We can call Sylvia a recumbent celebrity for sure. Like Gary Solomon or Alve Henricson I have mentioned before. Her Youtube channel and all the travel stories are more them worth following. Her journey from upright Cannondale bike to a recumbent two-wheeler and later trike is a good example of how people mostly get to riding in the most comfortable position.
What do recumbents mean for you?
Recumbents have meant freedom. In 2004, I bought my 1st recumbent because I wanted to ride farther than I could on my Cannondale upright. I didn’t know at the time that this would be one of those forks in the road of life I took which would make a profound difference.
Can you remember when did you see a recumbent for the first time?
In Portland, Oregon there used to be an racing event where recumbents would gather to show off the latest technology and test racing speeds on a track. At the time there were mostly long wheel based Easy Racer bikes and very low racers. This was always a very interesting and bike nerdy event and it’s a shame that it couldn’t continue.
What was your first recumbent?
My 1st recumbent was a Easy Racer Fold Rush. This was the folding version of the fantastic Gold Rush bike that, I believe, to this day is one of the best recumbent bikes ever made. I bought the folding version so I would have a way to transport the bike on a bike rack on the back of my car. I knew very little about bikes and, for sure, needed a way to get the bike to the mechanic for repairs. I got into recumbents at a time that speed was a big motivation for most of the riders. Gold Rush owners didn’t like this version because it had an elastomer suspension they felt made the bike pogo and took away from speed. I was never interested in speed and this feature never bothered me. I bought this bike to relieve shoulder, neck, wrist and butt pain. On my upright, I wasn’t able to ride more than 15 miles and, with the Fold Rush, all those concerns and pain vanished.
Do you prefer trikes or two-wheelers and why?
Even though I was able to ride further with my Fold Rush, I still was not able to climb hills. I am such a weak cyclist that I have never been able to climb without stopping to walk. I bought my 1st trike to make hill climbing easier. What I really wanted to do, when I bought my 1st trike, was go on a tour. The idea of walking up all the hills with a loaded bike didn’t sound like fun. I bought my 1st trike in 2005, a Greenspeed GTO, and never looked back. This trike had 3 chainrings and a 3-speed SRAM internally geared hub. I had no problem getting up hills anymore. I think I could have ridden that trike up a tree. Slow? You bet but I was riding! This is the 1st of many reasons trikes have become my favorite ride.
Which bike do you ride now?
I’ve had a HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs20 for 9 years.
Now that I’ve had e-assist for a year I can say my ideas were silly, at best. E-assist has completely changed the way I ride.
What do you think about all the e-assist boom we have around us now?
I came to e-assist a year ago reluctantly when my trike manufacturer offered to have a Shimano Steps E8000 system installed. My idea of e-assist was this was something I might consider in a few years if I felt I needed it. Even though I am a very slow cyclist, I was always able to get where I wanted to go without e-assist. Now that I’ve had e-assist for a year I can say my ideas were silly, at best. E-assist has completely changed the way I ride. Before, e-assist, I was too slow to do group rides or ride with other people. I started touring in 2007 with my trike and ride solo which has never been an issue. I’ve ridden on over 6 continents and 20 countries solo and was used to my own company. Now, with e-assist, I can ride with others and I’m enjoying the group riding so much more. I also used to be very concerned about elevation gains because I’m such a slow cyclist. I’ve never minded climbing but I need to make sure I have enough time. One thing I don’t like is riding in poor light or at night. With the e-assist, climbing issues have been eliminated. I can ride anywhere with anyone. Since I added e-assist, I’ve been traveling around the US living in an RV trailer. I keep the trike safely stored in the back of my truck under a canopy. I’ve been able to ride with groups that are known for speed. Without the e-assist, I wouldn’t be able to consider riding with these groups. With the e-assist, I can keep up with anyone. E-assist is a great equalizer. I am also finding that because I can move my legs faster with e-assist I am able to get my heart-rate higher than without e-assist. My cadence is higher and I am really enjoying being able to move my legs faster. I’m finding that I get a better workout with the assist than I did without.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
I have a good group of friends, recumbent buddies, in Portland, Oregon. We do lots of rides in the area and even do short tours together. We are part of the Pacific Northwest Recumbent Cyclists and have a page on Facebook where group rides are posted and anyone is invited to join.
And the most unforgettable ride?
I have ridden my trike all over the world and, as you can imagine, there have been many unforgettable rides. The ride that had the most impact was my very 1st trike tour. In the summer of 2007, I took off from Portland, Oregon and rode up to Canada. I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing or where I was going to end up. I had sold my house and all my processions and set off. I got to Canada spending a few weeks in British Columbia. I then turned around cycling the Pacific coast of the US to Mexico and continued further. I ended up in Guatemala after spending 6 months cycling in Mexico. Before crossing into Mexico, everyone told me not to go. I was told repeatedly that, without a doubt, I was going to be robbed, raped, and, most like, killed. For sure, no one would bury me and I would never be seen or heard from again. Even after all these warnings I still wanted to go. I’m so glad I didn’t listen because I ended up having a magical time in Mexico. The food, scenery, history and generous people made for an unforgettable experience. After that incredible trip, I felt I could go anywhere and the fear of international travel vanished. Since that trip I’ve ridden in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, China, Morocco, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal,New Zealand, Australia, Colombia, Belize and many other countries. You never know what’s going to happen when you go for a trike ride.
How do you think recumbents will evolve in the next 5 or 10 years?
I hope more people turn to recumbents and especially trikes. I think trikes are a lot safer than bikes and wonder if this won’t be a bigger seller point as the population ages. My worry is with e-assist taking over cycling, upright bikes have become so much easier to ride it’s possible that recumbents may become less attractive. Especially when you consider the difference in price. I hope I am wrong because I love my trike and want everyone to experience the fun I am having.
What is your other hobby besides recumbents? Do you even consider recumbents as a hobby?
At this point, riding a trike has actually become part of my identity and my lifestyle. For the last year, my days are now spent traveling in my RV looking for interesting places to explore and ride my trike. This is the purpose of my travels. I especially like finding bike paths, rail trails and meeting recumbent riders wherever I go. My other loves are photography. I have numerous cameras and a couple of drones I enjoy flying. As I travel, I make short videos on a YouTube channel, Travels By Trike. My other passion is playing the piano. I studied to be a concert pianist. and have an electric keyboard in my RV with lots of old fashioned classical music to play and learn. Being able to play the piano has been another nice addition to my new RV lifestyle.
AND ONE MORE:
Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
In 2006, I sold everything to travel by trike all over the world. Everything I owned fit in 2 panniers and a side seat bag. Living this minimalist lifestyle was very liberating and I learned things about myself I could never have imagined. For instance, I discovered I love traveling out of my country on my own. Even though I only speak English and very poor Spanish, I have always managed and the challenges that appear on a daily basis are truly rewarding to conquer and get past only to do it all again the next day. Now I am living/traveling in a 17ft trailer which is also very minimalist but after my 13 years of solo trike tours it feels absolutely luxurious. Having electricity, water, full kitchen, a comfortable bed and hot shower wherever I go is fantastic. I am completely surprised how comfortable I am living in this small space. In the time of Covid, I have also found a way to be safe, self contained with complete control of my environment. I’ve gone from car-free to a simple RV lifestyle. At 62, I have found a safe and comfortable way to continue traveling while exploring my own country.
Year of birth: 1959
Education: BA, Piano performance.
Job: Retired from computer programmer job with a large newspaper
Bike(s): HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs20
Motto: If what you are doing isn’t fun, do something else.