Inside the Trikke world of President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter

President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter with Andy and Jana Clark
President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter with Andy and Jana Clark

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter still rides their Trikkes on a regular basis. Remarkable, considering the former president is 91 years old and his wife is 88 years old.

One morning you’re waking up to an ordinary day in your small business. Two days later, you’re driving 350 miles to meet the former President of the United States of America to work on his beloved Trikke.

Such was the case for Andy and Jana Clark, Trikke dealers and owners of StreetFit 360/Trikke Tampa in Tampa, Florida.

Their call to duty came in November, 2015, by way of an assistant of President Jimmy Carter.

“Not your average call from your average person,” says Andy Clark, who first wondered: is this a hoax?

Knowing that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are avid Trikke riders, in short order, Clark realized the call was legit and that the Carters’ predicament was the same as any carver who carves a lot: their Trikkes were in need of a good tune up and some mechanical TLC.

Cut to the Clarks driving in their truck to Plains, Georgia, and pulling up to the Carters’ gate for a 2pm appointment on Friday, November 20th. A couple of Secret Service security checks later and Andy and Jana are parking near the Carters’ garage area and saying hello to Rosalynn, who’s in the garage.

“After she went inside,” says Jana, “I was standing there, talking to the Secret Service and all of a sudden, President Carter comes out and introduces himself.”

It was the first time either of the Clarks had ever met a U.S. president

“It was quite exciting,” says Andy Clark, a sentiment echoed by his wife.

“At first you’re in awe,” says Jana Clark, “but when you start to have a conversation, it’s like talking to any other person.”

For the next three and a half hours, the conversation flowed as Andy Clark worked on the Carters’ Trikkes (2 black, 2010 T8s), while Jimmy Carter sat on tailgate of the Clarks’ truck, asking questions.

“He has a genuine interest in the mechanics of the Trikke and a genuine love for the Trikke,” says Andy Clark. “He asked how the company was doing and said he tries to promote it as much as he can when he’s riding.”

Selfie time: Andy and Jana Clark take a photo with President Jimmy Carter.
Selfie time: Andy and Jana Clark take a photo with President Jimmy Carter.

 

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter still rides their Trikkes on a regular basis. Remarkable, considering the former president is 91 years old (and recently survived a bout with cancer), and his wife is 88 years old.

“He rides it around his tennis courts,” says Andy Clark. “Fifty laps, which is about 2 and a half miles. And periodically, he rides it around Plains, while the Secret Service rides along in golf carts.”

Clark learned all this while performance maintenance on the two Trikkes given to the Carters by their son Jack Carter, the first member of the first family to discover the joy of Trikke. Their conversation, says Clark, was quite casual and covered a wide range of topics, including hunting and fishing, peanut farming, and the Carters meeting Trikke co-founder John Simpson in San Diego.

“With all that casual conversation, you forget who you’re talking to,” says Andy Clark. “Then he’ll mention something about the White House and it kinda wakes you up, makes you remember that you’re not with an average American citizen; he’s the President.”

It’s an experience the Clarks will never forget.

“It’s such an honor to have the opportunity, and to walk away from it feeling like you have a friend is so great,” says Jana Clark, who was especially struck by a particular moment with the former First Lady:

“Rosalynn was in and out of the house, but when she started talking about the Carter Center, you could see the emotion in her face and just how passionate they are about it. It gave me a warm feeling to see that side them.”

Husband Andy Clark agrees wholeheartedly: “We’ve met a lot of people over the years and done a lot of things with the Trikke, but this is the ultimate.”

The Carters must have also valued the visit. They invited to Clarks to come back anytime — be it to sit in on the Sunday school class President Carter teaches or during peanut harvest time — “because that’s the kind of person he is,” says Jana.

“He’s a former president like no other,” says Andy Clark.

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