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What Does 50-mph Feel Like on a Bicycle?! One Word…

High speed warning: First of all, let me be very clear; purposely riding your bike above, say 10-mph, is inherently dangerous. Doing so above 20 is, as one would guess, more dangerous. Ditto again, 30-mph. When you get to 40-mph, most normal people freak out because 40 is really fast – especially on 23 or 25-mm tires. At 45, you’re geared out on most bikes. Oh, and if some animal runs out in front of you, you hit a sharp rock in the road, or you get speed wobbles and don’t know what to do, you could literally crash and die (long story short, you brace the top tube with both legs whilst coasting – one leg can work, but I find both are more effective). If anything happens at 50, your next of kin will be looking after the rest of your affairs. I hope your insurance is paid up. And that’s the best-case. Worst, you’re wearing a diaper for the rest of your life… and you switch from two wheels, one wheel in front of the other, to four.

So why?!

Well, if you’ve seen the movie Ford vs. Ferrari, in the scene where Ken Miles explains going fast in a car around corners to his son, it’s a lot like that. You don’t go all tunnel vision, your vision opens and you see everything. And it is fun. Though common sense does add up to “that’s a lot of risk for a little fun”. Sitting in a chair, 50 or 60-mph on a pedal bike seems frightening. It does to me and I’ve been over 40 too many times to count, and 50 more than a handful of times. It never gets old.

Let’s get into the technical aspects. First, I’ve got two bikes I trust with that kind of speed, both with 50/34 cranksets. I’ve got a standard 11/28 cassette on the climbing bike and 11/25 on the racer. This means my top speed whilst pedaling is 45-mph. If I’m going to crack 50, I need a hill. I prefer something fairly straight so I can sit up and grab a handful of breaks long before they’re needed should conditions not be perfect as I’m going down the hill. Winding descents at breakneck speeds are for the pros, in my opinion. Winding descents are great fun but I don’t want to find out the hard way I’ve misjudged a corner at speed. That would be unfortunate and costly. Then there’s one final piece to this puzzle: my bikes are meticulously cared for. I spend an abundant amount of time making sure my bikes are right. Mechanical deterioration can cause a lot of havoc at high speeds. Finally, for the climber, I’ve changed a bunch of things on that bike so I tested it out at increasing speeds over a two-day period before really giving it everything I had. I don’t know how a new part will change the bike’s handling, so better to find out the easy way that everything works as it should. If you’ve ever seen a stuntman perform, there’s an inordinate amount of prior planning that goes into a stunt. I figure I’m worth that, too.

With all of that out of the way, it’s time to hit it. I start at the top of the hill, building speed. I don’t want to hammer too hard, too early and run out of gas before the last hundred yards. On the other hand, it’s the first few hundred yards that set up the last stretch when I’ve hit “escape velocity”, the speed at which you cannot pedal to make the bike go faster (again, 45-mph with a 50/11 combo front to back). I like to descend in the drops and if I’m planning on greater than 45-mph, I won’t do the “hover above the top tube”, so-called supertuck… I’m not paid to do crazy things on a bike, so I like to give myself the best chance of smiling about the memory of breaking 50. The supertuck, contrary to preposterous notion that the supertuck may not be so super, is greatly, bigly, fantastically faster. I’ve used it a lot and I’m typically coasting next to people pedaling their asses off in the normal position – hands in the drops, butt on the saddle. Hugely faster, and you don’t need a wind tunnel to test it. Find a hill and test it with a speedometer. On the other hand, carbon fiber top tubes aren’t meant for sitting on.

I let the hill dictate how I’ll build speed. If it’s steep at the start, I’ll be hammering a big gear. If it’s shallow at the beginning, I’ll build speed slowly… shifting through the gears as my speed ratchets up and I approach escape velocity. Hands on the hoods, fingers stretched out for the brake levers, I get as low as I can and hammer the pedals. With inadequate glasses, your eyes will water as you pass 35-40-mph. At escape velocity, the magic happens. It’s time to just settle in and coast and let the world rush by. The wind noise drowns out the pounding of my heart, but it’s not loud enough to keep the smile from stretching across my face. I can see little rocks in the road that I don’t want to hit, which is always surprising at that speed. It’s small moves, just paying attention to the line I want rather than concentrating on where I don’t want to be (you concentrate on the line you want rather than the one you don’t… do this backwards and you’ll ride directly for the one you don’t – it’s odd and cool how this works at the same time). I lean into the corner at the bottom of the hill and let the bike work it’s way around the corner. At top speed, I don’t bother looking at my computer. Better to keep my eyes up on the road (better for enjoyment purposes as well).

As I bottom out and start back up the next hill, I can feel my heart pounding again… and my teeth can’t be contained by my lips anymore. The smile is way too big. Halfway up the hill and my cassette, it’s down into the little ring again and out of the saddle to climb my way up to the next try.

Sitting at my desk, it’s easy to wonder why I’m so nuts about going fast on my race bikes while I’m talking about it with my boss. When I’m on the way down the hill, I know exactly why I do it. I’ve only felt out of control above 40-mph one time. I got the speed wobbles on my Trek because the headset bearings were rusted and needed replacing. It was scary as hell, but I stopped them by clamping my legs to the top tube. Once replacing that headset, I’ve found a surprising amount of control in going fast… and thankfully, nothing’s ever sauntered out into the road while I’m bombing down a big descent.

I like to go fast because fast is fun. And I’m a little bit nutty. My top speed? On my Venge. 56.8-mph. What is the one word? Awesome.

Just remember, what goes down…

Life Is Short. Bikes Are Cool. Ride ‘Em And Smile. Or Laugh… Out Loud… As the Case May Be.

My real favorite ride is normally “the one I’m currently on”… however I really do have a few favorites.  Those rides that simply put a smile on my face, every time I get to put rubber to pavement.  Tuesday night is one.  I can ride that route – hell, I’ve ridden that route – a hundred times and never get bored.  I actually did the math, it’s somewhere between 192 and 208.  Give or take.

There’s one special route that my wife and I ride, though… one special road.  We ride it over and over again…

It has some long, easy up where you just settle into a little gear and spin your way up…

Majestic scenery…

Twisty, technical winding roads – more turns than you can shake a stick at… some straight shot descents…

Some challenging up, if I’m… erm… up for it…

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And one badass straight shot descent.  There are no photos of that one.  I hit 50-mph yesterday, gravity only.  I didn’t even try.

The loop that my wife and I are currently riding has it all.  Including my wife.  And that’s as good as it gets, my friends.  Good times and noodle salad.

Life is short.  Bikes are cool.  Ride ’em hard or ride ’em easy.  Just make sure to ride ’em.  Puts a smile on my face every time.

 

Sometimes a break is needed.

I’ve been posting prolifically for several months. Every day for as long as I can remember… some posts were really good, others not so much. I got to a point where a few we just written to write something and that’s just not good enough.

I need to let go of that need to write every day and take a few to get my head back on square.

I’ll just say that this is a very good thing. I am currently enjoying life (even my work) more than politicians would prefer be legal. After all, if we’re not angry and fighting, we aren’t as pliable.

Just a thought.

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: The Proper Care and Maintenance of the Crankset and Bottom Bracket

I’ve worked on many different brands of road crankset, from finicky to set it and forget it. S-Works, Shimano, SRAM, FSA, Praxis, just to name a few.

Without question, the best crank I’ve ever used is the Specialized S-Works set in a BB30 press-fit bottom bracket (with metal cups). I haven’t had to touch it in years (in all fairness, that bike hasn’t seen rain in years, either). It’s as set and forget as you get. Next, and only slightly behind S-Works is the Shimano family of cranks. There’s no question they have to be cleaned out from time to time, but I’d put a proper cleaning at about once every year or two. Next would be SRAM which is almost as good as Shimano, followed by Praxis and FSA. The one thing that galls me with the Praxis and FSA cranks, or any cheaper crank for that matter, is the wavy washer. Wavy washers are horrible and they let dirt into the bottom bracket bearing system. Sure, there are more washers that you’d think would keep dirt out, but they don’t. Therefore, when they get dirty, they creak – ergo, they require an inordinate amount of maintenance to keep them quiet. And I am a nut about a creaky bike.

Now, if one doesn’t properly maintain their bottom bracket, eventually dirt, water and grime sneak in through the cracks and will find its way into the bearings. Once that happens, you’re in a bit of a bind because those press-fit bearings aren’t cheap. Better to keep the crank clean. The standard threaded bottom brackets, though, like the one on my Trek, are reasonable (I think $40 installed for Ultegra should get you there, $20-ish if you buy and install yourself). I take apart and clean the crank, clean out the surface of the bearings, then lube and put everything back together at least twice a year.

As long as I stick with regularity to that tiny 20 minute maintenance item, our bikes run creak-free.

At least from the bottom bracket.

The Fix For The Over-calculation of Calories in Strava, Endomondo, Garmin Connect… And Just How Far Off Are the Apps On Your Calorie Count? It’s A Lot.

I rode Tuesday night, our normal group ride night.  The main event was 28 miles of pure awesome.  It wasn’t terribly fast, but it was quick and I absolutely got the blood pumping.

Strava kicked back, once the ride uploaded, that I’d burned 846 calories over those 28 miles.  The average speed was 21.5-mph.  Max speed was just a shade under 35-mph.  Estimated average power was 218 watts.  My average heart rate was 136 bpm, max was 167, leading out the group at the first sprint sign above 30-mph for more than a half-mile.

I rode again Wednesday night.  Nothing special, just a little bit of an active recovery ride with my buddy, Chuck to burn off the stiffness from Tuesday night.  It’s been a long month and 2/3’s since my last day off and I’m really starting to feel it.  Thankfully I’ve got a couple of days off coming up.  God knows what I’ll write about (oh ye of little faith, I’m already working on those posts!).  Anyway, 22 miles, 17-mph average, 114 watts… and 1,236 calories.  Now how it God’s green earth do I burn 400 more calories on a shorter ride using 100 fewer watts over six fewer miles?!

Another ride Thursday, another 28 miles, but this one is a lot harder… more up.  A bit more than double that of Tuesday night.  I scored a new PR on that route, a 21.9-mph average.  My average power was 240 watts.  I was a happy man… another 12 achievements in 15 segments on Strava (that’s pretty good), including three cups and another on a warm-up climb.  Average heart rate was 142 bpm with a max of 166.  880 calories burned.

That same ride last week?  235 watts, 21.6-mph average… 1,859 calories burned.

What’s missing is the heart rate.  A heart rate monitor evens out the calorie burn and fixes the algorithm.  I’d bet a power meter would do about the same.  The point is, if you’re not using a heart rate monitor or power meter (or both), you’re burning less than half the calories your app says.  I knew it was bad.  I didn’t know it was that bad.

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Ride hard, my friends.  And know, if you’re not using a heart rate monitor, you’re actually burning about half the calories your app says you are.  If you eat according to your Strava or Endomondo calorie burn, don’t be surprised when you put on weight.

One good thing I did learn about all of this, my Garmin is set to 190 for my max heart rate.  I’ve bumped my head against 170 quite often but I can’t do much better.  I thought there was something wrong with me till I learned you get your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220… or, for me, 170.  It made everything make sense.

Lake Shannon Loop: Maybe I’m Not As Tired As I Thought

Of course I am that tired… I only have to ride this evening to make it the full month of July without a day off and too many personal bests to count. That didn’t mean I couldn’t knuckle down for one more big ride before taking a couple of needed days off, either…

I expected to drop from last evening’s festivities. Actually, I seriously thought about skipping, first… I could have stayed home. I threw that stupid thought right in the frickin’ garbage can, though. If I was going to drop, I was going to do it right. I packed my stuff and headed for the high school.

I chose a short three mile warm-up with a nice climb at the beginning. I went up easy last week and still got a Strava 9th Place Cup. I wanted give it a real try to see what I could do. Man, it was a bear of a little hill. I put the power down and up I went. I was good for about 3/4’s of the hill but I ran out of gas and had to spin up the rest… still, I felt I was pretty quick compared to last week.  I wouldn’t know how I did till I uploaded it after the main ride…

Another couple of miles and I was back in the parking lot of the high school to start. We rolled out… and somehow I ended up out front. I was trying to hide. Kinda. I pulled for the next mile and three quarters. Because I’m an idiot.

We headed south with a tasty tailwind. We had four guys who’d pull and three or four more who seemed content to sit in. One, who I’d never met, was of the yo-yo variety. He’d catch up to the group… then leave a gap… and catch up… and coast until he had another gap… I can’t stand this… I timed his gap and went around him. You end up working twice as hard with that yo-yo crap. After that, I stayed to the front of the rotation which made it pretty ugly for me. There were more than a few times I thought about dropping but I stuck with it.

We hit a segment titled “full gas” heading down old US-23 (the service drive) with that 8-mph tailwind and the pace was incredible. We averaged, for the two mile stretch, just shy of 30-mph. Mike was up front (after having bailed me out when I left a bike-and-a-half gap in the Lake Shannon subdivision up a hill), so as soon as he started bleeding speed, I came around. At this point we only had five with the group so I gave him a few seconds to latch on and hit the gas. I took it up to 34-ish-mph before coming to a four-way stop sign and slowing down. We were immediately back on the gas and pushing it hard for the turn-around. And headwind.

The hill climbing north, after the turnaround is brutal with a tailwind. It was nasty with a headwind, but Craig made short work of it. It starts off at 7.5% but levels off a little bit after that initial punch in the face. We started up at 15-mph and took it up to 20 by the time we hit the top.

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I took the next mile at 22-23-mph, still with a slight grade and into the wind. I’d gather that was one of my best pulls this year. After flicking off, drifting to the back of our six-man pack, Doc Mike didn’t say a word – he simply stuck his fist out for me to bump it as I went back.

I gotta tell you, I felt pretty stoked about that as I gave him a quick bump.

I was in for the rest of the ride after that. It was an ugly slog north but we held our pace well. It seemed the wind was dying down just a little bit also. I think we all wanted to hit that 22-mph average. We were operating like a finely tuned machine and the miles were ticking by. We came to the last hill. It ramps all the way up to 18% halfway up and it’s brutal (in all fairness, it’s only 18% for a second, 12% for another few, and 7-8% for most). I’d already made my mind up to sit up when I hit it but I was at that 22-mph average and I wanted to give it everything I had to keep it. The descent down the back is fast, so there was a chance… I cracked about three-quarters of the way up. I still managed a 12-mph average up that sucker. It sucked.

I hammered the descent as best I could, but I was pretty cooked. The best I could do coming across the City Limits sign was 21.9-mph for the average. Another PR, and my God was it fun.

It was all hi-five’s and good stories back in the parking lot. Another fun evening, a good time had by all.

Friends, I’ve gotta tell you; it never gets old.

Incidentally, I picked up a solid 5th overall on that warm-up climb.

TNIL (Tuesday Night In Lennon): The Wind Makes an Appearance Edition

The wind was building all day long. Forecasts said it was coming, and it did. 15-mph winds with gusts above 20 (24-kmh and 32-kmh respectively) out of the west. I knew shortly after I woke up at four in the morning that TNIL was going to be tough.

After an easier than normal warm-up, we lined up to roll. We had a fairly small B Group and the A’s were flush, so one of our guys, as is usual, suggested we roll out with the A’s and let them pull us to the tailwind. This sounds brilliant, but it’s a recipe for disaster. What you envision happening is the group sharing the load, defeating the headwind as a triumphal group. Hi-five’s all around! It’s damn-near a beer commercial.

That’s not what happens, though. No, what happens is you get a knot of A guys rolling up the road, progressively in echelon to the right of the road to escape the crosswind a mile-and-a-half up the road, followed closely by eight B Group’ers all lined up in the ditch on the edge of the road with no draft. They get spit off one-by-one and take fifteen miles to come back together as a few groups. “Who wants that chaos?” I asked. I suggested we wait and roll out as a B Group. After a complaint, I relented and my buddy Chuck said, “Well that’s great, now we have to chase them down!” The chase never materialized and we rolled out as the B Group.

What came next was a wonder in teamwork and effective, enjoyable cycling. We bucked the headwind, chewed on the crosswind, bucked some more headwind and at the turn for tailwind at 16-ish miles, we had a 20-mph average. We’d lost a couple of the weaker riders but we were, relatively speaking, whole.

And just as all hell was about to break loose with a tailwind when we made the left hand hairpin turn… there was a train lazily rolling down the tracks across the road.

We ended up waiting for several minutes for the train to pass. Once it was clear, we took a minute to form up climbing a hill and BAM, just like that the hammer dropped. The pace picked up and we had us a ride on our hands. We cruised the hills with a little help from the wind and turned in for the regroup after the last big hill. After the last rider turned the corner, we rolled toward my favorite part of the ride.

Immediately after the regroup, we’ve got a nice little descent that takes us to 28-ish-mph followed by a sharp, short climb before we level out at a 2% incline that we normally take at around 21-mph. Last night we were over 23. We crested the top with two horses up front. I was second bike back and figured I’d be lead-out. The two up front took a really long turn, screaming down the -1 to -3% grade at 33-mph. My guy started to bleed speed and when he dropped to 29, I came around rather than wait for him to flick. I took it back up to 30 on the flat with six tenths of a mile to the City Limits sign. I kept the hammer down and, almost unbelievably, didn’t run out of gas. The tenths clicked by until the sign was only 100 yards away. I was watching shadows behind me and couldn’t see anyone making a move so I kept the power up… I crossed the City Limits sign first, on the front for six tenths of a mile at 30-mph. First time off the front like that.  I’ve taken the sign dozens of times but never from the lead-out position… and certainly not while leading out a group of horses like the one we had last night. I’m going to have a smile on my face for a while remembering that one.

Next up was a turn north for a couple miles. I made a mistake, trying to wave a truck by after a four-way stop and fell off the back a considerable distance. The speed after that stop was the problem. The group goes from 15 to 27-mph almost instantly because of a perfect little 1% descent. I was at 15, waving my arm to get him to go around, and stayed there while the group accelerated. I absolutely had to bust my butt to latch back on. I almost quit, but with one last rush, I latched. Thankfully, being at the back, I had enough time to fully recover. I knew the homestretch was coming up with a 15 to 20-mph tailwind.

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The last four-ish miles were insane and awesome. We managed to keep it above 27-mph the whole way, with the exception of a stop for a stop sign. That break was needed, too. If we’d have hit the hill after that intersection at speed, it would have been ugly for the tandems. Instead, the pace increased steadily and they were with us for the final push.

The final 3/4’s of a mile is slightly downhill, between 1/2 and 1%. With that tailwind, it was absolutely awesome. We were hard on the pedals at 30-mph and cooking hard for the sprint. The lead fell off and my buddy Chucker and Josh took the lead. Josh is a big dude and with him up front, I knew I could hold his wheel but I didn’t know if I’d get around him. I was in perfect position as the speed hit 33… then 34… we just nudged 35 and I didn’t bother going around him. In hindsight I should have – but 35-mph.

I finished second behind Josh. He earned it. The parade mile home was all hi-five’s and laughs. It wasn’t the fastest Tuesday night, but it was fast enough with that wind, and it was more fun that a person should have with their clothes on.

That’ll do.

Can Something As Simple As A Quick Release Skewer Change A Bike’s Ride Characteristics? The Halo Hex Lock Skewer.

I can’t believe I wrote that Title. The idea that a quick release skewer could make a difference in a bike’s ride quality is… well, crazy.

But it’s dead-bang true. A simple skewer can vastly improve the quality of your bike’s ride. A $20 set improved the ride quality of my $6,000, 15-1/2 pound Specialized Venge… and significantly.  I kid you not.

Enter the Halo hex key skewer set.

I bought two sets after a friend showed me the set he put on his LeMond 105 steel race bike (it’s a spectacular bike). He said they were surprisingly light and relatively inexpensive. He had me at light weight. Inexpensive helped get them by my wife. One set for each road bike.

They showed up Tuesday, just before I had to split for my normal Tuesday night ride… so I did what every over-exuberant knucklehead cycling enthusiast does when he gets a new, untested piece of high-end equipment… he throws it on the good bike and tests it on the fastest ride of the week.

Had I not had speed on the brain, I might have thought that through a bit more.

There they are in action.  I’m on the left.  Joel, a good cycling bud of mine, took the photo.

Look, normally I’m not an overly effusive guy… well, not overly effusive unless it’s cycling, but not about skewers.  I am about these. They’re marvelous.

I’ve been kicking around different skewers for years trying to find the right set.  Ican’s skewers, at least the older one’s, left a lot to be desired (the set that came with my F&L 50’s are quite good, though).  My old set that came with my Vuelta wheels were pretty good, or so I thought, but the set that came with my wife’s Ultegra wheels were probably the best.  Good old Shimano – the stuff just works.  I had the Ican set on my Venge and the Ultegra set on my Trek – and all was relatively well, again, so I thought, until I rolled out last night.

Our Tuesday night ride, if you haven’t read my posts before, is very fast.  I’m in the B-Group and we’re usually between 22 & 24-mph for an average pace over 28(ish) miles.  Much of the asphalt we ride on it great, but a few miles leave a little to be desired.  One of the bad sections has got those expansion cracks every twelve feet or so.  They can be jarring at 28-mph.

The Halo skewers, with no cam action were noticeably rock solid over the pavement so I had a more connected feel through the handlebars throughout the entire ride.  This meant that the tires did what they were supposed to do, absorbing the bumps rather than transferring a little jolt through the forks because the normal quick releases give where the Halo’s don’t.

This will probably read as though the information is a little off.  Surely, when you tighten a normal quick release and bounce the front wheel off the ground, it’s solidly attached and there’s no “give”.  I know, it was very difficult to write what I did, the fear of someone thinking I did something wrong and I’m stupid is there… but I’m not wrong.  No matter how hard you crank down a traditional quick release, it won’t be the same.  Believe me, it’s worth Twenty Bucks to find out for yourself.

They’re so good I’ll be ordering two sets for my wife as well.  One for her road bike, one for the gravel bike.  Halo skewers are incredibly light (the rod is chrome-moly) and absolutely solid.

If you’re happy with your traditional skewers, fantastic.  If, however, you’re tired of the climbing creaks if they’re not cranked down impossibly hard, or you want to shed some weight and have a better feel of the road through the handlebars, try a set of Halo’s.  I’m glad I did.  They’re welcome upgrades to both my race and rain bikes.

Chillin’ On the Rain Bike, Just to Keep the Streak Alive…

My last day off the bike was June 10th. I want to make it till the end of July without a day off.

With rain in the forecast, it wasn’t looking good. By the time I got home it was only a 30% chance of rain, diminishing as the evening wore on.

I wasn’t going to ride late so I suited up, prepped the Trek, and rolled out.

The real reason for the ride wasn’t so sinister as keeping a streak going. The group ride tonight will be tough. Windy and fast. I needed to get the long weekend miles spun out of my legs before the ride tonight. If I’d taken the day off, the ride tonight would have been considerably harder.

That’s just how it works.

So I rolled out at an easy pace. 18 with a crosswind, 15 into the headwind… just spinning with a smile on my face, following my normal weekday route.

Then it started spitting on me. I was five miles out and would need to manufacture one to get an even ten. I rolled toward home, thinking about where to add the extra. I found my spot and made my turn. I figured I was close to home so if the sky opened up… the raindrops intensified but it never opened up.

I pulled into the driveway just as that last increase before the big rain hit… the drops were getting big.

Three minutes. That’s all I was in the door when it opened up. I beat the rain by a mile and got ten wonderful miles in.

My legs will thank me for it tonight.

Tandemonium! Learning How to Love A Tandem Bicycle – We Had to Start Slow… (But We Didn’t)

Sunday Funday became a perfect chance for my wife and I to learn how to ride our tandem. It was my wife who first suggested we pull the tandem out for an easier Sunday ride. Back in days past, I’d text out that we’d be riding an easy pace and it’d start out great, but if one or two heavy hitters showed, it would get out of hand in a hurry. My wife, with no speedometer for the stoker, had no idea how fast we were going so she would… uh… pedal lightly. I’d hammer the pedals to keep up and I could literally feel my pedal strokes pushing into hers.

My buddy, Mike, said once, a while back, that he works about 30% harder on a tandem with his wife than on his single so I figured this was simply how tandems were. I’d be good for about 30, maybe 35 miles, and I’d be smoked. We managed close to a 20-mph pace a few times, but that kind of speed was hard.

Then, Sunday Funday. With no pressure to keep a 20-mph average, my wife and I were afforded the opportunity to learn how to work together on the bike. Better, as the ride became known as a relaxed pace ride, more tandems popped up. We had four tandems one week – more tandems than single bikes.

With the relaxed pace I watched how the others rode. I learned little tricks, like not holding wheels as tightly in a pace-line as I would on my single (this was a huge tip – I blew a lot of energy trying to stay right on the wheel in front of me). Also, using the right of the cyclist in front of me as a little bailout to scrub speed. Riding with experienced tandem couples was huge. Unfortunately, it also meant a lot of work. Experienced tandem couples tend to have really nice tandems, often weighing ten to sixteen pounds less than ours (and costing more than double, even triple the $4,000 we have into ours).

I cleaned up and readied the tandem for the first time since last year about eight Sundays ago. 17-mph was a fair bit of work back then. Today, 18 is easy. In fact, just yesterday, to keep our at the upper range of a 17 to 18-mph average, we actually had to scrub speed coming home with a tailwind. It was fantastic. Now, we could have finished with an 18.2-mph average. Nobody in that group would have cared, but we decided to go exploring and took our time with it. The ride was so much fun, I’m likely to get a call from my accountant that my taxes have been raised because it’s just not fair I should have so much fun on a bicycle.

If I had it to do over again, we would’ve started out slower, maybe even just the two of us, rather than try to climb directly into the ring to duke it out. On the other hand, if that had been how we started, I’m not guaranteed we would be where we are now, either. In the end, I suppose everything worked out just as it should because we’re having an @$$-ton of fun on that bicycle. Yesterday’s ride was a little more than 40 miles. We pulled up front for 37 of them.

And I just had something new arrive at the house for it yesterday:

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