Dec 31, 2020

From Diapers to Trikes and Back Again

I live in an old fart’s town in southeastern Minnesota. If you visit one of our remaining mid-Covid plague restaurants on a weekday you’d assume the average age here must be close to 100. On summer weekends, the old fart Minnesota biker crowd might bring that median down to 75 or 80, but it’s pretty much the same people wearing leather and gangster patches. Sans motors, we have some fairly popular bicycle trails and, likewise, the typical person on our bike trails is only slightly younger than the biker crowd. There are few things more scary looking that a trio of old spandex-clad bicyclists attempting to draft each other without clue how to stop, steer, or maneuver around the occasional trail obstacle. The worst of that bunch are on three-wheeled recumbents. Not only do they take up 2/3 of the trail, but they are usually riding those speedy wheelchairs because they are incompetent, demented, or both.

Earlier this summer, I was coming back from a bicycle ride downtown when I rolled up behind a bearded old fart on a Hardly three-wheeler trying to pull away from a stop sign on an uphill grade. Not much of an uphill grade, mind you, but it was more of a challenge than this oldster could manage. While I waited for him to move his hippotrike out of the intersection, it struck me that this was a perfect example of life: we start out in diapers, progress to tricycles, wander around a while, and end up on trikes and back in Depends.

imageWith that in mind, the ads from Polaris, Can-Am, HD, Kymco, and the rest of the three-wheeled power wheelchairs are pretty funny. Like Coke and McDonald’s and Budweiser, the manufacturers want their customers/suckers to imagine ourselves to be young, hip, and fast while the real customer base is about a half-step away from being Medicare-provided Hoveround candidates or electrically powered adjustable hospital beds. [Before I committed to using Hoveround as a baseline, I check that company’s website and found no pictures of young, vital, active people fitted to electric wheelchairs. I have to suspect Hoveround is missing an obvious marketing ploy; selling lifestyle over reality is an American marketing tradition.

imageDepends for Men (or women), on the other hand, isn’t missing any part of that bet. Like Viagra or Cialis, the people pictured in the adult diaper ads appear to be barely old enough to be worrying about boxers or briefs. If you are as young as this guy and you’re worried about crapping or pissing your pants, you shouldn’t be grinning like an idiot. You should be seriously rethinking your life’s choices and/or cursing your flawed genetics. Also, you might be a good candidate for AA or a friendly intervention.

The rush to dump cars and concentrate SUVs has been all about auto manufacturers looking for a way around EPA emissions regulations. Likewise, the Polaris Slingshot and Can-Am’s Spyder are a lame attempt to make a car without the nasty safety, noise, and emissions regulations that encumber actual vehicle manufacturers. If you’ve driven (not ridden) either of these goofy hippotrikes, you know how incredibly lame they are. The upside is that, like those low-slung, noisy cars from The Marching Morons future, they really feel like they are clipping right along when they are barely keeping up with traffic on a rural road. Go-carts have the same effect as does not looking where you are going on a regular motorcycle. When you are sitting right next to the pavement (or looking down at it), a fast walking pace seems like rocketing at near-death speeds. Cruisers provide the same false sense of power and speed, but not nearly so dramatically as when your butt is actually a few inches from the pavement on a trike. They are a long ways from safe, though. I’ve had both of these vehicles tailgating me on our rural county road and they are absolutely invisible in a Nissan Frontier pickup’s rearview mirror. Worse, the drivers appear to have the same entitled opinion of their position in society as the pirate bikers. The only “effort” they seem to be able to make to contribute to their own safety is to illegally mangle their vehicles’ exhaust noise. Hate to break it to you, kiddies, but I can’t hear you inside my pickup with the air conditioning or heater going and the stereo at a comfortable volume. Sound doesn’t work the way you think it works.

Harley Davidson Trike High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - AlamySo it goes that we begin life pooping and pissing in our pants and we end that way. We move from four-wheel baby strollers and being tucked and strapped into car seats (although not when I was a baby). We stop fouling our diapers and progress to our first Radio Flyer tricycle to a bicycle with training wheels to an actual bicycle. After what feels like a few years, we start leaking again. Around the same time, some of us get the urge to abandon the demands of balancing on two wheels and we buy a $30,000 tricycle. That is a huge red flag, because not long after that comes the four-wheel old fart stroller/Hooveround and being strapped into a wheelchair waiting for a nurse to move us to the crapper and back to bed. I recommend not rushing that chain of events. Stay away from the trike as long as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Thomas,
    Trikes are the Devil's work :-). Neither one thing nor the other. For a whole lot less money, you can buy a good condition second hand Lotus 7 replica which I'd argue provides a whole lot more fun and performance. A trike doesn't remotely appear in my dreams for the future but a Lotus 7 clone might just be the way to go.

    Every good wish for 2021!

    ReplyDelete

Disagree? Bring it on. Have more to add? Feel free to set me straight. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't do a great job of figuring out which Anonymous commenters are actually real people, not Russians or Chinese bots. I'm pretty ruthless about spam-labeling anonymous posts. If you have something worth saying, you shouldn't be afraid of using your ID.