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Monthly Archives: March 2023

Finalizing the Tandem Setup After A Short Workation… in the Nation’s Capitol

My wife and I went on a trip for her work to Washington DC over the last five days. We took our gravel bikes (and I’m glad we went for the terrain flexible bikes) and parked my wife’s vehicle in a $25 a day parking garage. It didn’t move from the spot we parked it till we left. We rode everywhere we went. My wife, with some work meetings keeping her from attending all of the bike tours, went on two. I went on four (three on the first day – I spent more than twelve hours on my bike the first day). On the second-to-last day, my wife and I re-rode the first half of one of the tours I took on the first day, covering the route with a Garmin assist.

We saw everything. All of the monuments, during the day and in the evening, and I’ve got so many photos from that trip, I might just have to pay the upgrade charge so I can get more storage on the blog… it was outstanding.

And, this is not hyperbole, I can tell you with certainty, getting around Washington DC by bike is faster than by car, and the cycling infrastructure they have in place is unbelievable. I would have ridden anywhere in the city and felt just as at peace, maybe even more, than I feel riding our quiet country roads. Cycling in DC was a treat.

On getting home yesterday, I unloaded the car and we set about putting everything away. Our youngest daughter, while we were away, did a spring cleaning of the kitchen and much of the house, so we didn’t have any cleanup to mess with. My wife is a cleaning machine before we leave on a trip, but this was next-level clean. What an amazing treat.

Finally, while my wife and kids were busy, I set the new tandem up. Saddle height, tilt, setback, hoods (I didn’t like where the shop set them, so I undid the bar tape and moved them to where I wanted them – and I did an outstanding job if I do say so myself). Today I’m dealing with the road wheels and any last minute issues. Our saddle bag doesn’t work with our 31.6mm seatpost, so I’m working on options today.

I’ll have some new photos soon, and a bunch on riding in DC.

And New Bike Day is Here!

Our new Co-Motion grave/road tandem was delivered (delivered!) yesterday evening. The rear rim that was dented in transit to the bike shop was replaced and the rear wheel rebuilt… and it’s absolutely glorious.

As you would expect if you’ve followed this blog for more than a few minutes, I’ve already tinkered with it. The headset wasn’t quite as tight as it should have been so I switched stem caps. That did the trick.

Setting the bike up will have to wait – there are a few things I don’t like about it. The hoods are completely too low and actually drop instead of being level. I don’t know why this is (possibly this is the new thing with those silly flared handlebars), but I’m way too old to try to make my hands and wrists work with that. From there, it’ll be saddles and the bullhorn, and it should be ready to roll. Oh, and four carbon fiber bottle cages (they’ll be here in a few days, along with carbon fiber stem spacers and a cap).

Oh, how I love new bike day!!!

New Bike Day Is TODAY!

Our new Co-Motion Kalapuya is being delivered to the house this evening! The road wheels are ready, the gravel wheels are set. I’ll have some adjustments to make, but that’s the gravy on that beautiful bike.

I’ll have more tomorrow or Thursday as time allows.


How Deeply You Work Your Fourth and Fifth Step Depends On How Free You Want to Be…

In a break from cycling, I’ve wanted to get this short but incredibly important post about recovery. This stems from a situation I went through with a guy I sponsor.

There seems to be a couple of different camps on how to work a fourth and fifth step. One camp says you should just horse through it and get it done. Don’t bother with the details and just motorboat it. “More will be revealed”, they say!

Well, that is a way to do it. And an excellent way to stay fantastically ignorant about who you really are and the wake you leave behind you as you move through the world.

I should know. I went through most of my recovery in exactly that manner. The problem is, more isn’t revealed if you don’t take the time to reveal the “more”.

I was working with my man on his fourth. When we got to his fifth, we took our time over a couple of weekends. He went to a Big Book study in between and shared his experience about how we were taking our time and really digging deep to look at how his resentments were basically of his own making. This takes time and patience because, as a sponsor, you actually have to pay attention. A resentment a page later is often the result of an earlier altercation and if you’re paying attention, you can show how your newly recovering person is indeed responsible for their own resentment. That was certainly the case in this fifth step. Several times.

Approached like this, you get to learn about your effect on those around you, rather than create reasons for new fourth steps because you keep doing the same thing over and over again waiting for more to be revealed.

At the end of his fifth step, he’d had a true change of being and has gone on to enthusiastically make his amends and begin work on the tenth step. He’s learned how to look at his resentments and truly dig deep to find his part in how they came about.

Of course, ignorance is said to be bliss… more will be revealed, they say!

Not in this case, though. How deeply we work the fourth directly affects how free you will be after the fifth.

Just sayin’.

Recover hard, my friends. The alternative is literally miserable.

On Building Our New Co-Motion Tandem Together, From the Ground Up

We’re down to the finishing touches on the tandem before it’s ready to roll – I figure the weekend after next we’ll be rolling on our custom fitted gravel/road Co-Motion Kalapuya.

One of the more enjoyable surprises in this venture was to see my wife jump in and take an integral role in working with me to pick the pieces and parts we wanted to customize. It was my wife’s idea to get a second set of wheels so we could swap between road and gravel wheels. Now, I’ve made much of that here, but she jumped in with both feet to so much more.

My wife laid down the gauntlet on getting a Thudbuster seat post. She also picked the brake rotors (!). We picked the paint, the decals, and tires together. We even picked the cassettes for the road wheels together (though I took point on the geeky aspects of that choice).

My Trek 5200 was the bike I built from the ground up, our new Co-Motion Kalapuya is the bike my wife and I built from the ground up. It’s the bike we’re taking everywhere and we chose all of the important components together.

There are still a few details to work out – we’re riding tubeless for the 45mm gravel tires, but we’ve got tubes for the road. Now, this is an interesting choice for a couple of reasons. First, the 45s will seal quicker because they’ll be run at a lower pressure (guessing between 50 and 60psi, but we’ll dial that in as needed for the conditions). We picked Bontrager 32mm R3 TLR everyday road tires, so we could go tubeless. Those will be run around 80psi, though, and with the higher pressure, I don’t want to spray our bike with a bunch of liquid latex goop if we get a poke in the tire. On the other hand, I don’t want to stop to fix flats, either, so we’re still kicking this one around.

The road tire choice had a lot behind it as well. We were looking at some Pirelli all condition 35s. The puncture protection was outstanding, but the rolling resistance was three times greater that of the faster road tires. The last thing I want is to feel like we’re pedaling through mud while we’re trying to keep up with the A Group. We chose the Bontrager tires because, while they were a little slower than the high end tires, they offered decent grip in wet conditions and fair flat protection… and they’re tubeless ready so if we decide want to switch to tubeless, we can. The capper was we picked them up at our new Trek store along with a few other tidbits. There’s no question we’ll support the new owners of our local shop.

So that’s where we sit. We’ll pick the bike up some time next week and then it’s just a matter of waiting on the weather to improve. It’s not fit for man nor beast outside at the moment…

The Road Wheels Are Ready for the Tandem…

Shimano Ultegra/Diore rotors, Ultegra 11-32 Cassette… and I’ve got a set of 30mm Specialized Turbo Pro tires on the way.

We’re days away from new bike day, now. Can’t wait.

Cycling, Dealing with a Shorter Leg and Ditching the In-shoe Shims…

Several weeks ago, I wrote about trying shims inside my left shoe, under the footbed, to deal with a slightly shorter left leg.

I’ve always liked to have my saddle exactly as high as is possible without causing… issues, but over the winter, when I spend entire rides in the saddle, I’ve noticed that my left side bottoms out slightly more than my right. Adding 3mm worth of shims under the foot bed helped a ton. I don’t know as I was any more symmetrical on the bike, but I could feel the difference in the undercarriage.

That came at a cost, though. My left foot would go numb on a regular basis. I tried letting out the Velcro strap, but that only helped minimally.

I rode with a friend outdoors a few weeks ago and my foot was numb before we hit 15-miles. That’s exactly when I knew those shims were going into the recycling bin.

I ditched them the other day and now I have to decide whether or not I want to lower the saddle a couple of millimeters to see if that’ll alleviate my issue. Typically, when I lower my saddle any more than where it’s currently at, I tend to feel like I’m grinding my butt into the saddle when I put the power on. This causes more pain than does having the saddle maxed out.

Or I could simply shim the cleat on my road pedals… but that doesn’t solve the mountain bike shoes for the tandem because the metal cleat sticking out further than the lugs is really bad for walking… Whatever I decide on, it’ll beat a numb foot after fifteen miles any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Ah, to have my problems!

What Happens When One of Those Big, Nasty Bike Manufacturers, Like Trek, Buys Your Local Shop?

So, what happens when Trek offers to buy your local shop and turn it into a Trek store? It just so happens our local shop was sold to Trek and I was ready, for once in my life, to get all bitchy about big corporations, corporate takeovers and… well, blah, blah, blah.

My daughter worked at that shop. My other daughter’s boyfriend works there right now. And I was distraught. I was certain this was going to be some kind of corporate “you’re only going to get Treks now, you greedy consumerist pigs” kinda vibe.

Then Trek offered the owner a fair deal and gave him the opportunity to sell off all of the stock they wouldn’t be able to sell. They gave him an even better deal in the non-compete clause of the agreement. Fair, right down to the letter and the owner, my friend, is exceedingly happy. They interviewed all of the mechanics that I care about and offered them a great benefit package and an excellent wage. My daughter’s boyfriend is so happy and excited, he’s actually thinking about making a career with Trek. I’m sure my repairs will cost a little more, but that’ll be money going to people I really care about, so it’ll be worth it.

Check your prejudice, folks. I had to check mine. Trek might be a bunch of silly do-gooder hippies, but from what I’ve heard, they take care of everyone involved in a “takeover”.

Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m glad Trek bought out the local shop.

Thank God I have a Trek!

Thank God, It’s Time to Spring Forward!

I’m struggling to find time to ride indoors, let alone outdoors at the moment. That’s the tough part in my new job. I had it pretty good over the last couple of decades, whether I realized it or not. I think most of the time I did. My new job is vastly more enjoyable than my last (I’m certainly treated better), but it’s not easy on my bike time – our marriage is taking most of our free time after work at the moment. Thankfully, I’m hoping the transition time will be short-lived, once we grow accustomed to the frantic pace of everything.

The weather looks to be sketchy over the next couple of weeks. A chance for some great afternoon rides, but we’ll mainly be able to file the weather as a minute-to-minute roll of the dice. Typical Michigan before May (only a little colder than normal this year). Taking that into account, I can’t wait to get outside again. I miss the road and I’m hoping the time change will give me a little more time and motivation to out there. Fingers crossed.

This spring I’m just hoping my wife and I can get the miles in I need to get in shape for the coming season.

Incidentally, if you’re incensed, yet again, that we have this silly “Daylight Savings Time” thing, and you’re worried about your circadian rhythm being messed with, remember this; if it weren’t for lopping off an hour from the morning and adding it to the evening, May through August the sun would be coming up before 5:00 am. Tell me how that’d be on your circadian rhythm. Probably not great.

Now, in the north, if you talked about making DST permanent, well, I could go for that.

Our New Co-Motion Kalapuya Tandem… The Technical Specs

With New Bike Day just around the corner on our new tandem, I thought I’d share some of the specs. Best, I’m going to start with the ultra-geeky stuff.

First, the bike is a dual-purpose gravel and road tandem. We bought a set of Rolf Prima Tandem wheels to go along with the gravel wheels that came with the bike. We want to be able to swap seamlessly between road and gravel wheels (at my wife’s request, which is about as awesome as it gets). Anyway, we had to buy some big rotors for the road wheels. I opted for Shimano’s top of the line for weight and stopping power (and because they’re cool, even if they’re three times the price I would have paid for a standard rotor). Interestingly, the gravel wheel rotors are six bolt while the Rolf’s went to an internal spline centerlock hub (a little more high-end and easier to change if necessary). This necessitated a quick foray into a brake rotor education, which my wife helped with by providing the appropriate links. Seriously!

Next is the cassette. For the gravel and for road trips where we won’t be worried about pacing with a 23-mph average group, we’ve got the 11-42 tooth cassette in the photo above. This won’t do for our Tuesday night rides, though. I’m sure there will be cadence holes where we don’t like them so, for the road wheels, I opted for an Ultegra 11-32 11-speed cassette. I probably could have stuck with the standard road 11-28 but I also wanted to take into account my wife’s desire for climbing gears, so I went with the 32 to give her four extra teeth on the last gear. The extra won’t affect our cruising gears on Tuesday night.

The remainder of the bike is standard fare for the Co-Motion Kalapuya, with the exception of our added road wheels. For paint, we chose silver for our 25th wedding anniversary and had the upgraded headbadge added and we had a Thudbuster seat post installed on the Rear Admiral’s position for comfort on gravel roads. Thank goodness, it’s got a Gates carbon fiber timing belt (tired of the timing chain – and that setup is HEAVY), Spyre brake calipers (top of the line mechanical), and an Ultegra R8000 mechanical drivetrain with a 50/34 double crankset and the aforementioned 11-42 Sunrace cassette. It comes with a flared drop bar, and I don’t know how much I like that, but I’m willing to give it a go. Finally, it’s shod with White Industries CLD/ Sapim/ Astral Outback Boost thru-axle wheels on WTB Riddler 700x45mm tires for the gravel rides. For road use, we’re going with Rolf Prima (alloy) Tandem wheels (Boost thru-axle hubs) on Specialized Turbo Pro 700x30mm tires.

As for the weight, I don’t quite know yet, but by the feel of it, it’s around 26 pounds. I won’t know for sure until I get it on a scale.

Oh, and for those who have made it this far, there’s one more delectable point… the company that just let me go after 25-years of service bought that bike for us as a bonus. Heh.