MOSCOW, Idaho — Alfred Allen can often be seen cruising around town or down the Latah Trail in Moscow in his recumbent quad, shiny streamers flapping in the wind. Other times he can be found parked outside One World Cafe as he enjoys his daily cup a coffee.
His recumbent quad is hard to miss.
“The kids say ‘cool.’ The teenagers say it is ‘bad a,’ and the adults say ‘where the heck did you get that?'” he said. “I get all kinds of comments.”
The recumbent quad is quite the sight. The four fat tires more resemble those of a small motorized bike than the average pedal bike. The fully covered top keeps Allen’s entire body safe from the elements and the tall pole attached to the back features a shiny flag and streamers that catch the summer sun rays as he speeds by.
“Getting into your 70s, you get kind of invisible and this certainly has made me visible,” he said.
At age 76, Allen says he got into the hobby as a way to stay active and have a pleasant way to get around town. His bike originally started as a tricycle until he learned a new differential could be installed to add a fourth wheel.
Some $10,000 later, his recumbent quad serves as his main mode of transportation. Come sun, rain and even snow, Allen uses his bike in place of a car.
When he first got his tricycle, Allen said he would ride 22 miles — from Moscow to Troy and back — every day for the first summer.
“I lost 30 pounds that summer,” he said.
With his quad, that 22-mile journey isn’t quite the pleasant ride it used to be, so he opts for shorter cruises and flat paths, often driving his recumbent quad to trails and pathways around the region.
“It is much heavier … somewhere over 50 pounds, which is substantial for peddling,” he said. “It is hard to get up that grade.”
While it is easier on flat trails, Allen said it tends to be a better option for people his age “because it is really hard to take a spill.”
“I’m real cautious. I’ve been over the handlebars before (on a motorcycle) and that was as much as I wanted to test fate,” he said.
Plus, he added, with its full coverage and seating position, it is easy to pull over and take a quick nap when he gets worn out.
While Allen certainly enjoys the health benefits of his daily rides, it has also been an excellent way to get to know his new home. Roughly seven years ago he moved to Moscow from San Francisco, where he had spent seven years as a contractor following a career as an iron worker.
He was readying for retirement and had a longtime friend in Moscow whose husband had recently died, so he decided to make his retirement official and move to Moscow. Now he and that longtime friend get together every other day for dinner and a movie. He said at their age it is nice to have that friend to check in with.
Along with his scenic bike rides, Allen also learns about the region by taking photography tours to local sightseeing spots.
One of his favorite things to shoot over the years has been landscapes, he said, but he was unaware of how beautiful the Palouse was until he arrived.
“One of my favorites has been Moscow Mountain. It is wooded and all these little niches along the streams,” he said.
Photography, Allen said, is more than just capturing a picture — it is about capturing an experience.
“There is just really magical places in this world,” he said. “There are places that just don’t exist any place else like 20,000 feet in the Andes. There is nowhere else like that.”
Allen is also enjoying the peace that Moscow provides.
“San Francisco was getting a bit tense and this is the antithesis of that. It is a lot easier on the nerves,” he said.
Information from: The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, http://www.dnews.com