An Example of Ingenuity That Put Us On The Path Towards Living a Renewable Energy Lifestyle

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The path to living a renewable energy lifestyleOther than the fact that my husband and I were thoroughly exhausted with the fast paced lifestyle of living in the Salt Lake City area, one thing stands out to me that sort of pushed us in the direction that has led us to where we are today.

Several years ago, my husband sustained a traumatic brain injury that eventually resulted in him developing a seizure disorder. This was hard on all of us but it was especially hard on him. The fact that he was suffering from seizures that didn’t respond to anti-seizure medication meant that he could no longer drive. This may not seem like a big deal but it meant that he had lost his sense of independence which was a big part of who he was.

After the seizures started, he considered buying a bicycle to get around on. This led him to start investigating human powered vehicles. This is when he stared realizing how inefficient traditional upright bicycles were. His research led him down the path of leaning about recumbent bicycles and he ultimately decided that he would like to buy what was called a “recumbent tadpole trike”.

At the time, this technology was still emerging which meant that the price tags for these types of bicycles was very high. As a matter of fact, the least expensive model he could find was around $4,000! Instead of giving up, he decided to try and build one himself so he poured through every design example that he could find, he borrowed a welder (which he had to teach himself to use), and he actually made his own version of a tadpole trike!

homemade recumbent tadpole trike

This was Jeff's very first welding project and it turned out great! Click this image to see a larger version.

Jeff rode that trike all over the place and other cyclists were constantly amazed when he would fly past them on this strange contraption while he was dressed in his wranglers and cowboy boots. After all, traditional wisdom would suggest that they would be much faster than him because they were riding expensive street bikes and wearing that spandex riding gear that makes cyclists move more freely. Despite the fact that he wasn’t dressed for cycling, he wasn’t in very good shape, and he had constructed this trike for about $300 under our carport, his design was much faster than other bikes. I remember him telling me that he quite regularly passed other cyclists at a pretty high speed and he wasn’t really exerting that much effort.

He used his creation to get to where we were boarding our horses every day that the weather permitted. This was a 25 mile round trip and with his homemade recumbent style trike, he was able to make the trip really fast and without much effort.

The fact that this design was so much more efficient than traditional bicycles inspired Jeff to start looking at the world differently. This led to a desire to get off the grid and the rest is history. Here we are; living the dream!

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