My wife and I are growing vastly more competent on our new tandem.
Our test ride (23-1/2 miles) was a little rough and slow because the bike setup was simply “eyeballed”. Still, it was obviously enjoyable enough for us to buy the bike.
Our second foray (44 miles) was awesome for the first 3o-ish miles and a meltdown thereafter. We were both sweating the idea that maybe we’d be better off sticking with solo bikes.
Then we went on two rides during the week, Wednesday and Friday (16 and 30 miles respectively) that were aimed at getting us working together. They succeeded and wildly exceeded my expectations. Our outlook on the tandem improved exponentially.
Then came yesterday’s 50 miler… It started out awesome. We were headed into a stiff cross headwind but we were cutting into it fairly well between 19 and 21 mph. We were working excellently together and our pace was fantastic. I learned too… Where I would normally have worn knee and arm warmers for 58 degrees, I left them home. My wife and I were hiding behind another tandem but we took a nice long turn up front too and I wasn’t having to work as hard as last Sunday’s jaunt. Mrs. Bgddy was cranking out good wattage. I’d also spent some time thinking, the day before, about how I could be a better, more efficient captain – and I came up with a good one. During the group rides I had a tendency to try too hard to hold a wheel. Wind simply isn’t the same on a tandem and there’s a little more room to let a gap form because it’s not all that hard to make it up in a few pedal strokes. The ride went smoother for my lack of urgency – so much that Mrs. Bgddy actually commented about 20 miles in that I was doing a much better job of captaining the bike. Excellent news.
Then we hit 30 miles and my wife started to bonk. It got messy, quick. Not necessarily between us, but she was fading fast. There were even some tears. It got so bad, I was at max power trying to hold the other tandem’s wheel and could barely keep up. When I started running out of juice, I told my wife I was was fading and needed help. She was good for a couple of miles.
I offered for everyone else to go on ahead but they slowed the pace and let us stay with them. The rest of the ride was uneventful and she even came back quite a bit for a strong finish.
We pulled into the driveway, ate, napped and showered… and talked about the ride.
It seems we found my wife’s limit on the tandem – 30 to 35 miles (on a solo bike it’s 40). This will increase as time goes but we’re going to have an interesting time trying to extend her rides in the meantime.
The meltdown did nothing to tamp either of our enthusiasm, of course. We simply know we have some work to do.
I was prepared for this, I’ve lived it for years, trying to get the hydration, nutrition and effort right. What my wife went through was no fun but she’ll be stronger for it in the end. Concentrating on the positive, the first 30 miles were an absolute joy and I am looking forward to getting comfortable with the longer distances (30 miles is nice but it’s not enough for a weekend ride).
All in good time.
I am not a walker. I’d sooner have my butt waxed than go for a walk. I accept who I am.
2:40:12 cycling, 1 minute of walking.
Yep, that’s about right. Technically, that counted a five minute stop but whatever… That’s close enough.
Btw, that’s 48-1/2 miles over that 2:35 on the tandem. I tried to get my wife to take some pictures while we were riding but she… um… was not in the mood. Mrs. Bgddy took a detour through Bonksville. Tears, a constant need to shift position on the bike… I didn’t react well at first but it didn’t take long to realize what was going on so I did what I could to be understanding and a good all-around guy. She came back after a few miles and the ride ended well.
A small group of us rode almost 72 miles yesterday, in 3:45:20… that’s a shade better than 19 miles per hour. The first 65 were easy. At no time in that first 3 hours and change did I struggle to keep pace. I rode that ride with a smile on my face and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
That last seven miles, however, was brutal. I went from positive, happy-go-lucky to “Holy crap, can I crawl home?!” seemingly at the flip of a switch. We only stopped once, about 42 miles in, for a quick restroom/bottle of Coke/Payday break and that was part of the issue.
We went out, into the wind expecting it to push us home. We were not so lucky. The wind shifted on us shortly after we turned for home.
So we cross over 60 miles and I’m still good but I can feel my energy flagging. I decided to push through it rather than fire down a Gu. Sure enough, that was a mistake. Two miles later, my legs hurt, my back hurt, and my butt was more than a little honked off. Should have had that Gu.
Not only that, traffic was getting thick and with a big crosswind, we were all eating it.
Now here’s some context… Next Saturday I’ve got my first century of the year. Not only that, we’ve got some mountain climbs in that one. If I’m struggling on 70…? I played the mind game for a mile.
“I should just sit up.” “I’m just tired and hungry, we’ll be stopping every 20 miles next week so it’s no big deal if I sit up here and spin home.”
Instead, I put my head down, got down in the drops and told the committee to shut up and buckle up, it was about to get bumpy.
I made it back just fine and even started to feel quite a bit better in the last two miles.
All too often, my assessment of my condition on the bike, even after all of the miles (30,000+), is lacking. I have a lot more in me than I sometimes think when I’m in the middle of a grind.
Every now and again I have to will myself home. I have to grit my teeth, grip the drops and grind out some hard miles if I’m going to stay with my friends.
On the other hand, once I give up and leave the draft, there’s not much chance I’m getting back. There is no gray area. I’m either in or out.
Most days it’s not all that dramatic. I hammer that $#!+ out and it’s all good. Then there are days like yesterday, where I have to tell the committee to sit down, shut it and buckle up.
Everyone should be lucky enough to have my problems.
We’ve got 50 glorious miles on tap for today, on the tandem.