Archive for Travel

On the Trail Again

As soon as I picked up Arianna from the bike shop, I put her on the back of the car, and returned to the trail.  I was determined to complete our previous, rather hobbled, ten-mile ride. I knew it would be a better experience now that Arianna had two functional pedals.

Done, and done.  I’m fast on Arianna, at least on level paths and mild inclines:  over 13 mph, no coasting involved.

No snickering, please.  In my world, that counts as “fast”.  (Just think what I could do with gears on a small, light bike.  Oh, yeah!)

Have I mentioned that Arianna’s model name is “week-end”?

“[W]eek-end” is in orange, just under the last two letters of her name on the frame loop:

She’s also, apparently, the “standard” version, judging from the seat stem:

It’s amazing how well Arianna’s foil decals have held up over the decades.  She’s 44 years old, and was about in the same shape she is now when I first bought her, used, decades ago.  (Which is to say, she could have been better cared-for, both before and after I acquired her, but passive neglect has not eroded any of her special charm.)

Arianna:  10 miles

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Renting in Central Park

I ran up to New York City for just a couple of days a while ago, basically to run a couple of errands — and to test ride the Tern Link D8. Also on my (brief) itinerary was taking a ride in Central Park.  I ride Pegasus, my six-speed trike, to compensate for several physical problems that have made bicycling inadvisable.  The year I’ve spent on my trike, though, and doing ancillary exercises, has made me stronger, and I’ve begun to explore the idea of riding on two wheels, at least some of the time.

My few days in NYC happened to coincide with a heat wave.  Hot weather and I are not friends, and I ride a pedal-assist trike, in part, because my body responds very, very badly to high ambient temperatures.  I managed to ride the Tern in a leafy park for twenty minutes or so on my first day in the city, but, due to the heat,  I couldn’t have ridden any longer on that particular day even if the bike shop had been willing to let me take my time.  The next day was even hotter (I spent part of it on a ferry on the East River, which was a lot of fun, though not as cool as you might imagine, temperature-wise).

I ended up at Columbus Circle around 7 PM on the second day, and saw a bike rental kiosk when I emerged from the subway. Temperatures had dropped just a slight bit, so I decided to take my chances on a bicycle.  It was the last moment for rentals — but the staff agreeably signed me up, and I was quickly outfitted and pedaling away on a 21-speed Trek 7300:

During mid-day, and after 7 PM, the roadway in Central Park is closed, and becomes the domain of pedestrians and cyclists only, so I had no concerns about traffic or going too slowly.  And I was slow; I rode about 4.5 miles in forty-five minutes, which is no land speed record.  But I did do it in  91-degree heat, without pedal-assist.  (And, yes, I nearly died, and was wrecked the next day — but hey, I did it!)

The loop I took — the loop everyone takes — went from 59th street up to 104th, across the park, and back down.  In the map below (the image is from the free NYC 2012 Cycling Map, widely available all over the city), I started from the lower left corner, followed the red line around to the right, and then took the squiggly green line (second green line above the reservoir) across the park (at about 104th street), and then returned down the west side of the park.

The area above 104th apparently gets really hilly; that wasn’t an option in the heat, and I was also concerned about getting the bike back before the kiosk closed.

In theory, it’s only one way, but a few people didn’t know this, or didn’t care.  Riders of all ability levels were on the path — including, even in the heat, some who appeared to be first-timers.  Packs of cycling club members were circling, too, showing the rest of us how it’s really done, even in scorching temperatures.

I liked the Trek.  It was easy to ride, shifted well, was comfortable and sturdy.  Weirdly, it didn’t feel any lighter, or any  more  nimble, than my 65 -pound trike, but that didn’t mean that the ride was at all compromised.  I’m guessing it’s around 32 pounds or so with the extra rental panels on the back; you’d expect it to be heavy  as these rental units have to be workhorses, ready for any rider, and for rough use.

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Family Transport, NYC Style

It’s sad that I can’t take Pegasus to New York.  I’m not crazy enough to ride in traffic in Manhattan, but I would love to spend days cycling around Central Park.  When I’m there, then, I keep my eye out for cycling curiosities, since I’m not riding one myself.   On a recent trip, I spotted this in Chelsea:

There’s an upholstered bench seat, with a harness for the passengers:

And a small compartment behind the seat for parcels:

The rather charming seat pod was custom-made by the folks at HUB on a Worksman tricycle chassis.  The owner pointed out that hauling the weight of the vehicle, along with two kids, was quite a workout, but said that she loves her wheels.  She was beaming, and looked fit as can be.  Obviously, trikes have their place in New York City, too, even if mine won’t be visiting.

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Loading Up

If someone is around to give me a hand, it’s easy to lift my trike into the truck I use to transport it.  Two people can lift the trike high enough to get it into the cargo area with no trouble, once the rear seats are folded.  (Mine always are.)  If I’m alone, the procedure is a little more complicated, but not by much.  Mostly, it just requires a bit of gear.

First, I drop the handlebars

If I’m loading it myself, I use a ramp (it’s a folding portable wheelchair ramp — lousy picture, but you get the idea)

a giant doorstop

and some padded twist cables

that I loop around the front of the trike to pull it into the truck.

I climb inside the truck, pull the trike up, fold the ramp, close the doors and drive off.  To unload, I just reverse the steps, but I don’t use the doorstop, since it’s easy enough to follow the trike down the ramp.

The process is surprisingly easy, and no more bother than hanging a bicycle on a rack and tying it down.  The ramp slides along the side; a couple of empty cardboard boxes keep both the trike and the ramp from sliding around when the truck is moving.

The truck is an 18-year-old SUV, with a boxy profile — perfect for loading bikes. My “every day” car is a subcompact, and the truck is used only for recreational transport.  It gets driven for well under 5,000 miles a year, but those are very useful miles.

eMoto, the manufacturer of my trike, says they don’t know of a  rack that will carry the trike, although there’s no reason why a wheelchair or scooter lift that fit into a trailer hitch wouldn’t do the job. (Not in wet weather though; the trike isn’t weatherproof.)

Another alternative might be a four-bike rack, providing the weight limit was within  range,  lifting the trike wasn’t an issue, and you could figure out a way to place the trike on the rack.  You’d need a long arm, though, (or, more likely, arms) to make sure you had sufficient clearance for the third wheel.

This one is a Yakima swing-away, meaning you can swing it out of the way, and still open the tailgate.  I have no idea if it would work with the trike, and don’t see weight specs in the description, but it might be worth investigating.  (Apparently the rack weighs 42 pounds, so carrying 65 shouldn’t be much of an issue, if all other requirements were met.)

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Leelanau Trail

Last fall, after leaving Ann Arbor, my trike and I took on the Leelanau Trail, outside of Traverse City.  On the way to the trail:

The Leelanau Trail is part of the TART (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation) system.  The Leelanau segment wasn’t fully paved when I was there last October, but I see from the website that it should be finished in July, 2012.

You’re never far from civilization (and cross traffic, as you can see from the photo below)) on this stretch of the trail, but it’s so beautiful, it hardly matters.

My trike and I don’t do unpaved trails.  There’s a good reason not to, right now, while it’s still new, since riding off-road would void the warranty.  I probably will never ride it on trails, though, since I suspect that its weight would make pulling it on an unpaved surface fairly unrewarding.  It glides along on pavement; that’s good enough for me.

I rode over fifteen miles on this trip.  It was the first long one, outside of a city, that  I’d attempted once the trike was up and running.  The trail wasn’t long enough from where I started north of Traverse City, so I made up the mileage in town, riding along the bay and beyond.

If there were a heaven, Northern Michigan would probably be it.

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Ann Arbor, Fall 2011

First, a little history.  My trike experienced some birthing pains, which were mostly resolved before I took it to Ann Arbor, Michigan, last October.  Here it is in Kerrytown.  (I’m inside getting a breakfast coffee at Sweetwater’s.)

I rode all over Ann Arbor with no problems at all . . . until, while climbing a hill at 10 MPH, one of my fenders fell over, twisted itself into a rear tire, and threw the trike to a halt.

Coulda been nasty . . . I wasn’t thrown, probably because I was going uphill, and slowly.  I was able to hobble to the side of the road.

I re-bent the fender enough to ride on, and made it back downtown to the Campus Student Bike Shop on Maynard, where the proprietor showed me to a basket of tools and let me have at it.  I got the fender straightened out, tightened every nut I could find, and finished the trip with one ugly, but functional, fender.

Lessons learned:

  1. Bike shops rock!
  2. Don’t trust your mechanic — my trike had just come out of the shop, theoretically completely tuned and road-worthy, fenders included.

When I got home after two weeks of travel, my home bike shop apologized profusely, got me a new fender by cannibalizing a trike they had in the shop, and put me back on the road, all better, with every nut just as tight as it should be.  (They got a new mechanic, too.)

My dealer’s website is horrible, but they are great.  They’ve seen my trike through its initial difficulties, and have made sure it runs right, with grace and consideration.   Call them, if you can’t deal with the website.  They’re good guys.

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