Last year I purchased a Terra Trike Rambler model recumbent tricycle. I rode it nearly every day from the day of purchase until the weather in Tucson got to be too cold to ride. Over that time I lost 15 pounds, And then the winter set in.
Since spring I’ve been riding on and off, it seems, not getting into a regular routine. I think I can attribute this to the fact that last year I was riding with a partner who was helping me learn about cycling. And this year I’m on my own when it comes to setting out for a ride.
Over the nearly one year I’ve been riding I’ve had three spills. The first one, about a month after I began was the worst, with large bruises, a numb rear end and pain for several months. But I got back on that trike two days afterward and kept riding. Two weeks later I had another spill. Both of these I attributed to operator error in learning about the ‘character’ of my vehicle, although I was concerned that the brakes were too ‘grabby’. Following that second spill I seemed to be done with that until…
A couple of months ago I was riding with another rider on the local Tucson bike path when I had another event. Each of these was connected to an abrupt ‘panic’ style stop. And each time the brakes grabbed quickly and threw me out of the seat. After this last time, I waited until my scrapes and my psyche healed up. And then I took the trike to the bike shop to have the brakes adjusted.
(As an aside, this third spill was followed on the same ride by a near miss from a car that clipped my left wheel as I crossed a road toward the end of our ride. Although I looked, and signaled my intention, apparently the car was in my blind spot, and he had barely enough time to react. Another reason for my resting psyche.)
That was about two weeks ago, on a Friday. I went on a group ride the next day and during the ride I noticed that I had a squeaking sound on my left wheel and the brakes were very uneven when braking a coast downhill. After the ride one of my riding companions assisted me in readjusting the brakes. We got the left wheel/disk brake adjusted, but when we tried to adjust the right wheel/disk brake the spring gave way, so that the brake was non-functional.
The trike went back to the shop the same day and I picked it up the next day, supposedly fixed. I didn’t check it out before loading it into my car, waiting to do so until the day before the next ride. This was a wrong move on my part. The right brake was stiff and noisy and not acceptable to me. I called one of the members of the recumbent group to see if he could help me. Luckily he doesn’t live too far from me and he agreed to try to get that right brake adjusted better. When I went home I was satisfied that things were good.
On Saturday (last) the group met again for a ride. I realized I had a flat tire I didn’t know about until the morning so the group was delayed in their start in order for me to change tubes. Timing is everything, because as I was taking care of this chore, two more two-wheel recumbent riders joined us – they were late. So we finally left. Five miles into the ride my right brake failed again and I couldn’t continue the trek through town. One of the late arrivals to our outing graciously volunteered to ride back to their truck and pick me up.
So once again I took the trike to the bike shop after they opened that morning. The owner was very surprised to see me. I told him that something was definitely wrong and just repairing it was not acceptable. He said the manufacturer had just recently provided instructions about their brakes (what?!!!) And once again I left the trike.
I received a call on Tuesday to say the trike was ready for pickup. Later in the day I drove over to get it. There was no written indication of what they did to it, but I did notice that the brake assembly on both wheels had been replaced. This time I took the vehicle for a ride to get a feel for the brakes before loading it into the car. They worked perfectly, and didn’t grab, even though I tried to get them to. So I took the trike home in preparation for the next ride with the group, which is tomorrow. I want to thank the owner of Ajo Bikes for making the changes and adjustments himself, and for placing the cost of the changes on a warranty basis.
Late Wednesday afternoon a member of the group invited anyone who wanted to to ride with her near her home in Sonoita, AZ on Thursday. I decided to put my trike to the test, so early in the morning yesterday I drove the 30 miles from my house to Sonoita. The day was overcast and therefore not too hot. We got started about 7:30 and rode 16 miles round trip over some very hilly country, on a main highway. Although there was traffic the drivers were pretty mannerly by moving away from us as they passed. We did the ride in about two hours, making it about eight miles an hour, which is not too bad for those slow hills!
Then we rode together in my car to Patagonia to check out another possible ride. We stopped in a restaurant and split a breakfast meal – the perfect size! Then to the coffee cafe for some java and very sweet cookie bar. We were both so tired from our ride we could hardly move!
I took my friend home and as I left a thunder storm was approaching. I took photos of some of the hills we conquered on our ride while driving back to Tucson. I look forward to our outing tomorrow morning, and expect all to go very well. Very well, indeed.
This photo is the turn-around point of our ride, at the Border Patrol check-point, eight miles north of Sonoita.
Storm coming in Sonoita