Trike Cheats

Greta on adult trike

Two facts: I love triking. And I sometimes run out of steam.

I live at the top of a long, shallow slope, something I hadn’t realized until I started triking. Trikes are heavier than bikes. And I’m heavier than a lot of cyclists. Add it all up? Getting to the grocery store is easy, I feel like I’m flying — but getting back home is sometimes a challenge. I love it, it feels great, but it’s more “challenging fun” rather than “easy fun.” Especially when I’ve gone farther than usual, or have an extra-heavy load of groceries.

So I’m figuring out some cheats. (To be very clear, I don’t actually consider any of this cheating. It’s “cheating” in the sense of “cheat codes”: techniques that give an advantage and may not be widely known.)

Cheat 1: Walking up hills. Coming home from one particular grocery store, I was getting winded way sooner than I should have been. The first block on my way back is up a slope: not a drastic one, but enough that with the trike loaded with groceries, I was straining to get up it.

So I finally said, “Fuck it.” I now walk the trike up that one block. And now I’m not starting my ride with the hardest, most exhausting part.

Cheat 2: Taking breaks. I don’t know where I got the idea that stopping in the middle of a ride was a sign of failure. Now I do it all the time. Usually more than once. If I have a heavy load and am coming up a long slope, I’ll stop every couple of blocks. All I need is a minute or two of rest, and I’m fine.

Cheat 3: Shorter rides, more often. It is so, so much easier to do three lighter rides than one heavier one.

This was especially true when I was first starting out, and was trying to build my strength and stamina so I could go more than a few blocks at a time. I talked with a fitness coach who had helped me recover from surgery, and this was her suggestion. She said if you’re already very strong and trying to get stronger, it can be good to push yourself to exhaustion. But if you’re not, it’s better to do lots of littler, lighter sessions. I also find it way more fun — and keeping it fun is how I’ll keep doing it. So I’ll do three little grocery runs throughout the week, rather than one big one.

Cheat 4: Easier routes. This is so obvious it barely counts as a cheat, but it’d feel incomplete if I didn’t mention it. Of course I pick flatter routes (and boy, San Francisco sure is full of “fake flats”). And while some cyclists like faster streets where they can build momentum, I prefer slower streets, where a gentle pace and frequent breaks don’t make me feel like I’m getting in the way.

I’m still looking at upgrading to the biggest “cheat” of all — an e-trike. But I’m still on the fence about it, and I’m definitely not there yet.

If you trike or bike, what “cheats” do you use?

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Trike Cheats
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2 thoughts on “Trike Cheats

  1. 1

    I love all these cheats, and I am impressed you learned them in SF, which I never got the hang of, when I was living there! But where I live, we have a couple monster hills, to, which of course are “on the way to my house.”

    I had a trike. Loved it. A recumbent bike, loved it. Do you see a pattern? And then yes, after years on the fence, I got an e-bike. I’m into it. I bike more than ever, which was the whole point. And I dont’ think twice about grocery shopping and heavy loads. I can turn off the “assist” if I want, anytime. It’s sort of like having another gear. In any case, I think you look super groovy on that cute trike, and I’m so glad you wrote this!

  2. 2

    I love this! So much of finding pleasure (or even just meh tolerance) in movement is unpacking all the ways we’ve internalized that it has to be miserable and finding another way.

    San Francisco is full of so many physical hills to die on, none of them are worth it. 😉

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