‘Tis the Season (Part 1)…

‘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!
Wayne K

“‘Tis the Season (Part 2)…” will focus on addressing the mechanical integrity of my recumbent trike in preparation for our group rides.

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Ride Leaders, Charitable Rides & Survey Update

One more quick update from the Delaware Valley Trike Riders’ Club:
1. About Ride Leaders:
Including myself, two other DV Trike Riders have offered to lead rides – Thank You, Mike B. and Jay S.! These rides may include NJ Pinelands, Delaware River Canal Trails, Belmar to Sandy Hook Coastal Trail, Chester Valley Trail, Thun Trail, Perkiomen Trail, NJ East Coast Greenway (Trenton to N. Brunswick, NJ), Heritage Trail (York, PA), Schuylkill River Trail and others. A group of a dozen or so trikes making way on any of these trails will be quite a sight – and I’m really looking forward to seeing it and being it!

If you are interested in leading a ride (and I hop you are) please contact me ASAP. I would like to hold a brief meeting soon so that ride leaders can come to agreement on a few matters of importance. In the meantime, Ride Leaders and others who may be interested are encouraged to take a look at an excellent document prepared for Ride Leaders in the Bicycle Club of Phila. This BCP Ride Leader Handbook is an excellent (and easy to read) source of “best practices” and provides important considerations for Ride Leaders.

I’ve posted a few Trip Sheets to the Ride Archive page. These can be used as a guideline for creating Trip Sheets for rides you will lead. There are many other examples elsewhere online. Feel free to adapt any you are comfortable with.

2. Fundraising Rides?
If anyone has knowledge of upcoming rides for charitable fundraising, please pass a link on to me and I’ll post a collection of them here. These rides can be an excellent opportunity for us to ride together, network to promote our club and to contribute locally to worthwhile causes.

3. About Survey Results:
The Survey remains open for those who haven’t provided feedback yet. We’ve had a few more respondents complete our survey. The new results don’t change the earlier results except to make them more robust. Below is an example result of where we’d like to ride:

regions

Keep spreading the word of our club when you can.
I look forward to riding with you!
Wayne K

Brief summary of the early survey returns

Thank you all very much for taking the time to provide your input for the Delaware Valley Trike Riders survey! Given the information received so far I do believe that we will have an excellent club of trike riders with many of the same riding skills and expectations in mind and I think the efforts we make to pull together a steady calendar of rides will fulfill many of our mutual riding goals.

The survey is still open for those who anticipate riding with us!

The majority of us are equally interested in riding for fun, camaraderie and sightseeing, followed by fitness and training. Overwhelmingly we are looking for rides lasting about 4 hours at about a 10 mph pace (we’ll look to add places to sprint and regroup for those with a need for more speed). The majority also are not looking for rides beyond 55 miles long and a few consider 40 miles to be about their limit.

Nearly everyone was interested in the NJ Pinelands and the Schuylkill River trail followed by the D&R and the D&L trails along the Delaware River. There is also interest in venturing further from the Delaware Valley to take advantage of the trails at the C&D Canal and through the Lehigh Gorge above Jim Thorpe PA. Equal interest was in the Coastal NJ rides (between Sandy Hook and Island Beach). People also expressed interest in the other trails mentioned and further recommended rides on the Chester Valley Trail, Perkiomen Trail, the York Heritage Trail and the GAP Trail out in S.W. PA.

Highways without dedicated bike lanes received the largest vote “against” in the road conditions to avoid, but even that was selected by less than half of us. I think that on most rides we can probably expect to avoid this condition – particularly when we take advantage of the popular trails. Packed Sand (not to be confused with beach sand) was the next least favorite but might be difficult to avoid during short stretches in the NJ Pinelands (it should be called the NJ Pine-Sands lands). I would suggest you give a packed sand trail a try as there are some amazing passageways through the deep pine forests that reveal sights unlike any seen from the roads.

Steady rain and freezing temperatures look like they will keep the majority of us off our trikes. High temperatures also seem to be worrisome. We can probably plan for more shaded rides on these excessively hot days (the trails along the Delaware River offer a lot of shade) as well as early morning starts. Selecting trails that have higher densities of support such as eateries and markets will also be included in planning rides and schedules.

Weekends look to be the best opportunity for most rides though there are riders available on weekdays too – this Might be a good chance for a smaller group to get together for a local ad-hoc ride?

There are a few people who can carry more than one trike. If you are interested in ride sharing, particularly on a trip further from your home, consider offering or asking to share a ride when you “sign-up” for a ride.

I’ll begin posting some of my rides (trip sheets and maps) in the archive section soon and if we have some agreeable weather I’ll post an invitation to join me. If you would like to lead a ride, or, if you have a favorite ride (like those added above) it would be very helpful if you could provide us with a trip sheet. If you have a trip sheet to share, you can forward that to me and I’ll post it online (or we can post a link to another resource online if one exists elsewhere).

Thanks again! I’m looking forward to riding with you!
Wayne K

Trike Rider Survey & Ride Leader Shout-out

The Delaware Valley Trike Riders are putting together several group rides but we need your input. In order to design rides that will keep you happy and coming back we need to know a few things about your expectations and current riding abilities.

Please use this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HGW5TC6 to complete a brief 10 question survey. Respondents shall be kept anonymous but we will post the results so that future ride leaders can use them to guide their efforts. The 5 or so minutes you invest in this will be very helpful to us.

About half of the people who have contacted me have not “followed” this website and have only contacted me via email. In order to be sure I’ve contacted everyone (and until everyone has “followed” the site to receive updates) I will be sending email invitations also. If you receive this wordpress update notice and an email from me – I apologize for the duplication. This shouldn’t be a problem much longer.

If you would be interested in leading a ride along one of your favorite trails, please let me know (you can email me directly or use the comment feature). After ride leaders have been identified, I would like to convene a brief meeting (over breakfast or lunch, or online via google hangouts or similar service) so that we can introduce ourselves and share ideas on how best to move this club forward so that we can start riding as a group.

I hope you all can continue to enjoy this holiday weekend and I look forward to riding with you!
Wayne K

P.S. Please continue to share news of our club, The Delaware Valley Trike Riders, with other trike riders, dealers and mechanics in our area – Thank you!

Welcome to the Delaware Valley Trike Riders’ Club & Blog

Recumbent Trike Riders Wanted!

I’d like to extend an invitation to other Recumbent Trike Riders in the Delaware Valley, S.E. Pennsylvania, Central, Southern and Coastal New Jersey, and elsewhere, to join with me in forming a group that will fulfill the Trike Rider’s goals just like those groups who support DF riders. What goals are these? Here are a few of mine:
• Meet new people
• Ride new routes for fun and for challenge
• Offer group clinics for maintenance, safety, commuting, touring, etc.
• Charter portage for longer one-way trips
• Share tips, techniques and technology to enhance our rides

Our region is home to hundreds of miles of high quality trails and roadways that are ideal for recumbent trike riders and riding these with a group can only enhance the fun. There is no fee to join other than your interest and maybe a little sweat equity to help plan, organize or lead a ride along your favorite trail.

Please contact me via a “comment” to this site if you are interested in helping to form our Trike Riders group, to lead rides, to join rides or to contribute to a list of suitable routes. I hope that we can form a core group who will help to create our “Club” this winter of 2014/2015 and be ready to offer new group rides this spring (and maybe take few rides on suitable winter days too).

I’ll be adding a Club Calendar and an archive library of ride tip sheets soon. Please “Follow” this blog to receive notices of updates.