I remember the very first time that I rode a trike, thinking back, it was probably a sign - I should have quit whilst I was ahead. It had a 1275GT Mini engine, with a gear linkage made from plasticine and cocktail sticks. When you changed gear, it involved a stirring motion, akin to the one you see in any cartoon where witches and cauldrons are mentioned - The gear you actually got at the end of this process was as random as you'd expect. I rode from the house of my very good friend Scots Mick (He of the Chilli recipies fame - See last years blog) to my own house, some four miles in total. Along the way I clipped the apex of every, single corner - In this instance, you should take 'clipped' to mean rammed into, mounted the pavement and then careened off the other side. In fact, a number of times, I clipped the apex of several perfectly straight roads, which didn't even have apexes.
I was being followed by Mick in his car, in case anything fell of the trike, including myself. We had planned to take the trike to a van hire company where one of 'the boys' worked, so that we could get one of the tires re-seated as it was leaking. Now, before I relay the punchline I have to explain that this particular trike was fitted with what we, in the trade, call 'Ape Hangers' - These are a particular type of handlebar, designed by the devil himself, to make any type of motorcycle that they're fitted to virtually uncontrollable. They do give you that Concussed American Starfish riding position that seems to be popular (or was in the 90's at least.) - Take a minute, Google them, see what you think.
So, we pulled into the car park and I changed down to 2nd gear and attempted to pull into a parking space. Of course, what actually happened was that I accidentally hit the 'Gamble' button on the gear selector and got 1st. This caused me to go skipping across the carpark with the front end in the air (thus rendering the steering inoperable) and punched the back quarter of a parked van with my left fist. Have you ever punched a van hard enough to leave a dent in it the shape of your fist? - It really hurts... Of course my assembled friends ran to my aid, checking that I hadn't done any irrepairable damage to myself - Actually, no, what happened is that they stood, having to lean on each other because they were laughing so much. I think one of them actually wet himself - Especially when they showed me that the trike had skidded to a halt about 12" from a 6' drop.
On another occasion, I left work at 06:30 in the morning to discover it had snowed quite heavily during the night. The snow was deep enough that the rear axle was dragging in it, which played merry hell with the handling. I managed to wrestle the trike out of the industrial estate by bouncing gently off the pavement kerbs as I couldn't see exactly where the road finished and the pavement started. Once out onto the main road, things got a little bit easier as the virgin snow was replaced with black slush. I admit that I got cocky, fishing the back end out on purpose and spinning the rear wheels. Of course, as so often happens in these situations, I got bitten in the butt.
As I approached a busy traffic island and tried to brake, nothing happened - Well, nothing involving slowing down happened, a number of things involving going in the wrong direction took their place. In the 60' trip across the island, the trike spun through 540 deg - A full one and a half turns, with me hanging onto the Apes for grim death. Luckily the other vehicles using the island at that time of the morning managed to avoid me completely. When the trike finally came to rest on the wrong side of the road I had to wait a good ten minutes before I carried on my journey - Not because I was shaking (though I was, like a Portuguese Man O'War with Parkinsons), but purely because the vacuum that had appeared between my clenched sphynchter and the seat meant that I couldn't move.
My final recounting (for this morning at least) involves a trike that didn't actually belong to me as such, it belonged to a young lady that I co-habited with for a while and was powered by an 850 Reliant Robin motor. Don't laugh, it's a great engine when you strip all the fibreglass body from around it. It used to suffer every once in a while from the carbs freezing, but other than that it was bulletproof.
Anywho, we were on our way back from doing the weekly shop (one of the redeeming qualities of trikes is that they can usually carry more cargo than a bike) in the pouring down rain. You know that rain where you just have to look out of the window and you're soaking wet? Well it was heavier than that, heavy enough to frak with the electrics and cause misfires. So, it took a while to get home, sometimes on three cylinders, sometimes on two, but not very often on all four. I chanced to look down between my knees as we pulled onto the drive and noticed that a couple of the HT leads (The leads that go to the spark plugs) were 'tracking' - This means that they were making pretty blue sparks and dumping their precious electricity somewhere other than where they should - In this case they were swapping it between themselves and also with the cylinder head, very kind of them, but not exactly what you want in a perfect world.
N.B. The next two seconds of this story involve the complete disconnection of my hands from my brain.
I thought to myself, 'If I just seperate those leads, I bet it'll run a whole lot better.' Now, the HT leads on a Robin carry about 30,000 volts (as opposed to the 240 volts in the sockets of your house) at an amperage, luckily, just below that required to stop your heart stone dead, so obviously I reached down and went to move the cables apart. The belt I got was sufficiently strong to lift me off the seat, throw me to the ground and cause me to lie in the rain, jumping around and laughing uncontrollably for a good few minutes. Do not try this at home kids, in fact, do not try this anywhere. Again, the reaction of the assembled onlookers was almost terminal merriment.
Bikers are generally a caring bunch...
Below is a picture of my new baby - Well, new might be stretching it a bit - Latest is probably a better bet. She hasn't bitten me yet, but I'm sure she will, given enough time. (Plus you get a free photo of my Daughter, mugging uncontrollably for the camera)