Tandem Tales

ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:57 pm

Thanks WPH,

Pushing the breakaways really does go against my nature.

I have spent decades racing against people who were fitter and stronger than me and so I have tended to rely on trying to outwit my opponents rather than outperform them. Psychologically at least I am a sprinter. I am not particularly powerful, but I am prepared to put myself in the right position and I have good timing. I am a confident bike handler which helps too.


WPH wrote: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.


This is really great stuff. That sounds like great fun.

My son turned 5 in January, but decided that he wanted to ride his own bike to school, now that he is in the proper school. However he rode as stoker for 3 years with kiddy-cranks. By the end he was swinging from side to side, riding hands free, suddenly turning around to wave to his friends etc. I was quite happy when he was competent enough on a single bike to be able to ride his own bike to school.

We went the other way with pedals, to have straps but no clips. (I would have liked to put clips on but it was too difficult to get suitable pedals with a 1/2" thread). I was always concerned that if one of his feet came out of the pedal when I was going hard, that he'd hurt himself on all the moving parts which wouldn't stop for him.
There was still a couple of times that a foot came out, but he didn't sustain any injury, so perhaps it was all in my mind.



Cheers,

Cameron
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Dec 06, 2015 5:21 pm

Well this thread has been quiet for a while.

I had started a story of our road race at Uriarra, but I didn’t finish it.

This course was a repeat of the club championships from a few months ago, but at least this time we were not restricted by ridiculous rules. (Whilst I have a good memory, I’m too lazy to carry a grudge).

We had a good race, and were “in the grade” at least, rather than just hanging on. A breakaway of two, opened up early on which we didn’t particularly feel like chasing at first. However we took advantage of the steepest descent on the course to launch an attempt to bridge, taking one other rider for support, and we did catch the breakaway, but having done so there was no cohesion, and the rest of the bunch (who were never more than a few seconds behind anyway) caught us by the bottom turn. From the bottom turn, the original breakaways (the strongest riders on the day) were joined by two others and opened a gap while the rest of us were chasing behind.

As we got close to the end of the first lap, James came through for a turn, just a bit harder than we could handle and got away. Now whilst a rider with less strength and more brains might have waited for the bunch, he set sail after the leaders, who he could see had shelled Heath.

Into the second lap there was a lead group of 4, two solo riders chasing, and we were in a small bunch after that. The bunch continued to work well and we finally reeled in the two chasers after that.

Having given James a rest he soon tired of our company and he and Heath eventually got away. We were left to ride with 3 others and with nothing left to ride for the pace went out of the race.

Just for FT’s benefit, we decided that we would do an out of saddle sprint for practice. Our tactics were poor and our motions were not coordinated so we started to get out of shape before we really got up to speed. Because we had riders alongside us and I didn’t want any sideways movement, I called for us to sit. Unfortunately John took that as an instruction to switch off, and we were comfortably rolled in the sprint for 7th.

We weren’t that fussed. We were quite pleased to have had company for an entire race for a change.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Dec 06, 2015 6:15 pm

As a follow up to an encouraging road race, we lined up for the next criterium.

This time was to be our debut in A grade.

We got there early and did a warm up. We were riding the bike that was made for FitAbility by Wayne Kotzur, because John was doing a charity ride with another pilot, who wanted to ride John’s bike rather than the Kotzur. (There had been a brake issue which had shaken his confidence)

We took the opportunity of the warm up to bed in the brakes, since there was a new rotor on the front wheel. What’s more, the warm up course had a good long descent to give us the opportunity for multiple brake applications. Interestingly for the first time we were able to reproduce the issues previously reported. As the brakes got hot, the rear rotor developed a distinct buckle which rubbed significantly against the calliper. Curiously the buckle completely disappeared when the rotor cooled down.

The brake issue was never going to be a problem in the race, since there is little reason to actually use the brakes on this course (more’s the pity), so that was of no concern. I am left to wonder whether floating rotors might be better, since they provide some separation between the hot braking surface, and the central aluminium spider, which should notionally be stiffer.

Anyway the race was not much to speak of. I’m sure that readers of this thread would be familiar with the experience of riding out of their class. We hung in as best we could, but eventually drifted to the back. From there it was mostly a matter of time before we were dropped. We did hang on for 25min though, so that will be our new benchmark.

After that we didn’t quite manage to catch B grade, and then we were finally lapped by both the breakaway, and the main bunch from A grade. We did draw some comfort from the fact that there were others who were also dropped, so we are not that far off the pace.


Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Dec 06, 2015 7:44 pm

ACTVCC Mt McDonald TT

For this report I do need to put in on clarification for FT Critical. I did recently state in another thread that you don’t race against the course, you race against people... An uphill time-trial is the exception. (However an exception doesn’t disprove the rule.)

For an uphill time-trial there are very few tactics or even strategy to be employed, there is only man v. mountain. In this case we were up against Mt Macdonald (sp?) This is a race that John and I have always attempted, partly because we hold to the philosophy that we will race as long as there is a race, and that we are available; but mostly because this race provides a pretty good benchmark for how we are travelling.

Unfortunately direct comparisons are difficult for the whole course, as there have been differences between the locations of the start line and the finish line. However thanks to Strava we can at least draw some comparisons. I won’t bother to describe the overall times, but suffice to say that we were behind all of our C grade bretheren. I haven’t checked the results but I would be surprised if we beat too many in D grade either. That being said, the overall result doesn’t matter to us for this race, we know that we will be beaten by our ‘peers’. However since in a normal road race, climbing ability is only part of the race, we have to accept that we will lose out uphill, and be forced to reclaim ground on the descent.

Therefore we don’t need to compare ourselves to others, and we will only focus on our results against ourselves. The beauty of an uphill TT is that other factors like wind, temperature, road surface, will be less significant and the only comparison that counts is how we went compared to previous attempts. Since Strava is the nearest thing we have to the source of truth to compare different attempts that is how we will measure performance.

The longest Strava segment on the course is the “Full Mt Mac” segment. Our time in 2013 was 15:06; in 2014 it was 14:01; today it was 13:06.

Never mind that there were others who could climb faster than us. 2 minutes difference is a tangible number to represent how much better we are now to what we were then. If we can continue to improve, then there may even be some point to getting a CA license and turning up to various championship races. As it stands we are still some way behind both the other male teams that we know of in the ACT.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ft_critical » Sun Dec 06, 2015 9:20 pm

ironhanglider wrote:
Just for FT’s benefit, we decided that we would do an out of saddle sprint for practice. Our tactics were poor and our motions were not coordinated so we started to get out of shape before we really got up to speed. Because we had riders alongside us and I didn’t want any sideways movement, I called for us to sit. Unfortunately John took that as an instruction to switch off, and we were comfortably rolled in the sprint for 7th.



FT is excited to see a video as a future enhancement to this thread

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Dec 06, 2015 9:56 pm

ft_critical wrote:
ironhanglider wrote:
Just for FT’s benefit, we decided that we would do an out of saddle sprint for practice. Our tactics were poor and our motions were not coordinated so we started to get out of shape before we really got up to speed. Because we had riders alongside us and I didn’t want any sideways movement, I called for us to sit. Unfortunately John took that as an instruction to switch off, and we were comfortably rolled in the sprint for 7th.



FT is excited to see a video as a future enhancement to this thread


Sorry FT.

I used to do video, but the AVCC in their wisdom decided to outlaw cameras.

AVCC Racing Rules 6(f)(iii) wrote: iii. Cameras attached to bicycles or to helmets or on the person, shall not be allowed in AVCC races.


Besides, the language filter makes it awkward.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:48 pm

ACTVCC A grade Criterium

Well another criterium, also not much to report. This time was in our less favoured clockwise direction. In our favour was the fact that the bunch spent a lot of time messing around and it wasn't a particularly hard race. It seems that team tactics have entered the Tuesday crits, which has its plusses and minuses, but it is hard to defeat an organised group that includes people who are prepared to sacrifice their own chances in favour of others without being part of an organised group. So in this race there was clearly one team present, who conveniently wore matching kit, who would take it in turns to go on the attack, whilst their teammates conspicuously didn't chase, and they did chase when a break went up the road that didn't include them. However the net result was that whilst there was an occasional burst of high intensity, there where the pace was off. So much so that we even found ourselves on the front a couple of times due to seizing the opportunity of a lull to move forward in the bunch but since it is hard to find a tandem-sized gap in the bunch to slot back into it is often simpler to just go to the front and then wait for others to come past. However I can assure you that if we were on the front, the bunch wasn't going anywhere fast.

The net result however was that we were at least still in the bunch at the end, so even though we were in no position to consider sprinting, we could at least watch it unfold in front of us, and that was a nice change.


Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby foo on patrol » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:11 pm

8)

Foo
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Goal 6000km
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:30 pm

ACTVCC Stromlo Criterium Clockwise 12/01/2016

First Crit for the year!

Well it was back to suffering in A grade. It was windy which kept the speed down, and it was surgy which kept the energy requirement high. All in all we turned up, moved forward when we could, and then ungracefully slipped out the back after 27min. However at least on this occasion we didn't get lapped, so I think that is an improvement. Particularly since it wasn't an easy race. We managed an average of 40.5 km/h despite riding by ourselves for 15min.

I'm looking forward to getting some parts in so that we can get John's bike back on the road. I dislike having to re-set the position every time I ride.

In other news I'm getting a CA licence as well this year. We'll ride the ACT track championships (as probably the only male tandem) just to get a result, and then maybe later we'll get in a couple of road races.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby thecaptn » Thu Jan 14, 2016 8:15 am


ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:18 pm

ACTVCC A grade crit 40min + 2

After having done enough races on the Fitability bike to prove that it was working properly, it was time to get the Barlow in going gear again.

It is really much more convenient to have a dedicated race bike and training bike, since all of John's other pilots seem to cope with the same seat position, and use SPD pedals, whereas the Barlow is set for my saddle position, and our race shoes use Delta cleats. It is so nice to be able to just get on a bike and ride, rather than having to make adjustments every time, but that is frequently the lot of a tandem pilot.

In this case I needed to fit a new derailer hanger, and through a lack of choice an M760 rear derailer, as well as glueing on a new tyre. The work was completed later than hoped, so we ended up fitting the seatposts, pretty much at the start line, and hoping the remembered measurements were correct, and no chance of a warm up. We even rolled to the line in the 30T chainring!

However the race started and we quickly got into the big ring, and for some reason found ourselves on the front while a break of 3 went up the road. I thought that this was particularly comical, when the others failed to come past to do a turn for 2 laps. We weren't going to shirk, and it was a decent way to warm up, however we weren't trying to chase the break, and so they managed to open a big gap quite quickly. Eventually the others figured out that following us around was not going to be a winning strategy, so the pace picked up. After that we generally drifted back through the bunch (of about 30) when the pace came on, and moved up when it wasn't, in an effort to conserve as much as we could, since we knew it was only a matter of time before we were spat out the back. The end for us came after 22min, and whilst we rode around with a couple of others for a while, including passing C grade it was fairly unremarkable, until with 2 laps to go we got that squishy feeling in the rear when the brand new rear tyre let us know that it was no longer holding pressure. We probably could have ridden out the last laps at reduced speed, but given the main field was going to be coming past in a hurry we thought it better to make a graceful withdrawal.

Looks like I'll have to get the clincher wheels going for Sunday.

We had a chat to the handicapper who has allowed us to downgrade ourselves for Sunday's hotdog crit. All the punching out of the corners is a real test of fitness, which we sadly fail at the moment. I think that we will ride C grade and be the leadout for whoever is smart enough to take advantage of it. Besides we need this weekend as training for next weekend, the ACT Omnium and Paracycling championships. We are confident of winning the paracycling events (since we are the only male team that has entered), and I will dust off my bike and ride the Omnium too. It is going to be a big weekend.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby WPH » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:18 pm

Cameron


Great to read your stuff as usual.

I remember doing TTs up Mt MacDonald, just a couple. One time I caught my 30sec rider who was in A Grade (CCC) and he nearly fell off the bike with surprise. He passed me again at the very top and rolled down the other side to the finish a lot faster than I could manage and finished 30sec faster than me overall, I lost a minute on the descent!

Also fond memories of racing at Uriarra etc.

We took the Apollo tandem 'down south' over xmas, to Walpole, Northcliffe and Pemberton. A triumph really. Some Munda Biddi at Walpole, the Round-Tu-It caravan park trails in Northcliffe and the MTB Park at Pemby. We were able to hammer any 'green' rated trails and feel our way through the 'blue' trails, never tried the 'black' level facilities.

The Young Bloke loves being out in the bush and is good at getting out of the saddle for obstacles and downhill bumps, and can add a deal of power on the sharper climbs. He is just using blocked pedals with a small metal toeclip no straps, I run occy straps from the back of the captain's pedals to keep them right way up. He loses his pedals a lot (mostly going over bumps) but is getting quick at recovering them. Can't wait to get SPDs for him. Mum got a near new 29er hard-tail and came out with us a few times, it was grouse fun!

I will remove the BCR from the stoker cranks (for clearance) and have a hydro brake to install, plus new flatty DH pedals for me on the front, the nylon originals are already very hacked up and the grip pins have gone. Am on the lookout for a 100mm travel fork 2nd hand... gotta have a 1&1/8 straight steerer, disc mounts and be relatively light. But even rigid such a long bike is not too bad, we have to adopt the crash and roll method over smaller obstacles because there is no way to pop the front wheel over - being a 29er helps.

My mate Jeff and I have been back on the Trek T200 road tandem too. The rear wheel got rebuilt in November after the old Matrix rim cracked all over. The build lasted maybe 300km before all the spokes unwound on one ride and the rim wobbled from side to side. LBS have rebuilt now and it seems much better.

I posted on our local LBS bunch ride facebook page that we were gonna take the tandem out in the C group. LOTS of nervous nelly pushback, so we bailed. I did think of posting a link to this thread to show that tandems in bunches is an old story but thought it best to see what happened without me. Jeff is a great negotiator and spoke with some key people in C who invited us out, publicly, the following week. All went well and we shared in the rolling paceline etc, plus got away on the 2nd last hill no worries plus caught some A group riders (who had been spat) on the run-in to the cafe. All good. It is a nice social group, mostly older experienced cyclists and we can lie about how good we used to be. The hardest thing about that bunch is that it starts v slow and I get a v sore botto riding so slowly.

Last week I overslept by 20 mins, so we were late to the LBS by 20 mins. No worries, just ride out and catch C, no sore botto this week! Just as we had C in sight, B came by full gas, we jumped in. No worries, we swapped some turns. This group can be a bit more surgy than C but we coped. We turned off early to save our legs and had a very good run home including bombing past A in the finishing stages on a downhill, monster fun. Starting the ride in B could be tricky because they ride up a long hill first up at 25kph, which is a bit beyond us, our top speed there would be maybe 22kph. We'll see.

I guess more riders are getting accustomed to having a twicer in their midst, several riders have said it is great and they like it, others are indifferent. Still stony stares from a few blokes who led the initial protest, but they will cope! It is a slow process and we are just taking it easy.

Jeff and I plan to take the T200 for a spin down the coast tomorrow before it heats up too much. He is getting stronger - relatively new cyclist - and our coordination gets better little by little. I think we could probably race C or D if we were allowed and he was keen and we had the time! Will be interesting to see if CCC accepts/welcomes the tandem in their races - I have a feeling Vikings might be more accommodating.

Lastly, I saw on gumtree some 2nd hand Thorn short stoker cranks (drilled at 115mm and 145mm) which I have put on the back of the Fuji tandem for The Young Bloke, we don't need to the kiddy crank any more (heavy). Just need to get a 113mm BB so the FD changes properly.

So, all in all, some good tandem developments in the West.

Cheers for now


Wim

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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Feb 07, 2016 11:20 pm

Excellent stuff Wim.

It seems you can't be a tandem owner and not a tinkerer. (or at least very much poorer)

The bunch riding thing goes away with experience, although it does depend on the bunch. Some rides spend long periods just diddling along two abreast in conversation mode. The problem is that the tandem is not long enough to properly take the space of two bikes, so the rider/s behind have to leave uncommonly large gaps to have a decent conversation. Similarly the stoker is too far forward for the other rider to have a decent chat with. A rotating bunch is much smoother, although the rider behind gets the short end of the stick being by obliged to spend a bit longer in the wind as they com past.

It sounds like the B grade bunch is where you should be, perhaps with a short head start.

All clubs have different approaches to integration/or not. Sure you could wave the DDA around and threaten them to be inclusive by force, but that is not the preferred option. It would be good if members of the CCC race committee were able to participate in the LBS training rides so they can gain some experience of riding alongside a tandem. After that it is a question of picking your targets. TTs obviously, and flat handicaps are the sorts of races where tandems will fit in seamlessly.

As for coordination, I've improved ours quite a lot by moving our cranks out of phase. Clearly our pedalling action is too different to be pedalling together. Now John is one or two teeth behind we are much smoother. Can't wait to test it on the race course, we did some fairly successful testing today, for both OOS climbing and sprinting.

Cheers,

Cameron
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ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:44 pm

I had intended to put in a race report for yesterday, however it was not to be. Me managed to get a blowout whilst we were warming up, so that put paid to that.

Thanks to my wife's special tyre delivery service, we did manage to put in a climb of Mt Ainslie before going home. The climb was unremarkable, except for being slow, but hey that's what a 30*34 bottom gear is for. Going down I found that I need some more familiarity with the road at that sort of speed before we could give it an all-out assault. It is nice to know that the bike is fundamentally mechanically sound.

In other news the handicapper has agreed to let us back into B grade. We haven't coped with being amoung the fast boys, measuring our success in time before getting dropped. Hopefully we'll be able to finish with the bunch tomorrow.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:42 pm

Sometimes it just doesn't go smoothly. AVCC B grade criterium

I went out to collect John and the bike, and found that the rear tyre was flat. Fortunately he still has the Kotzur from Fitability, so we took that out instead. With the necessary adjustments, (Pedal swap, raise the pilots post by 3cm) we took off in B grade. There was some objection to our demotion from A grade from a couple of pack-fodder riders. I presume that they hadn't watched our progress in A nearly as closely as the handicapper himself, who also rides at the back end of A grade. This time we found the going much more suitable for us, the accelerations weren't as severe, and the pace was a bit lower (we did average 40.7) so we weren't hanging around much.
We moved around the bunch and generally tried to stay out of trouble. Once when the pace suddenly came off we didn't even attack per se, but soon found ourselves off the front with Jamie. Even though we didn't plan a breakaway, we would have worked with Jamie, but he refused to pull a turn for two laps, so it was no surprise that the bunch caught us again. Towards the end we were still in the bunch, but it was obvious that we were going to catch D grade just as they got their bell lap (We still had two laps to go). In the circumstances where we morally shouldn't be contesting the finish, and with the potential for disaster (we have the ACT paracycling track championships coming this weekend) I decided that we would slip out the back on our own terms and stay safe. We did however catch Tom with about 600m to go, so we had a bit of sprint practice for a bit of fun. We weren't well coordinated this time and Tom got the better of us in the end. I suspect it may have been because the Kotzur has its cranks in-phase.

Either way we'll be back on the Barlow next week, so that might help a bit. We received our new tyres today (25mm Corsa CX tyres were on sale at Wiggle) I was pleased to see that they are rated for a pressure up to 200psi which suggests that they might do better than the Pave's which were disappointing for us.

Oh well, better go and bolt the TT bars onto the track bike to see if we can use them for Saturday.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:32 pm

ACTVCC Criterium Championships M3. 30 min + 2 laps

Well this might be the last race report I post in this thread for a while.

A new job opportunity opened up for SWMBO and we will be leaving the sunny climbs of Canberra for the wilds of the Middle-East (Glen Waverley) in Melbourne.


The Setup.

The weather was just about perfect for racing, it was sunny, and cool, however there was significant breeze coming from the Southeast which would mean that the downhill part of the circuit would be into a cross-headwind.

Our competition for the day would be drawn from a selection of grades from the winner of last week’s A grade race, to E grade. Whilst we were approaching this race with a bit more pedigree than last year, our preparation was far from ideal. In the last few weeks I have managed very little saddle time with mid-week racing being put aside for other tasks. John hadn’t been able to get out much either, so as a pair we were quite underdone. To add further insult I tried out a new weight-loss method by having a tooth removed on Thursday, but that seemed to knock me around quite a bit, however I was at least feeling better by Sunday.


The Plan.

We suspected that the race would be similar to last year, which had 2 A grade, 1 B grade, ourselves and one from E grade, and predictably it broke down into a pair of leaders, a pair of chasers, and a lone straggler. Therefore since we thought that we were better this year we would try to hang onto the leaders for the whole race, and maybe try and surprise them near the end if we were feeling comfortable.


The Race.

This year as well has having a couple of extra numbers from both A and E grades, there was a decision to start both the M3 and M4 riders in the same bunch, with identifying tags for the older riders. So it was a bunch of 14 that faced the starter. Curiously there was more talent in the older age group with 3 A, 3 B and one C grade rider.

The race got underway at a fairly steady pace. Predictably no one really wanted to go to the front into the teeth of the wind on the downhill stretch, and we found ourselves moving forward because I preferred that rather than braking on that stretch. We did a turn on the front and of course no one wanted to come past. (Why is it that no one wants to overtake us?) I wasn’t having any of that and after a lap of this I made it fairly obvious that our turn was done. However it was apparently going to be one of those races.

The next time we went to the front the same thing happened, so all of a sudden the pace dropped to a happy 30km/h whilst we waited for the inevitable attack. Sure enough Bruce from M4 obliged, and seeing the M4 tag on his back, I knew that we had no interest in chasing him. Amusingly enough the others seemed to think that we would, so they continued to dawdle around after us whilst Bruce continued to ride away. This was actually the one time when sitting on the front of the bunch was a tactical advantage. The longer we sat there tapping out tempo, the bigger the gap became, and the less time there was to close it. This meant that the longer it went on, the more likely it was that there would have to be a determined fast chase required in order to bring him back, and we could profit from that since a hard fast finish would play into our hands.

Eventually the chase started and it was the M4 riders leading the way, and we cheerfully tacked onto the back. However the pace began to take a toll and the gaps were starting to open up in the middle, which is not something that you want to see when you are at the back. We started to push through the gap, when all of a sudden Steve (M3) took off from the front, with Nathan (M3) hot on his heels. With only half a dozen minutes to go before the 2 lap board, we knew that this was the moment of decision, so we picked our way through the stragglers, and set off after our two rivals. I was particularly pleased that we managed to do this without collecting a Klingon, which would have posed a problem to us.

John put in a sustained burst of power, but it was not enough to get onto the wheel of Nathan, who had not quite been able to follow Steve. Going into the last 2 laps it was 3 bikes time-trialling toward the finish, with most of the rest in a bunch behind. Bruce was swept up somewhere in the process and had retreated to the shelter of the bunch.

We failed to catch Nathan, but going into the last lap I could see that the bunch was finally getting serious, and were starting to close the gap to us. I continued to shout encouragement to John, who responded with all the power he could muster and in the end we managed to hold the bunch off by 2 or 3 seconds for a hard-earned 3rd place.

So ends a riding partnership with John, and in many ways it was a fitting end to have fought off a rampaging bunch to finish with a minor placing after a hard race. Together we have come from being at the back of F grade to progress through to the back of A grade (on the flat). We have raced whenever the opportunity presented, took advantage of favourable conditions when we could, and suffered when we couldn’t. All the time we managed to enjoy ourselves and demonstrate that vision impaired riders on tandems can race in the company of single riders pretty seamlessly. I can only hope that John will be able to continue racing with other pilots and continue to progress. He might be too old to harbour thoughts of Paralympic representation, but perhaps through his efforts, we can open up more opportunities for younger riders so that they can get some proper race experience, that might turn into greater competition at the elite para-cycling levels. Whilst Australia does have some truly elite para-cyclists, there is a severe lack of depth, so there is a need for sub-elite riders to continue to make their presence felt and ensure that the opportunities to develop the next generation of elite riders continue to be around. Moreover wherever there are tandem stokers, there is a shortage of race pilots, because life means that any particular pilot may not be available on every occasion that the stoker could race, so I would recommend that anyone who reads this thread, consider making contact with a tandem stoker, and offer to go for a ride, and maybe race once in a while. You don’t need to be an extraordinary rider to make a real difference.


Cheers,

Cameron
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TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Wed May 24, 2017 5:47 pm

I have raced against stoker John and Pilot Cameron for several years, I have won and lost several road races against them, after Cameron’s move to Melbourne a year ago and John not being able to find another Pilot willing to do road races I have taken over the pilot‘s position for John on his Tandem called “the Barlow”.

At 62 I am a 12 years older than John and a fair bit lighter (sorry John), I am currently an average local Vets club C-grade rider and a reasonable rider in my age group being current local Vets club M60-64 road and crit champ , I mostly enjoy Road racing and Track, I don’t mind the odd Crit but do not do a lot of them, until recently I had never ridden on a Tandem.

I started training with John on the Barlow about 5 weeks ago, the first training ride was quite eventful with the rear tire blowing out while cornering at about 25kph on a bike path, fortunately somehow we managed to stay upright, the Barlow was also having problems with the front derailleur, stopping was OK but the starts were interesting, after a couple training rides on the Barlow the front derailleur was still playing up and after consulting the LBS, the Barlow needed some new gear levers, while this was happening we rode johns spare training bike the Tesner, for some reason I found the Tesner easier to ride but it needed some bike fit adjustments as on a long training ride my hands went totally numb. John prefers to race on the Barlow.

Due to lack of suitable bike races and some family commitments I was not available to race before last weekend which was a Secret Handicap on a hilly and exposed narrow country road course called Dog Trap Road, (DTR)

After replacing the gear levers and putting the Cameron built tubular race wheels on the Barlow we turned up to Saturday’s race with the aim to finish and learn, the DTR course was twice out and back with 4 tight turns, apparently tight U-turns are one of the hardest moves to make on a Tandem.

About 40 riders turned up to the start, I was a bit nervous as our starts are still not that good, I stuffed the start with taking too long to get my left cleat in the pedal and we found ourselves at the back, the start is slightly up hill and we played catch up from then, after managing the first turn the course was slightly downhill for a while and we started to haul a few riders in, unfortunately on the first reasonable hill the rear derailleur started playing up which slowed us down on the climb, luckily the new 9 speed Sora gear levers have barrel adjusters on them and after fiddling for a while I managed to improve the gear changing enough that we could manage, but this was not easy as the Barlow has one of those reversed Rapid Rise rear Derailleur’s. On the DTR course the second turn was at the bottom of a steep hill, any riders that we overtook from turn 1 to turn 2 soon passed us when riding back up the hill. Unfortunately on the way back my butt started to cramp, this has never happened to me before, for some reason the pilot seat on the Barlow just does not suit me, my hands were also starting to go numb again, I tried to get some butt relief but standing on the tandem is very difficult, I tried it and we nearly crashed. We managed to finish but the second lap was slow, I stuffed turn 3 and managed the tighter turn 4, at the finish my butt was so sore and cramped, I could not get off the bike, I actually need help from another rider to get my leg over the top tube.

Positives: John got to do a road race, we finished and did not come last, on the road or after handicap, made 3 of the 4 turns and averaged a reasonable 35 kph from turn 1-2.

Negatives: need to sort seat out, need to sort numb hands out, need to sort out rear derailleur tuning. I had a Steve Hogg bike fit last year and I have set the Barlow cockpit the same settings, I suspect as I am still a beginner on a Tandem I am still too tense on the bars, if the numb hands and sore butt persist I will book into Steve Hogg to see what he can do for me.

Overall for my first race on a Tandem I am happy, all of the problems we had should be able to be sorted, I have already replaced the seat with one that I am familiar with, the rear derailleur just needs to settle in after the fitting of a new cable and outers and I feel the numb hands problem just needs some fine cockpit adjustments.

Tony

ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Wed May 24, 2017 10:41 pm

Great report Tony.

Strangely enough getting your left foot in is surprisingly difficult on a tandem. John can probably count on one hand the number of really good starts that we made together. I just assumed that it was me being so bad at it. This is the main reason why stokers should always start with both feet in the pedals. There has been a number of times we were saved by John getting us up to speed virtually alone while I was faffing about one legged.

BTW you do race in matching club jerseys don't you? John traditionally races in mis-matched socks.

Cheers,

Cameron
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find_bruce
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby find_bruce » Thu May 25, 2017 7:40 am

Great to see you have taken up the sash Tony. Looking forward to hearing more of your race reports.

TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Thu May 25, 2017 5:12 pm

Hi Cameron,

Thanks for the pedal clip in starting tip, I am sure as my tandem piloting skills improve we will try starts with John clipped in.

With matching kit, we have yet to discuss such things, I am more interested in improving my piloting skills to be somewhere near yours first.

Tony.

ironhanglider
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby ironhanglider » Thu May 25, 2017 11:32 pm

TonyB wrote:Hi Cameron,

Thanks for the pedal clip in starting tip, I am sure as my tandem piloting skills improve we will try starts with John clipped in.

With matching kit, we have yet to discuss such things, I am more interested in improving my piloting skills to be somewhere near yours first.

Tony.


Hi Tony,

I hope that I made starts look easy and natural, but they did involve a bit of thought and practice.

I think I have sent you a link to the 'proper method' before. The secret is ... sit on the top tube. if you do that with both feet on the ground then John can get on and get set first and then be ready for you.

A variation on the method that I did was that when John was about to get on I would have the left pedal at 6 o'clock, and put my left leg in front of it to stop the crank moving. John would then get his left foot in and then mount the bike as if it were a horse. I would then shift my left leg out of the way whilst he put his right foot in. Spinning pedals hurt

Once both feet are in, he would bring the right foot up to a start position and then I would clip that foot in. Once clipped in I would still be sitting on the top tube but with the middle of my right leg on the top tube. The starter usually gives a 30s warning and that is the time that I stand up. At 'go' we would do half a pedal turn and I would try to get my foot in at the top, which usually worked. If not then John would force the pace to give us enough speed to keep the bike upright and then I would have another go after a couple of pedal turns.

I remember one hill start after a thrown chain at Orroral Valley on one of the steep hills, where I not only failed to get my foot in, but my nicks got caught on the front of the saddle and I couldn't even sit down. Fortunately I had the foresight to change into the bottom gear beforehand, so we got away with it.

Speaking of Orroral Valley, I really like that course. I hope you can do it on the tandem, because it is one of the ones that really rewards cornering prowess and momentum climbing. If you hit the bottom of the climbs hard you can get a long way up before you need to suddenly dump a lot of gears. It is a great test of the systems.

Have you managed any out of saddle work yet? It takes practice, and it didn't really work for us until we had John's cranks 2T behind mine due to our different pedalling styles.

Cheers,

Cameron
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TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:27 pm

Tandem Tails: John and Tony race 2

Our second race was on the 3rd June. The race was a graded scratch on what we call the Old federal Highway course just outside Canberra on the way to Sydney, the weather was nice, not too cold and light winds, the course is an out and back and up and down course and has a 2k 4% climb, each lap is 12 k, ABCD did 4 laps and EFG, 3 laps, this race we rode in E-Grade.

We started well as 500 meters from the start there is a 2.5k gentle downhill section where we used our downhill advantage to get ahead of the E-Grade bunch, after the creek crossing at the bottom of the downhill the main 2k 4% climb started, we were soon reeled in and only saw the E-grade pack when we passed them going the other way. As the race went on we passed a couple of dropped E-graders which we passed on the downhill sections and they passed us on the uphill sections, all of the higher grades soon passed us, if we were on an uphill section they passed us like we were standing still, the lead A-grader had made a break and passed us just before the crest before the 2k downhill, John and I pushed a bit and we started to haul him in but all good things must come to an end and we soon lost contact on the next uphill section, on the last lap we started to tire, my hands became very numb and my butt started to cramp, the lead F-graders reeled us in on the climb from the turnaround , we passed them on the longer downhill section, we stayed in front on the climb out of the creek but got caught by the leading F-grader on the flatter section just before the finish line.

In the end we got 12th in E-grade out of 14 riders, 12 minutes behind the winning rider.

Positives: we finished and we had no mechanical problems with the bike.

Negatives: we need to work on our hill climbing and I need to do more work on reducing my numb hands and butt cramp problem.

Tony

TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:58 pm

Tandem Tails: John and Tony race 3, 17th June.

Race 3 was on a course west of Canberra, through the Pierces Creek forest to Tidbinbilla and back, it is a very hilly course with nearly no flat sections, the hills are not long but short and sharp, each lap is 33k, ABCD do 2 laps, EFG 1 lap, not tandem territory but good training, since the last Old Federal Highway race we had been regraded to F-Grade.

The start was on top of a nasty little hill (1.1k 10% ave ) and has very little parking, we had to park at the Cotter Reserve and ride to the start, I had prepared the bike with the hill climbing gears and even though we have been having problems with the front derailleur I tuned the front derailleur to try to use all three chain rings, after getting ready we headed off to the start, at the bottom of the hill I shifted into the small chain ring and instantly threw the chain, not a nice start, the chain was jammed between the frame and chain ring, after some stuffing around I freed the chain put it back on and noticed a badly bent link, O-dear, we limped back to the car where I had a spare link and chain breaker, 5 minutes later we were on our way, this time I managed to get into the small CR with no more drama and we made it to the start.

There were 2 other riders in F-grade, we started well dropping one rider early, on one longer downhill section we reached nearly 80 kph dropping the other rider, the road is quite rough in places and has a few potholes. On a longer uphill section, the other F-graders caught and passed us, it was around then we noticed a clicking noise in the rear wheel when we were travelling at around 50 kph, we were not sure what was happening but the bike was still going OK, at the halfway turn we were only a minute behind the lead F-graders and we were catching an E-grade Tandem, we started to push hard to try and catch the other Tandem but again my hands and butt were starting to give problems. About halfway back we were travelling on a flat section of road at around 45 kph when we hit a pothole garden and we double flatted, somehow we stayed upright, a double flat was unfortunate as we were running tubulars and we only had 1 spare tire, things only got worse, on closer inspection I noticed both of the rims were dented and we had a broken spoke in the rear wheel, at the time we were running second last on the road (1 lap riders) with 1 G-grader behind us, the last rider slowed down for us to ask him if he would arrange for someone to pick us up, after about 40 minutes a vehicle arrived with a bike rack and we headed back to the carpark. While waiting to be picked up I walked back to the potholes and the pothole I think we hit was quite small only about 20cm long but quite deep I just did not see it in time.

Many thanks to the people who help us back get to the car and the riders on the second lap who slowed down to check if we were all right or needed help or tubes. The ACT Vets club are a great bunch.

Positives: we did not crash, great effort by club members and the First Aider to get John, me and the bike back to my car.

Negatives: John’s nice racing tubular's rims are now stuffed, more work is needed on front Derailleur and bike.

Tony

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find_bruce
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby find_bruce » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:38 pm

That's a bugger Tony, tandems are tough on wheels. Glad you kept it upright

TonyB
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Re: Tandem Tales

Postby TonyB » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:16 am

find_bruce wrote:That's a bugger Tony, tandems are tough on wheels. Glad you kept it upright


Thanks FB, I was glad that we stayed upright also.

I put some 32C Schwalbe Durano performance tyres on the training wheels, and I am surprised how nice they ride and they do not feel any slower than the tubs.

Tony

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