Tandem Tales

Daccordi Rider
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Daccordi Rider » Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:38 pm

Hi Cameron,

Following the national AGM we have got the tick to start racing here and see how our fellow competitors feel about having tandems in the races. Got a few negative reactions to the idea but not many. I think once they do a race with us they will see the tandem is really no different to ride with in a pack, it just has different strengths and weaknesses. Did our first tandem only crit a few weeks ago as well. 10 tandems on a crit track, it was great fun and the crowd really enjoyed the racing.
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:11 pm

Hi Simon,

Great news! I saw your facebook post as well and assumed you were referring to the AVCC meeting in WA. I still haven't seen the minutes apart from the report from our Secretary so I wasn't sure if it was approval generally, or just to continue the "ACT experiment", so I wasn't game to publicise it further.

There will always be people who fear things that are out of the ordinary. (Hence the AVCC's odd position on disc brakes).

A 10 bike grade is a great showing! Whilst it is good to show off the fact that tandems can handle a crit circuit there is a slight danger that there will be a perception that a separate tandem grade is necessary. Whilst that is fine for when there are evenly matched tandems, it's not very inclusive for newbies to have to turn up and race against the national champions.

Our experience among several tandems is that it doesn't take long for people to accept our presence and most of the fear is dissipated by the first race or two. Of course it helps if you ride in the right grade at the start. There is nothing more certain to create complaints of tandems spoiling the racing than to just turn up and start winning (except in A grade). Initially there was some confusion among race organisers whether the club would charge an entry fee per person or per bike. We take the view that it should be per person, if for nothing else than insurance purposes. The race support people have now become used to how to enter us on the computer and to record our results on the data base, but it did take a little getting used to.

Of course the greatest fear is that tandems somehow present a greater danger than single bikes. In our submissions we were at least able to provide some real numbers to show that this was not the case. (190 odd participations without incident). However since this is a statistical argument with low numbers it means that a single incident will have a greater impact than a crash among single bikes, so it is especially important to ride safely. This is not usually much of a problem since most pilots I've seen are both skilled and conservative riders so don't tend to put themselves in positions to get caught out. The only times that I've felt a bit uncomfortable was when someone decided to come up between on our left and I've not been aware of them until they were almost level with John. Those are the times when a gust of wind or pothole avoidance could turn nasty. It's clearly not a clever place to put yourself in any case but when you are used to people being aware of your presence as soon as you reach their hip you could take that for granted. The other thing that might only relate to heavy tandems is that we race with a bell on the bike. On a descent we carry a lot of speed so I will ding the bell a few times before blasting past people just so that they don't get startled. A shout can be too easily misconstrued.

Other approaches we've had to move toward inclusion is to buy the club jerseys and wear them when racing. I feel that it makes a subtle point about these strangers being both committed to and an accepted part of the club. If you've all joined at once then it might even help to have a brief intro to the riders in the club newsletter just to help with the introductions. Whilst a good sort of race to start with would be something flat, or with at least a lot of flat early, you just have to take it as it comes. John and I also make a point to race whenever there is a race on, regardless of whether it is hilly, or technical or inclement weather. Our next road race is going to be the complete opposite of the ideal introduction with some big hills right from the gun followed by two laps of a false-flat descent and return. The final return leg won't do us too many favours but there is at least the slightest of downhills for the last 500m.

In the meantime after a short break for track repairs John and I will be back track racing tomorrow night (weather permitting).

It'll be nice to see some other reports of tandem adventures.

Cheers,

Cameron
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thecaptn
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby thecaptn » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:23 pm

A question...

If a couple were to buy a tandem is it optimal to seat the heaviest rider at the front or back?

Thanks in advance,
Pete

Edit: Sorry if this has already been discussed, I'm too lazy to read through all 5 pages of posts :mrgreen:

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:59 pm

thecaptn wrote:A question...

If a couple were to buy a tandem is it optimal to seat the heaviest rider at the front or back?

Thanks in advance,
Pete

Edit: Sorry if this has already been discussed, I'm too lazy to read through all 5 pages of posts :mrgreen:


Many people think that it is necessary to put the heaviest rider at the front, but they'd be wrong.

There are many teams who put the smaller rider at the front for a variety of reasons. I presume that by optimal you are talking about ease of use rather than aerodynamically or for best fitting etc. I would always choose to put the best bike handler on the front, regardless of size, however I'd dearly love to get someone else to pilot me for a change.

The times that tandems can get awkward is with starts and stops. When you're riding, it is not much different to a single bike, except with my young son who swings from side to side, stands at random intervals, turns around and waves frantically to his friends and reaches out to touch trees, posts etc.

Big pilots are able to get away with poor technique by using brute strength. Small pilots need to develop good technique. If you have good technique then you can cope with stokers much bigger than you quite comfortably.

Bill McCready talks about piloting a tandem with 4 stokers (called a Quint). The Proper Method
Sheldon Brown's method is similar but doesn't mention the sit on the top tube technique, and predates clipless pedals.


Come to think of it, since I've lost weight I'm now a couple of kilos lighter than my stoker but I'm still bigger than most.

Regards,

Cameron.
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thecaptn
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby thecaptn » Wed Nov 05, 2014 8:53 am

Thanks for the reply Cameron, I was arguing with Wifey last night about who should be on the front, she was saying that blokes always captain because they think they're better riders but they should be on the back to provide the horsepower.
Pete

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby find_bruce » Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:21 am

ironhanglider wrote:Come to think of it, since I've lost weight I'm now a couple of kilos lighter than my stoker but I'm still bigger than most.

Perhaps it's time to swap positions, let john steer for a while :wink:
thecaptn wrote:Thanks for the reply Cameron, I was arguing with Wifey last night about who should be on the front, she was saying that blokes always captain because they think they're better riders but they should be on the back to provide the horsepower.
Pete

I presume you have since admitted that Wifey got the first bit right :D

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thecaptn
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby thecaptn » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:10 pm

find_bruce wrote:I presume you have since admitted that Wifey got the first bit right :D


Ha! You're funny. I'm hoping the topic won't come up again....

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:56 pm

I presume with your moniker that you feel that you should ride at the front.

Advantages of the smaller person at the front include that both of you can see what's ahead which helps a stoker to anticipate what's needed without the need to ask for it. This also allows for sharing of responsibilities. For example I know of at least one team where the gear levers are mounted on the stoker bars. This removes at least one thing from the pilot's set of responsibilities and eliminates the need for special tandem length gear cables, making for easier replacements.

Finally think of the view. My wife would have to spend the entire ride looking at my backside in lycra. I'd rather spend the whole ride looking at hers ... and also impede others from doing so.

Unfortunately the dimensions of bike and rider would mean that I'd have to mount a set of kiddy cranks on the front for her, and the 'cowboy mount' style of getting on only really works at the back.

As for putting John on the front, he's usually game for anything I can throw at him, but that might be a bit much even for him. It'd certainly be an exciting ride.

We even did some low speed work on the track today just to see what the minimum speed was. I was actually pleasantly surprised with how slow we could go before the pedal touched.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby thecaptn » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:11 am

My moniker is just a random name, I've never once ridden a tandem other than by myself(I've serviced some as a VA volunteer). Wifey has done plenty of captaining with her sight impaired friend(including overseas tours) and deffinately knows more about it than I. We've toyed with the idea of building up a tandem for touring together but I'm not keen. She won't ride by herself(even though she has a very good bike in mint condition) and I don't like the idea of sharing a bike.

Maybe I could just get her a tag-along and if she gets lippy simply disconect :twisted:

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:06 am

Ooh I've been a bit slack on the updates... And I had no response to TCs comment above, except to say that I think he is missing out.

In the meantime John had been putting in the miles and got himself up for the Hartley ride to Charlotte Pass. There was a couple of mechanical hiccups including replacing his worn out rear training tyre (that was a last minute purchase for last year's Hartley) with a brand new Marathon Plus, which promptly blew out a sidewall on the first ride. The wheels with the training tyres were only really designated as spares anyway, except for possibly the first part since the Monaro Highway is apparently a magnet for bogan droppings. The pilot's seat clamp had to be replaced with the original QR version because some ham-fisted gorilla had stripped one of the bolts out of the regular double clamp. Whilst all of the pilots are nice blokes, some of them should never be seen in the vicinity of a bike when armed with a tool, which is unfortunate because there are constantly adjustments to be made with different riders jumping on and off.

Apparently the ride went pretty well. This year John (and various pilots) rode further than the tandems had ever done before so they were feeling pretty good about things. However the damage report included a twisted chain from yet another chainsuck incident. However a chain is easily swapped, although I must say that I was surprised with how much the chain had lengthened since it wasn't terribly old. However two of his three wheels have new cassettes anyway, so it's not much of an issue.

Back to the racing though:

Cotter - Mt McDonald TT

Well we knew that we weren't going into this race for the win in D grade, rather it was simply to compare times to last year. Last year we rode a 17:20 and on the way out we discussed what we thought would be a reasonable target given the fact that we are climbing better. We decided that breaking 16:00 was doable. We had a brand new chain and cassette on the race wheels and everything was looking promising. Last year we felt proud of having done the climb without having to resort to the 30T chainring and even though the new cassette only goes to 30 rather than 34 we were expecting to do the climbing portion on the middle ring again. We even had time for a warm up to be sure the bike was working properly and we were feeling good.

We lined up at the start, waited for the signal and then launched, sort of. What happened was as soon as I got my foot in and we went to accelerate we managed to drive the cranks around, without taking the chain with it, or at least only partially. We've had similar once before in January, but this time was much worse. To compound matters the front derailler decided it wasn't playing either. We managed to get traction in the small ring, then changed back to the middle (at this stage we hadn't figured out what was going wrong, all we knew was that it was making bad noises, and we couldn't get any drive) and had the issue again, and I couldn't even get to the big ring. We went back to the small ring and in the process dumped the chain so we had nothing. This time it was an off the bike, turn it upside down job to try and get the chain back on, since it had got itself caught up between the small ring and the frame and I wanted to be sure that I extricated it without damage. The clock was still ticking...

We managed to get going again on the small ring after losing about 3 minutes in total. There were still some slipping issues in the small ring, but we were able to manage them if we kept our cadence up. Having got going again we plugged away, but frankly we had lost confidence in the bike, so we were hardly wringing every last bit out of it. After we got over the steepest part of the climb and we were terribly cross-chained I managed to get the bike to shift into the big ring, and having got it there, that was where it was going to stay. Once over the top there is a nice little descent down to the finish but we didn't have quite the same enthusiasm this time as we might have had.

In the washup we finished with a time of about 19:00 :cry: , but a look on Strava a bit later, showed that we were over 1:06 faster than last year up the longest segment. :D With a functioning bike we'd have been even better, so I think that the sub 16:00 would have been within reach. However there will be other opportunities.

The ride back down was good fun, and I finally got a chance to try out the new brake pads which were very confidence inspiring. We still had heaps of braking power available to stop for the give way sign at the bottom.

All in all a good day I suppose, but now we need a new middle chainring, and a new front tyre, since I noticed an ugly bulge in the front one. I have had a similar bulge in a previous one, so I am confident in declaring that Vittoria Pave 27mm tubulars are not suitable for tandem use, since we have failed to wear the tread out in any of them. We already have a spare 25mm Sprinter Gator to match the rear, not so nice rolling (and the Pave's were nice) but hopefully we'll be gaining reliability. The Contis are also rated to 175psi, and I will be using most of that. I just have to get it on before the next race on Sunday. The front derailler turned out to be just an adjustment issue. For the chainring I'm thinking of doing away with the shifting ramps etc and just using a straight ring with slightly taller teeth. I have a 40T Stronglight that will probably do the job, at least for the moment. Shifting up from the small ring probably won't be as good, but I suspect the middle to big and return shifts won't be affected much.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Daccordi Rider » Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:24 pm

We we did our first Tandem race as part of the vets yesterday. My Stoker Simon Wong and I were the only tandem to see how it went. The race was a secret handicap so it was a mass start for basically A, B and C graders with no one knowing what their handicap is. We started 1 minute ahead of the bunch. The idea was to give us a chance to clip in, get up to speed and over a couple of early lumps before the bunch caught us. It's a pretty quick first 6 km in this course so we got cracking and averaged about 45 km/hr. The A graders caught us about 25 km into the race (56k total) but were moving a bit quick over the lumpy course for us to stay with. No one else caught us though so it was basically a 56 km TT, painful!

Here is the strava

http://app.strava.com/activities/229119245

We averaged 34 km/hr on a course with quite a bit of climbing, my best average on a single on that course is 36.1 km/hr so that was a pretty good effort.

Cameron, a question. Are all your Stokers VI or do you have some sighted ones? We have been told only VI's are allowed to be stokers under the vets rules but have several wife/husband pairings who would like to race. Basically the wife nervous about racing on her own but happy to get on a tandem. Is that ok in ACT?

Cheers.
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:02 pm

14 December - Uriarra graded scratch - D grade

Well it was a beautiful morning for a race, the conditions gave no excuses. The course was to be about the flattest one possible for this club. The course ended up being a run up and down a single stretch of road that is pretty much all uphill heading south, and all downhill heading north, with the start/finish being toward the southern end. The race was to be for 3 laps totaling 46km.

There was a good turnout for D grade with more than a dozen riders. We made it to the race on time had a warm up shuttled it through the gears to test them out since I had fitted both a new chainring and another new chain the night before.

We had a simple plan for this race, ride with the bunch and fight out a sprint finish if we were still there.

The race started and unlike the warm up we couldn’t get the big ring for love nor money. I eventually managed to coax it across when we had a moment to let up on the pressure, and having got it there I had no intention of changing out of it again. Fortunately the 11-30 cassette had enough range to manage for this course.

From then on once we finally convinced the bunch to come past the first time we were able to roll through with the bunch quite happily down to the bottom turn. For the return leg we missed a few turns and were under pressure at times but we held the bunch to the top. Of course we had no dramas on the return, but we knew we’d be under the pump coming back up the hill. Sure enough we lost a bit of ground up the steepest ramps but there is a handy little dip just afterwards which gave us enough respite to catch up and get almost past the bunch before the hill bit us again. We were still with the bunch at the finish point but there is one more hill to go after that, and that dropped us off. We were about 40 seconds behind by the time we made it to the top turn. This time we rode the downhill leg hard, and as luck would have it we caught the bunch just climbing out of the dip.

There was no sense just tagging on the back at this point so we went around the bunch and out on to the attack whilst still going up. However I heard the sound of wheels behind us only a few seconds later and it didn’t seem like a good idea to just tow the bunch down to the next turn, so we shut down again. Then Phil came through hard to stoke things back up and this had the bunch under pressure right at the time that the road started to dip down. This was just what we needed so we kicked again and this time we broke the elastic and we opened up a gap as we hit the speed down to the bottom turn.

We were kind of hoping that we could hold on long enough to get to the dip again but it wasn’t to be. The short version is that the bunch came past and we didn’t see them again until the finish.

Not too sure how we could have played it much differently. A review of the camera afterwards showed that our first attack did get us clean away with only Craig and Ian for company when at the time I thought it was the whole bunch. Had we pressed our advantage then, we would have had a bigger lead at the turn, and have got further up the road before they caught us. It is possible that the others would have worked with us too. However I am confident that we would have been caught anyway so the net result would have been the same.

In any case we were still pleased with the outcome, and we did finish ahead of several riders too.

John reports that after I fiddled with the front derailleur post ride, it is now working like it should be :) again.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:20 pm

Daccordi Rider wrote:We we did our first Tandem race as part of the vets yesterday. My Stoker Simon Wong and I were the only tandem to see how it went. The race was a secret handicap so it was a mass start for basically A, B and C graders with no one knowing what their handicap is. We started 1 minute ahead of the bunch. The idea was to give us a chance to clip in, get up to speed and over a couple of early lumps before the bunch caught us. It's a pretty quick first 6 km in this course so we got cracking and averaged about 45 km/hr. The A graders caught us about 25 km into the race (56k total) but were moving a bit quick over the lumpy course for us to stay with. No one else caught us though so it was basically a 56 km TT, painful!

Here is the strava

http://app.strava.com/activities/229119245

We averaged 34 km/hr on a course with quite a bit of climbing, my best average on a single on that course is 36.1 km/hr so that was a pretty good effort.

Cameron, a question. Are all your Stokers VI or do you have some sighted ones? We have been told only VI's are allowed to be stokers under the vets rules but have several wife/husband pairings who would like to race. Basically the wife nervous about racing on her own but happy to get on a tandem. Is that ok in ACT?

Cheers.


Well done on getting racing. Now that you are out there it is just a case of getting people used to the concept so that they can accept that there is no practical difference between a tandem and a single bike. The more bunch riding you do the more you simply become just another bike. A secret handicap is a good way to introduce a tandem into the mix, since everyone is motivated to ride fast and smooth, and the bunch is biggest at the start when people are still fresh and their skills are sharpest. It sounds as if you managed to hold off B grade by yourselves, so you will be in that horrible middle-ground between grades. Hopefully you can ride in B grade for a while so you can show them that you can ride well in a bunch and contribute to the racing.

Is this a club you've raced with much before on a single bike? Are you a regular A grade rider? We've found that there needs to be an element of diplomacy that sometimes comes at the expense of riding solely for the win, at least at first. Having an A grader riding in B grade raises the hackles of some who don't appreciate that it really is a team effort. Perceptions of fairness can be swayed by how the race pans out from the observer's point of view. Riding away from the bunch will very rapidly have you promoted to A grade and getting dropped every week.

We attacked last weekend and there was some light hearted banter afterwards about having to chase us down the hill, to which I responded 'Why would you do that? It was obvious that we were never going to stay away to the finish, so reacting so hard was just a waste of effort."

As for the sighted stokers, that is a more tricky one. I still haven't seen exactly what the AVCC agreed to, but the argument for tandems was based solely on the argument that it was a reasonable adaptation that would allow VI riders to compete, specifically because they do not have any other means of racing. So in effect it was an argument about discrimination. It is harder to argue that nervous riders are prevented from racing and are being discriminated against as a result.

On the other hand if there are tandems racing anyway there is no difference between whether the stoker can see or not. I know that our club President would support non VI riders on tandems, as he has said so directly to me. I would support it if for no other reason than to ensure that there are enough confident pilots available who are able to stand in for when a VI rider's regular pilot can't ride. It would also be instructive for pilots to take a turn as stoker occasionally, including for the purpose of training new pilots.

I think that the argument would be stronger when there are regular numbers of tandems racing and therefore there will be an expectation that for any given race there will be at least one tandem there. In that case adding an additional tandem to the same grade makes less of a difference. I would like to see two hard core A grade riders on a tandem, and see if they really do perform any differently to their regular expectations, mainly because it is hard to know what grade a VI rider would otherwise be in.

I wouldn't be surprised if the AVCC hasn't specified what level of impairment constitutes a VI rider (unlike CA/UCI). If not, does that mean anyone with less than perfect vision is VI? :twisted:

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Daccordi Rider » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:42 pm

Hi Cameron,

Thanks for your reply. As for me I'm really B Grade. I ride at this club a lot and sometimes get into A when numbers are short! The tandem was really well accepted so the next challenge is a scratch race. Handicapping will be tricky but I think B grade will be fine, certainly not A, those guys and gal go up hills at warp speed.

We are going to pursue tandems for any stoker at the May meeting and see what happens. By then we should have done a few races and people will be a lot more comfortable. We regularly have tandems in bunch rides across Adelaide and don't have any real complaints except the pain a few of our elite tandems can dish out to the bunches on the flat coastal runs! Most people love the motor pacing a tandem can give them.

I'll keep reporting in on races here.

Cheers,

Simon
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:30 pm

Keep up the good work Simon.

I'll look forward to the reports.

There won't be any from me for a month as I'll be overseas, but I'll try and log on to read if I can.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:29 pm

Well it has been an interesting couple of weeks.

After a month-long holiday in Taiwan we came back to Australia in time for Australia Day.

25 January, Dairy Flat points race D grade.

Well there is no better way to kick off the year’s riding than with a race. Now a hotdog criterium points race is probably not the most tandem friendly way to start, given that we don’t accelerate or U-turn as well as I can on a single, but we have to take what we can get I guess.

The format for this race was for a sprint every second lap with points only awarded to the first two for the sprints, and the first three in the final. The first thing that was immediately obvious was that D grade manages U-turns better than E (thankfully) and we were no longer the best in the bunch at this skill. To make matters worse I was finding that we had significant under-steer in the corners, with the accompanying sound of the front tyre scrabbling for grip at every turn.

As for the conduct of the race two riders broke away before the end of the first lap, so there was no points on offer for the rest. Foolishly the rest of the bunch seemed to think that we were going to tow them back into contention, and whilst the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. Actually the spirit wasn’t that willing since I had no intention of doing all the work for everyone else to exploit. In the end the leading duo stayed away for the whole race, overtaking the C grade bunch in the process. (Bad planning since the club handicapper was riding in C grade)

Anyway we drifted to the back of the bunch and found ourselves struggling to maintain contact with the inevitable kick out of the corners. I found myself starting to take risks in the wider turn, attacking it faster, in order to close the gaps that had opened. Ultimately we came unstuck and dropped it when we ran wide and hit a patch of gravel on the exit. A low speed fall with no-one else involved so there was no significant damage or injury. We gathered our wits about us and took a lap out and joined in with the bunch again. By this stage there was another lone chaser who was not likely to get caught so there was only a sprint for pride rather than points. Someone opened up the sprint with an overly enthusiastic opening from a long way out. We followed him through and then Phil kicked up the inside. We came around our unintended lead out and were gaining ground on Phil by the finish, but he held us off.

All in all a fairly successful return, apart from the one mishap in the race, and another that would show itself later.

We did cop a gentle ribbing about having disc brakes (against the vets rules but ironically not CA rules for tandems), and this prompted some modifications that we had been talking about for a while, to convert the bike back to rim brakes. This is partly because we don’t want to put the club in a position of having to explain ‘turning a blind – eye’ to the rules. Mind you since the current rules still create an impossible standard of 6.5m or 7m diameter wheels, no one can ride a legal bike anyway. However by at least covering off this aspect we could encourage the club to push harder on getting the rules changed, since insurance companies have been known to try to wriggle out of providing cover when the claimant has been in contravention of the rules before. There is no point giving them such ammunition.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:37 pm

27 January, ACTVCC Stromlo Criterium D grade

In the past parental responsibilities have prevented me (and us by default) from racing mid-week. This season I was able to get special leave to race track on Wednesdays, so we’ve got a few races in (see the track race report thread if you’re interested). However for the last few days of school holidays after the big trip, the kids were still in Melbourne, so we had a rare opportunity to get out for a crit on the Stromlo circuit.

The Tuesday night crits are the most popular races the club runs, and the circuit is smooth and flowing with no technical corners. It would be right up our alley if the course was flat, but there is at least a two or three tooth difference between the cogs used going up and going down, even without the wind. It isn’t much in the grand scheme of things but it is enough that we find ourselves under pressure on the climbs, and having a bit of extra speed on everyone going down.

The race was to be in the clockwise direction which means that the descent is in the back straight and an uphill sprint and was for 30min +2 laps. From the beginning we were under pressure but we were holding onto the bunch ok. We moved up the bunch when we could do so easily but spent a bit of time gasping for air at the back. Mind you we were a bit under done. This was only my second ride for the year and John hadn’t done much more. The accelerations were knocking us about a bit so I was doing my best to anticipate them to allow us to accelerate less violently. We did start to feel relatively better as the race went on, but we were really only making up the numbers. Then with two and a half laps to go, at the top of the hill the bunch just sat up with no one willing to go to the front. Importantly they left room down the sheltered side, so rather than allowing a slow surge fest to happen, we poured on the power and went off the front.

We quickly opened up a gap of 50m or so, and we held the gap for rest of the lap. Then up the hill we had first two an then another join us. Sadly they seemed to think that the route to victory would be to just suck our wheel for the rest of the way rather than actually coming through for a turn. Not surprisingly we ran out of steam and slowed and the rest of the field caught us at the bell. Not surprisingly we didn’t have much kick left, but we were pretty happy to come away placed about 6th out of 17 or so.

Slowing down after the race it was apparent that the other mishap I alluded to from Sunday was back to haunt us. On our warm up we went for a ride down the bike path, part of which was a concrete footpath. Unfortunately one of the joints was uneven and we hit the sharp edge hard and put a bulge in the rim. Not a problem with the discs, but effectively the end of the line with rim brakes. Oh well, fortunately we had enough spares around to build a new wheel.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:19 pm

3 February, ACTVCC Stromlo Criterium – D grade 30min +2

Well after failing to race on Sunday in a team Criterium due to other commitments for both of us, our next race on the road bike was another Tuesday evening crit. Fortunately I was able to take the kids to the track where they could entertain themselves whilst we were racing. Sadly Lachlan fell off his bike just before the start of the race but he was less upset by the graze on his elbow than he was about not being allowed to race.

As for us the race today was anti-clockwise around the circuit, which means an uphill surge for position, before a downhill sprint. There was a good field of 26 that took the line today in perfect conditions.

There was an early break of 4 riders that looked like a good chance so we seized the opportunity to chase across to them on the fast bit, and went on to do a turn. Sadly they weren’t interested in returning the favour. We weren’t prepared to tow them along for the next 20min, so the pace went out of the break and we were quickly swallowed up again. We were pleased that we seemed to be sitting in the bunch a bit more easily this week, although we are still just pack fodder rather than the movers and shakers of the grade. However with about 8 min to go, there was a lull at the top of the hill, so we took the chance to go for a long one. Like last week it was more a case of us failing to slow down when everyone else did rather than a particularly vicious attack, however we again opened up a gap pretty quickly. We were hoping that another couple of riders would come with us, but it was not to be, so after two laps and with the complete bunch closing in fast I decided to shut it down and recover.

It was not long before the 2 to go board was held out, and we started to move up. Unfortunately John felt the need for speed and poured on the power, so instead of just easing up toward the front he powered us out into clean air, where of course no one would come past. In a more violent surge up the hill the penultimate time we drifted back to virtually the tail of the bunch before we could find a spot big enough to slot into and so we went into the final lap near the back of the bunch with neither the time nor the energy to get up to a good position. We finished up mid pack, but still pleased with the ride we put in, especially the fact that we more comfortable with the speed this week. Our average for the day was 38.5 which is about as fast as we have ever gone for any distance.

Track day tomorrow. Looking forward to that.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:55 pm

Good average there, Cameron. 8)

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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:30 pm

Thanks foo, although it wasn't us pushing the pace. We were happy to let others do that, and we just chipped in where we could, or when others slowed.

I've got another couple of races to write up, but need some time to do so. My race reports can get a bit wordy.

The spoiler is that they were for a win and an 8th.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby find_bruce » Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:20 am

You must be the only cyclist on earth to hold back on telling everyone about a win. :D Looking forward to it Cameron

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:33 pm

8 February - Dairy Flat Points race 40min +1.

The day dawned sunny and with little wind so I collected John and we headed out to Dairy Flat for an early start (8.00 for C and D grades) and what was billed as a repeat of the same race as two weeks prior.

Sure enough the usual suspects were there and with a little persuasion the two breakaways from last time agreed to ride C grade. So at least on the line it looked like there would be a more evenly matched grade. Dairy Flat isn’t the most popular course being a hotdog circuit, with one of the turns being quite tight. I suspect that there are a number of riders who shy away from this course because they are bad at turning, which is sad because they are the ones who really need to race here to become better at it. Whatever the reason it was a fairly small group of 8 bikes on the line in D grade.

In the pre-race briefing we were told that the race would be run a bit differently this time as compared with the last. Last time the intermediate sprints were only worth 2 and 1 points for the first two riders, and there was a sprint every second lap and 3,2,1 points for the finish. This time it would be a sprint every lap for 3,2,1 points and 5,4,3,2,1 at the finish. Now this change would make a fundamental difference to the nature of the race, since with a more even grade, I suspected that the sprints would be hot, and the rest would be not, as people tried to recover with no appetite to offer shelter to the others.

John and I typically don’t like surgy races since sharp accelerations aren’t really our forte, however we were looking forward to getting in amongst the sprints and testing ourselves. For the first couple of laps we tried to find our groove. We definitely weren’t keen on being at the back of the bunch for the tight corner as the kick out of it was rapidly taking a toll, however the being at the front meant that we inevitably found ourselves staying there for longer than we’d like because people just don’t want to come past a tandem. However we picked up some early points and we were keeping an eye on two of the others who were scoring most of them. We had a new rider in the bunch, Liz who was clearly not new to racing, since she was riding confidently in the bunch and contesting sprints.

Mechanically, I ran the front tyre at a bit lower pressure (130psi), and John committed to having his hands on the drops to lower our CoG a bit which also tightens up the man/bike connection. The result was that our cornering was much more confidence inspiring than the fortnight prior.

Then after 15 minutes we were a bit further back than we really intended when the sprint started, and we put in a hard effort to come around the bunch. We may have even got up for third in this sprint (didn’t check the sheets) but importantly we had some good speed on. Now I’m not one to simply waste momentum since we work hard to earn it, and when the others sat up at the line we suddenly opened up a gap of 20m or so. Well this was too good a chance to waste so we powered out of the tight turn and back up the straight, knowing that the others would at least have to punch hard to get back in contact. Liz did just that and came across to our wheel pretty quickly. Shortly afterwards she came through for a turn without being prompted, so she clearly was of a mind to make a breakaway stick. Coming around for the next sprint, she didn’t make a real effort to fight for it, which confirmed this view.

Where possible I try to tell John a bit about what is going on in terms of tactics and positioning during the race. This time I told John in a loud voice that we were now in a break of two and that we would be working hard to stay away. As a consequence we would be sharing the points with Liz and not contesting the next sprint. It was likely that Liz was at least expecting this to be the case, however by stating it out loud this left no doubt. Consequently we took the lead before the wider turn and held it until Liz came through with 100m to go before the line.

Of course now we were in the fortunate position of not having to play any tactical games, and could just concentrate on going as fast as we could. Back in the pack they still had a point up for grabs each time they crossed the line, and there was no hope of sharing them evenly. Consequently there was a bit of tension between wanting to chase, but knowing that to do so would result in getting rolled at the line.

This really played into our hands and after a couple of laps our lead had extended to half a minute or so and we were simply maintaining the pace of the bunch. I was also comfortable in the knowledge that we had already built a lead of several points over Liz so if we continued to share the points evenly, we would finish ahead of her. Finally after 20min of the breakaway, the bell rang, and in the interests of clarity, we thanked Liz for riding with us and said that as the bell had rung, all bets were off for the final sprint.

Coming into the sprint we lead out, not entirely by accident, as we wanted to keep the speed reasonably high. I knew that Liz would be watching us like a hawk so at about 400m to go I popped out of the saddle to see if I could entice her to go early, but she wasn’t fooled so easily, even when John jumped out of the saddle too. However I thought that we could use another gear, so I stabbed at the shifter, but for some bizarre reason I hit the paddle twice and we went up two gears instead of one. Given the wide range cassette it was probably a 4 tooth difference, and the resulting gear was too big. By now we were committed to the sprint so there was no going back. Liz jumped around us and we wallowed away trying to get on top of the gear. She jumped ahead by a length, but we started coming back at her. 50m out she was still half a bike length up but we were closing. On the line it was too close to call. I still have no idea whether we got up or not, and frankly it doesn’t matter, the thrill of a close sprint is enough for me. What does matter was that we had a number of good close sprints, a successful breakaway, and in the end we came away with a win.

It was a great fun morning’s racing for us, and you can’t ask for more than that.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:06 pm

10 February – Stromlo criterium 29min +2

Well this should be a much shorter story because it was tactically less interesting.

The race would be clockwise today, meaning an uphill sprint, and the descent down the back straight. There was enough wind around to keep it interesting too.

Mechanically this was the first race on John’s #2 wheels. These are built with identical rims to his training wheels (with ultra heavy puncture resistant tyres) but running the Vittoria Voyager Hyper tyres on, which roll better and are lighter. They are nowhere near as light as the race wheels, but because the rims are identical to the training wheels, there is no need to adjust the brakes for a wheel swap, as is necessary for the race wheels. (at least after I trued and centred both sets).

From a racing point of view, we just cruised around with the bunch, did a few turns, but nothing dramatic and tried to keep some kick for the sprint. In the final lap we held our top third position up the hill, and then rolled (literally) to be at the front down the back straight. Here I made the fundamental blunder of allowing too many riders to come past in a big surge at collarbone corner. Coming out of the turn we had about 9 riders in front of us, and another 3 shot past as we came through the chicane. With only the sweeping right bend and the surprisingly tight left kink onto the straight to go, being 12 riders back is not a winning strategy. Anyway after a brief pedal touch in the left hander we straightened up and opened the taps. We only made it up to about 8th in the end, but we were pleased with being able to finish strongly and with gaining places in the sprint.

Better positioning is required for the next time we race in this direction. This week we’ll be racing anticlockwise, meaning a nice fast downhill sprint, but the positioning will have to be done whilst going uphill.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby foo on patrol » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:56 am

[emoji106]

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:25 pm

Damn dodgy internet connection...

I've lost a couple of posts recently, having written them and had them fail to submit.

Uriarra TT Sunday 22 February.

On Sunday John and I lined up for a TT on a flatish course. I say flatish but we did use most cogs in the cassette (11-30) since our speed varied from about 18km/h up the steepest bit, to 69.7 at the same place in the other direction. However it is at least the flattest available option for any road racing that we do. John doesn't have the desire (or the money) to set up a dedicated TT rig so we just went out on the road bike in it's normal configuration. Even clip-ons would require a bit of practice, which is difficult to arrange and without being set up properly it is likely that there wouldn't be any significant gain, and there will be a possibility for all sorts of pain.

Even though there was not much wind and sunny there was not a huge line up. It turned out that there were only 5 in D grade, although one of whom is entitled to wear rainbow bands on her skinsuit for the time-trial. Our plan was simple, settle in quickly ride up the hills as fast as we can, and make the most of our speed for the downhills, and keep some in reserve to negative split the second lap.

The execution worked out pretty well too. We did the first lap at an average of 33.2 km/h and were going ok. We did have a little drama with being overtaken by three or four motorbikes when we got to the first turn, but I could hear them coming. A well timed wiggle guided them onto the other side of the road, and only a second's delay was enough to see them past before we turned. The marshall was not very amused with them. In the end this was good enough for third in D grade, and amusingly also third in C grade, however there was only four of them, and the winner of D would also have been third even though she was 2:20 faster than us. We did manage to negative split the climbing section of the second lap which I was very pleased with, but overall the second lap was slower, so we ended up with an average of 33.0 km/h. Another good result and without trawling through all the previous posts I reckon that it will be our fastest TT average to date.

Sadly it was raining here this afternoon, so we decided that it wasn't worth going down for the criterium, given the soluble nature of the riders it was likely to be called off anyway. I wasn't keen on getting the bike set up for me in order to ride in the rain, get it dirty and then have to clean it and adjust it for another pilot to ride on Thursday.

Oh well, track night tomorrow.

Cheers,

Cameron
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