This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
Our motivation to ride slowly returned with pleasant memories of Al
and Andrew on various rides. Al had been instrumental in keeping me
motivated last year before PBP by helping me the find the fun in
riding again. I miss him dearly and thought of him a great deal while
preparing for and participating in the ride. My goal now is to work to
keep drinking and driving from destroying any more lives. I'll use
any opportunity I can to spread the message.
Our attempts at doing a 600K ride proved that while we are persistent,
and stubborn, and strong, that we can be stopped. Our first attempt
was in Montreal over the July 4th weekend. The cold and rain tempted
us to stop, but we kept going until we blew the bead off of a tire.
Several hours and quite a bit of hitch-hiking later, we finally found
a suitable replacement, but by that time had already missed a
checkpoint. We tried again two weeks later, by planning back-to-back
doubles, but spent a little too much time watching needed fluids being
pumped back into a riding partner after he became severely dehydrated
on the first day.
We finally decided that the 10 years of randonneuring experience
between us and all the other training rides we were doing would be
sufficient preparation for BMB. Time would tell. We did manage to get
several double centuries in, as well as no rides under 100 miles on
weekends. And we did travel to the mountains regularly to climb over
passes that would either be on the route or were comparable.
Two weeks before BMB, we planned to conquer a few notches in New
Hampshire, including Hurricane Mountain. Our trip over Hurricane
with the tandem proved to be quite an experience, and quite an
enjoyable one, since we were in the van at the time, with the
windshield wipers going full blast.
We hoped that having rain every weekend would allow for a dry BMB.
The cold and wet New England summer started to wear us down, as it
seemed that we spent more time cleaning and relubing the bike during
the week than we did training. The rain during the rides was hard on
our spirits, but also proved to be harder on our equipment. Maybe
disk brakes would be cheaper in the long run...
We have managed to go through two sets of wheels and numerous
freewheels, chains, chainrings, tires, cables and bearings for
everything. But this is the nature of a tandem. There is a great deal
more stress than on a single, so things wear out quickly and since we
are putting so many miles on the bike so quickly and in such bad
weather, it's no wonder that we go through parts regularly.
We seem to battle constantly with our indexed shifting. The length of
the cables on a tandem contribute to sloppy shifting, but with a lot
of patience, it is possible to have smooth indexing on a big bike. We
have also learned that our patience with the bike runs thin at times,
and that we can't work on the bike TOGETHER or even in the same room!
Over the seven years that I have been doing long distance rides, I
have tried a lot of different equipment. I will think that I have
settled on something, and then for some reason or another, I will try
something new. In that vein, after building the perfect bike for PBP,
I set it aside and started all over again with a tandem.
I first discovered tandeming in 1986, while I was living in North
Carolina. There were several couples in our club that had tandems, and
I decided to try one myself. I found a used Gitane for sale in Durham.
A friend and I took the bike out for a test ride and what a spectacle
that was. Neither of us had ever been on a tandem before and we had a
heck of a time getting coordinated. There were times when I was barely
hanging on with my feet held up and out to the side as the pedals were
flying around below me. We eventually got things together and rode the
bike home. The next day we attempted a 200K on this bike. We broke
several spokes and had other minor problems, but finished the ride.
After another week of riding the bike and having it checked by
mechanics, I decided it would cost more to fix the bike than to buy a
new one, so I returned it.