Tandem Tales

TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:09 pm

Hi Cameron,

Thanks for the Dalton race report, and I have enjoyed reading your Tandem Tales thread and found the trials and tribulations of setting up, maintaining and racing a tandem very interesting, I was looking forward to racing you and John at tandem friendly Dalton,and was disappointed when you raced C-grade, the D-grade race was very competitive and enjoyable, though with only 5 riders a bit light on competitors.

I am not sure if I can make the Dog Trap Road HC this weekend but will definitely make Lookout Hill GS, hope to see you and John then.

Tony

ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:23 pm

I hope you can make it tomorrow Tony.

We have traditionally done well at secret handicaps on this course, and people who ride with us often make it into the top 10, subject to the whims of the handicapper.

I have to bring the trophy with me because I managed to win it last year on my single bike by riding with Elton and Don on a tandem and others at various times. I helped them out on the hills and managed to do a few turns on the flats. We travelled fast when the going was favourable and had little sympathy for those who broke away from us up the hills.

Our strategy is pretty simple, warm up well, so that when the flag gets pulled in and the pressure comes on we can hold on to the fast men for as long as possible. The long uphill section to the Southern turn is where the first selection is made and will pretty much determine who we will be riding with for the rest of the race.

The gradual descent back to the start is really favourable to us, so we can pull a couple of strong turns to justify our usefulness to the bunch, and encourage them to at least think before riding away from us up the hills. If we manage to get up 'Pothole Hill' with a bunch there is good time to be made/preserved by working together through the exposed and windy undulating section. Whilst we do often roll away from people on the descent to the Northern turn, the advantage we get is wiped away fairly quickly on the climb back up. Hopefully the bunch will ease off and we can be with them or near them at the top. If so the rest of the way back to the start/finish is another opportunity for bunches to make good time especially in the wind.

What would make it difficult for us to beat any D graders who ride with us, is the little climb at about 2km from the finish. We are vulnerable to attacks there, and there is not enough distance between the top and the finish to close down more than about 10 seconds gap. To counter this on the second lap we will be trying to shake any D grade riders off on the descent of Pothole Hill before that, so we can start that final climb with a bit of an advantage. (Another tactic for a decent sprinter would be to just hold our wheel and take advantage of the uphill sprint to come past in the final 50m, but there aren't many decent sprinters in D grade.)

We are hoping to at least be in the top few in D grade tomorrow. As for next week, we are really really looking forward to the final 5km, but we are not so hopeful of being within cooee of the bunch by the time that we get to that point.

Cheers,

Cameron
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:57 pm

1 August, Dog Trap Road – Cole Family Handicap – 45km

This race has traditionally been run as a secret handicap with the whole field starting together, and then breaking up into small, evenly matched bunches as the race progresses. However the decision on the day was for the race to be run as a regular handicap. This changes the dynamics of the race a bit and tends to result in larger bunches toward the end of the race, often with few riders working, and a number of hangers-on. In a cross-wind from the left this results in bunches forming a single echelon taking up more road space than would be the case with an evenly matched bunch working together in a double echelon. This can be an issue on the narrow roads.

However a problem with the secret handicap format is that the finish times are spread out much further and it means that the winners won’t be known until the last rider comes in and their handicap is deducted from their total time. On the day it turned out that there was 45min difference between limit and scratch with is a long time for the fast finishers to hang around getting cold. Either way the only way to win a handicap is to work with whoever you can, for as long as you can, and as fast as you can.

We’d hoped for better weather than last week, but it was not to be. In fact the wind was even stronger and it would be a cross-wind for the entire race. This meant that it was just going to be a long hard slog for the whole day. What was worse was that there was a pretty low turnout for the day. This meant that even though there were 7 in the E grade bunch in front of us, and 12 in the C grade bunch behind us, there was only Tony B to ride with us in D grade. Now if I were to choose the perfect partner for us in this circumstance it would be for a slightly overweight sprinter type rider, whose cycling background includes lots of bunch riding in windy conditions. Unfortunately Tony B doesn’t fit that mould, he is far and away a better climber than us, and is not great at holding our wheel when we pick up speed. However we set out with 33 minutes deficit to Bernie on limit, and 10 minutes ahead of A grade. With gaps of 5 and 4 minutes to E and C grades respectively.

The start of the race is reasonably flat and we set about our task directly, being able to share the workload. We did roll away from Tony down the little dip into Pothole hill but he quickly closed back up again and dragged us up to the top. We battled our way through the exposed undulations as best we could, before we rolled away from him again on the descent to the Northern turn. The beauty of having U turns in a handicap is that it is encouraging to see how close you are getting to the other bunches, but it was still a long way out to Bernie in front. However we certainly had E grade in sight. This time when Tony caught us on the climb after the turn he had his sights set on reaching E grade, and he got close to them by the top of the hill, but it was not close enough. He would be chasing by himself until pretty much the start/finish line. We were also battling the wind by ourselves and were only gaining on the E grade bunch slowly. We picked up Liz along the way, and with the help of the downhill section from the Southern turn we finally caught the E grade bunch just after the start/finish line on our way out for the last leg. We were hoping for a bit of support seeing as we were still doing ok at that point, we were holding off C grade for the moment, and were gaining ground on a broken up F grade, and Bernie out in front. Unfortunately there was only sporadic help from Rosemary, Tony and Liz as we rode through the undulations and our efforts were not enough as C grade caught us at the top of the hill down to the Northern turn. Whilst we did slip away from the bunch, there was no way we could build enough of a lead down that section to be able to hold it on the return, and so it proved to be as C grade came past and built a gap that was going to be just too hard to chase down. Then to further demonstrate to us how much more work we have to do on our climbing Marc and Aaron from A grade came past us at about double our speed in their pursuit of the front of the race. It seemed to me that they were destined to be fighting it out for first and fastest time.

By now my rough headcount told me that there were more than 10 in front of us, but we fought our way on as best we could. We were encouraged by the sight of Polly and Bernie ahead and although we made up a lot of ground down Pothole Hill and a little more up the following climb it was not enough to catch Bernie. We did get past Polly in the final few metres to grab 12th. True to predictions Tony B did make it into the top 10 with 8th.

The end result was pretty clear that we are still a long way behind the bulk of C grade on anything that isn’t flat. Next week’s race is far from flat so we will definitely be in D. At least the course does have some good fast bits for a bit of hooning. Hopefully it will be less windy next week.

Cheers,

Cameron
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:18 pm

Lookout Hill 50km - D grade

It was perfect weather for racing, clear skies, cool temperatures and a light breeze. We were looking forward to a tough race, the weather was favourable but the terrain was not. This was another course that was either up or down, a lot like the Old Federal Highway course a few weeks ago, however this time the hills were bigger. However there were several of the same protagonists. It was a small group who faced the starter with just 5 others.

Unfortunately there was nearly no race at all, apparently a couple of the rostered marshals failed to show up which was a bit poor. However a couple of gents who turned up intending to ride opted instead to be marshalls. Greater club spirit has no man than he who sets aside his own race for his friends.

The course has three significant climbs Asthma Hill, Corin Intersection Pinch (CIP), and Birragai in addition to the finish climb up Lookout Hill. All of which were easily enough to see us gasping for breath as the others rode away from us. Fortunately however the course also has a glorious stretch of a couple of km near the end which has a 2% descent where we normally would have the 55x11 wound up to the max and be able to gain/make time. Today however we were riding a different bike. This one is a custom built Kotzur 853 steel tandem that is owned by Fitability. It had been having some ongoing brake dramas and with a new inner cable, brake pads and rotors (via the race wheels) this was a good chance to make sure that the problems really were solved. Besides it is also lighter than John’s bike and has a better drivetrain too, so all in all it is a better bike but sadly it only has a 52T big chainring so we couldn’t take full advantage of our favorite bit. It must have cost us seconds…

The race basically kept splitting up according to climbing ability going up, and everyone else would descend at much the same pace but we have a bit of extra speed going down and moved past Bryan, Phil M. At the first turn we were with Tony, Phil W and Ian. However by the time we got to the top of Asthma Hill, Tony was out front, Phil was waiting for us, and Ian was behind and destined to lose more ground with the long descent before the little bump of Lookout Hill for the turn at the half-way point.

I’ve noticed on a single bike that when there is little difference in outright speed between pedaling on the drops and coasting in an aero tuck that I could often drop people when in the tuck position, who would hold my wheel quite happily when I was pedaling. Consequently when I want to go fast and take people along I would pedal, and when I wanted to go alone I would roll. On steeper hills there is no comparison, rolling is always faster. In D grade however very few adopt an aero position which costs them a lot of speed. Surprisingly the same is also true on the tandem, even though John’s position doesn’t change.

We had a couple of opportunities to really demonstrate the effect on this day, both of them with Phil from the top of Asthma Hill. The first part of the descent is a pedaling descent but it gradually gets steeper. Phil came with us both times whilst we were pedaling, but where the hill got steeper and we started rolling the elastic just snapped.

On the first lap we were chasing Tony, and we both caught and passed him not long after Pt Hutt Rd. Whilst we opened a gap by the base of Lookout Hill, it was quickly washed away again in the space of a few hundred meters when Tony was 35s faster up the climb and he made it to the half-way point first.

On the second lap Tony cleared out up Asthma Hill, we were caught by Phil and Ian and would ride with them or at least in their vicinity until near the turn where Ian dropped away. Similarly we stayed with or close to Phil until the start of the Asthma Hill descent where he came with us through the pedaling part, but dropped off when it got steeper.

We could see that we were gaining on Tony down the final run to the base of Lookout Hill but he was simply too far ahead. We were expecting Phil to come back at us up the final climb, but I think he dropped his chain again and lost too much time. We didn’t know that at the time and were pleased to set a new team record up Lookout Hill despite being at the end of a tough race. It is encouraging to see that we continue to improve.

Cheers,

Cameron
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:00 pm

Corin Road Hillclimb

I like bike racing.

I like sprinting, I like the cut and thrust of getting into position, and launching a withering/ed burst of speed to snatch a win right on the line.

However I also know that to be in a position to sprint, I have to be at the pointy end of the race when it counts. Sometimes this means putting your opponents under pressure when you can in order to either shake them, or at least weaken them enough so that they can’t return the favour. Sometimes it means doing nothing when they attack because you know that they can’t hold off a bunch by themselves for 20km. Sometimes it simply means that you have to grovel at the back and cling on for as long as possible because if you can just get to the final few hundred metres there is still a chance to mix it with the stronger riders.

I like listening to the others breathe to determine whether they are struggling or not, I like hearing them groan when you make an effort that they can’t respond to, and I particularly like it when you can winkle out a victory through guile, or timing, against riders who are stronger and who should have beaten you.

A time trial however does not afford the opportunity for direct tactical interactions with your opponents. Even worse is a hill-climb TT because you know that there is nowhere to hide it is simply rider vs hill.

Which brings us to the Corin Rd TT. I haven’t been up this road since visiting the toboggan with a mate in 1989. I can’t even remember ever riding it, although I am familiar with it’s reputation of being a hard ride.

Readers of my race reports will know that I have no great love of hills particularly when riding on a tandem with John. We had no plans or hopes for D grade glory on this day, it was simply going to be a battle of us vs the hill.

The hill is a hard enemy to read. It doesn’t attack, it has no emotion, it can’t be fooled, it gives way reluctantly and with relentless opposition. Any ground you make against it has to be earned. They say that the A grade climbers don’t do it any easier, they just go faster, so to that end the hill is hostile to us all. Its conquest requires the best of all riders. Being a new course the opportunity to race this hill may never come again.

But why, some say, this hill? Why choose this as our goal? We choose to climb the hill… we choose to climb the hill on this day not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, or at least reach the summit.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, was asked why did he want to climb Mount Everest. He said, "Because it is there." The race was on, we were available to do it. We came, we climbed and we conquered. Yes we lost over one minute per kilometer against Trevor (the winner of D grade), but we were victorious against the hill.

I am greatly looking forward to doing battle with people rather than terrain next weekend.

Cheers,

Cameron.
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TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:33 am

Thanks for another great race report Cameron, Kudos to you and John for turning up to the hill climb TT as most Vets members did not as they are the ones that missed out on a very enjoyable TT race.

I am not surprised that Trevor did well on this course, he is also a very accomplished endurance/mountain runner.

Tony

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby foo on patrol » Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:59 am

[emoji106] Cameron.

Foo
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:58 pm

It's been a bit quiet here for a while, so I better at least update the happenings here in Canberra.

Stromlo Points Race – C grade - 29 August 2015

Well I was looking forward to a Points Race, even in preference to the NSW Para-cycling TT championship on the same day. I had other priorities on that day anyway, and the hundreds of dollars to enter was a bit of a turn off, however it was reasonably local and even coming last would have got a spot on the podium. Besides I also happen to like riding on the flat roads around Breadalbane.

Anyhow we turned up for a race on the crit circuit looking forward for some fun but it turned out that there was only one other rider to sign on for C grade. There was some discussion on the line about what to do, our opponent wasn’t particularly keen on a series of match sprints for 40min (it was his first appearance for the year). D grade was not keen on a couple of interlopers stealing all the points, so in the end D grade had a race, and we rode around at the back. We made ourselves useful by offering a wheel to dropped riders, and towing them back into the bunch, and also offering posing some tactical questions to the bunch along the lines of: “So…Des is up the road, are you going to chase him down or let him ride away with it?”

Despite riding in the wind for much of the time we were never put under pressure by the accelerations, confirming that we really are not D grade riders in criteriums. Since we didn’t have much of a race, we thought that we would line up at the back of B grade for the next race and see if we could hang on. We managed to hang in there for the first 15 minutes so, which made us think that perhaps we could race with them over summer. However two races in a row was too much, and that was as much as we could handle for the moment, so we gracefully withdrew.

The smooth surface and the shadows cast by the bright sunshine allowed me to observe that John has an issue with bouncing on his saddle at higher revs. This goes a long way to explain why his Flyer saddle recently broke. This has prompted a review of his saddle height, and I’ve dropped it a bit, to see if that makes a difference. Unfortunately I don’t often get the opportunity to see John riding, particularly when under pressure, when the symptoms of poor bike fit are most prominant. In the meantime I have stuck an unsprung saddle on the race bike.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:42 pm

Club Championships – Uriarra

I guess I will put this here, as even though I wasn’t riding a tandem, the story is mostly about tandems, combined with some daft decisions and poor communication.

John and I haven’t previously taken part in the club championships, mostly because rather than being grouped on ability the club is divided into age groupings and there are plenty of A grade riders in our age group. At least for the moment we are both M3. (We did suggest that if you combined our ages we’d be 95, but that didn’t wash). We did turn up and ride the criterium championships without anyone making any comment.

This time around Ashley and Don expressed a willingness to enter, and rather than just turn up on the day and expect to race they flagged it with the race committee first. I thought the biggest issue would be to do with age category, since although Ashley is M3, Don is M5 (or M6). It might seem logical to take the average of their ages and race according to whatever group that puts them in, however administratively, the club’s computer system was not designed with tandems in mind and the way they are entered is to choose one rider to enter, and then modify the details. On this basis it was easiest to enter the youngest rider and ride in that grade. You’d think that notionally this would be ‘upgrading’ the team and put them at a disadvantage which shouldn’t bother anyone.

However as we have seen in other threads A grade riders can be a bit precious and don’t like being taken out of their happy little comfort zone and will get all narky when it happens. That is what seems to have happened here.

First came an announcement from the race committee during the week

The tandem riders have enquired about competing in the championships. We've given them provisional approval based on the "no-chase-down rule" which means the tandems aren't allowed to bring back individual riders who've been dropped or bring riders up to those in a breakaway. This will require a degree of restraint and from both individuals and tandems in certain circumstances. A certain percentage of club riders have shown in the past an inability to think and ride at the same time so this is a trial. Tandems can still launch an attack on the bunch and it's up to individuals to respond as they see fit. Don and Ashley would like to compete in the 45-49 category. Please contact the race.committee@actvets.cc if you oppose this idea.


This seemed a bit bizarre to me, since (particularly in a championship) why would anyone choose to do all the work unless it actually improved their chances of winning. Besides if someone on a single bike were to do this that’d be fine (stupid but fine), but it is now somehow unfair if a tandem does it? The other thing was that if a breakaway does go down the road does that mean that the tandem sits on the back of the bunch and only offer some words of encouragement to assist? Then if the chase is successful they can then launch an attack?
The response I got did nothing to clarify things.

Hi Cameron,
Yes, you raise valid points but you can't compare yourselves to individual riders because of your downhill advantage and the course we will be riding has a long downhill. It would be rather unfair if a rider was maintaining a break on the downhill only to have the tandem bring all the bunch back to them. This was my attempt to let Don and Ashley ride but at the same time maintain a "championship" race. It would have been easier to tell them they couldn't ride but I didn't want to do that, and Don and Ashley agreed that they wouldn't nullify breaks and provide advantages to those that could sit on their wheel.
When I ride down a grade after coming back injury or illness, I try not to influence the race by putting in minimal efforts in chasing bunches and respecting the attack. Given this is a championship, I'd expect tandem riders to do the same. In any other event, you can do what you like.

Of course the first point that struck me about this reasoning was that being since it was an out and back course, the long downhill stretches turned into long uphill stretches in the other direction which disadvantage the tandems, yet there was no corresponding “no-drop rule” to limit the tandem’s disadvantage over these stretches. :roll: The bit that really got my goat was the reference to riding down a grade. Given that in this instance Ashley and Don were effectively riding up a grade that surely had no relevance. I still don’t understand what is meant by “respecting the attack”. I certainly have made decisions to not chase particular attacks in races, and encouraged others to not chase as well. On those occasions there was absolutely no respect involved. It was precisely because I had no respect for the rider’s abilities and knew that the rider/s involved had no chance of being able to sustain the effort for the next half hour that I decided not to chase. When riders do have a chance of being able to go on with the break, that is definitely the time to chase and I do it because I respect their abilities. In the end however this whole approach was based on the idea of there being a reasonable sized grade and it seems that the decision maker/s were thinking of a tandem dragging a whole bunch back to an individual or pair. When there are only 5 riders it becomes a bit difficult to tell who comprises the bunch and who is the breakaway/dropped.

BTW I have thoughts on this ‘tandem downhill advantage’ which I’ll put into a subsequent post but on this course it really doesn’t exist.

Following this was a little more correspondence which basically concluded that it was ok if the tandem behaved like a single bike. However this was not communicated to the other riders, and this is what was to cause grief on the day.

Since John and I had no chance of featuring amoung the results for this race, I put my name forward as a marshall, however there were enough riders around with a similar approach, and I wasn’t needed. It turned out that John was sick so there was no chance of us entering just to make up the numbers, so I actually had the opportunity to dust off (literally) my race bike and ride by myself.

Now I’m not particularly sure what grade I’d ride on my single bike since I have lost quite a bit of weight since I was last riding a single regularly, but I suspect that I’d be a solid C grade rider. I still don’t climb all that well, but I can suck wheels with the best of them anywhere else. Fundamentally my race plan was to try and hold on as long as possible and then to see if there were any stragglers left to finish with. Of course if the others were generous enough to let me get to the finish with them then I was certainly planning on contesting the sprint.

The course is a bit like a T except the cross bar is much longer than the stem with the start/finish located at the intersection. The stem of the T is undulating but mostly up before it drops to the turn, the left part of the crossbar is uphill and the run from there to the other end is a long gentle downhill to the lowest part of the course.

In the end there were only 7 bikes that took the start in M3 (unlike larger bunches in M2 an particularly M4), four of whom (including the tandem) were A grade riders, myself and one other from C grade, and one from E grade. We had only just rolled away from the start when the first attack was launched by two riders. The tandem was on the front at the time and I was on their wheel. I didn’t wait to see if they would respond I just rode across the gap while it was still only half a dozen bike lengths. Mind you I had no intention of being anything other than ticket collector, and in fairly quick time there was a group of 5 leaving the others to ride a long way by themselves. I survived the hills out to the first turn and was travelling ok. On the way back Steve put in an attack which hardly seemed serious but a gap opened up as Ashley and Don declined to chase. Since it was downhill at this point I went across (told you it wasn’t serious) and this seemed to stir the others into life as they came across too and the five of us were all together again at the homestead.

Another attack went away up the hill to the short turn with two riders going away, leaving the chase group of a tandem who didn’t want to be seen to be chasing, an A grade rider who didn’t seem like he wanted to chase, and a C grader who saw no particular reason to be setting the pace for the other two, since they were likely to be riding away in the not too distant future anyway. So it was an uneasy pursuit along the downhill stretch. No-one shirked their turns, but it wasn’t a flat-out desperate chase by any means. It didn’t need to be however since the leading pair were hardly riding a flat-out and desperate escape attempt either. When we caught them again I put in a little attack for no particular reason other than the sheer joy of still being with the leaders, but it took me out of earshot briefly. Unfortunately this meant that I didn’t hear the exchange that took place between Ashley and Steve (who was having his first road race with the club for the season). From what I gathered after the event, Steve apparently seemed to think that the no chase rule meant that he could ride as slowly as he liked without being caught by a group containing the tandem. Now Ashley is a much nicer person than I am and rather than call Steve out as being a sooky-la-la he instead decided that it wasn’t worth the aggravation and they pulled out on the spot. So it was a bit of a surprise when there was only three who joined me, and it wasn’t a happy bunch. Just after the turn is the steepest of the climbs for that false flat return and I was quickly dispatched from the back of the bunch.

Well since my race was pretty much over at that point all I had to do was stay ahead of those who had been dropped inside the first km. I had already well and truly exceeded my expectations so there wasn’t much left to ride for. I did keep the pressure on partly to see what sort of average I could maintain, but also to make sure that the others didn’t switch off completely. Sean was dropped through the hilly bit, and was providing something of a rabbit to chase but it never really looked like I’d catch him.

So all in all pretty much everyone came away with a bad experience on the day. Ashley and Don didn’t get to race. Steve went on to win a pretty hollow victory, since there is no reason why he couldn’t have won even if the tandem was there, and there was just a bit of bad feeling all round.

Oh and just in case you thought I was a bit harsh about the lack of pace of the “breakaway” on the downhill stretch, Strava tells me that as a group of 3 (for the most part) we covered the 7.4km segment in 10:47 on the first lap, and on the second I covered the segment in 10:51 by myself whilst tiring. So it seems that if I decided on that first lap that I would work for Ashley and Don (and Sean), I could have chased them back up to the leaders by myself, and left them fresh to launch their own attack later. Of course that would be entirely within the rules, but hardly fair.

In hindsight had the rule not been imposed it would have been a much better day, not least of which because I had a marginally better chance to hold the tandem’s wheel on the climbs and might have been able to go further before getting dropped.

However enough is enough for this report.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:04 pm

It would seem to me, Cameron, that indeed the shear stupidity of officialdom has no bounds and what the hell is it with the jerks that call themselves A-graders? :roll:

Personally, I don't give a rats arse, if you turn up on a MTB and want to race, just get out there and race and encourage people too race. Oh wait, that would be to logical and productive to grow the sport!! Bunch of short sighted fools. :evil:

Foo
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:05 pm

To be fair Foo, like football umpires the officials make a great many mundane decisions that I and all riders would thoroughly agree with, but don't get noticed or appreciated it is only the odd poor decision that causes irritation.

On the other hand this weekend the club had arranged to do a two race mini-tour with an age-standard TT in the morning and a short road race in the afternoon. The course was a bit of a non-climber's paradise with lots of fast flat and windswept roads particularly for the final few km into Breadalbane. I was terribly disappointed to have family commitments taking me away from being able to race this one since I have long lamented the lack of road races that give gravitationally challenged riders a genuine chance.

This is at least the third new course the club has tried this season, as well as some new formats, like teams points-races. This all indicates a willingness to provide interesting racing. If they just let go of the erroneous notion that a tandem is somehow different to a single bike I'll be a lot happier.

As for the equipment regulations, given that we ride with an organisation where if the rules were taken literally, no bikes would be allowed to race at all we are probably pushing it uphill a bit. However in principle I agree with you entirely, bike racing should be available to anyone who rides a bike. To require someone to buy a new bike before they even have a chance to pin a number on is an unnecessary barrier... at least disc-roadies have been included this year.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby WPH » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:38 pm

Cameron


My old 40H rear rim is cactus.

I see that in recent years you have built or rebuilt a 700c 40H wheel or two. What are my rim options? Did you go with the Chinese option? How $$? How long did delivery take? Was there a minimum order?


Cheers


Will

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:29 am

WPH wrote:Cameron


My old 40H rear rim is cactus.

I see that in recent years you have built or rebuilt a 700c 40H wheel or two. What are my rim options? Did you go with the Chinese option? How $$? How long did delivery take? Was there a minimum order?


Cheers


Will


Hi Will,

Sorry for the delay I haven't been writing posts much lately.

I went with a Taiwanese mob called Newson Sportec. They also have an eBay presence as laloma123, and I found them via an add for rims and spokes and I just asked if they could do 40 hole rims.

I got 4 rims, 160+ spokes, 160 titanium nipples, and matching tool for just a tick over $500 USD delivered. (That was in 2012 when the exchange rate was more favourable). Of that nearly $200 US was on the nipples (a folly but a bit of fun), and $70US for spokes. So that ended up being about $60 US per rim when the cost of shipping was included. (The shipping came to a bit over $100US but I don't know whether it would be cheaper for rims alone).

I was even able to test their warranty support, when one rim turned up damaged. I sent them an email with a couple of photos and they simply sent out another rim the following day for no charge.

I asked at the time if they would do 40 hole clincher rims and they said that they would do a minimum order of 5 rims.

As it happens one of John's Mavic rims has died (cracks around the spoke holes) so with that and another front hub I have lying around I could use one or two rims too. (I don't really need to build another 40spoke front wheel though).

Another option is Erdmann rims. They are also made in Taiwan, but are sold via Germany. They had a good deal on Tandem wheels a while ago, but the current shipping costs are a bit prohibitive.

There are a few other rims that pop up every now and then on ebay.

Cheers,

Cameron
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:43 pm

Well the (Iron) Mike Hcp came and went, without any of the controversy of the last race.

I was the defending champion from when I rode D grade with Don last year, but John was available for this edition, and he doesn’t climb as well as Don does. I suspect that John was still suffering from being sick the previous weekend. Ultimately from a racing point of view, D grade dropped us on the hills, and we caught and passed them on the descents, until eventually the gains they made on the climbs took them out of reach on the descents and we slipped quietly out of contention.

The course for the race was based at Uriarra Homestead and went from there to the end of the bitumen for the top turn, then down to Uriarra crossing and back to the homestead for one lap, and then do it again to finish. The terrain includes a serious climb to the top of Blue Range Spur, a descent to Condor Ck, and another serious climb to the end of the bitumen. As described in the Club championships race the previous week, the road from the base of the Blue Range descent on the return, to the crossing is pretty much a gentle descent all the way.

What this race did let us do was to confirm where we stand relative to other riders in different terrain. It will be no surprise to anyone that D grade got away from us up the Blue Range climb, what was a pleasant surprise was that the gap was small enough that we were able to catch them again before Condor Ck, and similarly we nearly caught them again at Condor Ck on the way back, pretty much proving that on average D grade is about right for us in a regular road race with hills.

I suspect that in a flat TT we would still be within the umbrella of C grade times. Hopefully we might be toward the front end, but certainly not markedly faster. After all tandems don’t offer the huge aero advantage that some people think they do. Otherwise you’d think that there would be some track event where tandems were faster than single bikes, yet at every distance from the flying 200m to the hour, the best singles are better than the best tandems.

What I found really interesting was our downhill comparison with C grade, who we would usually race flat races with.

We know that we go fast on steep downhills, including being faster than other tandems. In fact there is at least one tandem team I know who I have ridden away from on a single bike on a descent. We are fast partly because we are reasonably aero, and also because we are heavy. I am the only pilot I know to adopt the preying mantis position on descents. I am also relatively fast around corners on both a single bike and a tandem, and since most steep hills involve some high speed corners we can look really fast compared to the people we race against. My observation is that many of the lower grade riders don’t try to get any more aero than by bending their elbows a bit in the drops so they really give away a lot of speed. Strava shows that if the hill is so steep that it is faster to roll, we are as fast as anyone in the club. However the steep descents are only a small part of a course.
The downhill comparison came about because C grade virtually caught us at the top of Blue Range Spur on the return lap. They got to within a few bike lengths before we got up to speed. Sure enough we rolled away from them on the descent of the Spur, and we built a lead until we had to start pedaling again. This was near enough to the top turn from the week before, i.e. the “long downhill stretch where a tandem has an advantage”

Now we weren’t hanging around, it was a handicap race after all and we still had designs on catching D grade again, and hopefully getting some help from them to get back up the gradual climb from the crossing, and see how long we could hold C grade off. Part of the plan was successful, we did catch D grade 1km past the homestead, but a head check revealed that C grade was only a few seconds back and closing fast. Apparently the ‘tandem advantage’ is not of sufficient magnitude for us to hold off a working bunch of our flatland peers or if the situation was reversed we wouldn’t be able chase them down.

We did have one more bit of fun during the race. The scratch bunch caught us just before the top of Blue Range Spur on the way out for the second lap but only got by us by a few seconds. We were able to chase them down on the descent, and were even able to pull a turn before the road pointed up again, but after that it was just the stragglers coming past us for the rest of the way and we were the last riders to finish.

Ashley reckoned that A grade owed us a coffee for our one turn of pace but I doubt that we were much of an influence. In the end there were three hardy survivors from C grade to grace the podium, followed by the four fastest A graders of the day.

I’m confident that that is sufficient words for one post. I still have to write up the reports of the first criterium for the season in this thread, and to put something in the Track reports thread.

Cheers,

Cameron
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WPH
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby WPH » Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:54 pm

Cameron

I buckled and bought a Velocity Dyad 40H 700c rim from Amazon. This will build a better wheel than the original equipment, the Matrix rims (Trek house brand in early 1990s) are notorious for cracking. Dyad has doublewall and machined braking surfaces. I will get the LBS to source spokes and nipples and do the build. I am hoping the bike can be back on the road by 1 November.

In the meantime we are enjoying riding single roadbikes around a bit.

Thanks for your information re rims, btw.

I did Iron Mike with CCC B grade in about 2004, got into the front group of 4 going out to the turn at the dirt no problems, feeling good. Then the right STI lever got stuck and wouldn't change to smaller cogs off the 23T cog, I had only the 39/52T rings to play with. Got squeezed off the back on the 3 Sisters and rolled home at Deeks in about 5th. Disappointing but that's racing. In later days I could have ridden up there on the BCR & 23, painful but possible.

Great to read your race reports, keep 'em coming. My stoker is catching the cycling bug, might be interested in vets racing one day...

Will

ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:06 pm

Hi Will,

The Dyads have been a tandem standard for a long time. Duck! has reported a drop off in Velocity quality recently, but it is quite possible that the small volume items like 40 and 48 hole rims have been sitting around for longer and may pre-date this. I do know that they don't like running wide tyres at high pressures, so don't go overboard with the pump.

As for the race reports:

First of the Summer Crits

Finally it looks as if we can manage to race mid-week, which is going to be good for us. We lined up in C grade as we typically race with them on the flat. It was destined to be a short, hard effort being only 20min +2 laps.

We were racing in our less-favoured clockwise direction, but we were feeling confident nonetheless. We have sprinted well at the C grade level before.

We settled in at the back of the bunch, just to watch what was going on. It was a good turn out with 18 starters, so the bunch was big enough to hide in without being too unwieldy. However the bunch was also big enough that it experienced the ‘caterpiller’ effect of extending and contracting as we came through the tighter corners. So whilst sitting at the back was easy enough, I was feeling that the constant accelerations were going to take their toll. Besides, I was bored at the back of the bunch after three laps, so I decided that we would punch out of the last corner and move up on the finish straight.

The plan was to go to the front, do a turn, and then quietly slip back into the front third of the bunch. The bunch was travelling quickly enough but a determined effort saw us moving forward at a good rate, when all of a sudden the rider at second wheel decided that it was now a good time to attack. Geoff was a new rider, so no-one knew how strong he was but he opened a gap instantly. Since we had already wound up to speed, we hit the turbo and set off after Geoff. Geoff wasn’t hanging around, so it took a while for us to get across to him, but we did manage to do so alone.

So there we found ourselves with 15 min to go in a break of 2 with a decent sized bunch behind. However we had a decent gap and were prepared to work for the whole race. Geoff was riding very strongly, he gapped us a couple of times when he came through, but we were always able to close it down again.

Back in the bunch there must have been a bit of gentlemanly "After you – No I insist, after you" conversations going on. Because we got out to a lead of nearly a minute at one stage. Either that or there was a conspiracy at foot to just throw the race and pressure the handicapper into bumping us up a grade. Towards the end the gap started to close a bit, but it became pretty obvious that it was going to be a match sprint for the win.

I didn’t play the end-game as well as I could, but Geoff was clearly the stronger rider, so we weren’t disappointed when he took the race out. We were pretty happy to come second, and the average of 39.6 was pretty solid too. We may have averaged 40 for the first time if we didn’t waste so much time soft pedaling on the last lap. We might beat the handicapper to the jump and ride B grade next week anyway.


Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ft_critical » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:48 am

ironhanglider wrote:We have sprinted well at the C grade level before.

... but it became pretty obvious that it was going to be a match sprint for the win.



Cameron, how does one sprint a tandem? Do you both stand up? Do you rehearse it/practice it? In general (making broad assumptions and ignoring all those small minds who point out the minutiae of why those assumptions may be invalid 1 in 1000 times) is a tandem likely to be faster in a sprint than a normal road bike?

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:46 pm

ft_critical wrote:
ironhanglider wrote:We have sprinted well at the C grade level before.

... but it became pretty obvious that it was going to be a match sprint for the win.



Cameron, how does one sprint a tandem? Do you both stand up? Do you rehearse it/practice it? In general (making broad assumptions and ignoring all those small minds who point out the minutiae of why those assumptions may be invalid 1 in 1000 times) is a tandem likely to be faster in a sprint than a normal road bike?


Good questions ft.

Standing on a tandem is one of the more advanced skills of tandem riding. How well you can do it depends a lot on the team and the how well in sync the riders are. If only one person stands it is like riding a loaded touring bike, you end up holding the bike still and bobbing around over the top of it like Contador. I can't imagine it working in a sprint but I have seen it often enough climbing.

As a result standing is generally done both at the same time which requires practice to establish a routine. If the team is not coordinated when they stand some weird things can happen until you get back into rhythm. It may only be half a pedal stroke, but that can be enough to send the bike off line in an uncontrolled manner, which is not suitable in the middle of a bunch. The effect is worse with heavier stokers. I have ridden with much lighter stokers and we could get away with much greater sins than I can with John. Most teams will have some sort of cue arranged to coordinate the movements. Some teams ride really smoothly together, and may be able to get away with less obvious cues. I've never seen teams like Oztandem live, but they have it all sorted.

As for John and I we practice standing, but we don't generally stand in a sprint unless we are in total control of the situation. John's vision isn't good enough for a visual cue, so I will usually announce the manoeuvre with an "up". However I will have usually pre-warned him so that he is not caught by surprise. Unfortunately this means that we don't catch others by surprise much. We also don't seem to sustain much in the way of a high cadence when we are out of the saddle, so standing is only useful for the initial jump and we will end up seated again pretty quickly anyway. For the most part we will stay seated for the entire performance.

As for whether tandems are faster, the short answer is no. A tandem team is no more than the sum of it's parts. The fast tandems are ridden by fast riders.

For us what tends to happen is that we accelerate more slowly but can sustain speed for longer. Our best sprints have been when someone got nervous and jumped early and we have overhauled them near the line. We don't have as good a record from leading out, possibly because we can't open up any sort of gap, and we punch a big hole in the wind, giving people an armchair ride until they choose to pick us off. On the other hand the shock of coming out of our shelter and into the wind, combined with being much longer, means that riders have misjudged in the past and failed to get past us in time.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:57 pm

First B grade crit.

We guessed that our efforts of last week would not go unnoticed and that there might be some loud grumblings if we lined up in C grade again even though they have demonstrated an ability to chase us down in the past if only they could work together. Mind you looking at the results it seems that our breakaway partner of last week rode C grade again and took out another win, so I suspect that he will be tapped on the shoulder before next week.

So in the spirit of jumping before we were pushed we lined up in B grade. The weather was suitably atmospheric with darkening clouds and storms predicted. There was some lightning on the horizon later on in the race, but the rain held off.

There was a large bunch of 31 in B grade, it is a nice change to have healthy numbers. What was also a nice change was the behavior of the bunch. It seemed to me that everyone was riding with consideration for each other and there were few moments of concern. That was until the A grade bunches (they had split into three groups) started to come past and the shouts of ‘stay left’ seemed to get ignored until they were almost in a position to physically push the recalcitrant riders out of the way. Mind you I am a little puzzled as to why the third bunch found the need to try and get past at all. They caught us on their last lap, and there was already 8-10 riders up the road, so they had no chance of featuring in the placings and it seemed totally unnecessary to me. They ended up finishing just in front of us as we were receiving the bell to start our last lap and to their credit when they finished they cleared right off to the sides of the track to allow us to go past, showing more respect to our bunch than we did to theirs, so kudos to them.

As for us we sat in the bunch and for the most part kept a low profile near the back. We did move up a couple of times and did a couple of turns, just to hold our end up, but we had no reason to drag the whole bunch around. Some might have described the progress of the race as dull, since even though there were a couple of breakaway attempts, none really looked like being able ride away with it, so they were reeled in without much fuss. However just riding in the bunch was a hoot. It was just straight out fast, bunch riding.

In the last few laps I was not prepared to go up and fight for position, so we just sat back and watched. In the end we were able to finish with the bunch reasonably comfortably, and enjoyed the faster pace. In fact it was our worst ever placing in a criterium, but it was one of the most fun races we have had, so we came away buzzing. We also managed a fastest-ever average speed of 42.3km/h so the bunch was travelling pretty well.

After 3 pedal touches during the race I’m going to be rotating the eccentric to raise my BB and give me a bit more cornering clearance, particularly since next week will see us riding clockwise, which would otherwise force us to roll in the sprint zone for a few pedal turns when everyone else is winding up.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:57 pm

B grade race report 27 October 2015

After a successful debut in B grade last week, (well we stayed with the bunch at least) we lined up in B again for some fun in the opposite direction.

The bike had had some much needed mechanical attention during the week and we had finally silenced the various creaks and groans, and raised the pilot’s bottom bracket for better cornering clearance.

The weather wasn’t bad, but it was windy which seemed to reduce the overall numbers for the night, but not in B grade with 33 starters. However the wind was always going to make it hard, which seemed to take away any desire people had to do any work.

Predictably there is always a few riders who will rely on everyone else’s lack of enthusiasm and started hard just to see what would happen. Almost immediately a group of 4 or 5 riders opened up a gap which would be maintained for the whole race, although there was a few riders who joined them later on.

The bunch was either content to let them go, or more likely was full of individuals who didn’t see the point in doing the work to bring them back if it meant dragging another 25 riders with them who were going to do them over at the end. Whilst there is no doubt that if a dozen riders got organised they could have brought the break back easily without destroying their own chances, the problem is getting that level of organization happening. So as a result the few that did go to the front weren’t driving the pace much, and the break stayed out in front by half a minute for most of the race.

I get the impression that the break wasn’t working particularly well either because I was expecting them to ride out of sight. John and I went to the front a couple of times to do our bit, but we quickly found ourselves hung out to dry, with no support coming through, and just as it is for anyone else we were neither capable of chasing the break back by ourselves, nor were we inclined to. As a result the longer we were on the front, the slower we rode, and all the while the break was still up the road. I can appreciate that we punch a pretty big hole in the air making it extra easy to sit on our wheel, but we are no more difficult to pass than a single bike. Like most people who like to compete, I am willing to do some work whilst it improves my chances of a good placing, I generally won’t do so if it only improves the chances of others. Pro riders might sit on the front of the peloton for kms at a time to bring back a break, but they are being paid to do that in order to improve the chances of a teammate. The last time I checked there were no teams in Vets B grade, and there was certainly no money changing hands.*

(If I have got that wrong, please present your argument to me in a brown paper bag before the next race – large denominations preferred).

So after it became obvious that the race was going to be decided ahead of us, we looked to get some value out of the night. We launched an attack at the bell to see how far we could stretch the bunch, and to see what sort of effort we could muster at the end of a race. We did manage to close the gap somewhat, and there was even a split in the bunch that opened up. Not surprisingly when the sprint opened up a number of riders came past in order to squabble over the very minor placings, but we were more than happy with our efforts to finish in the front half of the bunch.


Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ft_critical » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:10 am

ironhanglider wrote:but it was windy which ... However the wind was always going to make it hard, which seemed to take away any desire people had to do any work.

Predictably there is always a few riders who will rely on everyone else’s lack of enthusiasm and started hard just to see what would happen. Almost immediately a group of 4 or 5 riders opened up a gap which would be maintained for the whole race, although there was a few riders who joined them later on.

The bunch was either content to let them go, or more likely was full of individuals who didn’t see the point in doing the work to bring them back if it meant dragging another 25 riders with them who were going to do them over at the end. Whilst there is no doubt that if a dozen riders got organised they could have brought the break back easily without destroying their own chances, the problem is getting that level of organization happening. So as a result the few that did go to the front weren’t driving the pace much, and the break stayed out in front by half a minute for most of the race.

... I am willing to do some work whilst it improves my chances of a good placing, I generally won’t do so if it only improves the chances of others.


My opinion: when it is raining, when it is windy, get in the early break.

This is like a case study of why getting in the break can work and it is a better idea than sitting in the peleton.

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:19 pm

3 November B grade Crit


My observations of the crit racing in recent weeks is that there only seems to be a few riders who do any amount of work in the wind with probably two thirds of the bunch only prepared to just circulate in the company of others. However it doesn’t seem to me as if they are all saving themselves for the sprint either. When it comes to the last lap there are typically less than ten riders intent on getting themselves into position for the sprint, and only half of them are going to be in with a chance of winning.

I have no problem with the notion of contesting a sprint if it comes to a whole bunch finish and I’d give myself as good a chance as anyone else. However it is much easier to win a sprint from a group of 5 then it is from a group of 30. Besides, the best way to change a culture of passive racing is to make sure that it is going to be unsuccessful.

Which brings me to this week’s race. Having seen the result from the previous week when the break was successful and the bunch was only sprinting for pride, John and I were determined to play a more active role. The race was to be in our favorite anticlockwise direction with a downhill sprint. The wind was up again, and even better for us was a headwind down the hill, and a tailwind for the way back up.

There were a few early salvos, but there was always someone ready to chase. We tried to get involved a couple of times but we weren’t able to open any sort of gap. A small group of 4 or 5 got away briefly before melting away leaving one rider on his own. We seized the advantage of a brief lull to have a serious dig at bridging up to him, and it worked better than we hoped. Another 3 or 4 riders managed to jump on our wheel and all of a sudden we were off the front in a group of 5 with another 20min of racing to go.

Tactically from here it wasn’t very interesting, we found ourselves in a fantastic group who were all committed to riding as fast as possible for as long as possible. There was no holding back and there were very few missed turns. As a group we were doing our best impression of a pursuit team, and relying on the riders in the bunch behind suffering from the short-sighted selfishness they have displayed in the past. In short it was the hardest 20min of riding that I have done in a very long time. The lap times show a gradual decline from a 1:44 to establish the break, to a 1:57 on the penultimate lap as the fatigue took it’s toll.

Coming into the last lap, our group was still going hard, we still had a big enough gap on the rest of the bunch to be confident that they wouldn’t catch us if we kept riding with no messing around. Having led the group down the hill to the line we drifted to the back for the Southern loop and collarbone corner. There was a quickening of the pace on the entrance to the back straight and a small gap started to open in front of third wheel. He said “I’m done” and the small gap opened to a couple of lengths as the rider behind him hesitated and the riders in front kept accelerating.

We were already in the process of winding up to speed and starting to close on the two leaders. Now sometimes you want your accelerations to be as quiet as possible to catch your opponents by surprise. Not so this time, I shouted a loud ‘c’mon’ to John, partly as encouragement to him because this was the decision point for the race, but also because I wanted the others to look around, see us coming and be dismayed.

The others had left a gap on the leeward side of the small kink on the rise to the final bend and we drove into that which also put us onto the inside of that corner. We got to the top of the hill first and after a quick check that no-one was overlapped we switched over to the sheltered side of the road and opened up.

It wasn’t the fastest sprint that has ever been recorded on that track, we still had a couple of gears to go, but we had no strength left to push any more. I was fully expecting one or both of the others would have been on our wheel at that stage and would be challenging us down the straight, so we kept the pace on all the way to the line. It turned out that we’d managed to get some clear air between us at the top of the hill and the final effort was only for show, as we cleared out to what looked like a significant victory. In actual fact it was more like a war of attrition and we were simply the last ones to concede defeat.

So the breakaway chalked up another win. It certainly didn’t seem to me as if those of us in the break were better than the bunch behind, rather we were just all committed to the cause. However it seems as if the handicapper saw it differently, so now John and I, plus Simon from the breakaway can now call ourselves A grade riders.

The next race is going to be just as hard I suspect.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby find_bruce » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:58 pm

Congratulations Cameron. I thought "win from a breakaway" was pretty much a guaranteed promotion, not so much that you were stronger, but that you were hungrier & knew how to play to your strengths. That & the fact you were in front at the top of a hill :D

A grade will be a harder nut to crack though

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:21 pm

find_bruce wrote:Congratulations Cameron. I thought "win from a breakaway" was pretty much a guaranteed promotion, not so much that you were stronger, but that you were hungrier & knew how to play to your strengths. That & the fact you were in front at the top of a hill :D

A grade will be a harder nut to crack though


Thanks Bruce,

a solo breakaway like queequeg's exploits in the lower grades is definitely grounds for promotion. Anyone who is capable of holding off a bunch by themselves is too strong for the grade. In this case we had the support of four others who were committed to working. So it was a much fairer fight, with probably only half a dozen working from the bunch along with the disruption of those who get to the front and don't want to work. I haven't spoken to anyone from the bunch to get their view of proceedings, after the race I had to sit down for some time before I was in any condition to even hold a decent conversation and by then most of them had left.

There are a few hard nuts in A grade. Not least the handicapper himself. I am planning on just hanging on for the most part when we do ride. It will be a good opportunity for breakaways because we are unlikely to be chasing, and anyone who sits on our wheel expecting us to will rapidly find themselves out of contention.

We didn't get to race this week. All of a sudden I had parental duties thrust upon me and I had to pull out. I won't be able to race next week for similar reasons. With the general shortage of race pilots it is likely that John will miss out then too. However we will be racing on Sunday in a graded scratch race on the same course as the Club Championships from a few weeks ago. I suppose that we will ride in C grade for that since the hills are not particularly big. The final 5km will not favour us, being basically uphill from the last turn, so we will have to be prepared to work hard again.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby WPH » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:40 pm

Congrats Cameron and John for the win, the promotion and for doing IT for old blokes on tandems.

I decided after a couple of years of racing to be more active, less passive. Lotsa times I blew up before the line but other times I got in the break or made the racing or gave them a fright, and it was much much more fun plus better results. So I am with you on the wisdom of doing the driving when you can.

I remember that A grade going steady was as hard as B grade going hard.

The Young Bloke and I took the new Apollo MTB 29er tandem out on the dirt for an hour yesterday. 4cm of blocks and toeclips no straps he TYB can reach the bottom of the pedal stroke, he has good power for someone not yet 5 years old! He loves offroad descents, I got a good workout on the climb because here in Perth it is very sandy. Some singletrack across the top of the hill and some fire-road trundling. All good, followed by icecream too.

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