Category Archives: trails

TADPOLE TRIKES GET ATTENTION

Catrike 700 S. Korea

have been watching some videos of a South Korean triker who rides a Catrike 700. In the one video I just finished watching I noticed the people he was riding by as several of them turned to look at his trike as he rode by them. Yep, tadpole trikes definitely attract attention.

heads turn heads turn 2

heads turn 3 heads turn 4

He has several videos available to view. Click HERE to see what he offers.

Another thing I noticed is that the area he is riding in has nice bike/pedestrian trails some of which must have been expensive to build and perhaps a bit challenging as well. I like his whirlygig safety flag.

I am sure most of us who ride tadpole trikes can attest to the fact that the trikes get attention and admiration quite often from many different people we encounter. Some are curious and want to ask questions about them. Whenever possible it is a good idea to take the time to answer their questions as in doing so we are being good ambassadors for our chosen means of cycling. We have the opportunity to educate others and help them to know more about these awesome machines. And just maybe they too will join us in riding in comfort and fun.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

LEAF REMOVAL MADE EASY

It is that time of year when leaves are falling and covering over the trails. A friend of mine swept and raked leaves off of the trail last year. It is a lot of work and quite tiring. He accomplished about a mile of trail per day walking along doing it the “conventional way”. This year he got innovative. When I first saw what he came up with I didn’t think it would work very well (and he had his doubts as well), but upon trying it out we were both quite surprised at how well it works. Keep in mind that the leaves continue to fall down so it makes no sense to try to get the trail cleaned off perfectly as an hour later it is a mess again. Anyway, without further ado here is what he came up with. (He has modified it considerably since he first made it. This picture is when it was brand new.)

leaf removal 6

He simply pulls it behind his tadpole trike and with it can get more work done in one day than he could accomplish walking in an entire week. Like many projects if he were to make it again he would make some changes. Never the less, what he has now does a pretty decent job. My thinking on the design is that the side piece should be angled out instead of at a 90 degree angle. Also I think there should be a side piece on the other side which can be easily and quickly removed and switched like I show in this drawing I made.

leaf removal rig drawing

leaf removal 1

leaf removal 3

He had swept the trail the day before so there are not a whole lot of leaves on it as he was sweeping it this day I took these pictures.

leaf removal 2

leaf removal 4

leaf removal 8

When the leaves accumulate ahead of his rig he has to stop and pick up the rig and set it over to the side. Then he takes a leaf rake he has along with him and rakes the accumulated leaves over off to the side of the trail.

I know I certainly appreciate his efforts as it makes it a whole lot safer to ride on the trail when you can see it. It is very rare for the city government to clean off the trails … at least this particular one which happens to be our favorite to ride. So it is good that there are those of us who volunteer to help maintain it. Occasionally a trail user will even say “thanks” for our efforts … something which is always appreciated. Having nice clean trails to ride on helps to be able to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

P.S. – After watching how his rig works and what is involved in using it I gave some thought as to how to make one for myself to use. I think that an angled plow type unit would work better so that the leaves roll off to the side of the plow unloading itself and eliminating the need to stop and get off like my friend is doing.

Update –  I made my own leaf removal rig today, but I will have to wait to try it out and see how it works. It has been raining and the eleaves are quite wet. Here is a drawing I made of what I came up with.

my leaf removal rig

Update: My design works great … far better than my friends.

With my friend’s leaf removal rig the load of leaves he pulls behind him keeps growing and getting heavier and heavier wearing him out trying to pedal. If he doesn’t stop to unload his rig it will unload itself leaving a big pile of leaves right on the trail which then needs to be removed. It is a real pain to use in my opinion. My outfit is so much simpler, better and faster. I just keep riding and the leaves unload themselves off to the side.

It leaves a pretty clean trail and this was even after removing wet leaves which is a lot more difficult and challenging than dry leaves.

If I were to do it over I would make it a little different though as I have learned from this one. I would add a second board  and put weight in between the two boards to help hold it down. Right now I am hanging hand weights to both the front and the back side of the board. Of course, the weights on the front side are obstructing the leaf flow. Also I think I would eliminate the broom altogether and have the pull be from the top of the boards so that there is no obstruction of any kind to the flow of leaves as they move over to the side and off load.

Placing the weight on the back side of the one board I am using now results in tipping the rig over backwards so now I have to have weight on at least the front side to prevent this. It needs more weight so I am using the back side too, but I can’t put as much weight on the back side as I can the front side. With the two board design everything will be a clean smooth surface with the weight inside out of the way. I can easily adjust the amount of weight according to how the rig performs. The idea is to keep the rig down on the trail surface so it isn’t allowing the leaves to pick it up and dump them out underneath of it. Of course, one doesn’t want any more weight back there than necessary since it makes a difference in how hard it is to pull it along.

CONNECTIVITY … YOU JUST CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

was just looking at a website listing trails in Georgia. My wife and I lived down in the Atlanta area for 10 years so I still have an interest in that area and was wondering about trail development down there. My thinking was … “What if we still lived down there. Would we have trails to ride on?” What I discovered seems to be a universal problem most places I know of. I am talking about connectivity. There are various trails, but most of them don’t connect together so they are not very practical to ride on at this point in time … especially the shorter ones. It is not hardly worth it to load up your trike and haul it many miles to get to a trail that is only 2 to 4 miles long. Of course, there are trails around which are much longer … more distance than most people would want to attempt in one day’s ride.

Yes, connectivity is a problem. Some of our trails around here where I live don’t connect together at this time so I don’t usually ride on them. I pretty much stick to the trails that do connect together. Right now all of our local trails are linear. We can ride to the end of it and then have to turn around and come back the same way we had just come. Again, someday this is suppose to change. They are planning some more trails which will make a loop we can ride. That would be nice.

Lots of future trails are planned. There is just one problem … money. Trails are very expensive to build and maintain. It is my understanding that our trails around here cost about $125 a foot and that is just the part that is asphalt. Boardwalks cost about $500 a foot. With a struggling economy which is getting worse and not likely to turn around (I think it is going to totally collapse as that is the plan of those running things) these future trails will not likely materialize.

So I reckon we will just have to do the best we can and be thankful for what we have. And it helps immensely if we the trail users help maintain them. It helps us all to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

JUST ADD WATER

trail may be under water

When it comes to recipes adding water is quite common and works well oftentimes. However adding water in not a good ingredient when it comes to certain other things like electricity, picnics, sun bathing, and cycling to name a few. This year has been a terrible year for rain … too much of it (or not hardly any) … in some parts of the United States. That includes the area where I live. We have had record breaking rains and just recently we finally have got some decent weather and things are starting to dry out. However we still only have very limited trails open and available to use. All the flooding, high winds, etc. have devastated much of our trail system and it will take a long time and a lot of work to get them cleaned up and back open.  The rivers have just recently finally dropped down below flood stage so the cleanup effort is just getting started.

These 4 pictures below are not of our area, but they are typical of what our trails look like as far as being flooded over.

trail flooded over compilation

In the video below keep in mind that the trails run right alongside of the rivers so when you see the river which is considerably flooded over in various areas much of the time the trail is underwater.

And here is a video shot from a drone helicopter of the flooding in Foster Park … one of the places I had never witnessed flooding occur before. Most of the park and golf course was under water. There is horrific damage to much of the grounds. I was just out there July 22nd and saw some of the result of the flooding.

This picture below is in one of our local city parks. This is one of the trails which passes thru it. Even after a few days of nice weather the water is still across the trail although not nearly as much as pictured here. I would guess that the water was about 30 inches deep over the trail when this picture was taken.

floodgate in W. Sweeney Park

The city did make an effort to start cleanup work on one of the trails only to get two trucks and a skid loader stuck.  First one got stuck and then the second got stuck trying to pull out the first one. The skid loader got stuck trying to pull out the trucks. Upon getting them out of their predicament they gave up until the mud has dried up more. There is not only ‘gobs of goo’ (river silt mud which is some of the worst mud imaginable), but there are large trees down and plenty of smaller ones as well.

trail closed due to flooding

As an avid trail user it is difficult to deal with. This is the second worse flooding on record for this area. As I previously stated, I have seen areas flooded over that I have never seen flood before. Several city parks and golf course were pretty much destroyed by flooding and will take a lot of work and money to repair/restore them.

With this recent dry spell it is hoped that the rain pattern we have been experiencing this year is over with and things will return to normal. I have posted this picture of a flooded section of trail before but I added another picture alongside of it so you can see what the area looks like when it isn’t flooded. There must be at least 3 or 4 gallons of water there. The area where I have a white X is more than 7 feet of flood water over the trail. The river is off to the left hand side. The farmer’s field on the right becomes a very large lake. Somebody just added water and ruined a good thing.

just add water

Well, all I can say is … try to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

Ya’ know … speaking of just adding water … I once came up with what I thought was a great idea which would really make me a wealthy man. I came up with a product I called “instant water”. It was a small tablet which you simply put into a glass and added water then stirred. Much to my disappointment I just never could seem to get anyone interested in it. 😉

THE WEATHER DEPARTMENT, A YEAR TO REMEMBER

The reason for having a tadpole trike is to ride it, but in some parts of the United States it has been and continues to be a difficult year to get much riding in. That’s because of all the rain … day after day … week after week … month after month it seems. It is a year to remember. When is it going to stop? I mean like … give us a break! Even what little time has been available to ride there is so much flooding that there are very few places to ride without encountering flood water … closed trails, closed roads and streets, closed city parks. Then to top it all off there have been some strong winds in some of the storms which have brought numerous trees down which are blocking off trails. Some of the trees are huge. With all the rain the ground is so saturated that the entire root system under them just pulled up out of the ground. Many others were simply snapped off or large branches were snapped off. Many fell onto houses and cars/trucks. I have ridden around various parts of the city and seen many such scenes.

tree uprooted and fallen onto house

tree fallen onto car

They were also blocking streets and sidewalks, but at least those are usually removed fairly quickly. The bike trails haven’t been touched though and probably won’t be for some time. Some are still flooded.

flooded trail in Sweeney Park

In the image below the red line shows about where the bicycle trail runs. There is more than 7 feet depth of flood water over the trail about where I have drawn the yellow line on the red line. The river is to the left beyond the trees.

Maumee Path from North River Road near Landin Road trail marked

This image below is of the St. Joe Pathway near Parnell Ave. As you can see it is completely flooded over. The river is to the left.

flooded St. Joe Pathway near Parnell Ave.

Other trails are a muddy mess and with all the rain aren’t drying up. That means that nothing can be done about clearing the trees off of them. Besides the city is too busy dealing with cleaning up other places which take priority over the trails. That is the story here where I live.

Then there are parts of the nation experiencing bad drought conditions. They desperately need the rain. I sure wish we could send some of ours their way. Not only are they experiencing drought, but they having scorching heat making it miserable and dangerous to be outside. Fires are a serious threat when these conditions exist.

I know that there are those who say “just ride in the rain”. To that I say “no, thanks”. I don’t find that enjoyable at all.

I just took a look at the 14 day extended forecast. Even though it is raining today as it did yesterday the forecast shows several days of no rain. Hallelujah! Thank You Lord. Now if I just had somewhere to ride. I will have to work on that. I want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

TREK THE TRAILS

Every Tuesday evening at 6 PM from April thru October here in Fort Wayne, Indiana the local trails authority conducts what they call Trek the Trails.

Trek the Trails ride meetup

Each week they have an organized ride where bicyclists can show up at a designated starting point to form up and head out riding a different section each week. By the end of the “riding season” they will have covered the whole trail system and probably repeated some of it. The rides are usually about 6 to 9 miles long. They are open to all and families are most welcome.

Depending upon the weather the turn out is usually pretty good … 60 to 100 riders. Someone always leads the rides and someone always brings up the rear making sure everybody made it ok. I have only personally ridden on a couple of them as I ride all of the trails frequently and know them all quite well. The main purpose of these rides is to introduce people to the local trails and help them to learn about them.

Trek the Trails ride

Probably at least 4 times during these rides they offer special events in addition to the ride itself. Sometimes they have a live band, food, dance, bicycle giveaway by drawing, etc. On one such ride they go to a predetermined location out away from the city lights where they have telescopes set up to check out the stars and whatever else they can see in the heavenlies.

Here is a video of one of the rides from 2012. It is on the Saint Joseph Pathway to Shoaff Park. It started out at Johnny Appleseed Park.

And HERE are other videos of these rides. And HERE are other videos of  Fort Wayne Trails.

In addition to these Tuesday evening rides they also have a Saturday morning ride once a month which is longer and geared a little more for those more serious about riding including a little faster pace and longer distance. But again, it is open to all and someone brings up the rear ensuring everyone makes it regardless of whether they keep up the pace of the leader. These rides always get spread out considerably. Even the Tuesday evening rides do, but probably not as much.

Trek the Trails ride 3

Anyway, I think it is a pretty good thing that they offer this. It is good to promote the trails and help people learn of them. In doing so it raises awareness and more and more people are taking to the trails. And after all … that is what it is all about. Just so they don’t get too crowded as we want to be able to continue to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

TO BE SEEN OR NOT TO BE SEEN

As I sit here typing this it is snowing again outside. Being stuck indoors thru another nasty winter unable to go riding outdoors I am envious of those who can ride at this time of year. So sometimes I watch others ride on videos posted online. Here is one I came across which I think looks very inviting.

One of things I noticed as I watched this is safety flags. This is a subject I approach with passion. I have WRITTEN ABOUT IT before and even made up a VIDEO of my own about it. I know not everybody agrees with me on this as it is obvious by the flags they choose to fly and by the position they have them at. Safety flags can be quite effective and eye catching or they can be quite ineffective. In this video embedded below I captured a screenshot of two trikes in the front of the camera. Both are flying safety flags. One is barely flapping while the other is flapping vigorously. One is farther away than the other. The one which is most visible and eye catching is not the one which is flapping the most or closest. It is the one flapping the least and furthest away. How can this be? Color! The yellow flag stands out far better than the multi-color (blue, white, red and yellow) one. Look for this fairly early on in the video. Normally the flags that flap around a lot are more eye catching, but if the colors are not all that noticeable than the flapping doesn’t accomplish all that much good. You can see this in the video.

2 safety flags from behind 2

Nope, I just don’t get it. Why bother? Why spend the money to fly a flag that doesn’t show up? I mean the whole idea of a safety flag is to help others see you. If is for your safety … hence, it is called a safety flag. Flags might be pretty to look at, but if they are not eye catching … well, what can I say? It’s your funeral as they say. I know there will be many who spurn what I am saying. They might even get upset with me. I know many will go on ignoring what I am saying. But if just a few trike riders wake up to this and do something to help others see them it will be worthwhile getting others upset with me.

The size and shape of the flag makes a big difference as to whether or not it attracts attention and accomplishes its mission … making you visible and helping protect you. There are flags which are very popular but the shape of them makes them worthless as safety flags. They barely move and because of this and their physical size they can’t hardly be seen from behind. They actually blend right in with the flag pole so what is seen is something about 5/16 of an inch in width. That is ridiculous! I am talking about flags that look like these pictured below:

I have followed behind several flags like these (shapewise) and unless they have the additional ribbons like the one if the bottom picture they are practically worthless. The ribbon is the only thing which can be seen as it flaps around and moves enough to catch the eye while the much larger flag surface just can’t be seen from behind.

While I am at it I see some trikers fly their flags down real low. I assume they do so trying to keep wind resistance down. I guess they have it in their minds that this is going to slow them down a half a mile an hour and they can’t have that. Again, I don’t get it. Why bother at all? If your flag isn’t going be placed where it is noticed then you might as well not even have one.

Then there are those who fly their flag(s) quite high. In doing so their flags are above the straight forward line of sight of most motorists with the exception of semi-tractors. In my opinion safety flags should be about 5 feet off of the ground to their top. Also the flag pole should be fairly upright … not angled way back. That not only helps them flap better but it will help keeping someone from getting their eye poked out if they walk or ride into your flag sticking way out behind your trike where it is quite vulnerable.

Well, anyway the video of this trail ride is neat and it makes me all the more desirous to ride. Come on Spring! I want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

AUTUMN RIDE ON TRAIL

was watching some videos on YouTube of our local trails here in Fort Wayne, Indiana when I came across this one which sort of caught my eye … probably because of the fact it was in Autumn with the leaves on the trees changing colors which is always so pretty. The colors certainly are not breathtaking as they are some years, but they are still pleasing to see. Anyway, I thought I would share it so others could enjoy it as well. Fort Wayne’s original trail system known as the Rivergreenway are trails built which follow along the three rivers here in Fort Wayne. This video features the St. Marys Pathway which follows along the St. Marys River.

Here is a map of our current trail system. It is not quite up to date as there have been a few short sections added since this map was created. The trails are represented by the red lines. We presently have just over 100 miles of trails completed. And more miles are planned and slowly materializing. The St. Marys Pathway is the north-south trail in the middle of the map toward the bottom.

ft wayne trails map

RIDING THE RAIL

Riding the rail … a “rails to trails” trail, that is. These tadpole trike riders are on the Nickel Plate Trail in north central Indiana. The name comes from the former railroad track bed the trail was built on. It was the Nickel Plate Railroad. I have ridden on ihis trail once myself although this particular part these guys are riding didn’t exist at that time. Apparently they started their ride together at the Victory Bike Shop in Kokomo, Indiana. Where these guys are riding is about 75 miles from where I live. I don’t know if these guys are a part of the group of tadpole riders who have an organized group in the nearby area, but I would not be surprised if they are. I know I would be if I lived closer. (That is, if they would have me). From what I have read they usually ride together on Thursdays and ride all day long up until evening. They often ride about 100 miles. At least that is what I read. That is a lot of riding. I am envious. Other than my one friend there are no other tadpole trike riders in our area that seem to show much interest in getting together for a group ride. Watching this video I would say that it looks like these guys are enjoying themselves. I would like to be with them. How about you? Some people are loners by choice while others are because they have no choice. I am hoping things change around here where I live and other tadpole riders start riding together.

If anyone is interested in checking out the Nickel Plate Trail HERE is a link to their website. And HERE is the TrailLink website page on this trail. HERE is the IndianaTrails webpage. HERE is their Facebook page.
Nickel Plate Trail map

Lastly, HERE is an article about the trail.