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Things are better in pairs

Slowpup's picture

By Slowpup - Posted on 06 May 2014

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2014
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
50km Male Veteran
Position (Category): 

Like they say in the classics Life is better with a partner.......

After hearing about the wonder that is the Convict for years and years I finally succumbed and got an entry for Dad and me. Dad's 70 and last year his independence was curtailed by events outside his control, so I figured I'd take a bit of control for him, do an N+2, and get a tandem bike for the two of us to race.

Henry at Maxadventure was great and created a Tandem category in the 50 km race. Unfortunately we had to follow doctors' orders and Dad hasn't been able to get on the bike yet.

My mate Grant and I have been punting the jolly green Ventandem around the local firetrails together since February so he nobly transferred his entry over to ride stoker with me. I'm only slightly competitive so was content in the knowledge that, as captain, at least I'd beat him to the finish line.

We turned up on Saturday morning in time to wish good luck to some friends doing the 100 and get a coffee and gozleme down for race fuel. What a great atmosphere in St Albans, happy riders and friendly residents.

Lining up at the front row of the third wave we wobbled off the line practicing a new start sequence. Trust me, trying to synchronise two sets of feet and clipless pedals while steering a behemoth isn't second nature. With two sets of massive guns, 29er race rubber, one set of windage and rolling resistance and only a 19 kg bike weight we made great time along the road. Grant looked back after the first 500 m to report we had a tail behind, and a clear road in front. What a feeling.

With limited tandem practice and training under our belts, along with the fact my last decent ride was before the Mont was cancelled we managed to climb about 20 meters up the first hill before getting off for the long walk. Pushing a bike that constantly shoves a handlebar up ya bum isn't as much fun as it sounds, but (shhh) you can take a break and let your stoker push for a bit when it flattens out.

The first hill set the scene for our race.... walk when the trail gets steep, fly along when the trail is undulating. We passed and were passed by the same bunch about 6 times over the length of the ride. There wasn't a single cross word, even when we surprised the odd rider as the unexpected second rider went past, or cut close around a bend. "Sorry" to anyone we carved up, and "Thanks" for being understanding.

It's a lot like riding SS with a different pace to most other riders, as well as the same encouragement you get from everyone for doing it differently. It really kept me smiling, especially when someone let me know I'd "lost your stoker" after Grant took a comfort break on a hill.

Hitting the big descent to the road was certainly an experience. About 1/2 way down the brakes started to let us know that 180kg is more than a match for 8" rotors front and rear and 4 pot calipers. We started to accelerate with the levers to the grips and Grant flat refused to sit on the rear tyre to assist (what other use is there for a chamois pad I ask you?) so the only option was to gently step off as we crested a water bar. Safely stopped the brakes gently smoked for about 10 minutes before it felt safe to proceed.

Once back on the road the benefits of the tandem shone again and we chased a few groups, leapfrogging along until we hit the final turn. We opened the taps, grinning like mad, as we sprinted to the line.

All in all a great day on the bike with a fantastic mate. We're still friends.... even though he ended up beating me by a full second. Damn physics and linear time.

hawkeye's picture

The tandem sounds like a blast!

Maybe you need two rotors on the front road moto style Smiling

philberesford's picture

Sounds like a lot of fun.

I remember seeing a tandem at the finish. I had no idea it was yours, I would've come over to say hi.

Next time...

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