Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tandem Ride

So my fiancee and I rode for just under two hours on our Cannondale tandem today. She'll readily admit she's a fair weather rider so when it was SEVENTY DEGREES outside we decided we had to go for a ride. Normally it's about 20 degrees and a cold day might be 10 or 15 degrees. Fahrenheit. So when it's about 50 degrees warmer than that and dry, well, you gotta take it when you can get it.

The tandem, except for some Ergo levers, is bone stock. And as a tinkerer, it is only in my nature to want to improve things. The Ergo levers was the first move - I just can not get used to the STI levers and there's a great hack to install 10s Ergo levers on a 9s Shimano drivetrain. So we did that and it's fantastic.

Next I'd like to get 175s up front. It's the same size crank on my other bikes and I find myself spinning way too high for my stoker's tastes. 175's would drop my cadence and also allow me to "cross-train" more effectively.

I need to fiddle with my seat position since it's in a setback position. Forward for more speed and a little more "oomph" would work better.

I'd like to get a close ratio cassette with an 11T. We have a 12T and run out of gear, even when we're not going that fast. An 11-28 or even 11-26 would be nice. Three and four tooth jumps between cogs just destroys our rhythm. It would be better to do a full crossover type gearing - you use a bunch of cogs on the big ring, then move to the middle and use most of the cogs there, then for bailing out of trouble the small ring is in reserve.

Depending on how aggressive I want to go with gearing, we could stay with say a 28T cog and get bigger rings. A 53T is just a bit small. Probably a 55T or 56T would be good (and look hot), and the corresponding low gear (34T or so) would be plenty. Right now we rarely drop into the small ring, and when we do, we're in the middle of the cassette.

We need a much better rear shock post since it seems to be set up for a 40 pound rider. It compresses immediately and offers no shock absorbing value. I hear it every time I miss a bump warning.

Finally, with a few wet spots on the road today, we really need a decent set of fenders. Plastic, light, with cool bendable wire fender-holders which can be bent to clear, say, some big disc brakes. I was thinking of the completely unstandard frame setup (downhill disc brakes, no cantilevers yet). I think a spoke wrapped into three loops and bent into a triangle would work to hold the fender up between the canti mounts - a loop for one canti mount, a straight section up above the (700c road) tire, a loop there for the fender, a straight section down to the other canti mount, and a loop for a bolt there. Clean, simple, light.

The chain squeaked a bit today so I also want to rig up a self-lubing system - a small spray can of White Lightning attached to the rear seat tube with nozzles extending to the chains on either side. The stoker (who hears more of the squeaking), if annoyed at some chain noise, could simply press the spray nozzle to lube the chain.

Today we put a second saddle bag on as well, under the stoker stem. The rear bag carries things unusable on the move - tools, a tube, etc. The front has more immediate things like gels plus another tube. As my seat is low we can't fit a handlebar bag back there like some other tandemers we know, but I'd like to try and maintain the image that we're a "fast" tandem, and handlebar bags just destroy that look.

We saw a lot of people out today. In the town next to us there were a lot of people meandering on the sidewalks, sitting on the benches, and just generally hanging out. With the sun, the stillness of the weekend, it was kind of like a Lazy Sunday except it's Saturday. Warm, breezy, etc.

We coasted down a hill, taking it a bit easy, and then punched it to get up a short hill - we accelerated from a brake-induced 37 mph to 44 mph as we rolled over the hill. It was a lot of fun but we ran out of gas and slowed back down. We held off the SUV's behind us for a quarter mile though so that was cool (speed limit was 35).

And the topper - on the way back home, we were passed by a most regal looking Cadillac. My fiancee and I have been on the prowl for a nice limo but not a "regular" one. I was thinking a Maybach, Bentley, a new Rolls, or something like that. Now this guy had a beautiful 1939 Cadillac 4 Door with a red silk interior (outside looks kind of like this one). Owned by some actress and complete with roses in vases on the inside. Anyway, we were presumptuous enough to ask him if he did weddings. He gave us a card so we'll see if he'll do it. If not, I'll resume my search for a Rolls (my current favorite new limo type car).

So we got in a bunch of miles, spent about two hours on the tandem, talked and stuff (instead of a single bike ride where one is always waiting and the other is always trying to catch up), looked at houses, people watched, and found a potential limo for the wedding. What a great ride!

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