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Sit back and enjoy the ride

Siskiyou Velo club starts group rides for recumbent trikes
Phil Gagnon shows off his recumbent trike in Ashland Thursday. The Siskiyou Velo club has started a Saturday riding group for trike riders. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

You’ve probably seen people riding them on the roads of Southern Oregon, recumbent trikes — three-wheeled bicycles that allow riders to recline comfortably as they pedal.

Trikes offer many of the benefits of cycling without some of the painful impacts of two-wheel bikes, so recumbents are becoming more popular, particularly with seniors, who often find a regular bike an uncomfortable option.

“We’re seeing them zooming all over town like never before,” said Phil Gagnon, former president of the 300-member Siskiyou Velo Club.

An avid recumbent rider himself, Gagnon has formed a new group within the club, known as the Siskiyou Velo Trikers.

To help inaugurate the trikers group, Siskiyou Velo plans to hold the first of four trial rides at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12, starting in Blue Heron Park in Phoenix. The ride will follow the Bear Creek Greenway and then make a pit stop at Great Harvest in Medford before returning. In total, the first ride will cover 13 miles.

A ride leader will guide riders over a specially designed route at moderate speeds and distances. Helmets are required, along with a spare tube. A non-Siskiyou Velo member will be required to sign a waiver for insurance purposes. The ride is free, and nonmembers are welcome on the first ride, but the club would like riders to join the club for future rides. Club membership costs $20.

Three more rides are planned for the following Saturdays and will follow different routes along the Greenway.

To sign up, send an email to philgagnon13@gmail.com. For club information go to siskiyouvelo.org.

Many seniors have given up cycling for various reasons such as wrist pain, prostate pain or back pain, Ganon says.

On a recumbent, you can recline the seat to pick the most comfortable position for your body, and you don’t have to worry about falling down. You’re also in a better position to view your surroundings.

One of the most popular options on modern recumbents is an electric-assist motor, which allows you to zoom up hills and cover a lot more ground.

Many upright bikes are also electrified now, of course, but Gagnon says that of the dozen trike riders in the club, all have chosen the electrified option.

“You get an electric motor and it makes a difference,” he says. “Most of the people who come out are seniors, so they like having a little assist on their rides.”

The only issue with recumbents, particularly the electrified version, is the price. Expect to pay in the thousands for a decent recumbent, Gagnon said.

The most popular type of trike is one with two wheels in the front and one in the back.

Mark Acosta, owner of E Street Cyclery, says he’s noticed an increase in demand for recumbent trikes, particularly among baby boomers.

“I’ve got a 90-year-old who got one recently,” he says.

A Medford woman who had a stroke that affected her left side ordered a specially fitted recumbent.

“It allowed her to have mobility and gave her independence,” Acosta said.

With COVID-19, Acosta says he’s had a hard time keeping recumbents in stock. Right now he has two for sale but normally he has about a dozen. He says special orders can take some 18 months to become available.

Acosta says the trikes he sells don’t have the pedal-assist electric feature, but he says recumbents can be retrofitted with electric assist.

“I could sell more pedal-assist if I had them,” he says.

Some recumbents come with throttle assist, he says. Pedal assist is active only if the rider is actively pushing the pedals.

Acosta has his own recumbent and uses it to traverse the five-mile commute from his house to his store, though he doesn’t have pedal-assist.

“It really is the highlight of my day,” he said.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.