09 August 2014

Three-Wheeled Thrills

After bumping along some trails and a "nature walk" that seemed to be a boardwalk above a swamp, I rolled along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and up the bridge to Flagler Beach.  While parking a bike that I call "mine" only while riding it, a man on an adult tricycle struck up a conversation with me.  "Keep on riding," he exhorted.  "If you'll do, you'll always be a fine-looking young lady."

If he weren't so sweet, I'd've suggested he schedule an appointment with his ophthalmologist, if not a psychotherapist. Instead, I thanked him and, I think, blushed a bit.  I also realized that he was the fourth adult tricyclist I'd seen this morning. 

Of course, that last fact did not surprise me:  Florida must be the adult trike capital of North America, if not the world.  While I hope that I can continue riding on two wheels until the end, whenever that comes for me, I know there's one thing to look forward to if I ever find myself on three wheels, whether by choice or not:  The folks I've seen on three wheels have been, invariably, friendly.

Also, I might take up something that, had someone told me of its existence just a few years ago, I might have asked that person to share whatever was intoxicating him or her with me:  tricycle racing.

Yes, such a sport actually exists.  I learned of it only recently.  As far as I can tell, there isn't much, if any, of it here in the US.  However, there was a very active three-wheeled racing scene in the UK about thirty years ago and, according to the author of the Roadworks Reparto Corse blog, the sport remains popular there.

Englishman John Read in a tricycles-only (!) time trial, 1984.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  After all, a few of the classic British builders created trikes with the same attention to design, detail and construction as their more famous bicycles and tandems.  And a few manufacturers offered tricycles that were more performance-oriented than the clunky ones often found in these parts.

The RRC author says that a shop that employed him as a mechanic stocked a conversion kit consisting of a long strutted axle, cogs and two wheels that could replace the rear wheel of your road bike.  I also recall seeing such a kit in one of the shops in which I worked, and I remember several mail-order firms advertising it in Bicycling! magazine when I first started reading it about four decades ago.  I wonder whether that kit, or anything like it, is still being made. A lot of them could be sold here, in Florida.



  1. I have a couple of friends here in Knoxville that retrofitted a tricycle by building a steamer onto the back to sell tamales from it. The trike was originally used in a warehouse as a quick way to traverse the large distances.

  2. Samuel: That's interesting. Did they retrofit something that was originally a tricycle, or was a bicycle converted to a trike? Either way, I admire them!

  3. Was already a trike. They built their steamer where a cargo basket would have been. They sometimes ride it from their kitchen to wherever they're setting up and will cycle the rest of their gear in a trailer.

  4. Samuel==That sounds really cool. Do you have a photo?