On March 22, I went to Bike Demo Day at Mt. Airy Cycles. I'd never been to that location before, but I've been to their older shop, College Park Bicycles, many times. I first met the owner, Larry Black, back when he and my brother worked together at Georgetown Cycle Sport, a long-gone shop that seems to have at one time or another employed nearly every present-day DC-area shop owner or manager who was around back when it existed. I was interested to see the Mt. Airy shop, ride in some countryside and maybe try out some different bikes. I also had my eye on an old touring frame in Larry's collection, which I thought might be from the same maker as the one I once owned. It would be expensive, but very tempting if it were the same. So I loaded up my two road bikes--the 1986 Grand Prix and Surly Cross Check--into my Volvo 240 wagon and headed out there.
The demo day was mainly to demo recumbents and tandems, though not limited to those. I had Larry look at my Surly and give me his opinion on whether it fit me. His first remark was actually to compliment the Grand Prix, then to tell me that bike fit is entirely a matter of personal opinion. But I appreciated having him look at the bike and how it fit me. His conclusion was that it did, but that I had the saddle too high. After lowering it, I took a ride on the road and it seemed better. I still think it's small and I intend replacing the 52cm frame with a 54cm soon. What I do want to commend Larry for was that he spent some of his time on a very busy day to work with me, and made no effort to sell me another bike. As it happened, the old frame I was there to see wasn't exactly like my old one and so I saved my money.
Late in the afternoon, I began to take notice of some of the recumbent bikes. I've always been intrigued by recumbents, but I've never owned one and had only tried to ride one once, about ten years ago. It was nearing the end of the day when they were putting bikes away, but I did get in a couple of circuits of the parking lot on a couple of different recumbent bikes. Then I started looking at the recumbent tadpole trikes. These have really interested me since I first saw one a few years ago, not least for their resemblance to a Morgan Three Wheeler. I sat on the nearest one that still had its pedals on, and set off around the parking area. My initial impression was that this was the most fun I'd ever had pedaling anything. Strange but true. Now, a month later, it seems unbelievable and I tend to dismiss it. But from then on, I felt that I had a different view of cycling from anything before. I said to myself that at some point I'd like to have one of these. And I wished I had started soon enough to take it on a proper road test.
Whenever I am considering a purchase, I do a lot of research. What I rode was a Catrike Speed, and so when I got home I began by looking at the company's web site. Then I looked for other information sources. web sites, reviews and so on. Rather quickly I found a page titled "how to buy a recumbent trike," which seemed to be something I was looking for. It was a very good analysis of the factors to be considered, written by an experienced trike owner who happens to have chosen a Trice QNT, built by Inspired Cycle Engineering in the UK. I looked at every manufacturer site I could find, several dealer sites and a number of other sites. Sheldon Brown had owned a Greenspeed about which he wrote "this thing is an absolute blast!" Soon my short list was down to about four makes, with Trice at the top of the list. Having since had a closer look at several makes, Trice is now the one that I want.
I have no real justification for this, other than how much fun it was to ride one particular trike one time. Unlike many people who ride recumbent trikes, I am fully capable of riding a standard bicycle, of which I already own several. And these things aren't cheap—more than three grand including accessories. So this isn't a purchase I am likely to make soon, if ever. I can certainly see plenty of reasons not to get one.
Meanwhile, I am indeed back in the familiar Brooks saddles again on my standard bikes, and spring is finally here. Perhaps there is a trike in my future, perhaps not. To my existing habit of evaluating roads I drive on as bike routes, I have now added doing so for trikes, even when bicycling. Whether I ever have a recumbent tadpole trike, it’s been an interesting exploration into a whole new area of cycling.