When this trip was just a dream, Lucia was the dreamer. Her dream was to cross the country on a fully supported 3-month tour while she pedaled on her light as a feather bike, her 13 pound (under 6 kg) Lynskey titanium road bike, “Ti”.
Her dream was actually on the calendar; set for the summer of 2012 … then she met me!
At the time we met, I was riding my Catrike Speed, nicknamed, “Rolling Stone”, because it was fast and seemed to roll with very little effort. Yes, no moss was gathering on this gray-colored cycling machine. When I joined Lucia’s dream, the dream shifted to touring on three wheels, not two; self-contained, not fully supported. My dream included “Rolling Stone” as my ride — well, THAT was truly a dream! Time to wake up and smell the coffee!
As wonderful as this trike is for both short and long day rides, the smaller wheels leave little room for panniers, the aluminum frame has little give to it, and there is no suspension. The inevitable “bumps along the road” aren’t just figurative, they are bone-jarring without suspension. Added to these inherent problems, it just logically seemed illogical to have two very different trikes for the touring rides we are planning, so the search was on for not one, but two trikes that would be ideal for touring. IOW, it makes logistical sense to carry spare parts and tools for one type of trike rather than two, right?
Of course, we immediately turned to the World Wide Web, plus I had a few discussions with members of a recumbent riding group called the CRABS – Crusty, Retired All recumBent Society (oh … I guess now might be a good time to let you know that recumbent bikes/trikes are regularly called, ” ‘bents”, and those who ride them are called, ” ‘bent riders”). A few of the resources that we used were Bent Rider Online (aka, BROL) along with the previously mentioned Trike Asylum. Online research is great, but it can only do so much when the item you are researching requires total physical immersion, along with quite a bit of mental gymnastics when virtually all of your biking experience has been on upright, two-wheeled devices, ever since you gave up your little red tricycle.
The winning trike was the ICE! The deciding factors were comfort, comfort, comfort, and a slight weight advantage. Lucia’s red trike, “Ruby”, was delivered in July. For you gearheads, Ruby has a triple chainring 22-32-42 up front and a 10-speed 11-36 cassette on the rear. This gearing configuration was put together with the mountains in mind. Since her delivery, the chain guard on the front has been removed, a Terra-Cycle SeatSide Mount has been added behind the seat to accommodate two Arkel handlebar bags and an AirZound horn.
Reality, part 2
Now once Lucia’s trike arrived, we had to delay ordering Mike’s for budgetary reasons (yes, there is a budget). Therefore, research continued … that’s when the dream of two identical trikes distorted a bit. You see, Mike read this article on BROL by Larry Varney. Larry put together the “ultimate” touring ‘bent that was very similar to Lucia’s. While still using the ICE Sprint 26 as the platform, the three big differences were Larry’s trike had full suspension, a SON dynamo hub on one wheel to power lights (no batteries!) and a Rohloff 14-speed internally geared hub (IGH) on the rear wheel. Now, did I mention there was/is a budget?? This trike was going to bust the budget for sure. Still, that didn’t stop me from dreaming and playing around with the budget some.
So here is what I settled on: The ICE Sprint 26 RS, just like Lucia’s, but with the Rohloff 14-speed IGH instead of the potential 30 speeds that she has. Now, I know what you’re thinking:
30 is way better than 14, Mike!
Well, it turns out that 30 gear combos have a lot of overlap/duplication, while the IGH offers 14 distinct and evenly spaced gear settings. The 14 v. 30 thing is kinda like going up/down a set of stairs where each step is the same height v. a set of stairs where one step is an inch higher and the next one is 10 inches and the next one is 8, etc. You can still get from one level to the next with either set of stairs, but the more evenly spaced the steps, the better. The downside of the IGH, is maintenance. If something goes wrong along the way, there isn’t an easy fix with my own tools or at a local bike shop. One of the clear upsides beyond the evenly spaced gear steps is … maintenance. The IGH really doesn’t need any for at least 3,000 miles, and the maintenance steps are as follows: change the oil in the hub.
So here we are, with two traveling trikes – 100 days left until departure!
Keep on rolling!