SARASOTA – All you can see of 69-year-old Ray Mickevicius as he rips down the westbound slope of the Ringling Causeway bridge is a helmeted head protruding from a bullet-shaped, banana-yellow blur.
Eschewing the bike path for the right-hand traffic lane — the cars are “not going as fast as I am,” he says later — the retired history teacher is gone in a flash on his unusual modified tricycle.
He doesn’t brake until he hits the first light. After turning into the shorefront park, he says he clocked himself at 38 mph.
Gawkers edge over to the contraption, running inquisitive fingers along the fiberglass frame advertising “bluevelo.com” in blue lettering.
Mickevicius happily obliges, showing off a souped-up recumbent tricycle, complete with headlight, rear brake light, twin rear-view mirrors, running lights, 27-gear steering column, two horns, independent wheel suspension, a detachable canopy, storage space and even a beverage cradle.
But no motor; his ride is pedal-power only.
“I’m legal anywhere a bike can go,” declares Mickevicius, a snowbird from Canada who coached various sports during his high school teaching days.
The 75-pound, three-wheeled curiosity is known generically as a velomobile, or a bullet bike. Mickevicius fell in love with it several years ago when his son, Ray Jr. of Toronto, began importing them from Europe.
Upright two-wheeled bikes are so very ‘yesterday‘. The velomobile is a thriving concern in Europe.