Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Spring Thaw – Take 2

Everyone knows the old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

This spring has certainly put our resolve to the test as rainy, windy, and even snowy conditions have delayed many of our spring riding plans.  The first casualty was Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania’s LSM scheduled for 3/29 in Warminster Community Park which was besieged by heavy rains.  The rescheduled ride for 4/5 saw only half the riders able to make it, and even they braved strong headwinds as they taxied up and down the runway on their three-wheelers.  (Yours truly had another commitment that day.)

Several of us met for an impromptu LMM (Last Monday of the Month) ride at Glasgow Park in Delaware.  We were also plagued by raging winds, but enjoyed exploring the park and getting to know each other better.
Norman, Ken, Jamie, Megan, Susan, and Pam at Glasgow Park
I followed this up with a solo ride at Rodale Fitness Park when Tuesday gifted me beautiful weather and an unusually easy commute home.  But this ride was also a reminder of why we must ease back into our fitness regimens, as it left me with sore and strained muscles and a recovery of nearly two weeks.

I rode the electric Pon-e Lite last Monday as I explored the new Michael N. Castle trail in Delaware with Susan, Megan, and Cassidy.  Again, high winds were a constant, but they joy of being outdoors and exploring a new trail with friends gave me the determination to push forward.

Yesterday’s ride on the Palmer Bikeway with new Trikkers Jim and Val finally set me back on the path to recovery, both physically and emotionally.  The weather was as picture-perfect as a day can get, and it was a joy to help my new friends improve their riding skills.  I extended my ride with a solo excursion to the northern end of the trail and back racking up a total of 6 for the day, and 27 for the season so far.  While that may not sound like much, it’s quite an achievement after a solid 5 months of inactivity during the harshest winter in recent memory.

Looking forward, the Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania have scheduled April and May LSM’s in some of our favorite locations.  We will return to Warminster Community Park on 4/26, and Trikke on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Philadelphia on 5/31.

I hope to see both old and new friends at these rides, and as we head for another beautiful mid-60 degree day here, I hope we can now safely say that winter is behind us.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Spring Thaw

It’s sunny now, almost warm, and there’s this funny green stuff poking through the carpet of white in my yard.  My cats are watching the birds flutter about in the bushes beside my window, and the itch to ride my Trikke has become unbearable.  This can mean only one thing . . . IT’S FINALLY SPRING!!!!

If you live in the northeast, my mind’s eye sees you nodding in agreement as you read this.  If you don’t, I can feel your deep sigh of relief since you’ve no doubt heard our horror stories about one of the harshest winters in decades.

As I re-read my last few posts here, I realize my winter has not been as productive as planned.  My dreams of writing and web designing were replaced with almost daily shoveling, snow-blowing, and ice-breaking.  My aching body decided it wanted to do nothing more afterwards than to curl up on the couch with my cats and read “Game of Thrones.”  Winter truly did come (I love you Ned Stark, but did you have to be right about that?!), and I suppose I picked a great season to read the series as the weather outside set the mood and atmosphere to bring Westeros to life.  But now it’s finally time to snap myself out of my winter slumber and march myself down the Kingsroad to my stable of Trikkes.

Spring ahead . . .
Luckily all has not been lost this winter.  The Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania picked up several new members during the deep freeze, bringing our total to 45.  And we have set our first LSM ride for March29 at Warminster Community Park.  As of this post we have 12 riders signed up, and surely more will join us with the ride still two weeks away.

If you haven’t ridden with us here before, please consider joining us.  This is one of our most popular ride locations, and it is well-suited to riders of all skill levels.  The entire concrete runway is open for riding, as well as paved trails around the park’s perimeter and across the street at Northampton Municipal Park.

Whether you are looking to carve your very first mile, sweat out an epic 20-miler, or do something in between, this park will give you the ride you’re looking for.  I am eagerly joining this ride, although I may only be able to do a few miles as I seek to reclaim the energy and fitness I lost over the winter.

I am also considering this blog “reopened” for the season, and I still hope to launch a companion website soon.  Elise Bennett’s Trikke Universe has grown well over the winter, and you can read my Keystone Karvers blog there as well.

Winter may have gotten us down for the count, but it’s time to spring back into shape.  I hope all of you are done digging out of the mess and heading for the trails soon too.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Universe

I’d like to interrupt my winter slumber to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and to share some exciting Trikke news.  2013 saw the end of an era as Trikke World Magazine folded unexpectedly, but 2014 has already built a new home for our carving community.

I’m thrilled to announce today’s debut of Trikke Universe, a site built from scratch by Elise Bennett.  The site will form the new hub of the Trikke community, complete with articles, blogs, links, and a new forum.

I’m also happy to say that one of the site’s blogs is my own new “Keystone Karvers.” 
Here I will share the best articles from this blog, as well as updates on the carving scene in Pennsylvania and the east coast.

Please join me in thanking Elise for her hard work to establish the site.  There is room for others to be involved too, so if you have an interest in helping out please let Elise know.

Here’s to wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year, and lots of joyful miles of carving.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Long Winter’s Nap

I know what you’re thinking . . . didn’t I just have a long autumn’s nap?  I haven’t exactly been writing here for a while, but a long autumn’s nap would be the furthest thing from the truth.  I know it’s easy to throw around the “busy” excuse in this day and age, but “busy” is exactly what I have been these past three months.  I don’t want to bore you with the litany of “must do’s” I have been faced with, but I did want to take a little time today to reflect upon the year that is winding down, and look forward to the new year that is just around the corner.

The highlight of the year was the growth our MeetUp group, the Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania.  We hosted 14 rides from late March through mid-November.  We hosted our inaugural group rides in several places:  Rodale Fitness Park, the Chester Valley Trail, the D&L Trail, the Cooper River Trail, and Liberty State Park.  We had strong turnouts, including several new members.  Susan has begun organizing rides, which will give us three organizers going into 2014.  I’m anticipating another strong year of fun and growth for this group.

As for this blog, it has been going strong for nearly a year and a half.  Sure, it’s had its highs and lows, but it helped me learn better what I like to write and what everybody likes to read.  Despite this strength, my main reason for writing today’s post is to say that I will be taking a break from the blog this winter.  I’m not going to try to fill it with half-hearted non-Trikke posts just for the sake of doing so, because I have chosen to direct my energy to other projects this winter.

A few posts ago, I hinted at two exciting changes coming for this blog.  Sadly one of them will not see the light of day.  I had been gearing up to write regular articles for Trikke World Magazine, but we now know that has ceased publication.  The other change is alive and well, and involves a new Trikke website I plan to build over the winter and launch in time for the spring riding season.  This blog will not go away, but will instead supplement the material on my new website.  I will have more information on this when it’s ready, but I wanted to give everyone something to look forward to as winter descends upon us.

In the meantime, there has been a lot of other Trikke community-building happening online since the demise of Trikke World Magazine, so I’d like to leave you with some links to keep you informed and connected this winter:

Thank you for being part of my journey through 2013, and I look forward to an even better year in 2014!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Missions Accomplished!!

Today’s tale is one of rockets, Trikke hill climbs, and spontaneity.  As I checked two items off my bucket list this weekend, it was a spirited reminder that life is about more than to-do lists.

Susan riding Rokk-it Red
My Friday commute home is never fun, but I got out a little early and for once I thought I could get ahead of traffic on the Blue Route.  How wrong I was!  As my car crept forward on the freeway at Trikking speed, I turned the radio on for a traffic report.  What I got while waiting was a report that a rocket launch in Virginia would be visible from Pennsylvania later that night.  So I stayed up late, and from a ridge overlooking the Lehigh Valley, I saw the glowing orange trail of the LADEE rocket as it reached for the moon.  Check one lifelong wish off my bucket list!

I started Saturday morning on a high note.  I awoke to a beautifully sunny day, and looked forward to Trikking at Rodale Fitness Park with Susan, Dan, and Pam.  But for the second time of the year, I arrived to a troubling sight at the park.  Last time, the trail was ravaged by damage from Hurricane Sandy, this time it was overrun by hundreds, if not thousands, of bicyclists for a cyclocross event.  My heart sank as I realized my friends had just driven nearly two hours for a non-event.  But they took it well, and we weighed our alternatives.

Pam riding one of her Triplets
So my second spontaneous weekend event took us out to the paved portion of D&L Trail along the Lehigh River.  This is one of my favorite riding spots, and I knew my friends would enjoy exploring it.  We started at Riverview Park and Trikked westward towards the boat launch.  The air was fresh and crisp, and we nearly had the trail to ourselves.

We came to the fork in the road where the D&L meets the Palmer-Bethlehem Rail Trail.  Beyond that fork was another bucket list item – climbing the “Two Mile Hill.”  My friends were not up to that challenge, but graciously agreed to part ways as they saw my hunger for doing the climb.  As they headed for the boat launch, I launched my T12 upward.

“Two Mile Hill” hill is not the steepest climb I know of, but it is the longest.  It’s a narrow stretch of aging asphalt that hooks around Route 33 as it heads back towards Easton.  The grade is only 1 degree for most of the run, but there are no breaks in the climb save a slight dip as it crosses a driveway near Hope Road.  The summit is a metal bridge spanning Freemansburg Avenue, and I reached it after about 25 minutes of climbing.  I’m proud to say I rode the whole way, stopping only for a few pictures and to let a few bicyclists through.

I find hill climbing to be one of the most challenging yet fulfilling things I can do on a Trikke.  Perhaps this was because two years ago I could barely do a 25 minute walk, let alone a 25 minute hill climb.  I savored my leisurely ride back down the hill, and was greeted by my joyous friends as I neared the bottom.  They had begun climbing the hill to greet me, and I hope to see them back for the full climb again someday.

All told I Trikked 11 miles that day, but my joy came from the spontaneity of the ride and the company of my friends rather than just the number on my odometer.  In my stressed-out life of jam-packed workdays and horrific commutes, I need more days and weekends like this where I can just take a deep breath and savor whatever goodness life decides to send my way.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

PA Trails - Chester Valley Trail - Part 2

East view along Matthews Rd

I was struck by a massive case of wanderlust after a long day of work Friday, and found myself exploring a still-under-construction segment of the Chester Valley Trail in Malvern, PA.  This has quickly become one of my favorite trails, due to its proximity to my office and its ability to spare me the worst of the Friday night traffic towards the Poconos.

I started at my usual location of the Battle of the Clouds Park and headed east towards Target.  Instead of turning around this time, I continued along Matthews Road.  A wide swath of new pavement parallels this road, although segments are still missing.  This resulted in some curb hopping between the trail and the road, being mindful about vehicular traffic while doing so.

Fragmentation viewed from same spot looking west
As it rounded a bend, I rode amongst a family of deer, who were no doubt curious about my three-wheel contraption.  The trail wound down to a bridge near Cedar Hollow Road, and this was as far as I went, even though I suspected the trail went further if you walked up the gravelly hill.  I later confirmed on Google Maps that the trail does continue east, stretching from Cedar Hollow Road to Swedesford Road.  This will no doubt fuel another after-work excursion in the near future. 

If you ride between Target and Cedar Hollow Road, you need to be aware of the fragmented nature of the trail, although it should be completed in the near future.  It is generally a downhill ride as you head east, giving you a substantial climb returning west.  I did not measure it, but I believe it to be about 3 degrees, and I was able to climb it without stopping.  For reference, it is slightly less steep than the hill at the far end of the Target parking lot, which is the steepest I have found on the trail so far.
Scenic . . . but watch for deer crossing the trail!
When I added these miles into my usual ride, it brought the round-trip to 12.84 miles.  With the waning amount of daylight, this was as far as I could have gone anyway in the time I had available.  I will continue to recommend this trail as the best place to Trikke in this part of the state.

Under construction near Cedar Hollow Rd
For more information about the Chester Valley Trail and the larger network of current and future Southeastern Pennsylvania trails, you can visit and

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Trikke Test Drive – Part 5 – 2007 T12 Roadster

Part 5 of my “Trikke Test Drive” series found me rokkin’ it old-skkool on an early model T12.  I had just discovered Trikke Andy’s article and video about replacing the T12’s handlebars to better suit shorter riders like myself, which renewed my interest in the T12’s.  You’ll recall from an earlier test drive, I found the T12 to be too large for me, handling awkwardly and wobbly.

The day after being inspired by the video, fate delivered to me the opportunity to buy a used T12 for just $150.  The owner was moving and needed it gone “today,” so agreed to have a friend pick it up for me sight unseen.  I had figured I could sell it at a profit if I didn’t like it, but I’ve fallen unexpectedly in love with it!

The Trikke has a lot of scratches, likely from being moved around in storage, but mechanically is in great working order.  The front tire still has its seam line, which tells me it’s barely been ridden.  I’ve racked up 24 miles riding it three times this week, which is likely more distance than the original owner ever put on it.

This T12 lacks a lot of the amenities found on the current model, such as ergonomic hand grips, locking brake levers, water bottle holder, and rubber foot decks.  But it’s well-built with an aluminum frame, 12” tires, stylish rims, disk brakes, and wheel fenders.  The major difference is the steering system.  The narrower handlebars are set on a lower steering column, making it more suited to shorter riders.  This Trikke feels lighter than its modern-day counterpart, although I have not yet found the specs to prove it.

I put the T12 through its paces on three test drives this week.  The first was 9 miles lapping a school parking lot, which featured a lengthy 4-degree hill climb.  The second was a quick Friday night workout at Rodale Fitness Park, with 2 laps around the flatter inner loop, and 2 laps around the hillier outer loop (with its 4.5 degree hill).  The final was a grueling 11-mile ride on the hilly streets of Stroudsburg.  Some hills had to be walked up, but I was able to tackle a few in the 6-degree range.  I made it up a few hills that I had not been able to do on my last ride in the area.  My friends, who are both certified trainers, said I was riding better than ever, and believed that this T12 being a good fit for me was part of that.

So it looks like this copper beauty is a keeper!!  I have already added the pull cords, which are an absolute must on older T8’s and T12’s whose locking mechanisms can be very hard to operate otherwise.  I will likely upgrade the handgrips next, because I was getting some blistering on the inside of my thumbs.  I’ve heard the sand-paper foot decks wear out easily, and when they do I will likely upgrade to the same rubber foot decks I enjoy on my T8.  I have the locking brake levers on order, and will swipe the water bottle holder from my T78.  Finally, I’ll add a cargo net and lights to fully outfit this Trikke for touring.

Overall, this older T12 is a true joy to ride.  Its design is more suited to short riders than the current model, and it can be easily upgraded with all of the modern accessories.  I had never envisioned myself as a T12 enthusiast until a few days ago, but this unexpected turn of events has completely won me over.

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