That’s right, my friends. Tandemonium met the Tuesday night club ride last night.
I was nervous going into this. My wife and I just managed our first 20 mph ride on the tandem a week or so ago and we are a little slow on our own for the big group with a 19 mph average and we need to be at 20 or better. I wanted it though. I wanted to see how we could do with the big dogs on Tuesday night.
The warm up was spectacular. We pulled the group the whole way at an easy 17.2 mph and all of that worry faded to the background. With the wind, strong as it was (19 mph WNW), and the ease with which we were plowing through it (one of the best benefits of riding a tandem over a single bike), I was excited to see what we could do.
We were off the back inside of two miles.
Now, don’t read that as if I were upset, angry, sad or any other negative at that point… The truth is we got dropped because I wasn’t strong enough to keep us with the group and we just weren’t ready. We weren’t strong enough as a team.
We went from 24 mph down to 18-19 mph immediately, and I had to bust my ass to maintain that… My buddy Mike faded off the back to stay with us but it got ugly and it didn’t get much better over the next 18 miles. After picking Mike up, we spent the next seven miles up front and I knew we should be able to maintain 18-19 mph, even into that nasty wind. Eventually we caught Matt who was shaken off the back as well and we split duties up front. My wife and I were maintaining pretty well, especially when we turned south, with the wind in our back right pocket.
We struggled up the first set of hills with a missed shift (I have to get the front derailleur adjusted in a little better – it was a mechanical problem) and I was starting to run out of gas from the extra effort. When we turned east, with a tailwind, things got worse with a series of hills, even with the tailwind.
Mrs. Bgddy was fading fast and I wasn’t doing much better. Fast forward and once we caught up with our friends Mike and Diane on their tandem, things got better. We were able to hide for a bit and that recharged my batteries considerably. Unfortunately, as soon as they pulled off the front and we assumed the position, my wife stopped putting power to the pedals. Our speed dropped from 21 all the way down to 18-1/2 and I knew she was done. I tried to keep our speed up but it was, strictly speaking, impossible.
We ended up waving everyone along and finished the ride at our own pace – and I got pretty snippy in the process. Some of the issues we bumped into had nothing to do with the engines, but some did.
We learned a lot last night and before the bike was in the trunk of my wife’s SUV I’d apologized for allowing myself to become agitated. I knew she’d given it her best and I was simply frustrated that my best wasn’t good enough to make up the difference.
Riding tandem isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. As good as we both are on our single bikes, I’d assumed we would progress a little faster but that’s my big problem. The truth is, and I came to this at the end of the ride, we’ve been riding a tandem for all of a month. We’re just not “there” yet.
Even though we struggled through the last half of the ride, I’m looking at the whole thing as a plus… At least we know where we are.
Besides, that was my biggest problem yesterday – and that’s definitely a good thing.