‘Tis the Season…
As the deepening of winter affords us fewer opportunities to ride, we (with finger firmly pointed at ME) should take advantage of this time to evaluate our trikes for mechanical soundness and safety. Much of this sport is new to me, along with most of the after market equipment add-ons that are available to keep us safe and comfortable. I have benefited much from listening to advice and conversations from other recumbent trike riders, including some in our Delaware Valley Trike Riders’ Club – and for this shared insight I am grateful.
In anticipation of participating in our group rides I’m making some investments in a few safety upgrades, some of which I’ve been putting off because I’ve rarely shared the road with any motor vehicles. *I know – it is a poor excuse,* and that is why I’m writing this post with the hope that, if needed, you too will be encouraged to do a safety self-evaluation and gear-up where needed.
First on the list was to purchase a new helmet – one that fits me correctly and comfortably enough that I won’t feel so tempted to remove it during my ride. I spent years wearing helmets in the Army (back then we called them steel pots because that is what they were) and thanks to Uncle Sam I had developed quite an aversion to anything remotely like them. With that in mind, I selected a helmet from Specialized Bikes, the Echelon 2, in “high-viz yellow.” This helmet was recently Consumer Reports top pick and is available at nearly half the price of the next highest rated helmet. I was very impressed by the built-in fitting mechanism and found it to be a fair bit lighter than my old helmet. After walking around the house with it on for about an hour I concluded that my selection was one I could live with, and after receiving a healthy dose of good-humored ridicule I decided to fit the rest of my family with their very own. Revenge can be a good thing!
I’ve also decided to install a couple of devices to minimize the chance of “foot suck.” Only now, being part of a recumbent trike riders’ community with the opportunity to learn from the experience of others, have I come to understand the very real risk of “foot suck” and some of the tools available to avoid it. For those who find this a new addition to their vocabulary – “foot suck” can occur when your foot slips off the pedal while moving and gets trapped between the ground and the front axle housing of a tadpole trike (or some other part of the trike frame). With enough forward momentum it can be quite dangerous and result in very sever injuries to the foot, ankle, lower leg and knee.
After much research (prompted by a luckily benign incident of “foot suck” in late August) I’ve settled on purchasing a set of Power Grips and I will pair this with some version of a “heel sling.” Power Grips are basically a set of heavy-duty straps mounted on a diagonal across the bike pedal and are designed to keep a foot in firm contact with the pedal. In addition to the “attaching” functionality, Power Grips also provide for more effective peddling by allowing some “pull” on one pedal while we “push” on the other. An additional selling point for me was the fact that Power Grips do not require the rider to wear specialized shoes as is the case with clip-less pedals which accomplish pretty much the same thing. My remaining question before purchasing this device is whether to get a pair pre-mounted to their high-end pedals or to buy the strap kit and mount them to the stock pedals of my 2-year old Terratrike Tour 2.
The “Heel Slings” have yet to be selected. By nature I am in the DIY club so I am tempted to attach some braided bungee cord to serve as a heel sling. The alternative seems to be developed by JSRLDesign using some small twisted metal cables with an add-on heel pad that is bolted to the pedals. I haven’t heard of any complaints about this device but a bungee is significantly less expensive and already padded.
I have some super-bright, pulsing, red lights attached to the rear of my trike. These are Blackburn’s Mars 3.0 Rear lights (there is a 4.0 version now that they say is even brighter). I’ve been very happy with them as they can be seen nearly a block away during daylight. For these I’ll pick up fresh batteries.
Finally, I’ll address my need for a new flag. The stock Terratrike flag that came with my trike has refused to remain connected to the whip and no amount of double sided tape seems to save me from turning back on my ride to pick up my fallen banner. In frustration I grabbed one of those silly one-piece orange triangle that most of us left behind after stripping the training wheels from our spider bikes. This is better than nothing but not very visible because the triangle flag is so stiff and small it results in almost no flutter making it useless to warn motor drivers. Since I do have the second whip I’ll opt again for a DIY solution and add some high-viz yellow and orange streamers made from PVC-surveying ribbons. If they tie themselves into a birds’ nest in the first stiff breeze then I’ll search for something else.
I’d be happy to hear about your experiences with these devices and other alternative solutions regarding trike safety and comfort. And…
I look forward to riding with you soon!
“‘Tis the Season (Part 2)…” will focus on addressing the mechanical integrity of my recumbent trike in preparation for our group rides.