Last Sunday dawned warm and a bit windy. I had a jam session to attend in Kasson so I thought it would be a good day to drive the Geo-trike. The forecast was for temps in the mid-forties, the roads were dry and the Geo-trike hadn’t been driven for a couple months, so I figured it would be no problem. Wrong-O!
I left home and headed south on 57, made a stop in Kasson at the local Kwik Trip for some donuts to share at the jam session. Resuming my journey southward, I started to encounter pockets of slush on the roadway. Apparently, there had been some drifting in the morning and now the snow had started to melt. Drivers of normal cars made tracks through the slush but the Geo-trike makes three tracks, whereas normal cars make only two. This meant that I had to concentrate on avoiding large areas of slush if possible. All was well until I was about a mile from my destination, South Zumbro Lutheran Church. I was traveling at a reduced speed, avoiding the slush when possible when I came upon a large patch of slush. I had nearly cleared the patch when that back wheel caught, hydroplaned and sent the Geo-trike completely sideways in the road. I was fighting the steering wheel like it was an octopus as the Geo-trike veered hard left, across the oncoming lane and into the ditch on the opposite side of the road. I remember seeing the front end plowing into the deep snow and then a sliding, tumbling sensation. I had closed my eyes shortly after impact, partly because I could not believe what was happening and mostly because I did not want to see, either. The tumbling continued, at one point the drivers side window broke, sending shards of safety glass everywhere. And then the sliding, crunching sounds stopped. The engine had killed, the only sound was the radio playing. I unbuckled my seat belt, good thing I was wearing that! Then I opened the door, which actually opened without too much trouble, and tumbled out into the snow to survey the damage. The Geo-trike had landed on her wheels, although it was facing the opposite direction than when she entered the ditch. I was a bit disoriented and was not able to figure out which way I had come from or which way I was headed. That’s when I realized that I had rolled the Geo-trike. Wow. First time I have ever rolled a vehicle, unless you count the many dirt bikes and a couple of streetbikes I have “rolled” in years past. Good thing there was at least two feet of soft snow in the ditch where I went in, it made for a soft landing. It was, as the body shop guys would say, a “light roll”. A large truck approached, one of those LP delivery tankers, I think. The driver asked if I was alright and if I needed a tow. I replied that yes, I was fine and asked did he have any kind of strap or chain on his truck? He told me no but that he lived about a mile away and had a tractor that would easily pull the Geo-trike out of this predicament. I thanked him for his offer and off he went to retrieve his tractor. While I waited, I got on the cell phone and called a couple of other musicians that I knew would be at this jam. I was able to get ahold of one couple, Mel and Jane. They were on the road and only a few minutes behind me. I debated calling my wife and then decided against it. She was thirty or so miles away and there was not much she could do, other than worry. Since I was in good shape and had a tow coming, I saw no need to cause her any consternation. Also while waiting I had a closer look at the wreck that used to be the Geo-trike. Both mirrors had been torn off and were half buried in the loose snow. There was shattered safety glass all over the interior and even some outside in the snow. The roof was dented in, the rear hatch stuck out to the left a couple of inches and the windshield had some spiderweb cracks in it. My instruments were piled in the back window and I hoped they were not damaged in any way, particularly my fiddle which is nearly one hundred years old. The toolbox I carry in the back was turned completely upside down and the box of donuts I had just purchased that was sitting on the front seat was now in the backseat area on the floor. I turned the key and the Geo-trike started up and settled into an idle like nothing had happened at all. Even the exhaust sounded quiet so I knew everything was good in that department as well. By now Mel and Jane had arrived and so I sat in their car to keep warm. They were a bit concerned about my welfare but I assured them that I was fine, just a bit shaken up on the play. A few more of my fellow musician friends drove up and stopped to make sure I was OK. After a long twenty minutes or so the tractor guy showed up with a newer looking four-wheel drive Massey Ferguson with a large snowblower on the back. He proceeded to drive down into the field where the Geo-trike sat patiently waiting and I followed him on foot. I attached the log chain he had brought to the rear strut and he commenced pulling the Geo-trike out of the deep snow and into the field. He manuevered his tractor towards the front of the Geo-trike and I reattached the chain to a tow hook in the front. I got in and he slowly pulled the wounded Geo-trike up and out of the field and back onto solid pavement. I offered him a twenty dollar bill for his trouble and he accepted, reluctantly. With the Geo-trike back on the road and running, there was just one thing left to do. Head to the jam. It was only a mile away and I thought it would be a good test run to see if the drive train on the Geo-trike had suffered any damage. The thing drove just fine on the way, although it was a bit breezy without a drivers side window. I stayed at the jam for a couple of hours and then headed for home. I wanted to get as far as possible before darkness settled in, just in case the Geo-trikes headlights did not work anymore. Mel and Jane offered to follow me at least as far as Wanamingo and I accepted. The thirty mile trip home was no picnic. I turned the heater up full blast so my feet stayed warm but that cold blast coming through the open window was not much fun to experience. At least it was not too cold outside, still barely above freezing. I had to avoid slush piles again and this time I went extra slow whenever I encountered one. I made it home just after dark. Turns out that the lights worked just fine, even the blinkers and tailights. The thing drove normal as well with no weird wobbles or pulling to one side, well, as normal as a Geo-trike can drive, I guess. So now I have to decide if the thing will go off to the crusher or can I get it back on the road without too much expense. It really just needs a drivers door and window. Maybe a windshield too and I could probably just pound out some of the dents. I may just part it out and start with a new project. I have my eye out for a Honda Civic hatchback, ’92-00 years. I think one of those would make a good trike. They sit fairly low and have a wide stance. Now I just need to find one, cheap. So what have I learned from this episode, you ask? Only this: three wheeled cars should only be driven when the roads are clear, ice, snow and slush free, much like a motorcycle.