Well, every once in a while a small miracle happens and Jess and I hit the perfect night on our tandem. The weather was wonderful. Partly cloudy, just a slight breeze out of the north, and my wife, the Rear Admiral to my Captain of the team, made the command decision that we should try to hang with the small-ish A-Elite/A-Group as long as we could. And I executed that decision.
We rolled out after fixing a timing chain issue – it pops when we take the bike out of the back of the vehicle every now and again. It’s happened twice, now, so I’ll have to be more mindful when taking it out of the SUV. Anyway, without a warm-up, we rolled out and went from easy-going out of the parking lot to 23-mph in a half-mile. Originally, I’d thought about staying in the rotation and taking our lumps up front with the rest of the group, but thought better of it. I chose, instead, to stay at the back… for two reasons. First, so I didn’t mess anyone up if we fell off the back. Second, well, it’s a lot easier at the back. Every time someone peeled off the front, I’d make room for them to slide over in front of us.
And we did well.
I’d anticipated we’d hang on for eight or ten miles, but I didn’t hold out much hope beyond that. I undershot our chances by a lot. Staying with the group, even at speeds upwards of 26-mph wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated with the gentle breeze and a whole train of cyclists ahead of us… and my wife absolutely killing it. I kept looking down at my computer, wondering if my wife saw how fast we were going. We worked together perfectly, that’s the best way to put it.
15-miles in we were still with the group and had a 23.1-mph average, but we were closing in on the hills. We rounded the corner on Lytle Rd and headed downhill for a quick few seconds before the pitch turned upwards… and just as my buddy Chucker took the front… and slowed the train down from 22-mph (which we normally climb those hills at) to 18-mph. Just enough for my wife and I to hang on. Unfortunately, we got stuck with a few other riders behind a lady in a Cadillac who decided it would be a good idea to text someone whilst waiting at the stop sign, so we got separated from the group who went around her rather than wait.
Once we were off the back, that was it. We never came close to catching up with the main group but we didn’t call it quits, either…
With 13-miles to go, we gave it everything we had and kept our average over 21-mph. We’d catch and lose the wheels of the four riders ahead of us several times but when we hit the City Limits sign, we cruised across the line with a cool 21.4-mph. The fastest average we’d ever held on a tandem… and about 3-mph faster than our normal Tuesday night club ride.
We were both exceedingly happy with how we did, and my wife put it best when she said she didn’t think she could have done that on a single bike, but when we’re on the tandem, she knows I’ve got her back when she needs me and she’s got mine when I need it. And that’s exactly it. I won’t lie, either… I got more than a little misty when she was talking about how she knew I had her back and that she had mine. We’ve worked really hard on our marriage to get to that point. And the hard work is clearly paying off.
We do well on the tandem because we are the definition of a tandem team.
Good times, noodle salad. I slept like a baby last night.