Recumbent Trike - My Midlife Crisis Car
I Want to Ride My Tricycle
I am in my 40s, and I ride my tricycle to work a few times a week and at lunch time. You must have a funny mental picture filling your brain right now! Actually, what I ride is called a recumbent "tadpole" style trike. "Recumbent" means it is ridden sitting back in a full seat with my pedaling feet out in front rather than below me. "Tadpole" is the name given to three-wheelers with two wheels in front and one in the back. (Delta is the name given to cycles with two wheels in back and one in front.) "Trike" is the logical shortening of tricycle ... just as "bike" is the shortened version of bicycle.
My Mid-life Crisis Vehicle
My trike is red, it is fast, and it is fun to drive! I suppose that it's my mid-life crisis car. At least it is not as pricey as a sports car. I test rode one of these sporty little vehicles about a year ago and have not been able to get it off my mind. Over the past couple years, I had taken up cycling as something I enjoyed and was also good exercise. (Read about how I got addicted to riding in my hub "The Lord High Bikasaurus Rex".) I even got to the point of commuting by bike. It is thirteen and a half miles to work, twenty-seven miles round trip. My route lets me use the bike trail along a local river so that at least nine miles of my ride is on a bicycle-only path, which makes the commute more enjoyable.
Commuting on my trike
Why I Switched to a Recumbent
Riding my "Diamond Frame" upright bike (or "DF" as recumbent riders call them) was fun and I did not have any physical ailments that prevented me from continuing to ride the DF, but I was getting tired of my sore neck, caused by having to lift my head up to look forward as I lean forward to avoid some of the headwind. It is tiring to keep one's head at that angle to get under the wind, and it makes one tend to stare at the front tire rather than look ahead and around at what is coming up. I also noticed that my shoulders would get sore from leaning forward - not enough to cause any kind of ongoing problem, but it was not comforable. My route to and from work always corresponded with the wind patterns of the day... in the morning it blows toward the ocean as I go inland, and from the ocean as I ride down river. Wind that was constantly blowing into my face, and slowing me down. I have not even begun to explain that dang uncomfortable seat!
Many people switch to recumbent (both two- and three-wheeled) cycles because of a back injury or some other ailment that keeps them from riding a DF safely, but more and more riders just find the recumbent style more fun and more comfortable. I also enjoy being able to see so much more while riding since it is easier on one's body to look forward and around from a reclined seated position than a leaning forward position. On my recumbent trike I go under the wind. There is a LOT less wind resistance on a trike and I save a lot of the energy used balancing and fighting the wind, to pedal. I have not found my trike commute to be all that much faster than my rides on the DF, but I know I am less winded, less tired, have expended less effort and enjoy the scenery of the ride a lot more.
Fun on Weekends and at Lunchtime
But It Is Weird!
Yeah, riding a trike (or any kind of recumbent) turns some heads. Kids, dogs, and adults all can be seen spinning their heads around as I pass. Being a bit unusual is a benefit when commuting. I have consistently noticed that drivers actually see me and give me MORE room and respect on the side of the road than I ever got riding my DF! I watch in my rear view mirrors as cars change lanes or move way over to pass me. I get smiles and eye contact from drivers at intersections that I never got on my upright bike. I also ride with lights and two flag poles to draw attention. I am sure some drivers think I am handicapped, being so low to the ground on such an unconventional cycle. If sympathy or the "weird factor" brings more safety, then I am all for it. When I first got the trike I took it for a spin around our neighborhood, and a young neighbor, I think he is about 8 years old, looked at me riding in that low three wheeled chair and said, "What happened? Did you get hurt?" I had to laugh! I guess you have to be ok with being "weird" to ride a recumbent.
A whole family of trikes
The Circle/Cycle Is Now Complete
There is a famous riddle from Greek mythology: "What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?" The answer to the Sphinx's riddle was given by Oedipus: "Man -- as a child he crawls, as an adult he walks and when he is old he uses a cane."
In contemplating my personal wheeled experience, I wonder if cycling life is not a cycle in itself. We start riding a tricycle, we then might have a four wheeled transitional experience with training wheels and a bike. After we learn balance we graduate to two wheels. Then we grow up and have to drive a four-wheeled car. As the fat of mid-life comes on, some of us try returning to two wheels, and then maybe even to a three-wheeled thing like I am on. I suppose eventually we graduate to a four-wheeled wheelchair unless we stay healthy in our latter years. I want to stay on three wheels.
Go Ahead, Try it
If you enjoy cycling and have not tried a recumbent bike or trike, I would encourage you to. Don't let your friends who fancy themselves the next Lance Armstrong talk you out of it saying that recumbents are for "people who can't ride a real bike." Recumbent bikes are just different, not unworthy of "healthy" riders. Although most "professional" races do not allow recumbents (because they would be an advantage over DFs?), most people do not race for a living. Cycling on a recumbent can be more enjoyable and more comfortable. I know 'bent riders who outrace DF riders, and can compete even on uphill rides (which is generally slower on a recumbent) and on long 100- and 200-mile rides!
To lean more about recumbent bikes, try a search on the internet or check out a few of the links I have added below.
Even Leo Laporte rides a trike!
Links about Recumbent Cycling
- My YouTube Channel of Trike Videos
If you want to see more videos... Here is where I upload all my trike riding videos.
- BentRider Online
Reviews and forum for recumbent riders
- The Recumbent and Human Powered Vehicle Information Center
Recumbent and Human Powered Vehicle Information Center
- TerraTrike - Makers of my brand of Recumbent Trike
The World's Most Comfortable Bike! Recline, Relax & Exercise in Style. TerraTrike is committed to producing the most innovative, comfortable and earth friendly human powered vehicles.
- Utah Trikes - Custom Recumbent Trikes Shipped Nationwide
Great trike shop located in Utah, but the ship everywhere.