CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Randy Ridings ruined the perfect name for his invention. He had invented a vehicle that combined a tricycle with a kayak. The words combined for the perfect name: A triak.
But he had to add a fourth wheel, meaning triak no longer worked.
So how about "quack" for the four-wheeled kayak? No way. He's going with "quayak."
"If you look up 'quack,' you'll see all kinds of stuff," Ridings said. "But with 'quayak,' it's just me."
Ridings is the only one with such a vehicle, and will likely remain so for a while. In the spirit of hovercrafts or amphibious tourist vehicles that travel from highways into lakes, Ridings' vehicle can be pedaled straight into waterways such as rivers, creeks and lakes.
It was inspired by his love of kayaking and his annoyance of lining up transportation details just to go kayaking.
"I've always had the opinion that there's a flaw in the system," Ridings said. "If I went to go kayaking, I had to go down river and have someone pick me up, or hire a pickup service, or talk a friend into coming along. For years I did that."
The solution for this problem lay in one of his other favorite activities: Bicycling.
Inside a quayak
Ridings' quayak combines the shell of a kayak and pedal-based locomotion of a bicycle. A set of pedals powers two large wheels in the front, and handlebars steer the vehicle by controlling two smaller wheels in the back.
On land, the vehicle works just like a bicycle. Ridings pedals, it moves. He has a transmission that lets him shift just like he was on a mountain bike, so he can keep a brisk pace.
Converting the vehicle for water requires no adjustments or transformations, however. Similar to the paddle-wheel steamboats of the turn of the century, the front wheels of Ridings' quayak are equipped with paddles.
The back wheels feature another ingenious detail: Covering the spokes are large plastic discs that transform the wheels into rudders.
With his adjustments, Ridings has the maneuverability of a canoe. He won't speed down a river, but he can float with no problems. And when he's done, he can ride back to his launch point without the need for a pickup or complicated plan for moving cars.
"I've done trips where I leave a bike at one end," Ridings said. "I call those trips 'surf and turf.' I'm glad I figured out how to solve that problem. When something is in front of me, I can't leave it alone."
Ridings is pretty happy with how his vehicle performs. He said that he may not be able to go as fast as a kayak, but the minimal exertion of energy used to pilot the quayak enables him to stay on the river much longer.