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Kickbike

Kickbiking. Can I do this too?

My thoughts after our first kickbike trip in the USA did not extinguish my desire for this odd sort of transport. On the contrary: the kickbiking took off.

Part 1. Kickbiking. Why and how?

Part 2. Kickbiking. Can I do this too?

Part 3. How is the set-up? From an illogical set-up to one that works.

A write-up from 2020 unearthed:

After 50.000 kilometer cycling in roughly 5 years, through West Africa, Europe, Middle East, Indian continent and South America I thought it’ll be peanuts to kickbike a relative little loop somewhere through USA. Wrong. Yes, I needed a challenge. But I sort of forgot, or took out of the equation, that every new endeavor needs practice.

Yet, with ‘Can I do this too?’ as a title I can say wholeheartedly: YES! It doesn’t matter whether you are sporty, perhaps you think you are not fit enough or maybe it looks daunting? But you can do it, because the kick movement is as simple as the cycling movement. Every abled person can do it. The main drive is your mind. Of course, a seasoned couch potato might want to loose the doughnut at his or her waist but some real action is needed.

Yet a word of caution: I was a traveler, not an avid sporty person. So it helps when you are into some sort of activity, outdoors, fun and setting minor goals.

Though while my mind wanted this eagerly it did go quickly wrong. Perhaps my movements or my sandals, maybe even the repetitive movements, I did not recognize the earliest signs of inflammation somewhere around my ankles, but they were there. One after another, they build themselves up, like a cookie every day becoming a flappy belly. And just when I thought: ‘I should also accelerate, not just smoothly sail along’, I started to push real hard. I was reminded of the way I cycled all those years, never really pushing it. Instead of firing my power, I rather cruise. When I saw how Geo rocketed forward, as if a fiery power exploded from his calves, I decided to do the same.

And I could. But not for long. Cruising is the way to go for some people. And I am one of them.

Diary excerpt: Finished. Done. Cooked. The previous days went well. It took us long to get out of Jacksonville, the route was boring, a constancy of build up environments. Living quarters, always a sort of condo area with entrance and fences or vast areas of woods, military restricted and if not then there would be a sign saying ‘no trespassing’. We decided to press the ‘jet’ button on our kickbikes and that helped. We’re on the kickbike for about 2.5 hours a day and once in Gainesville I feel my achilles heels and my calves. When I come from a sitting position I feel stiff and walk like an elderly granny. I feel my feet in a way I never felt them before and I fall asleep as if I had a practice session at an ISIS torture camp. A few nights before I had a dream: a person was forced to jump of a cliff and he did, having no other choice. I saw him landing on the ground, his legs shaking, his feet quivering with a frequency impossible for humans.

‘What were we thinking? Did you really think you could kickbike through the USA, or even just through one state?’ is what a friend asks me. That was what we were thinking indeed. And why not? A kickbike, according Kickbike USA ‘will change your life’ and ‘it’s such a smooth overall-body work-out that you won’t suffer muscle pain in your body’ and we knew of a few travelers who cruise the world with a kickbike. I was inspired by them, and knew I could do that too.

USA 2: Florida, not kickbiking because of inflammation of tendons

Now, what does this sort of exercise to the body? Kickbike says this: you get the added value of being outside, getting where you want, doing mild to moderate aerobic/cardiovascular exercise and using lots of different muscle groups for whole body fitness. Kickbike started to develop these vehicles for mushing dogs, when the season in Finland did not lend a chance to have sledges pulled by Husky’s. Geo does not like sport not involved a ball and needs to cycle or kick or walk somewhere for a reason. I don’t like any sport at all and need to have a goal to cycle or kick or walk to.

Now, normal is kicking not. I receive a lot of odd looks, people stop to lend me help with repairing my, assumably, flat tire. Some car drivers slow down next to me checking out what it is I do. Other: ‘Why don’t you buy an E-bike?’ Me: ‘Because I don’t like E-bikes and I have my kickbike. Other: ‘Why don’t you go by normal bicycle then?’ Me: ‘Because I don’t like a saddle and I like kickbiking.’ Other gives me blank looks. Me, adding: ‘I think it’s good to stay fit, it’s normal.’ Fanatic perhaps? Fun for sure!

Perhaps the best way to get to know this vehicle is by yourself, so you can keep your own pace. On your own you will not be inclined to follow someone, to be faster than your inbuilt gait, nor to be too slow, which is annoying too. When I started by myself, I was easily able to kick 65 kilometer (reasonable flat terrain, wind in the back). A weekly distance of 26 kilometers is keeping the muscle ache at bay.

The route

I think our initial choice to kickbike through the hilly tracks of the Appalachians in winter was not doable. It’s not smart, never having kickbiked before, and then head out for uneven forest trails in the hills with no nearby places to stock up on food and water. Without being able to buy something so simple as waterbottle-holders we could not even cover a distance more than 30 kilometer on a mildly sunny but cold day. We really did good to go to Florida where it was warm and flat, and where it was utmost boring too. I can only advice to start learning how to kick long distances before actually tackling them. I started my cycling odyssey with West Africa indeed, but had the practice of the whole of Europe before me. A kickbike fully packed is also a different cup of tea.

It might even make sense to first develop your own pace before heading out with someone else, like my dear husband, who is stronger at just everything he newly starts with.

The shoes

My shoes: Keen Whisper sandals have a rather heavy rubber sole. This was good for sharp cycling pedals, but not for the direct touch with the ground, whether asphalt or dirt. Worse still is that the feet always shifted inside the sandal. With every change of the kicking foot, I had to readjust the foot, which was now on the board, into its shifting sandal. Adding to the discomfort, it seemed that my heels where slightly overhanging the rubber sole, though the size is correct.

I changed into soft soled Sketchers and this appeared to be better overall. Though I do not know how long these shoes will last when intensively kickbiking? Up to today (November 2022) these slipper alike shoes do still serve me well for kickbiking. The big downside is that in wet or winter weather they’re not suitable.

Geo’s shoes: Meindl trekking shoes were too heavy for Geo and the back part of the shoe seemed to have ached at the achilles heel.

Stretching

We did not stretch nor do any sort of body exercise before we headed out of our camp spot and jumped the board. We simply started kicking. Well, I might have done my regular cracking of the backbone exercise, always a bit cranky after a night sleep on an air mattress. Geo did certainly do no stretching whatsoever and he did not suffer a tiny discomfort. But it turned out, I was told by someone from ‘Tretroller’ community over Facebook, when I was immobilized with both ankles inflamed, that I should do a few basic stretches. These involves stretching the ball of the feet, the tendons, the achilles and the calves.

Up to today, I still don’t do this. For me, the Kickbike is a mode of transport, a vehicle to travel distances with. I like to pack my tent and stove and head out to the surroundings but I do not use the Kickbike for intense sports activities.

The kikebike

The Kickbike is easy to handle, perhaps easier than a bicycle. The lack of pedals is something very pleasant, so those won’t hit your calves each time you need to push the bike. It’s light (10 kg) and therefor not too hard to lift over tree trunks or steps.

The board has two levels of adjustment, the lowest is very near to the ground and will often scrape the roots, rocks and bumps in the surface of tracks, but this is part of the design and not a problem. The part which scrapes the ground is enforced and there are no cables running along that can be ripped.

When I have the Kickbike fully packed the front is heavier than the back. This is balanced out when I stand on the board. Though, when I push while being off the board, gripping the front brake handle, the bike tends to tip over on a track downhill, the backside starts to rise into the air and wiggle left to right.

The Shimano brakes are excellent. The cables can not easily be snapped while finding your way through the forest, this because the cables are designed inside the frame, and they only come out at the very end.

The set up is final and works. I took all Geo his purchases bought at REI, USA. Winter gear, including two sleeping bags, can be taken along on short tours.


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9 replies on “Kickbiking. Can I do this too?”

Another Cindy blog lands in my inbox early morning, and my Monday morning is suddenly very happy!

I am so pleased that you “unearthed” this.
Was it under your ‘couch potato’ patch in your garden?
Did you find any others there?

Liked by 1 person

Hi Nick,
Glad to hear that you red it and liked it. Will you start this sort of transport too? It will work nicely in a city, to roll to the bakery for example : )
This post was burried under the onion couch, where apparantly more things sprout up from.
I planted some more so hopefully more will be unearthed soon. Have a good week coming up. Greetings Cindy and Geo

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Hi Cindy,

It’s funny you don’t see yourself as being sporty, it must be a thing of definition. If ‘hiking’ is a sport, cruising around the globe on wheels pushed by you surely is too!

I use my barefoot running shoes or sandals to kick my kickbike and I definitely think a softer sole is better to avoid any tendon issues.

What’s your method of lifting your kickbike over a fence? Some kickbikes might be lighter than some bikes, but I miss the saddle and the frame when I have to lift it. It’s actually the only time I miss the saddle – well I might also miss it for not being able to attach another bag to it 🙂

Lovely post, now I feel I can travel with a kickbike too!

Liked by 1 person

Hi Marita,

I think I see myself as not sporty because I have always cycled to and from work when in the Netherlands. It was only about 14 kilometers each day so it wasn’t much. When I had to cycle close to 60 kilometer to and from work it was very demanding. But I don’t see it as sport, more as transport. I will not cycle or kick to get fit, I need to have a goal. So going to Hungarian lessons with a kickbike is a good way of combining those two. Rain or shine, I try to avoid the car.

My shoes often get very dirty from the mud, wet grass and digging by foot (like fire pits of toilet pits) so I would not like to wear pricey barefoot shoes. But I agree that a soft sole works best for me too. It feels as I have more control over where exactly I put most strain on the foot, rather than the toes.

I can not advice you on how to handle the kickbike when crossing over a fence. With the bicycle, I always got under the fence. I have very little strenght in my arms so I coud never lift the unloaded bicycle over the South American fences (you know how high they are). If I meet with a fence, then I shove it through underneath.

When it comes to attaching a bag to the saddle; you might want that backrack ; ) I lift the kickbike by the rack by the way, but only at curbs or very sharp turns (when not kicking).

Thank you for your feedback and compliment : ) Have a warm cozy evening.
Greetings Cindy

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I like to be in movement that’s for sure, but don’t see myself as sporty neither and think you are pretty bad ass! 😁

In regards of the shoes, I broke my foot once and rehab was long and though. Ever since foot health and overall mobility gain a lot of priority. Fair enough to say I can easily afford some expensive shoes in exchange of translating a boring text 😉

Thanks once again for the reply, but above all the inspiration!

Liked by 1 person

Don't just stop here, I appreciate your thoughts too : )

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