Who Needs a Plane to Fly?

Lez Harre-Young

While riding from John-O-Groats to Lands End by tricycle in 1984, I had a flying experience on descending from Glastonbury Tor into the village of Glastonbury.  I was traveling at 30mph plus, as I had just passed a sign, noticing as I did so that my speed was in excess of the limit.

The entry to the village was down a narrow lane, with cars parked facing down hill on the left, and there was a car approaching up the hill.  Having faith in my skill at judging gaps, I just pressed on through without slowing down or touching anything.  Within thirty yards however, instead of speeding down the hill I took-off vertically and rose at great speed to a height of six feet plus, before gravity took over and pulled me down to earth with a tremendous thump.  I grabbed the brake levers and crushed them to the bars in an effort to bring the trike to a halt, but was hampered somewhat by the wild erratic motion of the machine, due to the left-hand rear wheel being folded at an angle of some 45 degrees.  My antics were successful in that I managed to come to a halt in an upright position without a scratch on either the trike’s paintwork or myself.

My companions arrived with concerned questions of, are you all right, etc with one or two comments of praise for my skill and suggestions of taking up rodeo riding.

A frightened timid female voice unknown to me was heard asking "Is there anything I can do?" to which I growled "Just Go Away" through gritted teeth, without even turning around.

One of my companions explained, that the trike was propelled upwards because the left-hand rear wheel had caught on the rear edge of an opening car door, and just ran straight up it.

I just got out the tool kit and set about making running repairs, enough to enable me to reach the campsite.

This was a nightmare journey as the wheel still moved about 2 inches from side to side and there was a worrying grinding noise from the axle.  Having arrived and had my evening meal, I bought a new rim, tyre and tube from the support mechanic, and re-built the left-hand rear wheel. I removed and straightened the left-hand half shaft, which was badly scored from rubbing the inside of the axle tube for 20 miles, with 2 sledge and 1 small hammers.  I realigned the axle tube using some handy railings for leverage and re assembled the trike in just under 2 hours.

I continued and finished the ride at Lands End, having covered 1,123 miles in 15 days. Apart from the flying lesson the only other problem was punctures, of which I had 18 in total, 8 in one day, and all 3 wheels at the same time, since when I always carry 1 more spare tube than I have wheels (Bike 3 & Trike 4).