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?


Trike Build Team

This blog is largely brought to you by the men and women (mostly men) who built my trike. Thank you all!

IMG_4614 IMG_4615 IMG_4613

Mark Dement (MOAB owner and master builder)
Mr. Dement, AKA Mark's Dad (electrician)
Mike Lepley (logistics, troubleshooting, sounding board, co-conspirator) 
Xavier Solís (MOAB manager and master researcher) 
Alec from eBike (master of all things lithium ion battery & light kits)
Engineer Brian (custom trunk rack designer - his plans appear above)

Good things come…

Did I mention that I struggle with patience? Today, Mark (owner of MOAB Bikes) called with a Trike update. The following news will go forth as evidence in perpetuity that good better things come to those who wait have patience:

The good news: The lights work! The lights work! Mark (and several others I suspect) spent waaaaay too many to be profitable hours wiring and splicing  so that not only will my bright lights run directly off the main battery (only one thing for my scattered seizure/insomnia-brain to remember to charge), but I will be able to turn the taillights on and off using a foot switch. The foot switch was not my idea, but a great feature added by Mark to provide more ease of use (i.e. better than I asked for).

The other good news:  I can pick the trike up tomorrow (after 11:00 so I can give Mark a huge hug and take my photo with him). I especially wanted it Friday because I am invited to attend TEDx Nashville this weekend. Can you think of a venue better than TEDx to break in alternative transportation? It is going to be 75° and I get to roll around downtown Nashville in my brand new Trike!

The bad news: On one hand, the trunk will not be ready when I pick the bike up tomorrow, BUT…

The awesome news: …that is because while Mark was laying out the trunk design, an engineer one of MOAB’s customers happened to take an interest in his project. Mark explained my car-free lifestyle change due to a nasty mix of epilepsy and insomnia along with some of the snags that we’ve hit along the way. This stranger had some cool ideas about how to build a better, lighter trunk and volunteered to build a custom trunk for my trike for FREE! Mark is convinced that this turn of events is going to create a custom trike that is BETTER than what I asked for. People can be awesome. I hope our paths will cross out there someday so that I can thank you in person!

I will post a list of people involved in this project HERE.

MOAB – Build

This post was supposed to be full of the fun photos that MOAB took while building my trike. Unfortunately, my last update on the trike build feels a bit like an April Fool’s prank. It looks like I need to change my FAQ post.

When I asked my local bike shop for a custom adaptive bike I had very limited information about trikes, bike commuting, or ebikes. After a few phone calls and a visit to the store, I felt confident that my trike would include the features that I need in a second vehicle.

I waited two months for parts only to now hear that the bike shop can’t deliver what they promised.

  1. They can’t give me a locking trunk that houses and protects my expensive battery plus provides room for me to store emergency items and any cargo.
  2. They can’t give me head and taillights that integrate into the bike’s power source.

Magic Eight Ball says "outlook not so good"Unfortunately, these are the two features that I was paying a premium for in the first place! I could have bought a standard eTrike with no lights or locking storage from an online retailer and had it delivered a month ago for half the cost. This news puts the entire project in jeopardy.  I’m going to visit the shop this afternoon to discuss (1) the solution they have come up with to provide the features that I wanted or (2) a refund of the deposit because I will not be purchasing the bike.

Sadly, I’ve lost confidence in their ability to build the trike AND I feel manipulated. They didn’t call me with these updates, I was only updated when I called them. The owner tried to convince me that I didn’t really want the light features that I had requested or the shop had promised. The owner offered to allow me to ride the trike while they came up with a solution. I felt like he was trying to have me “use” the bike so I wouldn’t be able to return it… “I felt”… meaning, I don’t trust him anymore. Why should I? The shop was not able to deliver ANY of the special features I requested according to their quote.

Should I have used a specialty ebike dealer instead of my local shop? Signs point to yes.


I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end. ~Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

I have many admirable qualities, right? We all do. However, patience does not top my list. Those words choke me as I approach a car-free (or at least very limited use) time in my life. I expect an adjustment period that includes late arrivals, missed appointments, general frustration, and possibly a teensy-tiny bit of personal growth in the area of patience.

But, at least part of my wait is over: ALL THE PARTS ARE IN!

Since February I have called MOAB weekly for updates about the Trike build. We patiently waited from parts from five suppliers and ignored the big tricycle box in the store until everything arrived.  Apparently “everything” was delivered Saturday with no warning. Mark has been out this week. My Trike awaits his return so the build can begin!

I asked Xavier to update me with some “crazy” pics while they are putting it together. When I get them, I’ll update you. Until then….. patience.