Day 602 of My Car-Free experiment in Louisville

Recumbent Rick Newell on a rollRick Newell has lived in Louisville’s Crescent Hill neighborhood since 1958. He’s a retired lawyer who loves to pedal his way through Cherokee Park and all along residential streets on a vehicle that looks more like a three-wheeled lounge chair than a bicycle.

“I’ve always biked for exercise and recreation,” said Newell as he reclined on his “tadpole” three-wheeled recumbent.

In case you’ve never seen one, a recumbent is a bicycle that lets the rider sit back in a full seat with legs in a horizontal position. This gives the body a more streamlined posture, while offering a comfortable angle between back and legs.

Comfort is key. You ride without so much weight on the wrists, and you get a natural view looking forward.

The recumbent Newell rides is, technically speaking, a tricycle. When I met him on a sunny May afternoon on Galt Ave., I never would have guessed this 79 year old had undergone open-heart surgery just five weeks earlier . His doctors had just released him to get back on his recumbent.

Louisville retiree rides recumbent five weeks after open heart surgery
Louisville retiree rides recumbent five weeks after open heart surgery

“In the past several years I’ve had some different surgeries, including artificial hips, which led me to pursue options other than the standard bicycles I’d always ridden,” said Newell. “Through a wonderful law partner of mine, Joe Oldham, I discovered recumbent bikes. Joe had found this company, TerraTrike in Grand Rapids, Michigan.” he said. The company has a full line of three-wheel recumbent bikes.

“For me it’s great exercise. It’s also a great way to see the world,” said Newell. The wonderful thing about a three-wheel recumbent is that you get to look at the scenery in front and above and you’re never in too much of a hurry,” he said.

For safety, in addition to his canary yellow helmet, Newell displays two sets of small flags on flexible poles that rise about six feet above his low-slung seat. “People in their SUVs, who might be busy talking on their cell phones, might not look down, so that’s where my flags are helpful,” he said.

His three-wheeler is called a tadpole because it has two wheels up front that steer and one wheel in the back that provides the power – not unlike the tail of a tadpole.

Grace. Peace. Bicycle grease.

PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane.
Share the road.

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Enjoy the ride home.
© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI
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