Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

November 1, 2013

TC men break into new sport of drift tricycling

TRAVERSE CITY — James Kenyon and Brad Gullekson tend to get a few strange looks when they tell people what sport they've claimed as their pastime since early 2012.

And the man-sized tricycle strapped to the roof of Kenyon's green Subaru station wagon and another hanging out the rear hatch don't help.

They're a melange of steel tube welded to a front section from a BMX bike that vaguely resembles the plastic Big Wheel tricycles most 30-year-olds remember peddling in circles on their parents' concrete driveways in the 1980s. But that's about where the similarity ends.

Most parents can't imagine their youngsters hiking the plastic versions to the top of a steep road and bombing down the asphalt at speeds as fast as 50 mph.

The pair are on the leading edge of a growing sport that pits the grown men and women against gravity, friction and inertia. They are two of the first drift tricycle racers in Michigan — an international sport hitting steep streets across the United States and the world.

"It's definitely an extreme sport," Kenyon, 29, said. "It's a different sort of fix."

Kenyon first decided to dive into the fledgling sport when he spotted a YouTube video of someone drifting around a corner on a steep mountain road atop one of the homemade three-wheelers. At that time he couldn't find anybody who manufactures the gravity-fed machines.

The video was similar to ones the men now post on YouTube themselves.

Kenyon showed the video to Gullekson, 24, and the pair were immediately sold on building their own.

They spent the winter of 2012 planning and constructing their first trikes. Tax return money bought Kenyon a welder and about $100 in materials went into each of their rigs.

"It kind of picks up where your excitement left off as a kid," Kenyon said, adding that the sport is so new the tricycles evolve almost daily. "There's not a right or wrong way to do things."

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