Dec 28, 2023

Barlow rides electric tricycle along the streets of Marshalltown

Jun 6, 2023

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Jim Barlow of Marshalltown, right, shows off his electric tricycle next to his friend Jim Adair and his motorcycle, pictured at left.

As some people enter their golden years, they’re content to take it easy and spend their days on the couch watching television, reading and/or resting and reflecting on all of the work they put in to get to that point — but not Jim Barlow.

The 86-year-old, a member of the MHS Class of 1955 who at one time owned the Thunderbird restaurant in Marshalltown and now lives downtown, learned all about how to electrify his tricycle and then did the work himself over a couple of days. As he noted, he still has to pedal, but the energy gives him a boost if he's headed uphill or just wants to relax.

"It gives you something to do. It keeps you out of the damn TV," he said. "It keeps your mind going, and you see something different every day. When you’re driving in a car, you know, you go by so fast you don't even notice stuff, but when you’re putting along on a bike, it's amazing all the stuff you see that you didn't even know was there.

Barlow said he gets out at least every other day on the streets and trails of Marshalltown — he's gotten outside of town headed toward Grimes Farm and Melbourne and plans to ride east to the Iowa River sometime soon — and he religiously attends coffee with a group of friends at Hy-Vee. He hasn't been ticketed for speeding yet, and by his estimation, the trike can only hit a maximum speed of 15 to 20 miles per hour.

Members of the coffee group love to joke about the bike, but as Barlow and his friend and fellow Jim, Jim Adair, noted, it's all in good fun. Adair, for the record, prefers his motorcycle and has not taken a ride on Barlow's trike yet.

"He takes a lot of ribbing," Adair said.

Putting any and all speculation to rest, Barlow confirmed that he will not be riding RAGBRAI in 2023 even as it runs through the area with an overnight stop in Tama-Toledo — unless he gets a bigger motor.

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