Author Topic: Touring on a Recumbent Trike  (Read 2722 times)

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Offline Stumblefoot

Touring on a Recumbent Trike
« on: March 16, 2018, 10:37:46 pm »
I am a couple weeks away from leaving on my own transcontinental attemp.  I ride a recumbent trike and have laid out a route leaving Oceanside CA and using the RAAM route I'll travel to Brawley CA where I can pick up the southern tier route.  Using the southern tier route I'll travel to the east side of Phoenix.  From here I plan on taking route 87 north to Payson and then route 260 east to Show Low.  My goal from this point was to use historic route 60 and follow it to it's eastern terminus at Virgina Beach VA. Here is my question; Since I ride a recumbent trike I thought, after looking at some of the roads used by ACA's transamerica route on Google map satellite view and observing narrow or no shoulders, which would leave me riding more exposed in the traffic lane, that I would be better off riding on a bigger road that would have more of a shoulder or multiple lanes allowing traffic to get by my slow moving trike.  Do the roads selected by ACA take into account cyclist using wider trikes or would I actually be better off using route 60 which sort of runs parallel to the Transamerica route?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Touring on a Recumbent Trike
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2018, 11:16:09 pm »
I can't speak for ACA but I would doubt they intentionally factor in recumbent trikes for a route.  They most likely factor in daily traffic volume, shoulders, etc. along with services.  I am sure they would like low traffic roads with shoulders but of course, you can not always get that.

My wife rides a recumbent trike.  For grins, I took it touring one time from Milton, FL to Galveston along the coast.  Extremely comfortable but definitely slower.

Not truly a comparison to the TA, ST, etc. but I did not feel overly uncomfortable riding it except in New Orleans and maybe a stretch here or there .  I did use two BRIGHT flashing HEAD LIGHTS (NiteRider 750); one facing front the other back.  A touring buddy said he could see the flashes literally, not figuratively, just under a mile away.  I highly recommend it.  Just angle them just slightly down so not blinding the drivers.  Down side is the lights need to be recharged nightly so electrical (or a big power bank) would be needed.  It took about 4-8 hours to fully charge them while charging them both simultaneously.  I would typically only keep the rear facing on while riding unless in an urban setting so the front could be used as a backup.  I also had a flag on a pole to assist in being seen.

While I have not ridden US-60 east of Wickenburg, I have driven it between Wickenburg and Louisville, KY.  I would say, overall, that would not be a bad option.  A few parts would not be fun traffic wise, i.e. eastern Oklahoma due to rumble strips in the shoulder, parts of Missouri (no shoulder and high traffic but there are reasonable alternatives though).  The further east you get, the heavier the traffic so you would eventually need to bail to smaller highways.

I would encourage you to review each state's AADT Map showing the daily traffic volume for given highway.  Bookmark the websites and look for alternatives when a road with no shoulder gets too busy for you.

I would ride whichever route you feel most comfortable with.  All things being equal, I would prefer a low traffic (<1000 a day) with no shoulder (assuming reasonably good line of sight) over a interstate type road.  Ideally, a low traffic road with a 3'+ shoulder would be best but I haven't died and gone to heaven yet.  A 4-lane highway with 6000+ cars a day with no shoulder may be better than a 2-lane road with 3000+ a day.  It is sort of a give and take choosing which route you pick.  You also need to guess is the traffic constant or is it high only during rush hour.

You might try reading a few journals over on and see how the trikes handled the TA.

A word of caution.  When riding the ST, do  NOT ride between Brawley and Blythe on a Friday thru Sunday (extend if a holiday weekend).  TONS of large RV's pulling trailers filled with dune buggies heading to Glamis from both directions are speeding by.  There is no shoulder and the road is not overly easy to "bail off" on.  Lots of dips where a trike could get "lost" momentarily.

When you get to Blythe, eat at Garcia's Mexican restaurant on Hobsonway.  One of the best Mexican restaurants I have been to (and I eat it once a week minimum).

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Touring on a Recumbent Trike
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2018, 06:04:18 pm »
While a 'bent trike is certainly lower than a diamond frame, I'm not sure there's that much difference between the width of a loaded diamond frame and a recumbent.  Most of the TransAm doesn't have wide shoulders (3' or greater); the route depends largely on low traffic, such that motorized vehicles can pass bicycles safely.  I'm not confident enough in my skills to take a 6" shoulder on crumbling pavement as opposed to taking the lane in those circumstances.

John's given you good advice to look up the average daily traffic statistics for routes you're considering.  Both kinds of bikes (and other traffic as well) is going to be invisible on a winding mountain road.  (It's amazing that some drivers can stay in the lines, much less have X-ray vision to see through rock walls!)  I'd suggest you might want to add a flag for those "lumpy" roads where you on the 'bent might be in a vertical blind spot as a passing motorist comes up behind you.

Offline Stumblefoot

Re: Touring on a Recumbent Trike
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2018, 07:30:54 pm »
Thank you John and Pat for your input.  After spending hours pouring over my options I chose Route 60 as my first choice and as my backup route I can fall back to the Transamerica route.  Your comments basically concur with my own conclusion.   I will start my ride on March 31st  and the adventure will begin.