As I rode down the hill and up the next everything was working great, my bike, my legs, my lungs, feeling free as a bird, I take the corners hard and thrill as the G's grab me and accelerate my dash into the straightaway. This is why I bike, for the thrill, the exhilaration, the panorama of the countryside whizzing by as I push my body and my bike to their limits. With a smile as big as Texas I gulp down lungfuls of air and prep for the next hill. Shifting gears my legs become a blur as I strive to keep my momentum going to the top of the hill, then dropping back down to my lowest gear I scrunch down to my handlebars to minimize air resistance as I power down the hill to see how fast I can go before running out of steam. I am almost half way through my 14 Km run when I notice my hands are starting to go numb again. I slow down a bit, shaking my hands one at a time to regain sensation in them.
Carpel Tunnel syndrome is a real problem for cyclists, especially for the long distance riders like myself who really enjoy the freedom of riding a bicycle. As I researched the alternatives I discovered a different kind of bicycle, the recumbent trike. My favorite is the tadpole, two wheels up front and one in the back. The rider sits reclined in a web seat (hence recumbent) with the "handlebar" under the seat and the peddles directly in front instead of underneath. The thing I really like about a trike is that when I am peddling I am not pushing against my body weight but against the seat, so I can get a lot more power from my legs. Because my hands are resting in a normal position on the handlebars I am not putting a lot of weight on them so they don't go numb like with a regular bike. The trike is a little heavier, and not quite so agile, but the ride is smooth with a lot more power available. And when I stop, and can't get my clip-on's off in time, I don't fall over. I am on 3 wheels, very stable, low to the ground and very fast. I keep a wind screen on my trike, a plastic flaring that goes from the front of my trike, wraps around my peddles and stops just in front of my chest. it minimizes wind resistance without adding a lot of weight to my trike. On my trike I am not as sleek and light as with my touring bike, and I tend to cruise at 10 to 15 mph just enjoying the ride without the constant push for speed. The fastest I have gone on my trike is 35 mph after descending a good hill and using the power of the peddle-to-seat and lack of air resistance to maintain that speed for several miles. The fastest speed I have maintained on my touring bike is 25 mph due to massive air resistance.
Why build a trike when there are so many available on the market today? It's all about the learning, the doing, and at the end of the day being able to own a conveyance that fits me like a glove and is unique, one of a kind, and designed to accentuate my strengths.
Come with me, and I will show you how to spoke wheels, weld, braise, and most important, create!