ironhanglider wrote: Of course it would be a bit of a stretch to have child stokers included, but if in a couple of years either of my children want to take up cycling as a sport I'll have to change clubs since it would be silly to not be racing in the same club, and equally silly to have to pay for two memberships.
Problem with you moving to a CA club is there probably won't be a suitable grade for you. E grade CCC/Vikings is a lot different to E grade Vets. Though I think they go down to F grade now and sometimes have a sportive category.
I'm only allowed out once per weekend, so it would be choice between that and not racing, I'd simply have to become suitable for the grade. I'm competetive enough downhill and on the flat, I'm only weak in the hills and that can be solved by losing 20kg.
Elton wrote:As per my phone call on Sunday, I went to Ian D's on Saturday night and he took each of the bike components off and assessed their state. The front of the bike took most of the impact and the frame appears to have no damage.
- the front fork with a similar tandem fork (recommended try Hillbrick Bicycles in Sydney); - 3T handlebar of 44 cm width (same size); - 3T stem of 80 mm length & 6 deg (same size); - Cane Creek headset (as probably damaged); - Shimano 9 speed gear/brake road levers (right and left); - Shimano 9 speed rear derailleur (long cage); - Rear derailleur hanger; - Brooks saddle - Champion flyer; - Rear light (Cateye).
I have suggested some possible substitutions and waiting for feedback on those, such as ensuring that the forks are Disc compatible so we can make use of the other disc calliper. I like the idea of Microshift levers and rear derailler too since I note that some of the Microshift rear deraillers have a listed capacity of 45T which is would be awfully handy given the gear range that we are running on this bike; 55-42-30 on the front and 11-34 on the rear. I had to do some weird stuff to make it work before.
Not great but all this stuff is easily replaceable. I don't know how badly scratched the frame is yet, and I presume the bar tape will need to be re-done. I guess I can choose a new tape colour then, John says it is much the same to him Any suggestions? Black is boring, red would be hard to match with the wheels and wrong, we did have a dull silver before but I didn't think much of the tape itself. I'm thinking I might go for something bright.
Might also get one of these for Bling, plus I don't ride with a watch and the races have been starting on time.
I’m sure that everyone who can build wheels fantasizes about what would be their ideal wheels be if they had the means and opportunity. Every now and then you get the opportunity to go close even if it does require a leap of faith.
BTW this is a long post about wheels, read it at your peril.
The subject of this fantasy were no holds barred, go fast, race wheels for the Heavy Tandem (220kg for riders and bike). The fantasy wheels were an item o discussion before John even started looking seriously for a bike. The ideal wheels would be useable for both disc and rim brakes, not too heavy, good aerodynamically, and reliable enough to use on a regular weekend basis.
Rims: Material. Aluminium. This was never much of a question for us. John already had designs on riding at the Nationals and the expectation was that rim brakes would be mandatory for a while yet. For the hills we have around here even single bikes can overheat their rims/tyres so carbon rims with rim brakes are not an option for us.
Tubulars Decided on tubular rims rather than clinchers for a number of reasons. The pros include being lighter for the same strength, the ability of tubular rims to withstand greater tyre pressures, the ride qualities of tubulars and the virtual elimination of pinch flats. The pressure factor is significant because at our weight we find that we regularly exceed the maximum recommended pressure for the tyres (and probably the rims) just to get a reasonable ride. Typically we run 28mm tyres at 120-140psi. Big tyres and high pressures have a habit of pulling rims apart. With tubulars the pressure also helps to hold the tyre onto the rim. The intention was to use either Vittoria Pave or Challenge Parigi-Roubaix which are both notionally 27mm.
Depth. Having already determined material, the next question is shape/depth. Here there is a significant trade off between aero-ness, strength and weight. I have a pair of 32 hole rims that are 45mm deep but the rims alone weigh 880g each! At the other end of the spectrum sub-400g rims are around but are neither aero nor strong. I decided that the ideal would be somewhere around 30mm deep which would be typically 520g or so.
Spokes: CX-Rays At our weight, even with the more symmetrical wheels allowed by a 145mm rear wheel spacing , we would need at least 40 spokes. CX-Rays are frequently used on weight weenie bikes because they are lighter than most. However they also have the best fatigue resistance numbers. At between 2 and 2.5 Euro each they are not cheap.
Hubs: Tandem hubs are a specialty item so they tend to be rare and expensive. $500 is about the start point.
Nipples: Aluminium I would almost always go for brass, however aluminium is appropriate for special wheels.
This was all well and good but it was just a dream.
CRC had a sale on tandem hubs. A pair of disc compatible 40 spoke White Industries hubs for $120 delivered was too good to pass up. So I convinced John to buy a set and I got a pair for me even though I don’t have a bike to fit the 145mm rear hub spacing yet. I figure that the wheel isn’t going to go off, and I might slip a bike past the Chancellor one day...
Now the build began:
Velocity (used to?) make a tubular version of their Deep V rims, the Pro Elite which is 30mm deep (520g) and suitably strong enough for this purpose. They also make some shallower and lighter rims, which would probably also have been suitable. Unfortunately for them they don’t advertise them in a 40 hole version and did not respond to any email requests as to whether they would make any.
Then I found a mob in Taiwan (Newsonsportec) who make 23mm wide tubular rims and they come in pretty colours too! I asked whether they would do a custom 40 hole drilling and they said yes (they will also do other rims in 40H drillings but you need to order 5 rims). The colours can be either anodised or powder coated. Naturally go-fast wheels need to be red and I chose anodised. At 25mm deep they are a little shallower than the Pro Elite but they are also 40g lighter. It is possible that the more rounded U section rather than the V section might be more aero to make up for it though.
Spokes. The fantasy wheels would have Sapim CX-ray or DT Aerolite spokes. However Newsonsportec also make spokes, and have some semi-aero 2.3mm wide spokes (same width as CX rays) which also came in pretty colours. Naturally I got anodised red ones to match the rims. It turns out that whilst CX-rays are butted spokes that have been squashed, these are plain spokes that have been squashed. So CX-Rays end up being .8mm thick, where these are 1.5mm thick. Unfortunately I wasn’t really happy with the spokes, so in the end I have had to buy 164 CX-Ray spokes (ouch!) and I will be re-building all 4 wheels.
Nipples. Newson Sportec also do nipples in Brass Aluminium and Titanium. I’m normally a brass sort of person, but I’d use Al for special wheels though. However the Ti ones piqued my interest so I did some research. Ti are lighter than brass but not as light as Al. There is also an issue with galling so they can bind to the spoke when being turned. They are much stronger than the others and therefore there is a very greatly reduced chance of rounding them off.
What I found really appealing about these was the shape of the head. Instead of finishing the top of the nipple in a standard screwdriver slot, these nipples finish in a star shaped spline which mates to a tool that goes on to a socket handle. The shoulders of the head are also curved so that there is a bit of movement to allow the nipple to angle towards the spoke rather than inducing a bend. These are expensive little beggers at about $1.20 each but I figured that they had sufficient bling factor that I thought I’d give them a go. These are the most extravagant part of the wheels, but they do make the wheels a bit special which is part of the exercise.
I did buy some copper anti-seize paste (a whole tub from a car-parts shop, (let me know if you want me to put some into a tiny packet and sell it to you for $10 like Ti-prep do), which certainly did reduce the galling issue but did not eliminate it. All in all I don’t think that from a building perspective that the Ti nipples were a great success. The head shape and tool combination was really good and they fitted so well together that the tool held the nipple well enough to place the nipple into the rim. Without the galling characteristic of Ti these would easily be my favourite nipple to build with. If they made the same shape nipples out of Al or Brass I’d be all over them.
My maths puts them at just a bit less than 2kg with the CX-Rays which is pretty respectable for disc hub tandem wheels.
Hey Cameron, one of my best mates sons well actually both of them have race tandems with visually impaired riders but only the track I think. Would you like me to find out from them where, they got their gear from or know of a good builder of wheels for tandems? I posted some or a photo of one winning the Aus Sprint or time trial title last year I think or could have been the year before.
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets. Goal 6000km
foo on patrol wrote:Hey Cameron, one of my best mates sons well actually both of them have race tandems with visually impaired riders but only the track I think. Would you like me to find out from them where, they got their gear from or know of a good builder of wheels for tandems? I posted some or a photo of one winning the Aus Sprint or time trial title last year I think or could have been the year before.
I'm always keen to know of sources of bits. Is one of them Peter Spencer? I have faith in my own wheel building, but I am always keen to discuss the merits of different philosophies.
find_bruce wrote:€2 (~$3) per spoke & $1.20 per nipple didn't seem so bad until I remembered you need 80 per bike
But the wheels will be around long after the pain has gone.
There is a para-cycling World cup on in Canada now not that anyone'd notice. OZ Tandem finished the TT in 14th, 3 and a bit minutes down, however that did involve 2 stops and a wheel change which does dampen the enthusiasm a bit. The winners averaged 50.36km/h
Oz Tandem wrote:Well that's bike racing. We got a flat in the TT. Always positives though: 1. the tyre came off the disc and we didn't crash. 2. we were still able to take some data from the race and compare ourselves to the rest of the countries. Wouldn't say we are happy, but we live and learn and are pumped for the road race on Sunday.
A recent post on the Tandem Bike Australia Facebook page has a few pictures by Evan Dawson including this one. It seems that both boys rode with Ben MacFie, Kelvin for the kilo and Ben for the sprint.
I'd love to get out to see some track tandem racing. I'm not sure that I'd take it up, since it is so specialised that the only racing appears to be for titles. Given the opportunity I'd like to race on our track in Canberra once it is back in service. I could even turn my bike into a track tandem easily enough.
With John's bike out of action, he has the use of Elton's race tandem, a handsome Pinarello, which he bought from a forum member. We have both been off the bike for a while for various issues.
Our pre-race admin was poor, including driving the wrong way despite the fact that I knew the way perfectly well. In the end there was no warm up, and I even had to adjust my saddle height on the line. However we were at least there and riding.
Surprisingly despite pleasant (if a little windy) weather, and a non-threatening course there were relatively few starters. ABC grades were combined for the start with only 3 in A grade, 8 in B grade, and 3 in C grade. D grade was better but still with only 7 including Elton and Don on Elton's other tandem.
The course is an out and back in both directions from the central start/finish. The southern side is reasonably favourable which is a long gradual climb and return. The northern side is more lumpy and ends in a drop down to the turn at the lowest point of the course. Although the faster riders did two full laps, E,F and G grades only did a lap and a half and naturally we would only ride the favourable part of the course once and the less favourable part twice.
At the start we went to the front and from there we would drift back on the hills, and forward again over the top. Up the last climb before the descent to the turn the bunch broke apart with us off the back. There was never any doubt that we'd catch and pass the others on the descent so I'm surprised no-one hung back to get firmly planted in our slipstream.
We did discover a brake issue at the turn which caused us to overshoot whilst we slowed sufficiently to make the turn. This gave up a lot of our lead. On the return climb all the others came past and then the chase began. The others formed into a group of Angie Kev and Andrew, followed by the pair of Lee and Malcolm and then us. After a long chase, we finally caught and passed the pair of Lee and Malcolm right at the end of the first lap. Shortly afterwards we caught Andrew, and we rode in the vicinity of each other for a while without working, since we couldn't hold his wheel uphill. He made a good effort to hold our wheel most of the way down the big hill to the turn and was able to close up to us under brakes, which worked better this time but still not satisfactory. I've since adjusted the brakes properly.
Andrew came past us soon afterwards and we would neither catch nor get caught by anyone else for the rest of the race.
Did manage to get a lot of video of mostly empty roads behind us. Here are some highlights.
Well it has been a while since I posted. Since then John's bike has had more adventures.
The bike got re-built with a new fork, shifters, rear derailler, derailler hanger and other sundries like cable and tape. With the new fork came the opportunity to fit the other Bengal disc brake to match the rear, so I rebuilt some wheels so that John now has 3 sets of disc braked wheels. Three front wheels with White Industries Hubs, and two rear wheels with WI hubs and one with a Shimano hub with a drum to disc adaptor. The Wheels are designated as Training/everyday wheels with 32mm Vittoria Randonneur (soon to be Vittoria Voyager Hyper) intended to have a high degree of puncture resistance. Sportif wheels which are nearly identical wheels but with skinny 25mm lighter tyres. Race wheels with 27mm tubulars.
John was building up for the Hartley Lifecycle challenge in November which rode from Canberra to Charlotte Pass and back. Unfortunately the new right shifter was faulty, so I swapped it for a Microshift lever (which is still destined for my bike) whilst the warranty process goes on. The bike has now done hundreds of km with the mismatched levers, but none of his other pilots have made any comment. He has duly done his training and did his ride quite comfortably. Hi did report an instance of 'chain suck' in the middle of his big ride which prompted a chain replacement due to a bent chain.
On Sunday we were finally able to race again. Unfortunately it was not a stunning success, mostly for reasons that didn't relate to the racing. I had a late night before (working on another tandem for someone else) which wasn't a good start, there was some work to do on John's bike anyway because we needed to put a wide range cassette onto his race wheels. There is also the usual list of adjustments that need to be made on race day for a different pilot, pedal change, saddle height, stoker bar height, and ensure that the 'new' wheels really do roll without rubbing the brakes. Some of this was done at John's place, and some was done out at the race course. Unfortunately we arrived late, and registered before we even parked the car, and even heard the sounds of other grades being sent off whilst I was still putting the wheels on the bike. What I didn't notice at the time was that the saddle was now pointing up at a rather more dramatic angle than usual, before rolling down to the line and by then there was no time to change it.
Chainsuck is not something that can be adjusted out, so I didn't look too closely at the front derailler, which was a mistake. The Orroral Valley course is very much up and down, despite my lack of climbing prowess I enjoy the course partly because there are no fewer than 5 climbs per lap which come off the back of a descent. This means that attacking the descent gives momentum which can be used to bounce up the bottom bit of the climb and therefore gain a lot of time over the poor descenders. This also means that it is a pretty severe test of a bikes gears. We used the full range from 55x11 to 30x34 and would have to make the transition in the space of a few tens of meters and failing to do so results in having to do this under pressure. Gear changes under pressure on a tandem are to be avoided, particularly front shifts. Not long into the race I tried to shift into the small ring and it simply refused to drop down even with the pressure off, on a steep hill we slowed dramatically; I called for power to get us going again and dumped 3 or 4 gears on the back to try and get something that we could use. Of course this was exactly the time when the chain dropped off the front middle ring and missed the small ring entirely so we came to a sudden stop. Off the bike, get the chain on and then prepare for a start up a steep hill. Tandem hill starts are a special challenge. This time we got set started, and as I tried to get into the seat, my knicks caught on the front of the saddle, and I found myself not on the saddle, and without my left foot attached to the bike, John was powering away on the bike to try and give us some speed and I couldn't clip in. The short version was that we ground to a halt again in short order. We re-set ourselves and tried again, this time I managed to get well enough into the seat and we powered away again. This little exercise cost us a total of a minute and a half.
This was not the end of our troubles, we finally diagnosed an annoying ticking noise as the crank hitting the front derailler when in the big ring (all of a sudden the dodgy front shifting was explained) I took a punt that it hadn't caught badly yet, so it probably wouldn't. After the nasty climb to the Boboyan Road turn the saddle position really started to bight. I was getting pain in the lower back and wasn't able to produce the same power. There is a strava segment up the climb where we had the dramas and our second time up that climb was a minute and a half slower than the first lap! It is encouraging to note that when we go back we can do a 'real' time which will lift our position into the top 100 for that segment. A similar segment in the other direction has us at 31st.
All in all there was still a lot to take away from the race, and we even managed to beat a couple of riders in our grade and came up with 5th. I'm pretty sure that no-one will touch our maximum speed of 86km/h on that course, because we sure do go downhill fast.
Di2 triples (Di3) and hydraulic discs. The stuff of tandem early adopter dreams.
Unfortunately early adopters also need to have deep pockets, which John doesn't have. (He might have short arms too but I don't ask those questions )
For now we will stick with 9speed to maintain access to wide range cassettes. If we both lost weight (neither of us would be underweight if we lost 20kg) then the need for the really low gears would go away.
There are a few tandems around with Di2 using compact cranks and a modified derailler to use a 36T cassette which does get close to our low gear (25.5 GI v 23.8 GI), but it also loses the top gears. We do like going fast when we can, and enjoy having the 55x11 available, it is a gear that gets some use.
At high speed downhill, getting out of my aero tuck and sitting up enough to pedal, costs me more power than I can generate with my legs at about 55km/h. The heavy tandem takes that equilibrium speed up to 68km/h or so before it is faster to tuck and roll. We pedal down a lot of hills whilst chasing the mountain goats.
I'm not sure of the requirements, others have done the heavy lifting with gaining acceptance, I just turn up and race. The local clubs here in the ACT, both CA and AVCC seem to cope with tandems racing.
I actually can't think of a situation where it would not be safe for a tandem. Whilst some people imagine great differences in speed and manoeuvrability, the reality is that the differences are really very small and within the normal range of single bike riders capabilities. In addition to that tandems tend to have a buffering influence in a bunch by smoothing out the sudden changes in speed and direction. The biggest difficulty in a bunch situation is knowing where your rear wheel is in relation to someone's front when rolling off the front in a pace line and swinging over, however whilst it concerns me as a pilot, no-one else has ever expressed concern to me and I am sure they would if they felt that we had pushed them off into the dirt. I did once suggest to one rider that squeezing up between me and the dirt whilst in the middle of the bunch was a bad idea since I'm not aware of their presence until they are virtually alongside the stoker. Tandems tend to not make sudden changes of direction so others would have (comparatively) lots of time to get out of a closing gap. Similarly most pilots will leave more room in front of them to allow for the sudden movements of others. I've not touched wheels whilst on a tandem, nor am I going to try, but I suspect that the extra weight and the wider bars would actually make it easier to stay upright in that situation compared to a single bike.
An example that gets brought up in conversations is U turns. I must be some sort of turning god, because on a single bike among E grade competitors I can turn tighter and faster than all of the others (35 years of race practice might have helped too). On the heavy tandem we are simply reduced to taking the same line and at the same speed as the average E grade rider. I have no doubt that in higher grades my single bike turning would be closer to average and that on the tandem, the good turners would be able to turn tighter and faster than us. I'd actually be comfortable with this and would allow enough room for others to do so if they could, if we went to the front of the bunch for the turn and came out at 2nd or 3rd wheel with others turning inside us it seems to me that this would be less disruptive than 'closing the door' on riders behind during the turn and then trying to close down a couple of bike lengths gap to those in front. All in all I don't think it is a big deal.
The course is basically a climb for 4.5 km a dip, another climb and a short descent to the finish
This is a race where the Heavy Tandem is really on a hiding to nothing. There is little chance that we’d beat anyone in our grade up a hill, which is probably appropriate. If we were average climbers in our grade, we‘d probably use our descent and TT advantage to win a race or two and get promoted to D grade. Our main challenge is to beat our time from last year (18.22).
Before the start I did lay down the challenge to Phil Coulton and Twizzle. Phil, because we beat him last time by about 10 seconds, and Twizzle because he beat us with maximum speed last year. This time (after last week's dramas) we got away pretty smoothly, I got my foot in first time and found my way onto the saddle and we quickly settled into a rhythm and simply rode as hard as we could.
We did have a couple of changes to the bike since last week, the saddle tilt has been adjusted, and we have moved the cranks to 90degrees out of phase. We have experimented with this before on my bike and found it much smoother although it does put the kybosh on out of the saddle work.
I’d love to tell of great heroics on the climb however the reality involved lots of heavy breathing and not much power. We did manage to negotiate the climb without resorting to the small chainring which was a bit of an achievement, although the 42x34 did get a bit of a workout. We started 30 seconds behind Phil, and had him in sight for most of the way, but when the road tilted down he disappeared from view. We did manage to touch pedals to the tarmac on a couple of the corners on the final bit, but I don’t think that the few pedal strokes we didn’t do after that cost us a great deal in terms of time.
In the end we failed to beat Phil who came in at 17.00, talking to him afterwards it seems that he has ditched the work that was costing him vital training time and he is now both fitter and lighter (and creeping onto the handicapper’s radar for promotion)
We also missed out on the fastest maximum today. Despite Strava giving us a maximum of 68.4 the measured speed was 63.2, however this wasn’t enough to get up to Michael’s 64.9. This was a ‘Pedaling descent’ so it does favour big blokes who actually produce some power. I would like to claim a strava glitch, similar to the 42degree descent that I'M I’m sure that I would have noticed.
In the end our time (17.10) is a pretty dramatic improvement and we are quietly thrilled with that.
The conventional wisdom is that tandems have twice the power and maybe half as much drag again as a single bike. This would mean that two identical riders on a tandem would be faster than either of them alone (although this would be hard to test). It seems clear to me that the heavy tandem is faster than me alone, and I was hoping that it was the ‘tandem effect’, but perhaps it is a result of riding with a stoker who is stronger than me who raises the average performance. (I thought I was stronger than him.)
There was an interesting opportunity to compare tandems and singles with the National Omnium and Paracycling track nationals with I think slightly unexpected results.
The fastest men’s pursuit time was set by an single bike rider with a 2.5 second gap to the fastest tandem.
Next fastest at +6.2s (!) was the qualifying time for the second fastest tandem (they rode .14s slower in the final which would have cost them two positions in the omnium).
I wonder if there are some other aerodynamic influences related to turbulence that only kick in at speed such that at normal speeds a tandem has less drag, but in pursuit mode the difference evens out.
Whilst it is possible that the tandem riders are ‘less elite’ than the individuals I wouldn’t be confident to say that to their faces. If this really is the case, should CA be pressuring strong riders to take up tandem piloting in the lead up to Rio? (Might be a bit much to ask them to impair the vision of a rider to enable them to be a stoker) It would be interesting to set up the fastest two individuals on a tandem to see how fast they could go, however it is not that simple, there is a period of adaptation that is required, which would make the first attempts slow until they can harmonise properly as a team.
Whilst the omnium only has one chance for each rider to set their best time, the tandems rode a qualification ride and then a final for the fastest 4 teams. I note that in the finals, each winning team rode significantly faster than their qualifying times (by 3.5s and 1.1s), and each losing team rode only slightly slower than their qualifying time. (by .2s and .1s)
The women’s numbers look even worse. There was only one tandem pursuit time recorded, which was behind all the individual times and about 21s behind the winner.
Intuitively I’d have thought that a tandem might lose a little bit in the initial acceleration, but would be able to ride at a faster speed for a faster overall time.
16 Laps 4000m Omnium Round 4 - Result 1. 4 Alex EDMONDSON (SA) 4:23.906
Had a bit of a break over the Holiday period, resulting in no riding and a bad back to boot.
Did a bit of skill work recently including a few laps of two variations of the circuit that the CCC used to race on in the 80s. Sadly like any circuit that rewards good bike handling it has not been used for racing for some time. However it was just the thing for John and I to get back in the groove. I was going to say back in sync, but given that we run the cranks out of phase that wouldn't be right.
On Sunday we actually paid to attend a cornering and bike handling masterclass with a proper coach. It was very interesting and I think that we came out of it better than we went in. It was also another PR opportunity to show that the performance of the tandem is really not that different to single bikes in terms of bike handling and bunch manoeuvring.
From a mechanical perspective, the chain waxing experiment is working a treat. I use a disused rice cooker as the heat source (a little too hot but can be flicked onto keep warm mode when it is all melted). I thought that I'd be clever and decant the wax into a plastic container to hopefully try and remove the detritus that has collected, perhaps by simply shaving that bit of the wax block off when it cooled. However the container that I used was not designed to sustain heat and melted almost instantly when I poured the wax in. I now have a wax slick in my driveway which is pebbles embedded in concrete and unlikely to respond to the old application of iron and brown paper trick.
We have now changed the cranks from John being 90 degrees behind to being 90 degrees in front in the rotation. This is because we've noticed that whilst I almost always corner with my outside leg at the bottom, I often approach corners with my outside leg forward and complete the pedal stroke on entry. This resulted in John's inside foot being down until the last minute which made him feel uncomfortable. It was originally set up the other way because I thought that I'd be more comfortable to have my outside foot forward in a corner, however John says that it doesn't fuss him either way. The change seems to work and the little tweak I gave to the eccentric to take some slack out of the sync chain has helped with the 'connected' feeling.
Sadly on Sunday doing the odd uphill start under power, we experienced some slip in the drive train creating some bad noises and walking speed handling issues. It is hard to diagnose since it is all behind me but it is either the chain slipping around the cogs or the chainring, or the pawls not grabbing the freehub. Since we only had the issue in the middle chainring and a variety of cogs my money is on a worn chainring. The cogs have been barely used and the chain is not stretched so excessive wear is unlikely. I have had a similar issue once on another bike but in that case the teeth on the ring had worn down to almost half the height of new ones. This one doesn't look anything like that bad, but John does put out a lot more power than that stoker does so he might be overloading it at less extreme wear. We'll get a new one, it is not as if it will never be used anyway.
On the menu for this weekend is a hotdog crit as a points race with sprints every second lap. We were looking forward to this until we saw that they have scheduled a tandem grade. Now there are about half a dozen tandem stokers who are members of our club. Two of them have hopes of going to Rio, another is a regular in A grade with his pilot, another won paralympic gold in Beijing and then there is John and another who typically only races later in the year as preparation for a charity ride. The two current elite riders are on a schedule that seems to preclude club racing so we don't expect to see them, the pilots of the next two others are either overseas or have other commitments, meaning that there is a strong likelihood that John and I would be the only tandem there. There are a couple of other pilots around but I suspect that they'd be intimidated by the U turns. John and I have no intention to pay an entry fee for the glory of riding by ourselves, even if one of the other teams shows up, we'd end up by ourselves pretty quickly.
At this stage I think that we'll just turn up at the appointed time for the E grade start and expect to ride with them like we usually do. I dislike being confrontational but to do otherwise is just silly.
It’s been a while so I thought I’d better catch up. Curse the Olympics for interfering with BNA time.
Feb 2 - Team Points Race E-F grade.
The Stromlo Forest Park Circuit Clockwise. Whilst those with better power/weight ratios have claimed that the course is flat it does in fact have a hill in it that is worth at least two gears for us. The Grandstand straight runs uphill to the top turn which is a wide turn that goes through a bit more than 180 degrees before straightening up for the run down the Back straight. At the end of the back straight is a kink left into the big right hander known as collarbone corner, it rises into another kink left to the right hander Southern Loop and a final kink with a slight downhill onto the Grandstand straight again. This last dip is significant because it comes at 150-200m from the line and is cleverly designed to suck people into too big a gear at the start of the sprint, leaving them to fade in the shadows of the line. The wind on the day was a headwind on the grandstand straight coming from a slight right to left angle.
The race was to be a team point race over 30 mins, with 3,2, and 1 points for intermediate sprints, and 5,4,3,2,1 for the final sprint. Since the grades were combined, F grade riders would be awarded double points if they could score in any of the sprints. At the line it was announced that there would be a sprint every 4 laps which would allow only 3 sprints at most since it typically takes over 2 minutes for us to do a lap. We were paired with Ian (E), Pat (F) and James (F).
As soon as we saw the format John and I figured that we’d be up for leadout duty, and sure enough the others saw it that way too. The teams were split up with typically 2 E and 2 F grade riders.
The plan was to go to the front with a teammate on our wheel, F graders for the first sprints if possible and at the final left kink onto the straight we’d open up a lane on our left (sheltered side) for someone to come through.
Well it’s always importan to have a plan. If nothing else it gives you something to change in response to conditions. The first 3 laps went through at an almost leisurely pace. We rolled to the front on each of the back straights to try and establish a pattern and hopefully convince the others that they should leave us at the front for this bit. Anyway the bell rang for the sprint lap and the E graders on the other teams really opened the taps up the hill and quickly pulled a couple of seconds on us and splitting the bunch. Ian went with them but didn’t quite get onto them. On the downhill bit we came back into our own and called for Ian to grab our wheel as we came past. We were also closing down onto the leaders but hadn’t caught them by the end of the southern loop. A touched pedal in the kink meant that we drifted a bit wider than we’d planned but Ian still got up for third.
The pace stayed reasonably steady for the next couple of laps when the director rang the bell for the second sprint and told us that it was now only 3 laps between sprints. The next sprint lap started the same as the last, this time we didn’t lose quite as much distance up the hill and again called for Ian as we came past down the back straight. By the time we came to the southern loop we were almost on the back of the two leaders one of whom was leading out the other and pulled off at the kink. I had hoped that Ian was still on our wheel, but looking back (a quick glance doesn’t work on the tandem) I saw that it was up to us as neither Ian or anyone else was close. This is where the uphill upwind sprint took it’s toll, when we overhauled the leader just short of the line much to his loud annoyance.
After that the rest of the race decided to just leave us out the front. We rode firmly but not flat out and when we got the next bell we put in some hard work to make sure they didn’t catch us by the top turn. We made the top of the course with about 20m on them, which was enough, because we turned on the gravity powered afterburner down the back straight and no-one was prepared to blow themselves up in pursuit. We comfortably held them off for our second sprint win.
After that we sat up and waited for them because it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to stay away and Ian was still in the bunch so it made sense to try and go back to the original plan. In the end for the final sprint it was a familiar story, we lost position up the hill, regained it back down the hill and this time we worked our way back through the remains of the bunch through collarbone corner and the loop and came up with a very satisfying win. Ian came though in 4th to give our team a total of 14 points and an overall race win.
I think the biggest lesson related to cornering clearance on that last kink. It looks pretty benign but it is clearly tighter than expected, perhaps a touch off-camber. Most of the pedal touches occur on collarbone corner which is really on the borderline, most laps for E grade, pedaling though it is fine, but when the heat is on pedaling is not on for most riders.
John and I always knew that we are faster than our peers going downhill and slower going up, but a little more sustained power over 30s, and losing weight would help a lot.
Our designated sprinters might have been able to save a bit of energy by staying on our wheel up the hill, and just trusting that we’d be able to chase them down on the back straight. However that would require a big leap of faith, and I’m not sure that I’d have done it (at least for the first sprint) considering the way the others were riding away at that point.
Last but very much not least, we can win sprints! (We don’t have the opportunity to sprint usually so this was good for morale).
Well the day started out wet with no signs of abating. We did some work on the bike first, fitting a new middle chainring to replace the stopgap that I’d put in when the other one died. We went out to the race half expecting that it’d be called off (ACTVCC riders are made of sugar) and sure enough it was. However the chain had been recently waxed and I wanted to see for myself how badly it went in the rain.
I had also modified my SKS race blade mudguard to fit the Fatty forks on the tandem so we gave them a good test.
The ride we went on was along a typical race route from that start point, a 5km gradual descent before the sharp drop into Tharwa, a significant climb up Mt Tenant, a shorter drop down the other side, 5km of flat rising a bit to the turn around at Apollo Road and return.
Apart from being wet the ride was quite pleasant. The temperature was warm enough, there was not much wind, even the road was warm enough that even the water splashing up from the puddles wasn’t unpleasant.
John’s considering racing at Bathurst in an upcoming para-cycling series race. So he wants to keep his miles up, and make sure that the bike is working properly.
We got to do a few systems checks, the mudguards work ok, particularly for protecting John’s Flyer saddle. The brakes work well, it was nice being able to approach the T junction at Tharwa with the feeling that we still had braking power available if we needed it. (This is not a feeling that I get at that corner even on a single bike). The middle chainring worked a treat too. We did a few changes under a bit of load between small and middle and middle and big and they worked fine so it was really encouraging.
The chain finished the ride in the same condition that it started so I can say that it stands up to at least an hour in the rain.
Sadly the small chainring started slipping as well. Again it looks ok but two of us putting power into a 30T ring is a lot of torque I guess. Anyway it means that it is new ring time again ☹ Whilst I’m at it I’ll be looking at new big rings, and this brings up the question of whether we still want to keep running the 55T ring.
It certainly has a bit of the ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ aspect to it, and there is at least one race course with a 2km gentle downhill where we have ridden people off our wheel when we get the 55x11 going. Sadly there’s not many opportunities to sustain that sort of pace. We also use it off the top of hills to get that extra nudge before dropping into a tuck, but as always just because we use it doesn’t mean that we need it.
The question comes along the lines of shifting. The current middle ring is a 42T and is marked as being part of a 30-42-52 combination. The big ring is marked as being for a 55-42 combination. Presumably the shifting would be better with a smaller gap between ring size, but it is working ok at the moment. Since it is looking like I should get a new ring anyway the question is whether I keep what we’ve got, or search for improvements. The overloaded rear derailler might appreciate it too although it’ll only be going 8T over capacity, to 5T or 6T over capacity.
The pleasing aspect of the ride was that the roads were so clean that the bike was only wet not dirty after an hour riding in the rain. ☺ It was a joy to put back in the car.
No racing last weekend, due to a clash with the Rally of Canberra which lead to TAMS withdrawing permission to race.
The ongoing bike tinkering for this week included:
New small chainring – 30T to replace the worn one that wouldn’t hold the chain. Cutting down the steerer tube of the fork. Re-routing the brake cable to go behind the fork. Attaching some ‘contact’ as a protective against rub from the strap-on mudguards Attaching some retro-reflective tape to enhance night visibility. Re-waxing the chain and testing the sealed funnel theory. The sealed funnel is to pour the molten wax into when finished, and allow the bigger impurities to sink to the bottom. When hardened the tip of the wax cone can be easily cut off and discarded keeping the larger metal particles from re-contaminating the chain. I have to say that it worked quite well.
Today we decided to race on the ‘Sportif’ wheels. This was mainly based on the slightly dodgy weather, and also because there is a training ride planned for tomorrow that looks like John will be riding with Elton, and they would also be suitable for that
The weather gave us some scattered drizzle but there was rarely enough to kick up spray from the road. The temperature was mild and it was almost perfect for racing.
I’ve previously described the terrain, but briefly the start/finish is close to the middle of the course and is also near the highpoint so generally the course slopes down to either turn marshall.
After two weeks of no racing there was a good turnout of 18 for E grade.
We had a rough plan for this race which was to attack in favourable terrain, and build a lead to squander in the unfavourable terrain. It is no surprise to anyone that we are good at the downhill bits and less good going uphill. We have been accused of tearing bunches apart on this course, which is totally untrue. It is true that bunches have torn themselves apart in a pointless chase of a breakaway that was never destined to stay away and we have no sympathy for riders not using their heads.
Anyway the race director said go and we got away pretty cleanly (somehow I miss when clipping in more often on the tandem). David G attacked from the first pedal turn, so we can at least say that we didn’t launch the first attack, we just responded. Anyway up to 70km/h down Lookout Hill, past David, and for a few hundred meters we were out front. Then sure enough a bunch of about 8 caught us up the long drag to the first intersection. We managed to stay with them and most of the rest of the bunch caught us at the turn-off itself. From the first turn it is mostly downhill to the Pt Hut U-turn. Sure enough we rolled to the front and did a hard turn down the steep bit and rode off the front again, although we did briefly have a couple of Klingons. There is a Strava segment for this bit “Point Hut Road Descent” which we held the KOM on at 53s, this time we did it in 54, and David & Frank both managed to hold on long enough to get a 56s which got them up to 5th / 833.
We were caught by the turn and then came back at record pace for us whilst trying desperately to stay with the bunch. We did get tailed off but we were able to chase back on right as we got to the foot of Lookout hill. Sadly we lost 20 seconds on Lookout Hill alone, and whilst we did make some ground on them down to the turn but they seemed to be working well together and we lost ground. At least for this bit we did have the company of Elton and Lindy who were on the other E grade tandem. They climb a bit better than us, so we spent a bit of time chasing them. However it was obvious by the Pt Hut turn that we hadn’t made any ground back. The second time up Lookout Hill Elton and Lindy got away from us again and we weren’t to catch them again. We kept them in sight for a while, but never gained any ground on them.
With all hope gone we just rode out the rest of the distance, and rolled in 14th.
Just to rub salt into the wounds, We got pipped from our KOM by the A grade tandem of Ashley and Don at 52s, so we are going to have to go KOM hunting next time we race there.