Back in my teenage years and into my 20s and 30s I used to love hill climbing. However, it was a bit different back then. Here is a picture of me engaged in some hill climbing.
Obviously it is not a good quality photo. Yes, hill climbing then was a lot of fun. This particular hill was long enough and had the right incline to it that I could “wheelie” my way up it. Serious hills however are not conquered by riding a wheelie. In fact, the least amount of front end up into the air is desirable.
I tackled some pretty steep hills including some that looked like they would be impossible to climb at the very top … to get over the top where the edge protruded forward like I have drawn here with the blue arrow pointing to what I am talking about:
It could be done and I and a couple of my friends used to do it all the time. We had to do it just right however or the consequences would have been disastrous.
I never got involved in competition. I only did this for fun and recreation. I loved motorcycling … both on and off road. In competition there are two goals. The first goal is to make it all the way to the top and over the crest of the hill. Many competitors fail to accomplish this. The second goal is to make it up the hill faster than anyone else. I used to love watching hill climbing competition as I did other motorcycle competition … racing, trials, etc. Yes, hill climbing on a motorcycle was a lot of fun.
Now I am much older and my motorcycling days are over. Oh, I would still enjoy some of it if I were to do it, but it is not worth the risk of injury. Things change a lot as we age. I am nearly 69 now and I definitely am not in the physical condition I was in 40 years ago when I used to do this kind of stuff. I continued to ride motorcycles on roads over the years, but I made the decision a few years ago to sell my motorcycle and just stick with my human powered machines. I found that I was riding them and ignoring my motorcycle. I was surprised by this as I assumed I would continue to ride a motorcycle for a very long time … right up until I felt I needed to quit for personal safety reasons. I have no regrets making the decision to stop altogether. I truly enjoy pedaling along on my tadpole trike. That brings me to the point of this posting … hill climbing on a tadpole trike. Now I am not talking about off road riding, but rather strictly riding on paved surfaces whether they be trails, streets, roads, or sidewalks.
The difference between my motorcycle hill climbing days and now is that the motorcycle hill climbing was lots of fun. I sure can’t say that about climbing hills on my trike. Nope, not at all. It is just something that comes with it and has to be done. I find no enjoyment in it. But there are some differences which I want to point out. Climbing a hill on a motorcycle (off road) involves a certain amount of speed. You usually can’t go very slow and have much hope of making it ‘up and over’. Both balance and traction would be one’s undoing if the speed was too slow. On a tadpole trike on pavement climbing a hill is usually pretty slow going, but the good news is that balance doesn’t enter the picture. One can go as slow as they care to as long as they can turn the crank pedaling along. I have climbed many hills at 2 mph or even a touch less at times. And if I want to or need to I can even stop to rest or pick up a piece of trash or a tree branch laying on the trail and then resume my climbing.
Of course, this would not be possible without the use of “granny gear”. Ah yes, good ol’ granny gear! What a difference gearing can make. For those who don’t know what granny gear is it is simply the lowest gear one has on multiple gear trike. On a typical derailleur system it is when the chain is on the smallest sprocket in the front and the largest sprocket in the back. In the picture of the bicycle below you can see this gear combination.
It doesn’t take long to get into serious trouble trying to climb a hill if the rider fails to shift into a low enough gear. Then there are trikes that don’t have low enough gearing available and so the rider on such a trike either really struggles or doesn’t even attempt to climb hills they know they can’t make it up. What can I say except “Sorry about your luck”.
No, I can’t say as though I am enjoying climbing hills nowadays, but I am enjoying the fact that I can and am. And I am relatively sure that in doing so it helps me to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’