Monday, May 21, 2007

Training - Tandem at the Bloomin Metric

Sunday the future missus and I did a local organized ride. A co-worker (and friend) Kelly and his girlfriend Jenn also joined us. We rode on the tandem, they on their (matching) singles, and it seemed to work out pretty well.

After a very busy Saturday we were pretty wiped, making me a bit concerned over the Sunday ride. The forecast was pessimistic - showers on and off the whole day. Ends up a sunny day once we got out of registration so we all enjoyed a beautiful Sunday out on the bikes.

The biggest difference between riding the tandem this year versus last was the Thudbuster I put on the tandem. The first hint was riding out of the rough grass parking lot - I felt some steady bumps but heard nothing from behind me. Normally I'd get an earful if we hit a bump without some warning. I did my usual "Oh! Was that okay?" on each bump bigger than a few millimeters - each time, she replied something along the lines of "What?" In other words, "What bump?" Virtually the whole ride I kept wincing as we'd run over a bump but she never complained.

For those of you who have never ridden the back seat on a tandem, the worst part about that spot becomes painfully apparent as soon as you hit a bump. The stoker must stand up for virtually every bump, even minor ones like pavement cracks. The rear wheel crashes into every inconsistency and the shock travels up to the stoker. The captain is blissfully unaware of the shocks (and the resulting pain) since the captain is located many feet away from the rear wheel - the shock is reduced to a slight vibration by the time the captain feels it. This inequality is probably one of the main things that causes tandem problems.

Well, not problems. It's just the stoker really doesn't feel like riding as much as the captain.

Although the ride was not a race (and we weren't even going out with the intention of "going fast"), we still did some efforts. Knowing that I need to work on the new me, I made a bunch of efforts. One particular one, the last one, was a "race-ending effort" - had I been in a race, I'd have been dropped after the work I did. It felt comfortably familiar. It should have since it was essentially a replication of my race ending effort at Prospect. I gave it a good shot to see if I could somehow recover after such an effort if I really tried.

Alas, like the race, that was not the case. I blew just as spectacularly and we eased up considerably afterwards.

Nevertheless we did 25 miles in a comfortable two hours. I worked about as hard as I would have on my own so felt pretty good about the effort. The other half did too - it was her first ride of the year and she did great considering that her only training was walking around in Las Vegas and at work.

Tandems, I must say, are amazing things. A normally non-compatible cycling couple can ride together with no problems. Each works at their own level (although they both pedal the same pedal strokes) and each contributes to the team's forward movement. Tandems provoke a feeling of synergy that is impossible to replicate on singles. So far every ride on the tandem has been fun.

Okay, not every ride. The first one was a bit shaky, but after that they've been great.

Our friends did well considering they were on single. Kelly worked particularly hard and got a glazed look about him towards the end. Jenn was a bit more mellow and seemed as chipper at the finish as when we started.

The free caffeinated ice tea soda after the ride tasted great and helped pep us up. The other three were smart and ate something. I didn't. I just drank a lot of the ice tea sodas. Three in fact - 240 mg of caffeine.

Before the ride (i.e. the morning of) we mounted a rack on the future missus's car so that we could carry the tandem and two singles. Appropriately, after the ride, we put Kelly's rack on his car. As it used to be mine and I have a different car, we had to buy some clips to get it rack done. Although I didn't think I was tired, on the way home from the shop (10 minutes away), I fell asleep.

A lot of good that caffeine did.

I didn't mention this before but we actually made them help clean up the house on Saturday - so they did some lifting, assembling, and cleaning up as a warm up for the ride. I checked over their bikes in return, they got to sleep out in the suburbs (well, technically we live in a city but it's not like Manhattan).

I got a pleasant surprise today when Kelly said that they rated the weekend a 10 out of 10, irregardless of the hours of labor they put in Saturday. I guess helping out friends isn't as hard as doing stuff you have to do. And the country stuff and the bike ride stuff made Sunday a nice reward for the work on Saturday.

We're still working on getting the house ready but we can see the finish line now. Thanks to Kelly and Jenn, we have a living room. Just one more room in the living area, a bit of basement de-cluttering, and we can put the house on the market.

So that's what will be happening this week. I hope to be able to ride a bit, write a bit, but it's a bit tentative.


CK said...

I was checking out the tandems. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. Great work!

Aki said...

For couples, especially those with one "serious" and one "recreational" rider, tandems are indispensable. It's a lot of fun, good company, and keeps you thinking about the other rider.

And thanks re: the blog. I hope to keep the blog up to those "great work" standards.