Ho Ho Ho!!!

Cold temperatures kept Nellie and I from adventuring much this month.  I’ve risked driving a car (maybe more than I should) and only taken her out for short errands.  That changed this weekend!

Each year Knoxville, TN closes a course around Market Square for about an hour and a half to allow about 1,000 riders on bikes, trikes, tandems, and unicycles to hit the streets for a highly-unregulated, wildly-festive parade.  Billed as “a fun, free bike parade through downtown, 4th & Gill and Old North Knoxville”, riders are encouraged to get creative with lights, costumes and decorations. The route is about 5 miles long and takes about an hour to ride (read “very slow pace” here). All streets are completely closed for the event. Hot cocoa and treats are available thanks to Mast General Store and Three Rivers Market.

Festive bike ridimg

Tuesday, M posed the idea to deck out bikes with “Christmas Clutter” and join the festivities at the 10th Annual Tour de Lights in Knoxville, TN.  (I am staying with an outdoorsy family for a couple of weeks.)

Wednesday, K and I  shopped for the necessary tinsel and twinkle (K drove). We started at Goodwill for costumes, hit Big Lots, picked up M from school, and then finished out at Everything’s $1. Fortified with tater tots and frosty beverages, we spent the evening decking the halls bikes.  Three reindeer and Santa. Nellie wore a sleigh costume for the evening.

Friday, we loaded the bikes and navigated to a public garage. We arrived a bit ruffled, but had a glorious time! Lots of carols, lots of lights, and even more “Merry Christmas”es from the poor schmucks caught by closed streets and forced to watch. A cone-shaped Santa with flapping arms towering over a tandem definitely deserved a prize for best decorations. While we didn’t stick around for judging, I’m pretty sure we were in the running for “Best Group Theme”. Other than a herd of Christmas pigs (the size of the herd was impressive), I didn’t see a group who compared.  However, the event was NOT a race or competition… it was simple, glorious, festive silliness.

After the ride we did another 3 mile out-and-back for a bite at Mellow Mushroom and pass through UT’s campus. After a long week, the kids sacked out in the car within a few minutes. Fun memories to entertain me on another sleepless night!

I bet M hopes that K will be available for some kind of pre-Christmas merriment next year. I’m looking forward to my next biking adventure. It turns out that bike-people are my kind of people: a long suspected correlation. Will I see any of you there next year?


Hopes vs. Plans vs. Today

Not all plans work out. It seems that most of mine fall into this category.

I planned to sell my house and move into a smaller one that had a 68% Walk Score. It was an short sale deal that I could buy and fix up with cash: no mortgage! I was excited about the location and potential for me to be less isolated due to Nellie. I was excited about the proximity of close friends and my special interest groups. It was also very close to a potential employer that I plan hope to use as a stepping stone as if my health improves over the coming months.

The first stumble to the plan came when my house didn’t sell on time. Something happened on the buyer’s side that meant I had a house with no furniture or utilities for over a week. Fortunately, I stayed mostly with friends during that time.

The second stumble was more devastating. The bank holding the note on the mortgage would not sign off on the short sale. I was left with a truck full of stuff and no where to go. I ended up throwing what was not in garages and empty rooms of Mike’s house into two storage units. I stayed with Mike and Chris. I camped some. I spent some time in Kentucky. I rented two rooms (no stove, microwave, dishwasher, laundry, etc) for a short term solution to not sleeping in my car. I think the ordeal cost me about $2,500. The stress of being homeless probably took some days off the end of my life.

Now, I am pressed up against a self-imposed deadline of finding a permanent place to live before August 1st. And–with a few days to spare–I think I found one!

How did I find a tiny house to buy when nothing is for sale in the current real estate market? I drove around an area of a small town that is connected to a 5-mile bike path that leads to a larger town. I drove each block of the area with tiny old houses and noted each empty house that looked small enough for me to afford. Then I tracked the owners down through the PVA and Google. I had several very odd conversations with unhappily stalked people. But… it worked! I think I have found a housing solution! I am going to set the plan in motion on Monday.

Some of the features: the house is less than 1/3 the size of my last home. I will also be replacing a oversized two-car garage and outbuilding with ZERO outdoor storage. That is what we call downsizing folks! I’m trading that for no mortgage and walkability. Some might say that I am not a minimalist ahem but I beg to differ and will learn with this house.

While this house has a 31% Walk Score, the addition of the paved bike path and Nellie‘s range makes it a good option for me.

The next few weeks will be busy. Among other things, I will be glad to get Nellie out of the weather for parking. Tonight I am celebrating the end of a terrific weekend and the settling down of a new plan.

Weekend victories:

  1. Celebrated National Hammock Day in my new Eno (birthday gift) at Ozone Falls.
  2. Fulfilled my long hair / waterfall photo fantasy. Contact me if you’d like a similar photo and I will put you in touch with my photographer. 
  3. Took a motorcycle trip with Nick and Megan to Historic Granville to witness a live radio broadcast at Sutton’s Ole Time Music Hour.
  4. Nursed an Angry Orchard Cider at Father Tom’s.


Meeting the Neighbors

It has taken me some time to update due to my health and my move. As tempting as it is to try to go back and fill in the missing sections, I have decided to just press on and try to go forward.

IMG954117 1 (1)

I did want to point out that Nellie is a good way to meet the neighbors.

I wanted to do a full update on the trunk design (and that may come later), but for now just know that the trunk is on and I am now able to make purposeful trips. One such trip is for groceries.

Nellie at the bike rack on the corner of our local IGA. Bumper and trunk visible.This photo was taken from a recent grocery run. I over-bought and had to bungie the trunk lid down and ride with bags dangling from both handlebars. Luckily, this store is less than 2 miles from my front door. I love being able to shop at an IGA for as much as possible, but often find myself supplementing produce and international foods at Kroger and specialty stores. Those bigger stores are able to offer a better selection, but I find that IGAs have better prices on the items that they do carry. Follow THIS LINK to find an IGA near you.

This evening I checked out a small park in the community. I thought a Tai Chi group met there, but I wasn’t able to find them. Alas, I guess I will have to find another way to meet some people and find my zen.

I’ll head to the farmer’s market next weekend to see how much variety is there and give a full report.

About YellowTrike

cropped-YellowTrike-2.jpg   Why do you drive a yellow tricycle?

So many reasons exist to explore alternative modes of transportation. Your reasons will be different than mine, but you can take one step toward walking, running, biking, or triking during your regular day.

First, it is good for the environment. Foot power has a lower environmental impact than putting another car on the road. I feel good about reducing my dependence on fossil fuels. While I acknowledge it is not practical for traveling long distances, my daily activities can be centered around a few mile radius.

It’s cheaper: a lot cheaper. The electricity required for a 20-mile charge costs about 5¢. If my car gets 20 mpg in the city, I’m currently saving about $1.50 per “gallon” of travel. Remember when gas cost over $4 per gallon?  I save hundreds in parking, licensing, and taxes.  My homeowner’s insurance covers the trike. I will be able to provide most of the maintenance for free–thanks to friends who are teaching me. Think about eliminating your car payment, gas, car insurance, maintenance, and tags/taxes from your budget. Wouldn’t that feel good?

Plus, those miles of savings add years to my life! Unfortunately, my DNA includes some not-so-nice codes concerning heart health. Living an active lifestyle is key. I hope to strike a balance between (1) arriving sweaty & out of breath and (2) having a bit of a elevated heart rate. Electric assist makes the trike go relatively fast while reducing the overall effort. However, I still have to pedal if I expect to get anywhere. I’m excited to see the muscles in my legs transform. We can call reason #3: healthy heart and sexy legs.

The fourth reason I decided to drive a trike is probably the most fun: to meet all of you! If you are reading this, you have probably seen me out in the community and were curious about my trike. Please stop and say hello next time, I’d love to meet you! (Making my way on 3-wheels has some disadvantages. I apologize if you were caught behind me going 20 mph for a little while when you were in a hurry. Thank you for slowing down and passing me pretty wide.) Most of the people I meet fall somewhere between curious and down right interested. I’m happy to talk to you about the adventures I’ve had since starting this lifestyle–make no mistake, it was quite a lifestyle change for me. If I’m in a rush I may point you back to this blog. Try again, I’m not always busy, I promise! In fact, one of the great things about my trike is that it forces me to slow down and join the community. My intent is to make this a blog about the people I meet, opportunities I have, and places I visit because of the trike.

Finally–and much less fun–a few physical conditions make it unsafe for me to drive a car sometimes and impossible for me to balance on two wheels. Thank you for your concern, but don’t worry: it’s just a game of managing symptoms and maximizing quality of life. I don’t look sick, I don’t act sick, I am not “sick”. I am fortunate to have doctors who support my driving when I feel capable. Yes, I do have a valid driver’s license! I try to stay positive and think the trike actually improves my life: this is a choice not a concession. However, I admit that sometimes travel is wicked inconvenient. I advocate research for certain conditions that make driving dangerous. People with disabilities are not disabled people!

cropped-YellowTrike-2.jpg  What kind of tricycle is it and where can I find one?

Riding a tricycle garners many questions about “my wheels”, but I guess that is “how I roll” now, right? I ride a custom tricycle built for me by the great people at MOAB (Murfreesboro Outdoor and Bicycle). While they don’t specialize in e-bikes or tricycles, Xavier SolÌs (manager) answered all of my questions and made several calls to manufacturers to check weights and compatibility. We talked about what I needed and he made my Trike for me.

I ride a Sun Atlas Cargo Trike with 3-speed internal transmission equipped with e-Bike Starter Kit and 48V lithium ion battery. Her motor has a range of about 20 miles per charge and top speed of 20 mph with assist (or however fast my legs can pedal)! The Sun Atlas Cargo Trike includes industrial durability and the flexibility of a standard bicycle seat mount. I needed a trike that was easy to pedal (light weight with electric power assist) and convenient for errands (large locking trunk). This model also provides a platform for the custom trunk built by my friends at MOAB and can haul up to 250 lbs of cargo. I also thought about safety, specifically visibility and lighting. I want bright lights that run off my main battery and don’t limit my miles per charge. The SON Edelux DC headlamp and Topline E taillight operate seamlessly. Oddly, color is an important safety consideration. I admit that industrial yellow wasn’t my first choice, but Xavier championed yellow for visibility. That said, please be alert when you drive and share the road with those of us on less than four wheels!

If you’d like to build a bike or trike for your journey, you can contact Xavier at MOAB.

cropped-YellowTrike-2.jpgCan you build an adaptive bike for my kid?

Adaptive bicycles are quite expensive and the dedicated individuals at Christopher’s Promise can walk you through the grant application process and design an incomparable bike memory for your child. Unfortunately, I don’t have the skills to address the needs of every child, but the wonderful people at Christopher’s Promise certainly do! For years this organization has made it their mission to see kids get on a bike and just be kids!

Tell Skot I sent you with a HelloKitty suitcase!

cropped-YellowTrike-2.jpg Can I ride your trike? 

Can I drive your car? I don’t mind if you want to try my trike out, seriously.  The more people in the community who drive bikes/trikes the better! If I have time, I’m happy to let your kids explore it. Please understand that it is my vehicle and sometimes I have somewhere I need to be. My trike was built for me and it took weeks to build the right muscles to travel comfortably. You will be more comfortable on a trike fit for you.

cropped-YellowTrike-2.jpg How can I be involved?

  1. Go outside and dust off the bike in your garage! Do it today. You will probably need to put air in the tires. 😉 Wear a helmet.
  2. Share the road. Please, please watch out for me. If we “meet” on the road, your car will win. I don’t want to lose.  I know my wheels are a little wider than the bicyclists and runners, but I think they would appreciate a little extra room when you pass too.
  3. Get involved in local politics when bike paths are brought up. Let your councilwomen know that you support the use of tax dollars to fund meaningful bike lanes! Try to see transportation and roadwork funding as a budget item for all forms of transportation and mobility (including feet).
  4. If you own or manage a business, consider adding bike parking. You can find basic U-style racks for less than $200 installed or add a statement piece like one of the ones featured on this blog. Encourage your employees to bike to work.

If you have other questions, please let me know. I’ll try to address them in a future post.





***Special thanks to Louaye Moulayess for his original sketch “Yellow Tricycle”***