Bikes, Well Trikes – Nope, Tadpoles – Whatever
You may remember that Susan tipped over on her bicycle a year ago in early December, 2020, while we were in Alabama, going from a paved trail to a soft sand trail. I will never forget it, I see it in slow motion, in disbelief, in horror. She went over hard, I thought maybe at first it was just a sprained ankle but the odd angle of her foot was pointing at a different conclusion.
It was a broken bone, just above the ankle. A ride in an ambulance and a long long afternoon and evening at the ER. Two weeks until the swelling went down enough for surgery, a couple more weeks until a cast, another couple of weeks until a walking cast, and a few more weeks until PT started.
Her bicycle (2 wheeled) riding days appeared to be over. The RV Park we were in had several folks with three-wheel trikes. Some were trikes, two wheels behind the rider but most, as we learned, were generally referred to as tadpoles, two steering wheels in front of the rider, and a drive wheel behind. We looked at every one of them and talked to the riders. This seemed like a good option to keep riding. So call them anything you want, they are three-wheel recumbent trikes.
We got home and looked at several varieties on-line. The more we looked the more we learned about things like gears, seat heights, seat angles, weight, electric options, and prices. Lots to consider.
Then we went to look at several options available in the Twin Cities. Some got tossed from consideration quickly, some were OK but the bike shop folks didn’t seem very interested in really helping us figure out what was going to work.
Our last stop was the FreeWheel bike shop in Bloomington, MN. They were located in the old part of Southwest Bloomington not too far from where my Mom grew up. We went there specifically to look at TerraTrikes. They seemed to have the right seat height, weight, and other features we thought might be important. We actually wanted to see one in person. When we got there, Chris greeted us and got busy showing us what we wanted to see and answering our questions. FreeWheel has several shops around town. This was their oldest (since the mid-70s) and biggest shop. Chris is the company’s “Chief Experience Officer”. And he made our experience worthwhile.
After a lot of questions and a short test ride we ordered a Grand Tourismo TerraTrike. This is a manual (not electric) bike that we could get by late summer. It can be refit with an electric-assist motor and battery at some future time. Supply chain issues were in full play. We also ordered an EVO model, pretty much the same trike as the Grand Tourismo but equipped with an electric-assist drive and battery. It would be a 2022 model and wasn’t expected until April, 2022.
We started thinking about how we were going to transport these trikes, a pickup truck seemed like a possible option. So we started looking. We were clueless. We wanted a used truck in decent shape, probably a four-door, four-wheel drive, towable. When we went looking there was a severe case of sticker shock. And mileage shock too. Many of the 2016 models we looked at were between 75,000 and 100,000 miles. That seemed very high to us but then we are putting on only 6-7,000 miles a year on our cars. We figured we could wait until spring 2022 since we thought we weren’t going to need it until then.
The first trike arrived, we went to pick it up with the Jeep Cherokee. We were pretty sure it would fit with the back seats folded down and it did. So we thought we’re all set until next spring.
And here is Susan coming down the driveway in our Mango TerraTrike Grand Tourismo. These are seriously fun, easy to ride, and comfortable.
We did keep looking at pickup trucks, mostly to find out what equipment packages we needed to get the features we wanted. And to figure out what it was that we really wanted. Mostly a 2018 or so, a V6, preferably red, leather, heated, and cooled seats, and a long (6.5”) box on a four-door pickup. Some of the newer technology safety features would be nice.
I looked at RAMs and was even more confused about what you got with what. My preference had always been a Ford F150. We discovered that the 6.5’ box on these pickups is pretty rare. Maybe one in ten. Add in a red color and it was now maybe 1 in 50. We found just a few that looked OK. One seemed like it would work, it had a V8 which was not what we wanted but it would work. Then we discovered it had been in 2 accidents in less than three years. That was the end of that one.
We pretty much quit looking. We thought we might have to settle for a white one. Ugh! There was almost nothing in a 50 mile range. One day I was looking at one of the car search engines and increased the distance to a hundred miles or more and a 2018 F150 popped up at a smaller Ford dealer in Kenyon, MN. It was White Gold, sort of tan. It had a nice topper and new tires. I called, it had been sold new to a retired farmer who spent his winters down south somewhere. He had just traded it in on a new truck. It had all that were were looking for and much, much more but was still no more expensive than anything we had looked at closer to home with much less equipment and options.
We went to look at it. We asked if we could have our mechanic, Don, in Hastings look it over. They said sure. We drove it to Hastings. Don looked it over and said it was exceptionally clean and in very good shape. He thought it had never been driving in a MN winter which was right. He thought one of the front struts had a small leak but otherwise a clean bill of health.
We took it back to the dealer and reported what Don had found. They offered to put in new struts at no charge. So much sooner than we had expected, we bought a pickup truck.
Pretty snazzy, way more than we were thinking about but it was available and at the price point we were comfortable with. It seemed enormous to us, it is. But visibility is good, it is comfortable. Some driving practice required.
And a week later, Chris from the Bike Shop called and said one of the 2022 EVO trikes that had been sold to another buyer was available because they backed out. Did we want it? Sure!
And they both fit in the pick up truck.
And they are easy to get in and out. They weight about 40 lbs each. So we just leave them in the back end, undercover and secure. And there is lots of room for other stuff as well. I guess timing is everything.
But in order to tow the pick up we needed to add the base plates for the tow bar connections, add the braking connections, and add the electrical wiring so that the brake, turn and running lights work.
I ordered all of the parts, it took a week to get them all and then asked Don if he could lend a hand. He is retired now but has a lift in his home shop that would get the truck off the ground and make all of this easier. Don and I had it all done in just over three hours.
The proof is in the pudding. The color looks good. We hooked everything up, went through the get-ready-to-tow procedure, checked the lights, and were ready to go. We drove several miles, around corners, down straight roads, curvey roads, left turns, right turns, and then home. We went through the end-of-towing procedure and disconnected the truck, backed the coach into the barn, and breathed a sigh of relief. Compared to the Jeep Cherokee, the F150 is a bit easier to set for towing and set back for driving.
Our friends, Ed and Deb, visited in June.
They just started towing a pickup truck behind their 40 foot Foretravel. Ed cautioned about going around right-hand turns. So we were careful but it seemed fine. We will continue to pay a bit more attention.
What we are still learning is driving the pickup truck. It is longer, takes more room in turns and more room for parking. We are getting used to it. We like it.
Well, that was the rest of the summer’s big projects. There were days when we thought we didn’t get much done while we were busy with our other tasks during the summer. But when we look back we did get a lot done. I even got in several days at a Habitat for Humanity house being built in Hastings.
And we managed to make a two week trip to the Black Hills in September, that is another post.
More Later, Much Love,
Roger and Susan