Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Recumbent trike update

My new trike!

Earlier this fall I decided to extend the Carless in Suburbia experiment for another year until October 1, 2014. The experiment ended up offering many unexpected benefits beyond saving money and reducing fuel consumption. I found that using my bicycle to get around during the week reduced my stress levels considerably--slowing down has helped me enjoy the process of getting from "here" to "there." Because my in-person shopping options are limited to what I can find downtown, my impulse purchasing has gone way down; shopping is no longer something I do to kill time. Most of all, I feel happier inside. It's kind of crazy, I know. I think it's because I did something I didn't think I could do (give up my car for a year), and not only did I do it, but I signed up for another year of "car freedom."

Right after I made this new commitment, though, I landed in the hospital for three days with a herniated disc, and then a week later, developed a case of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Biking as I knew it was out. Enter the recumbent trike, thanks to my husband's insistence this was the bike for me. (I didn't really buy into it until I tried it out.)

I've had the bike for a month, and I. Love. It. More than my Trek 700 commuter cycle. When I ride my regular cycle up a hill, it's exhausting. Not so with my recumbent--I seem to fly up hills with only my legs feeling the stress. But when I returned home after biking on the commuter bike, I didn't feel like I got much exercise. That's definitely NOT the case with my recumbent. I usually feel wiped (in a good way) and I can tell that even after a few weeks of triking, my thighs and butt have lost some inches. I also can trike in colder temperatures; it used to be that I wouldn't bike if it was under 40 degrees F, but I went triking when it was 35 degrees F and it wasn't bad at all. I guess I'm burning more calories i.e. generating more heat!

It has been snowing here in Boston for a couple days so I'm not sure when I'll be out on my trike again. I sure do miss it though! This weekend I was at REI, and I came close to buying a new pair of snowshoes. (My old ones slide off my boots annoyingly.) I find the key to staying happy and sane during the winter is to a. get outdoors as much as possible and b. to find outdoor activities that are enjoyable. For me, that's triking when there's no snow, and snowshoeing when there is.

Oh, and here's something else that's interesting about the switch from biking to triking: people are a LOT nicer to me, especially people in cars. I honestly didn't have much of a problem with cars when I was biking, probably because I have the philosophy of "I might have the right-of-way here, but I'm going to be the loser in a battle with a 2,500-lb. piece of metal so best to stay out of the way." The most irritating thing is when I walk my bike across crosswalks and drivers don't stop--they don't seem to understand that once I'm off my bike, I'm a pedestrian, not a cyclist.

However, when I'm on my trike at a crosswalk? People hit the brakes and very nicely wave me across before I can stand up! They also give me tons more room on the road, even though my trike is only 10 cm wider than a regular bike. It finally hit me one day: drivers think I'm disabled. I asked a couple people I know in town what they thought of my theory, and they agreed. My buddy Gerry down at the hardware store said it's the bright orange flag I have on the back of my trike. Just what I thought!

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