1 0 Archive | December, 2016
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Only toddlers ride tricycles

Catrike 700 rear quarter viewYesterday I went and got myself a tricycle.

Truth be told, I haven’t ridden tricycles since I was a toddler. And more truth be told, I was never really into tricycles anyway. I preferred those little plastic cars you straddle and push along with both feet. But I definitely used to be into cycling when I was younger. I had (have) a classic Bianchi Campione d’Italia, currently stashed away somewhere up in a garage in Canada, that I used to love to ride around Toronto.

The thing about riding bikes, however, is that they never really get comfortable. I went on a few century rides (100 miles), and even after riding bikes for many years and getting accustomed to the way that you sit on and pedal a bicycle, after a few dozen miles on a bike you start to hurt, especially at those points that contact the bicycle – your lower back, your wrists on the handlebars, and yes, your tush (even with a gel seat).

It is for this reason that this time around I decided to get a recumbent bicycle – to be more precise, a recumbent tricycle. Recumbents operate like regular bicycles, but place the rider in a laid-back reclining position to ride. This helps to evenly distribute a rider’s weight along the seat, minimizing contact point stresses. During the past several months I visited a few dealers to try out a few trikes, and found them quite comfortable. In fact, other recumbent trike riders have confessed that they often feel like falling asleep in their trikes when they’re not on the move. Not only that, while riding on a traditional diamond frame (DF) bicycle often hurts the lower back, most sources I have researched indicate that riding a recumbent bicycle can help strengthen your lower back, and is very good for general back health. How cool is that?

I researched several different trike brands while deciding which trike to purchase. The three main contenders were ICE Trikes out of the United Kingdom, HP Velotechnik out of Germany, and Catrike, located right here in Florida. In the end I chose a lava red Catrike 700, a surprisingly comfortable trike with a mesh seat that was built primarily for speed. There were several reasons I chose this trike in particular. One, it is very light, and reputably very fast – I want a trike that I can keep up with other riders on traditional bikes with, as I plan to join rides with cycling clubs here in Central Florida. Another reason is that I managed to get a brand new 2016 model at a very low price. I bought the Catrike in the same community where my parents live, which is targeted toward retired folks. The people there simply don’t choose to ride speed trikes; they would prefer a trike that is easy to get in and out of and more focused on comfort over performance, like the Catrike 559, Catrike Dumont, or Catrike Villager. So the trike has been sitting on the rack in the store for some time, and they wanted to get it out of the shop so that they could replace it with something more likely to appeal to their clientele. I am not a retired person (quite yet), so I was happy to jump on the deal.

Today I went on my first official ride around my neighborhood on the Catrike 700, and it made me very happy. It has been so long since I’ve ridden a bicycle, and it was great to feel the wind in my hair (or helmet), the fresh air in my lungs, and that burn you get in your calves after a good bike workout.

Will I be back out there tomorrow? Heck yeah…

Lava red Catrike 700

2016 Lava red Catrike 700 outside our garage.

Catrike 700 top view

The view of the Catrike 700 just before you are about to trip over it.

Catrike 700 wheel reflector

The Catrike came with reflectors on its wheels, which I am definitely going to remove, but don’t worry – I will replace them with something equally safe.

Catrike 700 safety flag

I almost forgot to put the safety flag on the trike before riding. Trikes are low to the ground, so flags are very important in order to make the trike visible for car drivers.

Wearing a bicycle helmet

I had to borrow one of my kids’ bike helmets. Don’t worry, I did up the strap before riding, though I hate that feeling of something constricting your heck or chin.

Alien Workshop skateboard

My friend Pete and I also went out on a whim and got ourselves skateboards. But that’s another story…

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18. Dec, 2016
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That one summer in Quebec

I’m thankful for many things, and since November is a popular month to recognize those things we’re thankful for, I thought I’d… wait, it’s December already? Oh.

At any rate, I visited my parents over Thanksgiving, and while I was there I found some old photo albums from back in the day. One of them was the photo album from the six weeks I spent at a French language school in Quebec City, at C├ęgep de Sainte-Foy, during the summer before my final year of high school. I went to Quebec with my friend Peter, who has been one of my best friends since we met in the fourth grade, but we met a lot of new friends from all over Canada (and even one from Atlanta) while we were staying there.

One reason why I am thankful is that the program was sponsored by the Canadian government. The trip to Quebec City, the room and board, and the daily French lessons were paid for as part of a French language bursary program. The program still exists, it seems – it is now called Explore, and it lasts for five weeks. It doesn’t seem like the current program is comprehensively covered as it was when I was in high school, but I still think it is pretty cool that the Government of Canada will sponsor English-speaking Canadian citizens to learn the French language, and vice versa. It shows the emphasis that the Canadian government places on being a multilingual country.

I learned a lot of French in Quebec, of course, but I learned a lot of other things as well – a lot about independence, and friendship, and Quebecois culture. It’s an experience that I will always remember, and it’s something that I hope my own children will be able to experience one summer once they themselves reach high school.

Here’s a picture I scanned of Peter and I at Toronto Pearson International Airport, getting ready to fly to Quebec City for the program.


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