Trike diary - May 1999

Monday 31 May 1999

Momday we went out to D.Tek as a family. The excuse was to collect the trailer cover (which had sheared a popper, and Kevin had repaired it), but it also meant that Joan could get a try on some of the machines, specifically thinking about future trikes for her, and also it seemed like a nice family outing.

We got there sometime between noon and one o'clock, and were surprised to see David Hembrow there as well, looking at replacing his Ross machine which he has finally decided to replace (because it has died?). Periodically he would whizz along the street on a different machine trying it out at his normal mad rush.

I got to try various trikes. I had my first go on a Sinner trike, which I wasn't convinced by - it seems too high and heavy without enough responsiveness, and the USS steering is too narrow, so that the upright parts of the bars tend to hit my legs. So obviously not a trike that captured my imagination.

I did get to try the KettWiesel again, which confirmed my liking for the trike - definitely a machine I would consider as a second trike (!). It feels a little high up and unstable compared to the AnthroTech, but that's just because it is narrower with its two wheels at the back. It has an amazingly good turning circle (with that neat "how is that wheel turning" effect you get with long wheel base recumbents when you turn the handlebars and the front wheel turns), and I like the fact that the rear wheels are just under your elbows, so you do have a good idea of how wide the trike is. My only reservations are the limitation to seven speeds (although in practice I don't think that is actually a problem) and the drive only being on one rear wheel (again, not a real problem, I think).

I also had a go on Kevin's old (very old!) Trice - it doesn't even look that much like the machine I see in Cambridge, so I knew not to take it as representative of modern machines. Not too surprisingly, it didn't grab my heart.

Joan also had a go on the KettWiesel, and liked it. Her impression was of stability and fun - I think it is a machine she would consider. She also tried the PDQ3, and agreed with me that it just feels unstable, and not great fun to ride. She also had a go on an Oke-Ja, briefly, but says she'd need to ride it for a lot further to have any realistic comments on it.

One of the things we talked with Kevin about was Joan's idea that maybe she should get a Pashley or equivalent trike next year for carrying both children. Kevin looked at Michael (three years old and not small for his age), and demonstrated on the Pashley he has set up with a pair of seats on the back that Michael only just fits now, so there would be a vary short lifetime when both children would fit. He pointed out that the machine would also be very heavy and slow.

He showed us a Victorian, set up for a childseat on the front (instead of an adult pedalling) as one (more unlikely, I think!) option, and also talked about tralier bike solutions.

The U-2 is the obvious thing to use on a trike (two seats, and one can attach a child seat instead of one of them if one wishes), but it is very long and rather wide. The magnified turning circle for a bike pulling one of these would also restrict routes.

If we stuck with Joan on an upright, the Burley trailer cycle would be the obvious choice - the quality of manufacture is good and the connection is, as one expects, well thought out. Unfortunately, since it only has one wheel, it would not be safe behind a tricycle. It has good resale value, like all Burley equipment.

Useful stuff to think about - but we don't need to worry quite yet.

I think in the end Joan still really yearns after an upright "racing" trike (i.e., narrow with big wheels). For "utility" use she'd probably like another AnthroTech, but if practicality wasn't the issue, she'd maybe take a KettWiesel.

What else? Well, we had a picnic on the little play area part way through the afternoon, and Michael played there a bit with Joan watching whilst I had my extra rides, so he quite enjoyed the day (as well as being fascinated by snails and other little beasts in Kevin's back yard). On the way home we stopped and picked strawberries, which Michael enjoyed (well, so did Thomas, although he just got to watch). So it was a successful day out for all of us.

Unfortunately, by the time we got home it wasn't sensible to do any work on the trailer, so that got put off again. Next weekend, with luck.

Sunday 30 May 1999

Finally got round to starting work on the trailer attachment.

The new widget from Burley is as neat as one might expect - it replaces the left bolt on the rear wheel, and they have different safety strap arrangements according to whether one has a "monotube" arrangement (as I do), or a more traditional "triangle" (as one might have on most two wheel recumbents). Kevin had only supplied me with one, but since it looks like the one I want I'm not grumbling! One needs a 6mm hex spanner to fit the thing, and then life is fairly obvious.

To remove the "boom" from the Burley requires removing one of the two pivot supports as well, so this it is always going to be a two-five minute job to convert from one boom to another (we intend to buy a spare "normal" boom so we can still use the trailer with an upright bike), but that's quite reasonable, to my mind.

The plastic tubing (plumbers waste pipe) I've got is somewhat too wide, so doesn't quite fit elegantly, but some suitable bodging (read, hacking a larger hole at the attachment point) makes it work well enough. I've got a 45 degree bend for the tubing, which isn't actually quite right for the real boom, but should serve for my purposes (I don't need to get the amended system to track exactly centred on the trike, just well enough for real life use).

I ended up with a first approximation to the length of boom I need. Unfortunately, it was pissing it down outside, so I had to stop (not unreasonable given the time, in fact) before trying to line things up properly. Our drive outside is made of bricks, so I intend to use it as a giant "drawing board" for working out where the trailer should lie relative to the trike's front wheels - much easier than trying to generate separate parallel lines on the garage floor. Unfortunately, I'm not dedicated enough to do it in the pouring rain, so it will get put off for another day - hopefully tomorrow.

So what did I get done? Well, most of the time was actually learning how the boom was attached, studying the new hitch (which now has the relevant widget permanently attached to the trike), and making my first approximation "plastic" boom. The next stage is to fine that down to something that I can test drive (at least just round the close) to prove beyond all doubt that it will work - the only residual doubt is the limits on turning right, which should be OK, but I'll feel safer testing rather than just thinking about. Then comes surgery on the metal boom, which I want to get right first time (and the most difficult bit of that is drilling two holes opposite each other).

Thursday 27 May 1999

Joan was working at home today, so she took the children to nursery and I got to cycle in to work on the trike. It was sunny and warm, so decided to wear shorts (my green Rohan shorts, and one of the loose Rohan tops), which turned out to be very sensible. The shorts could do with being a little longer, since my upper legs were touching the seat, but not a serious problem. Tried using my Teva sandals (which, along with my Birkenstock-clones I live in during the warmer months) and they actually worked very well. They're certainly a lot better looking than the (very staid) clipless sandals I've seen so far.

I had the knee pain in my left knee again on the way in - distracting to say the least. It's an odd sort of pain, because whilst it keeps on being there, it doesn't actually interfere with cycling. Anyway, I did a little research around the HPV list and web at lunchtime, and as a result tried moving the bottom bracket a little way (about 1cm) further away from me on the boom. That actually seemed to help a lot, so I'm hopeful (other ideas include just needing to strenghten up the muscles in general (very feasible!), needing to balance which muscles around the knee are strong, needing to flex the knee "straight" with respect to the leg instead of "flopping" it out, and perhaps (in my case) needing to build up the left pedal to compensate for my leg on that side being shorter - which I am reluctant to do unless I have to, but may be the obvious next step if I continue to have problems).

Saw two recumbents on the way into work, both going the other way - a red LWB or CLWB machine on Radegund Road - didn't have time for a close look, just a wave, but sort of like a Linear (although bright red, so couldn't have been), and David Hembrow.

On the way home, met the guy from the Rohan shop (on a smart Cannondale upright), and before we diverged let him have a quick go on the trike. Having talked with him in the shop about the trike, it was nice to be able to show him it.

Sunday 16 May 1999

...CCC leisurely ride...

To be written ... here are some notes

Left Joan and the children after swimming to go along to Brookside.

Met Myra (of the neat web pages on cycling) and Simon (her boyfriend). He had a go on the trike before setting out (Myra had a go when we got back again).

About 8 of us. I was the slowest - ah well, that's the reputation of recumbent trikes held up (or down) for us all.

Everyone very friendly.

Route was (back, for me) over the Carter Bridge, out along Radegund Road, etc, to skirt the (back of the) Cherry Hinton Hall grounds, and then out through various villages by a route I now forget (damn, I should have written this earlier!) to Swaffham Bulbeck and then Swaffham Prior.

The inevitable steep hill just before the windmill - quite an effort as I was getting tired by now. But the windmill was definitely worth the visit. It wasn't in sail, as the wind wasn't really high enough, but the owner (works part time on it as a "hobby", but produces real flour, oats, etc.) ran it up briefly for us anyway.

Back along B roads to Anglesey Abbey for tea - where we had an altercation with them because they had used the cycle parking area for stalls for the plant sale they had on. A letter later Got Written to grumble about this. Tea was very nice anyway, and then back via lots of roads and Fen Ditton.

Back to Brookside via Riverside, Midsummer Common (the cattle grid there was the one I couldn't manage, and the trike had to be lifted, because of its "inset" railings), Fair Street, Clarendon Street, Park Terrace (and across in front of Hobbs Pavilion), Regent Street and Lensfield Road. I learnt several more access points I would fit through on this part of the journey, which was useful.

The others decamped for the pub (after Myra had had a go on the trike), and I cycled home to rescue Joan from the children, making it back before 6pm.

Leisurely ride? Well, if I was fitter. But I enjoyed it anyway, and hope to go on the rides again occasionally at the weekend, just to get some riding on the trike without the trailer.

Saturday 15 May 1999

Having fitted the child seat adaptor, I'd promised Michael to take him for a ride this morning. He wasn't too sure at first when it came to getting into the seat - he insisted on keeping hold of his Thomas the Tank Engine money box (which he had been playing with). He was reasonably OK with being strapped into the seat, but downright refused to have the foot straps done up - so we gave up on that, as his feet looked like they couldn't get anywhere unsafe anyway.

Our initial ride was round the close, so I could check things out. This was just as well, as round in Missleton Court I did a circle to turn round and discovered that, whilst I might lean to counterbalance the trike when turning, of course the child on the back probably won't (at least at first). I lifted briefly onto two wheels, and learned a little bit more about the machine's handline.

Michael was obviously enjoying himself - he wanted to go out of the close and onto the main road at once. I had to argue for going back to tell Joan we were off for a longer journey (which we did).

We did the (by now traditional) loop down Wulfstan Way and back up (what isn't Perne Road), and as we approached Perne Road island I asked Michael if he wanted to go home or continue on. He definitely wanted to keep going, so we went left along Cherry Hinton Road, and turned right along (is it Coleridge Road?) and then right again onto Radgund Road, and back along Perne Road. At the island again, Michael declared that he wanted to "go shopping", not home, and I had to try to explain that we had nowhere to put any shopping, and anyway were going back home to Mummy. When we reached home, he got quite upset, and refused for a long time to get out of the child seat!

Anyway, I'm now very encouraged that he will cope with being back there, and it is nice to be able to talk to him (although, after the initial few minutes of chattiness, he reverted to quiet for most of the journey, as one might expect).

Thursday 13 May 1999, Friday 14 May 1999

Thursday I got home to find a note saying that Parcel Force had not delivered a package because I was out and it needed signing for. Luckily, Joan got home in time for me to dash off in the car to find out what this was before they closed - and lo and behold, it was the child seat!

Back when the widget for attaching the childseat arrived from Rob Hague, I had been puzzled by how it worked, and why it only needed three replacement bolts. Rob had worked it out absent the seat, but I had decided not to bother thinking about it until I had all the bits. Lazy, I know, but given the seat and its attachments, all became obvious.

To be written...

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Author: Tibs (

Last modified: Thu Apr 26 16:29:23 GMT Daylight Time 2001