On Sunday morning July 7th at 10:00 AM I was coasting to a stop sign at an intersection in rural Wisconsin. It was a perfect morning for a ride – sunny and quiet with little traffic. I had just completed 19 miles of a 22 mile ride and was excited because my Ridekick battery still had a ½ charge left.
My Ridekick is attached to a long frame recumbent bicycle. This combination really works for me as I use the trailer to help push the bike up steep grade roads that lead up and out of Mississippi river valleys and coulees in the area. It is fun to see how far you can ride using your Ridekick as an able assist for hills and to pick up pedal momentum on the flats.
And so it comes…straight at me… a pickup trunk turns fully into my oncoming lane. There was no time to think or yell or do anything to get the attention of the driver. He simply was not looking being more interested in his cell phone I suspect. I stood and jumped as hard as I could up and to the right. The pickup hit my still upright bike head-on lifting it with my left leg still clearing the top tube. It spun me around in the air and I dropped horizontally onto my upper back and shoulders. I realized the truck itself had not hit me and my helmet protected my head. So I stood up immediately. The recumbent was still hopping around down road and the trailer lid was in the air dropping down from some height. Both batteries were tumbling down the road too [I bought a spare battery when ordering my Ridekick].
What follows is an ambulance, the police, ER and a broken shoulder. The 21-year-old driver was driving without a license, in his father’s truck, on probation with 23 previous arrests.
After three weeks of recovery it was time to inspect my gear. The recumbent was bent, broken and totaled. The trailer appeared to have initially flipped over, been pushed down the road, righted again whereupon it exploded. The battery tie down strap had actually pulled apart. The frame was dented, body work was scraped down and the lid hinges and lid fastener were broken.
After more weeks of recovery I wondered if anything in the trailer was operable. I plugged in the spare battery. The controller turned on! So I put that battery on the charger and it took a charge. The other battery appeared dead. I opened the fabric battery case and found one lead pulled off a connector. Once repaired it, too, took a charge. I put the trailer on top of a shop stool with the wheels off the floor. After connecting the throttle wire the power wheel turned perfectly and was still in align. The other wheel tracked straight too!
The Ridekick is now powering one of my other bicycles. I have yet to fashion a new lid that will fit the dented trailer frame but that won’t be hard to do. It just won’t look as good as the original. As it is, this event really gave me confidence in the reliability of a “Long Haul” Ridekick which, incidentally, is now connected to my Surly Long Haul Trucker.