There's really nothing quite like heading out with 3000 or so of your closest friends and acquaintances and riding around the middle of the city as if you own it. Having started commuting to work some days this year, ISWE can fully back any opportunity to blithely coast through intersections as IMPD officers and volunteers dutifully hold back long lines of 4000 pound motorcars from their normal brutish behaviors. "Oh, excuse me, Mr. Buick, just going through this intersection against this red light. Now wait your turn." Oh, if only this were more than one evening a year.
This year marked the N.I.T.E. Ride's first year at its new location, the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Previously, the R.I.D.E. began and ended at IUPUI's Carroll Stadium, which is now home to the Indy Eleven. For the record, the move is I.S.W.E. approved! The Fairgrounds, adjacent to the Monon Trail, is a convenient location with great amenities. Parking is no problem. Those arriving by car, truck, or van were able to sprawl out comfortably across the Fairgrounds' large fenced-in lots. For RV's, there's an actual mini-campground. The 4-H Building provided plenty of room for registration and after-ride pizza. And, of course, there were plenty of bathrooms with actual plumbing, a luxury to be sure. ISWE observed a few riders tailgating prior to the ride. That's something that could surely grow in coming years. Nice.
Small wheel numbers were mixed this year. While ISWE observed only three small wheel bicycles (2 Dahons and the ISWE Brompton) this year--in contrast to about 5 or six in 2103--growth in small-wheel trike recumbents was astonishing. While there were a handful of trikes in 2013, there were perhaps 50 or more this year. ISWE will try to take a clicker next time to collect more accurate data. Note to ISWE: Lobby CIBA for inclusion of a mode of transport questionnaire on registration form. One possible small-wheel sighting; however, is still up for review. One intrepid cyclist opted to venture into the night aboard a penny-farthing. While the penny-farthing's diminutive rear wheel was undeniably small wheel small, the huge, perhaps 38", 48" or 52" monster front wheel basically dominates the overall impression of the bike. Hmmm?
But, speaking of monster wheels, 2015 appears to be the year of the giant wheel fatbike and there were many of them at this year's N.I.T.E. ride. We've run into them before, but not in these sort of numbers. There weren't as many fatbikes as trikes, but there were, by our estimates, at least a dozen. We'll by keeping an eye on these behemoths in the months to come.
So, perhaps you are thinking about joining the N.I.T.E. Ride in 2016 and your thinking about: a) bolstering the numbers of folders; b) joining the growing numbers of trikers; or c) giving over to the Wall-E fatbike crowd. Where do you begin? Most Indy bike shops do not sell small-wheel bikes or recumbents. A pre-ride trip to two of Indy's largest bicycle shops revealed a big zilch on either count. Well, sometimes the widest selection isn't at the biggest store. One small store in Indianapolis has several small-wheel folding bikes and a wide range of trikes... in stock. Surprised? I know.
DG had several trikes in stock. That's right, in stock. One could actually buy one and ride it home. That kind of in stock. Cool.
DG carries TerreTrike, Catrike, and ICE trikes.
If you are new to trikes, interested in something that sits up a little higher for ease in and out of the seat and are not looking to race road bikes, a TerreTrike could be something to consider. While a lot of recumbent manufacturers to in and out of business, TerreTrike does not seem to be one of them. Solid choice.
If you want something lighter and/or potentially a lot faster, and something US-made, Catrike is right up your alley. DG had both a practical Catrike and low, speedy Catrike on hand. As you may recall, ISWE Ohioan, Sam, rides a Catrike Trail model.
Now, if you're looking for something still more, everything, you might be interested in an ICE Trike. ICE stands for Inspired Cycle Engineering. They are a British company with a Moulton-like emphasis on engineering and craftsmanship. The fit and finish of an ICE trike is truly something to behold. While the Australian-made ISWE Greenspeed GT-3 is a great little machine, its Mig-welded butt joints are not exactly artwork. Everything on ICE, to the contrary, looks as if it were manufactured in the future. Scott explains ICE Trikes are largely custom. ICE has a lot of options in terms of suspension, upright/reclined riding position, and "gulp" even full fat bike design.