The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Any TRIKE RIDERS out there?….newbie questions

Hi everyone, I am new to Ragbrai and new to biking…make that triking—didn’t take up riding until 3 yrs ago at the age of 53….but I love it….My hubby and I purchased the Terra Trike Rovers and have ridden greenline trails in TN, MS, ID, OR, and AL. I am excited about doing the Ragbrai but nervous, too. Having mild Cerebral Palsy and only average about 12 mph. What Triking tips can you share that will make our two days on the Ragbrai successful?
1. Do you use your safety flag on Ragbrai? I hear the headwinds can be strong.
2. How bad are the hills in your estimation?
3. How many other trike riders will there be?
4. Best way to carry small items on trike–favorite packs, etc?
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

13 Replies

Profile photo of SCOTT
Ragbrai Nation, April 27, 2013 at 10:07 am

Not necessary to tote a warning flag because there are so many bikes almost all motorists will (or must) avoid the route. You’ll see a few American, foreign, military, team, special purpose an custom-made flags. Flags can add a tremendous amount of unwanted drag on the warm/humid or windy days.

In looking at you ride experience in the many states you have ridden I don’t think you’ll find Iowa hills to be any more difficult than what you have already experienced. Train like you lost your mind but keep it fun. DO NOT train the week leading up to the ride.

You will see virtually everything than can be ridden on one, two, three and possibly four wheels, including week-long riders on trikes, skateboards, inline skates, unicycles, you name it. You’ll be in great company!

Terra may have an accessory for your trike enabling you to carry the items you will need and want to carry. You’ll have a great time. Good Luck!!



Profile photo of Paul
Paul, April 27, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Hi, You guys will have a blast. Train with your flag and decide later if you want to use it on the ride. My wife and I ride single trikes at home but a tandem two wheeler on the ride. The biggest thing for us on our trikes is to just be aware and practice riding predictably especially when around others.

Trikes don’t tend to naturally telegraph their intentions as clearly as a rider on a two wheeler and trikes can makes faster movements to dodge holes and such. Mostly just practice using hand signals and checking your mirrors (I suggest 2 per bike) before changing your line.

We use rear racks and tend to carry stuff, spare tubes your size will be a good thing to carry.

If your trikes are 3 or 8 speed versions, you should have the gears to manage any hills you find. Practice on a big hill and see if you can spin your way up it. Ask your bike shop about a bigger rear cog if your knees hurt grinding up hills. A hill can last a long way at walking speed. You might as well be smiling as you spin up it.

If you get curious about any other trikes you see, visit with the riders and I bet you can score test rides. There are are lot of other fun trikes out there. Your trikes sound like they will be perfect to train on and enjoy. They will work just fine on the ride.

At a 12 MPH average, you will be faster than many folks you see.

See you on the ride!



Profile photo of Michael
rocker, April 28, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Two years ago at age 65 I rode my first Ragbrai. I rode a delta trike and completed every mile. I followed the training guide and it provided a comfort knowing I was ready to put in the miles every day. I did not average 12 miles per hour. If you can average that speed every day you should have no problems. Try to get some riding time with large groups. I have a mirror on each side – very useful. Be sure to let other riders know what you are going to do – move right or left, slowing, stopping, etc. I ride with a flag all the time. My flag is a little different and catches the attention of drivers, riders, and spectators. It is a conversation starter.

Just have fun and ride right!



Profile photo of Gerald
straycat, April 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I’m a trike rider and will be on my 9th RAGBRAI this year.

1. I usually don’t ride with my flag on RAGBRAI. Not really needed as someone else observed. I use on it on the last day to “dress up” for the end town 🙂
2. Most of the time not too bad. The nice thing about the trike is you can take your time going up the bad ones without falling over.
3. The DM Register publishes stats on the types of machines out there, I think trikes average about .5%. That translates to about 50 to 100 of us.
4. I have a set of custom seat packs, so that won’t help you too much. I have modified my prior RAGBRAI jerseys to have side pockets instead of back pockets. And, you could use a belly bag for a few things.

Other advice:
Riding hills on a trike with crowds is a bit different. We typically carry more speed downhill and less speed uphill than everyone else so you end up passing people downhill and then getting passed by the same ones on the next uphill. Just be carefull going back and forth across the lane and you will be fine.

Also, the rumble strips are a lot tougher on us than the two wheelers. You can lose some fillings if you don’t watch out. So keep an eye ahead for the rumbles and make your way out to the center of the road carefully. Someone else also observed we move sideways a bit more suddenly than others and rumbles are a prime spot where that can be dangerous.

But the best part is you can lay back and enjoy the scenery! See you out there.



Profile photo of Kim Halyak
Kim Halyak, April 29, 2013 at 6:18 am

Wow, only 50-100 trikers, I imagined there would be more.
Correction–since my husband changed my gearing down (don’t know the technical terms), I only average about 7-8mph. But this should make it easier for me to get up hills.

He recently changed my toe guard pedals to powergrip…..what a difference in pedaling ease. I realize now how much more power I can deliver to the pedal. But there are still issues. My right foot wants to twist to the right causing my shoe (sneakers) to rub against the crank (?) (the black arm of the pedal)

I twist my foot to straighten it but it doesn’t hold for long. Thinking a vertical wedge attached to the right side of the right pedal would keep my foot from twisting.
Who would be the best at figuring out how to adapt my trike to let me ride with my cerebral palsy issues? a bike store, a PT……….?
My husband and I are trying to figure this out ourselves, but I think we could save a lot of time and money getting some advice. ANY ADVICE?

Wondering if clipless pedals would be better? I’ll try and take a picture of my foot position.
Thank you.



Profile photo of jim
jwsknk, April 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

there might be a way to get the speed back and keep the spinning gears for climbing, did you het the trikes from a shop that sells a lot of them? talk to a mechanic there and tell them you like the easir climbing but miss the speed, they might be able to change out the big ring on front to something a bit larger. i went the opposite a few years back when I knew there would be some mountains and wanters easir gears to spin but didn’t want to lose that top end speed. I had 32-42-52 on the front and they we able to change to 28-42-52.
Putting a wedge on the pedal? might start causing other issues like with your knee by forcing it to twist instead of foot position. How bad is the rub on the crank arm? Again consult with a good trike mechanic. Also instead of sneakers, I am assuming some sort of a soft soled shoe, look at a mountain bike shoe or sandal, you can add the cleats later if you want. But the harder sole should also help and maybe add a little speed back. has to do with power transfer and less loss of energy dur to flexing…



Profile photo of Stan Tripp Jr
Stan Tripp Jr, April 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

Welcome to trike’in! My wife and I bought Terra Trikes last fall and are signed up for our first RAGBRAI. We have rear racks and zippered bags for our stuff. They make pedal extenders to go between the pedals and the cranks to move your foot out. I have them on mine because my foot was rubbing on the crank. You probably need shoes with clips and clip pedals before your foot slips off the pedals and you run over your leg like I did. See you in July.



Profile photo of Gerald
straycat, April 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm

As for clipless pedals, how much force can you exert pushing your heel out? I let a woman with CP try my trike a couple of years ago. She loved it, but couldn’t twist her ankle with enough strength to get out of them.

I would suggest trying that at a shop before buying.



Profile photo of rockman68
rockman68, April 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm

These folks may be able to provide some recommendations for your setup.

Clipless pedals will probably help. I’ve never ridden a trike, and I don’t have CP, so this is all speculation. I’m also not familiar with the pedals that you have tried, so I don’t know their advantages / disadvantages. I’m a fan of Shimano’s 105 road pedals, but the road shoes are a hassle for walking. You will want a pair of flip-flops on your trike for siteseeing adventures during the day.

Good road shoes will have a narrower sole in the heel area than a tennis/running shoe, so that may solve your issue of the shoe hitting the crank. The clip/cleat connection will keep the ball of your foot in place on the pedal.

Enjoy your RAGBRAI Adventure.



Profile photo of Stan Tripp Jr
Stan Tripp Jr, April 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

On a further note, we have pedals with biters on one side for tennis shoes and clips on the other side for cleat shoes – the best of both worlds. Like rockman68 says, the cilp shoes are very not comfortable to walk around in.



Profile photo of Paul
Paul, April 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm


i have a couple ideas for you guys to check out.

Idea #1 is to remember that you can have different setups on each side depending on what works well.

Idea # 2 is to look at old timey toe clips and straps. Your foot goes straight in and out with these. Clipless systems rely on you twisting your foot to the side to get unclipped. They aren’t really made to hold your foot straight.

Idea #3 is to get advice on how far your boom is out. It might be extended too far.
You want some bend left in your knees even when your foot is all the way forward.

Idea #4 is to research crank shorteners. They bolt right on and give you choices on each side on how big of a circle your foot actually has to pedal or not. You can look at how they work by contacting or giving them a call. My wife uses them on the tandem because they were a bolt on fix and we had multiple choices to fiddle with to get her dialed in with her short legs. It may also be a benifit to you that they effectively move your pedals out to the side about another 1/2 inch from your cranks.

See you on the ride!



Profile photo of WILLIAM
Sandaltan, May 1, 2013 at 10:08 am

Go to the Bentrider Online website for tons of recumbent info. There is a separate topic for trikes in the Message Forum. Happy reading.




Profile photo of Kim Halyak
Kim Halyak, May 3, 2013 at 3:18 am

Wow, you have all given me some great suggestions. I look forward to meeting each of you on the road this summer. Thank you.



The forum ‘RAGBRAI XLI – 2013’ is closed to new topics and replies.








Clubs, Teams & Charters

Lost and Found


Gatherings & Meetings




  • Profile picture of Mark
    active 1 minute ago
  • Profile picture of Andrew
    active 4 minutes ago
  • Profile picture of Mark
    active 11 minutes ago
  • Profile picture of Brian
    active 13 minutes ago
  • Profile picture of Garold
    active 30 minutes ago