Monday, May 25, 2009

Tandeming bliss

A few people have asked me offline about how the tandem riding was going. I guess I sort of went silent after the first post on it. The fact is, our first ride was just ok and we didn't prioritize giving it another shot. Too much other stuff going on.

Liza's mom offered to watch Maddie last night so we decided to try a tandem overnighter to one of my favorite destinations: Badger Lake. This is about 35 miles away with a mix of road, trail, dirt road, and rocky "summer" roads.  

The trip was an unqualified success. We had a great time and we're trying to figure out what's next, and how to include Maddie. A friend of mine (owner of Silver Bike Tours) has offered to let us borrow his 3-person Bike Friday. It may be time to take him up on that offer. We're also thinking about borrowing a trail-a-bike-tag-along number and hooking it to the tandem. 

It would be fun to do some short overnighters with Maddie on the Centennial Trail or the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes.

The Burley tandem is just the bomb. It's so suited to this trip. It's got big fat 26" tires on it so it was really good on the dirt and deepish sections of gravel. The drum brake is essential for the steep dirt descents. Overall, the bike just felt solid and capable. We gave the bike a good beating on the trip, so we learned a lot about the bike. 

Of course there are some changes I need to make:
  • Thudbuster post for Liza. She also needs to find some padded shorts she likes. The stoker gets banged up a bit bouncing around back there. We're also going to try swapping out her Terry Liberator back to the sprung Brooks Conquest.
  • New rear wheel -- I don't like the idea of running a freewheel with all that weight; I want a cassette, with the drum brake (which will require spreading the rear frame to 145). 
  • I need to mess with the bars/height/etc. Running my standard set up doesn't work so well. I had some wrist, arm, shoulder pain that I never ever get. I think I'll wear padded gloves too. It's a bit of a workout to hold a tandem in line for many miles, especially over dirt and soft ground.
  • Mountain triple crank. It's running a 53/42/28. I'm going to put on 48/36/24. Then when we upgrade the rear wheel we'll put an 8-speed cassette on there. Probably 12-32.
  • Spare stuff to bring along on rides. In addition to the standard tool kit, we need some spare M5 and M6 bolts, a folding 26" tire. I want to swap the 14mm chain ring bolts with 8 mm hex's. Those are the biggies. 
  • It would be nice to find a kickstand that works with this version of the Burley. The internal cable routing makes it hard. My double Pletscher doesn't fit. I wonder if a rear wheel stand would work?

We got our essential communication worked out. Basically, there's "bump" -- which usually means stop pedaling and ride light. Unless I want it to mean "pedal through and brace yourself." Liza's not figured out how to read my mind on that one yet. "Coast" means stop pedaling. That's about it. Really. 

Then there's the shifting discussions:
"Why are you shifting to the big ring?"
"Cause I don't want to cross chain"
"It's not cross chained, you're in the middle ring"
"But it will be cross chained -- strictly speaking, if I go to the small cog from the middle ring"
"That's not cross chained." 
"It is to me. It bugs me."
"But it's too hard, you need to shift down"
{down-shift rear derailleur}
"Now you're cross chained."

It was fun to rally up hills. Especially the rollers, where if you dump the chain to the highest gear on the descent you get the next climb for free. Momentum really means something on a tandem that it doesn't on a single.

Our packing looks like a lot. We had two panniers and two buckets for the overnighter. Each pannier held a pad and a sleeping bag. Each bucket: clothes and food. Our two-person tent laid over the buckets in the back. Tool kit under Liza. And she had a little bag for sunflower seeds, camera, and binoculars.

Mainly, Liza pedaled hard and took in the scenery it worked great. We had great discussions and long happy bits of silence.


Hank Greer said...

That is a funny conversation about gear selection. The kick stand we have on our Burley has two legs that fold together when it's up. When you bring the legs down they spread apart. You lift the rear wheel to allow the legs to extend fully and the rear of the bike rests on the legs. I guess that might sound like a wheel stand, but I'm not gear-knowledgeable enough to know. I know what you mean about holding a tandem for a long time, but not on rough road or trails (ours is strictly a road bike) so it's probably a lot worse there. Sounds like you two are having fun and know what to do to make it better.

Anonymous said...

happy wife happy life

Pat S said...

Super-fun post, John. Thanks.

Bill Foss said...

This looks like a blast!

David Blaine said...

Search for jay petervary's blog. He and his wife will be doing the great divide on a tandem this year. Jay held the GDR record before last year so there is little doubt that they will have the legs to finish. They did the 350 mile winter iditabike together this yeAr.

Ken Paulman said...

When do we get to hear Liza's version?

John Speare said...

David: GD tour on the tandem would be a dream date. A long one.
Ken: it's really true. We've been thinking about what to do for our upcoming anniversary and Liza suggested a two-day tandem trip. What do you think of that!?

Klay said...

Sounds like a dream to me - what view from the tent!