and they were fun, but I wasn’t sure. Then I rode an ICE trike. Bill, the salesman, told me that ICE was a British company and they made great trikes. From the test rides I had already done, I was narrowing my selection down when I rode an ICE Sprint 26. I rode around the streets near the shop for a while and LOVED it! I could tell it handled better and was more stable than the other trikes I had ridden so far. And it seemed to fit me better. Plus, it folded for easy transport.
Me, test riding.
Before making my final decision I tried a couple others and then tried them all again.
The ICE was definitely it. It felt right. It felt like we’d be riding a lot of miles together.
We went inside, configured everything, and placed the order. As I mentioned earlier, ICE, which stands for Inspired Cycle Engineering, is located in England so I had to leave and wait for Amling’s to call me when the trike arrived.
Exactly one week later I went into the hospital for my surgery. I think my first call to Amling’s to check on my trike’s arrival was while I was still in ICU with a drainage tube sticking out of my chest. It hadn’t arrived. This was probably a good thing.
A couple of weeks later Amling’s called to tell me the trike had arrived and was ready for pickup. I got clearance from the doctors, called my friend Brent to see if he could drive me over to pick it up, and back to Amling’s we went. I got it home, put on shorts and a tee shirt, and was ready for my first ride. It was August 18, 2013 .
That first ride was great and I learned two very important lessons. One, I was very out of shape. I rode just over a mile and was beat. Second, when you ride a trike with baggy gym shorts and boxers, they both tend to ride up very high on your thighs as you pedal, thus exposing one’s self to the world. Mental note: find alternative to boxers and gym shorts while riding.
Those two things aside, I loved riding and I couldn’t wait to ride it the next day and the day after that. As I’m writing this on July 20, 2015, almost exactly a month shy of two years since I took that first one mile ride, I’ve ridden 4,714 miles and of course, am planning my Route 66 ride.
And that, ladies and gents, is how I came to be a trike rider.
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