Okay, my friends on single bikes! What’s the one thing you can’t have fun with on a club ride whilst riding a tandem?
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Yo-yos.
My wife and I are quite keen on trying to hang with the A-Group on the tandem of late. Believe it or not, I didn’t instigate this. It was my wife’s idea. I’ve evolved to accepting whatever pace we can crank out on a Tuesday night. If that’s 17-mph, great. 19? Fantastic. 20? Wonderful. Whether we ride together alone or with a few friends, I’m a happy dude… though admittedly a little happier alone of late, but we ride with others a lot so I like being able to put some slow miles in talking as we roll. That’s not for a Tuesday Night in Lennon, though.
We’ve had a successful week and a few fantastic attempts with averages ranging from 21.5 to 22.5-mph for the 29-mile loop. Those are some pretty fantastic numbers on a single bike. For my wife and I, a 20-mph average used to be about as good as we could hope for, so breaking into the 21 to 23-mph range is a big deal.
Last night, with upper single-digit winds out of the west, I had hopes for a long ride with the group for the first 20 miles followed by a nice ride in with the short route crew to the finish.
We rolled out of the parking lot on our newly maintained and fantastically well-appointed Co-Motion Periscope Torpedo tandem. The thing is silent, fast, beautiful and heavy. A steel frame with decent-ish wheels (Velocity Dyad wheels – they’re absolutely BOMB PROOF – best wheels I’ve ever owned, and they’re damn fine on a tandem… put it this way, in six years they’ve never had to be trued. They’re still straight as an arrow). And it’s more fun than a couple should be allowed to have with their clothes on. Spirits were high and we were ready to roll. A half-mile in and one bike from the front (on purpose), the two tandems were side-by-side heading for the first turn. Todd and Dave were up front and we had Todd to hide behind. Todd is 6’3″ tall and can put out enough watts to break a bike… he’s like drafting a battleship. I reached back and my wife placed her hand in mine. I gave it a gentle squeeze to say, “I love you. I’ve got you. You’re wonderful”… which elicited a shout from Doc Mike on his single bike because his wife and Rear Admiral was up north tending to family matters, “Hey, that’ll be enough of that! There’s no hand-holding on a bike ride!” I smiled and gave her another gentle squeeze before tending to the brakes.
We had the north mile and we hit the gas, taking it up to 25-ish-mph. Jess and I both love that section. After a half-mile we headed to the back for our rest but that was short-lived as the group started to yo-yo. The one thing a tandem is terrible for is a yo-yo in the group. The acceleration just isn’t there.
Every time we answered a surge and caught back up to coast, the group would surge again, leaving us three bike lengths to make up. This happened three or four times and we were off the back. I just didn’t have enough to answer the constant surges. Unfortunately, Clark had come off a pull up front and was behind us, so when we dropped, we got him dropped, too. In hindsight, I should have asked my wife for one last surge to catch Clark up to the group but I just didn’t think we could do it.
We rode with Clark for all of Shipman road before catching up to Dave & Val on their tandem and Chucker waiting on the side of the road for us… they’d gotten spit off with the yo-yoing as well. We teamed up and hit the hills as hard as we could, heading for Shiatown. We’d gone from a 22.6-mph average to a 20.4 when we caught up with Chucker, Dave & Val…
After the hills, the ride home was fantastic and fast. Clark and Chucker, both of whom ride tandem, know how to take hills with a bus. They were smooth and steady for the tandems. We hammered all the way home to the City Limits sign and raised our average to a 20.7. A wonderful effort after a bit of a sketchy start.
It fills my heart with joy, captaining that tandem with my wife.
How far we’ve come.