Curse the connection fairy, she must be the puncture fairy's evil twin. I had written up a long post to catch up from where I left off, but it evaporated.
Any way, there has been a bit of action since last time, and I might have to split it into separate posts.
Sunday 30 March - Uriarra Homestead - E grade scratch.
Here it is on Strava for the terrain description etc.
Basically the course has one big hill which we had to negotiate twice, the first time straight out of the blocks, the second time would be decisive though. Basically our goals were to be with the bunch at each of the turns (the one at the top of the hill was always going to be tough though).
The first time up the hill the bunch had pretty much called a truce, probably because to break away would condemn you to riding by yourself for a long way, and probably to no longer be able to hold onto the bunch when they caught you again. We lost about 15 seconds on the climb, which we were able to reel in over the next 90 seconds of descent. We then soft pedalled for the rest of the way down to the bottom turn to try and conserve for the way back. The false flat on the way back has a little dip in it which was just perfect because we did lose contact up the steeper bit, but we were able to chase back on, so we were comfortably back in the bunch at the homestead. The undulations out to the Mt Macdonald turn put us under pressure, but our first time riding out of the saddle in a race gave us enough of a lift to get back into contact.
The second time up the big climb saw us lose a lot more time, but we chased hard, picking up Jeff on the way and finally caught the bunch as they slowed for the bottom turn. However it was too much and the bunch rode away from us.
Whilst we weren't happy with coming last, we had a lot to be pleased about so came away from the ride pretty pleased with our efforts. The out of the saddle efforts and the chase were the highlights for us.
Being happy with the ride is the secret to getting better as a couple.
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Our racing is about a bit more than just trying to win. Tandems still face obstacles to full integration, so we also have PR work to do. John would also like to do some more lofty events too, so there is more to be gained from being part of the cut and thrust of bunch racing than from going all out to win a club race in a solo breakaway. Even though we handle the bike pretty well, I think that we can still improve our bunch riding. Coordinating the effort for all the little surges and easing off without having to brake, and judging where the rear wheel is in order to swing across at the end of a turn all need continual work. In any case the alternate strategy for that race was to blast past the bunch on the first descent, put as much time as possible into them down to the bottom turn, and try and hold onto the lead for the rest of the way. All in all the likelihood is that we'd get the same result having ridden by ourselves flat out for 40km and we don't need to be in a race to do that.
Which brings me to the following weekend Sunday 6 April. I had exams/assignments on which finished on Saturday night, so John did the race with his alternate race pilot Elton. (Elton rode with John at the paracycling nationals last year but doesn't think he's fit enough this year. If anyone particularly in the ACT but not essential, wants to ride in a national title race in Victoria in May, then get in touch. It is a good year for it too, since most of the top teams have been focussing on the track for the recent World Championships and for the Commonwealth Games and are likely to not even ride.) I didn't get much of a race report other than an incident of chain suck whilst climbing Mt Tenant, which caused them to stop and completely shot down any chances they'd had. I did wonder why they needed the small chainring until I figured out that with the broken spoke of last week, they were using John's training wheels with the 11-23 Cassette, rather than the 11-32 or 11-34 of his sport or race wheels. The big cassettes make Mt Tenant doable for us in the middle chainring, and Elton is a bit stronger than me. With the little cassette there would have been almost no choice. (John's training is all done on the flat.)
John and I put the 11-34 on and went for a ride on the Sunday in an attempt to find out what happened. The chainrings are now all new so wear is not an issue, the chain is good too.
For those technically curious it was 'two ring' chain suck caused by changing gears into an extreme cross-chaining position in the small/small combination. It is caused by the chain failing to completely disengage from the middle ring doing a front change. The cures for this include:
- altering the chain line with a longer BB axle
- filing off the ramps pins etc that assist the chain to change from the small to middle chainrings
- angling the derailleur cage in toward the spokes a bit further to reduce the angle, or
- not being in the small cogs when you change into the small chainring.
Clearly the easiest of these is the last one with the others all opening up other problems. So the suggestion was for John to instruct his other pilots that if a hill was steep enough to require the small ring then it would be best to approach it in the big ring and to go straight to the small ring, followed by an upshift at the back if necessary. This would likely ensure that the chain was at least mid way across the cassette or further at the time of the front shift.
John had already committed himself to riding the Five Peaks Challenge but hadn't ridden up Black Mountain, which is the steepest of the climbs. I thought that it was important that he at least rode it once before hand so that he knew what he was in for, since it comes late in the ride. Black Mountain is a challenge both up and down because the steepest bit is right at the beginning, and it ends in a T junction. I have known single bike riders to overcook their brakes down this hill, so I wanted to be sure that the tandem was safe for it.
I hadn't ridden the mountain for 25 years having no particular desire for self-harm, and it was still just as tough as I remembered. I did however make sure that we didn't use the bottom gear, just to give John the confidence that there was still some margin left for when he'd have to face it with Andrew the next weekend. Even so with the 30/30 in use we went pretty slow at times, so much so we even got overtaken by a pedestrian near the top. (He was a young and fit looking runner but a pedestrian nonetheless) Even worse he turned around a the entrance to the carpark so we didn't get a chance to overhaul him on the slightly less steep section to the top.
The ride back down was ok. We certainly warmed up the brake system pretty well. I thought that I possibly felt a little brake fade at one stage (imagination?) but we took the last couple of corners fast enough for the brakes to give full bight for the T junction at the bottom. I at least felt confident that we could have pulled to a complete stop if it was needed. This was encouraging especially since Andrew is about 20kg lighter than me which would give more margin. We weren't trying to set any records on that descent. With a bit more confidence we could take a bit of time off, but there isn't much point. Having done that, and with a bit of a fiddle of the brakes we cruised back to John's place, although we did have a bit of a crack at a downhill Strava segment though (well 3 segments for the same bit of road).
A big hill, a top 10, a diagnosis and treatment for a problem and a heap more confidence in the bike made it a good day.
With my assignments and exams out of the way I was able to take the opportunity to get some work done on the bike.
First up was to replace the broken spoke, which was straightforward enough. This is first replacement spoke for these wheels, although the other training wheels have had several. Such that I replaced the spokes of the back wheel.
It is a little disappointing but when you buy wheels of unknown history it is part of the chance that you take.
12 April 2014 Lookout Hill TT
The day started by shirking parental responsibility for the ballet lesson taxi service in order to take John in for an interview with Tim Gavel from ABC radio regarding the 5 peaks ride the following day. Also being interviewed was Stuart Jones from Pedal Power, who it turns out that I remember from when he joined the Canberra Cycling Club as a kid in the mid-late 80s.
With a quick equipment change in the carpark I put the 11-34 cassette onto the sport wheels (from the training wheels that we used last week) we went out to the afternoon’s race. The cassette wouldn’t have been my first choice for a time-trial but this was also being used as an equipment check for the ride the following day.
Unusually we had enough time to spare before the race, so we parked in a proper carpark about 7km away and rode to the start (which is usually a bit tight with parking anyway).
The weather was in a word windy. We didn’t really mind since it would be downhill into the wind, and the climbs would have it behind us for the most part, but the wind always takes away more than it gives, so fast times were not really expected today.
Just for a new challenge we decided to let ourselves be held at the start at the last minute. Most holders are nervous about our sheer bulk for good reason so we hadn’t done it before. I must say that it worked very smoothly for us and the message for next time is that we can use a much bigger gear. Logical in retrospect, but the need for low speed power in case of a missed clip in makes starting in low gears a habit on a tandem.
This was also a chance to practice some of our out of the saddle climbing, since the first turn is at the bottom of a steep hill at Tharwa, that has previously always required the small ring for us to climb. The start of the hill was going pretty well but a slight hiccup in coordination saw us drift onto the dirt. Fortunately we were able to power our way out of it in whatever gear we were in and we made it up without further incident.
We had caught Kathryn who started 1 minute in front of us shortly before Tharwa, she almost caught us again up the climb but we pulled away on the flat afterwards. From there we had a good battle with her passing her on the downhills, and she would pass us in return on the uphills. With the finish being uphill we pulled ahead on the previous descent, and climbed the hill as best we could only for her to just pip us in the shadows of the line. All good fun for a time-trial.
In the end we managed a time which was the better part of a minute faster than we had been on that course before, which given the conditions we were very happy with. We were also happy with having beaten Jeff by 5 seconds for a win in F grade with a gap of 4 minutes to third. (We didn’t actually think about grade when we signed on) Jeff has some serious time trial palmares so even though he is recovering from some poor form he is still a force to be reckoned with.
There was muttering about why we were in F grade, but we do put ourselves up in bunch races, and in any case Jeff should be in E grade as well in that case. As it is he and we are both stronger than F grade, and are not quite E grade, particularly in the hills. However I’ll mostly leave the handicapping to the handicapper and since there were several committee members behind us in F grade I wouldn’t be surprised if we get tapped on the shoulder soon. Our time was good enough for third in E grade and less than a minute behind the winner, so we were pleased with that.
Anyway with no Strava there is no proof.
And to bring this up to date:
13 April 2014
As mentioned before, John took on the 5 Peaks challenge with Andrew, who is one of his other pilots.
They successfully completed the ride including the longer option and rode all the peaks (and out of the two valleys), and no major mechanical issues reported.
There was at least one other tandem with Peter and Elton aboard doing the ride, although I don’t know whether they did the long route or not, and whether they opted out of any of the hills but it was a pretty big effort nonetheless. I do know for certain that they made it to the top of Mt Ainslie which is reputed to be the toughest of the climbs. So kudos to them.
John has now declared that he is at least thinking about the RTB ride in Melbourne in October.
[urlhttp://www.strava.com/activities/129675999]And here’s the proof.[/url]
It's been a good week for the Heavy Tandem.
It started with confirmation that tandems will be integrated fully into the Gunning 2 day tour next weekend, rather than the initial indications that there was going to be a separate Tandem grade.
This event has previously been held out as being somehow different to regular racing. The tandem grade has been used in the past with about 4 bikes competing, with wildly different capabilities, which is not satisfying. This year with a couple of teams out due to focussing on track with an eye on Glasgow, and another pilot still recovering from a broken collarbone, there was only ever likely to be two tandems out there. One which races with A grade, and us from E grade. Naturally if we were forced to ride together it would simply be a series of 3 TTs with a foregone conclusion. We don't need to pay an entry fee, travel and give up a whole weekend for that. So a victory for tender integration.
I've also got some new tyres to replace the rear which had a worrying bulge in it. I've taken the opportunity with the tyre off to re-build the wheel with CX-rays for aero and reliability, so we'll be back on the race wheels for the event.
I've also been losing a bit of weight recently and the team weight has now dipped under 200kg, so we're going better uphill.
There was no racing this week, so John and I went out for a ride around the local area on Saturday to add another 46km to my 97km of commuting this week (I'm trying to get in 100km each week, I'd like to do more but this is what I have to live with).
John backed up today with another 106km, so he's getting the miles in too.
As for the Gunning 2 day, it has 3 stages.
1. A 4km TT that is mostly downhill for the first 3km.
2. A 50km out and back which starts on the same road as stage 1. After the first bit the road mostly climbs up to the top of the Cullerin Range, then drops down to an intermediate sprint at Cullerin, then about 20km of out and back along the flat lands, back up and over the range and then up the hill to the finish, simple really.
3. A repeat of stage 2, but with a bit of fatigue in the legs.
My analysis of the stages won't give up too much in the way of information to any rivals who read this.
1. I have won my grade on this stage in the past on my single bike and I didn't even pedal for a reasonable proportion of it. (Faster to tuck and roll) We are expecting to win this stage, although we will bleed a bit of time in the last km. I doubt that we'd get even as much as a 30s lead from this.
2. We have previously rolled away from the bunch down the first hill, not through any particular desire to attack, but it did cushion the impact of the first hill. (I have also been dropped on that hill before, and getting dropped 4km into a road race is depressing) We haven't yet managed to make it to the top of the range with the bunch, and that might be a bit beyond us this time too, however we really need to be as close as we can. The short descent to the sprint point may help us to chase on, particularly if the others sit up and look at each other beforehand (as sometimes happens before a sprint). We don't have any great plans to compete for the bonus seconds on offer, since we might need those bikkies later but we'll take them if we can. The flat lands after that suit us for the next bit, particularly since it is usually windy, (There's a wind farm here for a reason). Hopefully we can just ride this stretch in the bunch and conserve rather than be having to chase, but we'll wait and see. The return sprint (same point different direction) comes immediately after a short climb so I seriously doubt that we will be contesting this one. The climb to the top of the range is more friendly from this side so even if we lose contact they won't get too far ahead. The descent from the range is what we live for. It is fast and we'll likely try to break away at this point if we are still there since the top is only 12km from the finish and the climbing finish really doesn't suit us. If they pull us back up the little hills after that there is one last chance on the final descent at 4km to go. Either way we would like to have a lead at the bottom of the finish hill because it is unlikely that we'll be able to hold on to the bunch let alone surge to the line in a slow sprint. It will be vitally important to not lose time in the last few 100m.
3. Same as before, but for some reason I have done better on the Sunday than the Saturday in the past, so we're especially looking forward to that. Hopefully we won't be trying to make up large amounts of time. As always the lunch afterwards is a highlight of the weekend.
Good luck with it Cameron and it's good to see you being allowed to ride with the bunch, as this will give you better training and prep for when you can have an all out Tandem race.
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Thanks foo. We've routinely ridden E grade and previously F grade for the last couple of years, but Gunning was considered special. With only two tandems this year it made much more sense to integrate us into the regular racing and we wouldn't have been racing otherwise. Pure tandem racing is pretty limited except for national championships and similar, and that is not on our radar.
Sometimes it all comes to nought.
The riders were prepped, I've lost 5kg since the start of the year, my minimal training has been increased over the last months, and then tapered into the weekend. John has been doing the miles too. The bike was running well, new wheel, creaks and rattles silenced (Saddle and brake cable housing), the running gear was quiet and we were full of confidence.
The TT went well. The nature of the course is that the gaps are usually fairly small, so we were stoked to finish with a gap of 21s to second place. To put that in perspective, the next 10 riders were only separated by 17s and the last in E grade was 29s behind second. Our time would not only have won D grade, but we would have been equal 6th in C. However since the finish of the road stages is in the other direction on the same road any ground made in the TT is easily lost.
We were not surprisingly in good spirits for the start of the road stage. We found out before the start that the others had arranged that no-one would chase us from the start and that they would work together to reel us back in. That was ok by us, we would likely have got away from them down the hill anyway which wouldn't matter as we would be reeled in up the first hill at 4km. Sure enough that was exactly what happened, but it was nice to be with the bunch at the top of that hill (ticked that box off our race plan). Down the other side and then we got to the start of first of the big climbs up the Cullerin Range and that's where it all went wrong. The short version is that we threw a chain and bent it to the point that we couldn't continue, so we had to walk back.
The longer version is that this bike has a known problem with 2-ring chain suck, resulting from attempting to drop onto the small chainring from the middle when in the 11T or 13T cog on the back. I this case we were in the big ring and I presume the 13T cog having just come down a small hill and were about to start the first part of the climb up the Cullerin Range. The climb is one that we would comfortably do in the middle ring, so I dabbed at the lever to shift to the middle, but instead of doing a full shift I only did a half shift, when it didn't drop down I stabbed at the lever again and this time pushed it too far and sure enough it tried to drop onto the small ring, failed and got caught up from the bottom and got very messy from there. The chain suck issue might be resolved/reduced with a smaller middle chainring, but that would lead to a difficult change to the big ring, or a longer BB spindle, however that might lead to other problems. It is not usually an issue except when the chain is in the smallest cogs so simply avoiding those shifts usually works. Had I managed to complete a regular Big to middle shift it would have been ok, but I didn't and this can only be put down to pilot error . A real bummer since we were hopeful of climbing well enough to be still within striking distance of them at the top and chasing them down on the flats, but it was not to be...
When I noticed that the chain was twisted through 90 degrees I realised that it was all over. I popped the sync chain off to split it and use it as a drive chain to limp home with since I thought that it was like mine being a proper length chain and half a chain joined together with quick links, however I discovered that it was joined with joining pins instead and couldn't be split. So in the end there was no option but to walk and coast the downhill portions, and now I have blisters on my feet as a reminder of my mistake.
Oh well we'll go for a long ride tomorrow.
On the up side we did get to see the A grade tandem come past at a rate of knots with a break of about 45 seconds on the rest of the bunch at the bottom of the hill. They managed to preserve an 18s lead by the finish. They also won the TT in the morning, so they now have a healthy lead for the last stage being two laps of the same course. I predict that they are going to get a tough ride tomorrow.
Now on the shopping list is a couple of joining links for the sync chain, and an inline gear indicator...
If this is and I say if, can you put a chain tensioner pulley on it, with a soft spring?
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
I went and did the Nationals with my stoker Simon. Our team lined up 6 tandems in the mens race. Here is the Strava for those interested.
We lasted 4 of the 5 laps after getting dropped near the end of lap 3. The pace started very high and then one of my team mates rode off the front towards the end of the first lap. We were rolling through, he was behind me and no one followed him through so I let the wheel go to see what happened. No one followed, knocked the pace off a bit, still no reaction and so they were gone (Mike and Damo). I know these guys are strong so they were good to send up the road. Towards the end of the second lap Oz Tandem attacked hard and probably half the field were gone after that.
We hung on, just, and went through the finishing line. There were a number of surges on the third lap and we were yo yoing off the back a bit but recovering back on each time. Towards the end of the third lap Oz Tandem really put the hammer down. The attack peaked at 57 km/hr and averaged 49 for 2 km. My team mates Keiran Modra and his pilot Dave Parsons were the only people able to hang on. This was my first tandem road race and my stokers second so it was pretty interesting to see how it works compared to a single bike race. Our lack of acceleration was a problem, getting split off the back with each surge but able to work our way back, this cost us energy.
About half way around the fourth lap I was starting to get into trouble. The muscles just under my butt were really starting to hurt (I'm a climber, not used to thei hard flat racing) and I ended up having to ride the last 6 or so k's out of the saddle, I simply could not sit it hurt that much. Oz Tandem and Keiran and Dave caught Mike and Damo around the start of the last lap and so it was three together.
Mike and Damo had a crack at getting away with with no luck so it was down to a sprint. Oz Tandem started the sprint but Keiran and Dave got over them with 100m to go and held on for the win by half a wheel. It was probably the hardest race I have done physically. Both being new to it our out of the saddle co-ordination is ordinary and in a tight bunch I felt we would be a bit unsafe to the others around us. This lead me to burn out those muscles at the back! It was an awesome experience and I would encourage you just to give it a go for the fun.
Certified Brand Snob
Stick with it Daccordi, it will come to you.
The seat may not be in the right position for you.
Great report Simon, and nice to see a finish photo too. Sounds like your stoker got a bit too heavy handed with the whip.
It would have been nice to see some video of the finish, it sounds like a cracker. Gee that old bloke goes hard…
For those who weren't aware in the photo are 1.5 teams that have returned from the World Track Championships in Mexico. Keiran Modra with a different pilot picked up a silver medal in the sprint, and OzTandem got some nice new jerseys for the pursuit with a time of 4:11!
Speaking of video I found one of a high level tandem sprint which I put up here.
I'm a bit puzzled how OzTandem got picked for the World Road Champs perhaps the terrain suits them better?
Last edited by ironhanglider on Fri May 23, 2014 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BTW that Daccordi looks like some interesting equipment choices have been made. Care to share the whats and whys?
I'm not so keen on the 'broken back' look of the frame, but I suspect that there are advantages particularly for smaller pilots.
It looks as if the pilot's cranks are set up 1 tooth ahead of the stoker's.
I had a look at the bike and they seem to be in synch now, optical delusion?
The tandem is a custom and built for my wife who is small. We have ordered another more standard size so we will see if it is built the same but it looks good in the flesh. Feedback on the Daccordi has been very good. Everyone who has had a ride says it is the most like a single bike they have ridden, very chuck able with sharp handling and good space in the cockpits.
Gear wise it is just 105 triple with ambrosio rims and shimano hubs. Very good wheels, light for tandem wheels. To be honest we simply ordered the bike as complete and this is what arrived, there was no particular specs done other than size. We trusted Daccordi to set the bike up and they have done a very good job. For reference this is a $6000 build.
I've posted some footage of the finish of the race on the Tandem Bike Australia Facebook.
Certified Brand Snob
Seen the footage, liked.
AAaawwww, I was hoping for tales of agonising over component choices, whether to go for a Bushnell eccentric or not etc. It looks like those are square taper cranks which I found interesting. Some folk I know are getting a custom tandem and making decisions on components, and I was howled down when I suggested square tapers, on the basis of longevity of the BBs and the availability of alternate cranks, rings etc. The current flavour here is for the Shimano R603 cranks which I find a bit limited because they are really a double with a tripleizer middle ring. This means that you are restricted in ring choice to the 30-39-52. The external BB bearings are more susceptible to getting dirt in them and breaking down which is fine for a private bike that receives regular maintenance, but the bike in question will be owned by a group and shared around, so the maintenance will be a bit hit and miss. I was hoping you made a considered decision to specify the cranks, but it looks like I'll just have to run the line that this is what is specced on the fastest tandem in Australia. What sized rings is it running?
As for the handling, do you know the dimensions of the front end? Angle, offset/rake, trail? What sized tires does/can it run?
I presume that the Shimano tandem hubs are the HF-08 complete with the thread for a drag brake? Is that with a 145mm OLD?
ACTVCC Secret Handicap Dog Trap Road.
Pleasant weather with a cross wind that increased in strength though out the race.
Todays adventure started before we even got to the start. With parental duties re a Ballet lesson, it meant that there wasn't much time to get out to the race. Consequently we got out to the race, signed on, assembled and adjusted the bike and rolled down to the start, only to line up and get the start signal. The basic premise of a secret handicap is to hang with as fast a group as you can for as long as you can. Since the first part of the race goes up a gentle but consistent climb, we went as hard as we could from the get-go and drifted back. We were generally riding with the fastest of the E graders at the turn, which was good. However this time unusually we messed up the turn and ended up off the road. In the resulting time taken to get back on the road and going again (it takes John a while to get his feet clipped in, since he can't see the pedals well) about half the field came past. We went hard down the tandem friendly return, and got up to most of the rest of E grade. Sadly they see that we are fast at times and then leave us on the front when the opportunity presents to actually work together, it is a handicap after all so those who can ride well as a group are destined to do well. Anyhow they frequently came past near to the tops of the hills, put a bit of distance into us and then we'd pick them up on the descents. The most significant climb on the course was into the wind, and even though we busted a gut to try and hold onto the bunch we only managed to equal our previous best tandem time (my best solo time is only 9 seconds faster). However I'm happy to accept that considering the conditions that it was our best climbing effort to date, we only got dropped from the leading 3 or 4 by a handful of seconds. Sadly that bit was enough and we never got on terms with them again. They went on to all finish in the top 10. We did pick up a couple of stragglers but we never really worked well together.
The second time up the main climb was a lot slower but at that stage we could see that a bunch of about 6 E-graders was going to catch us so we were looking for some respite. Sadly they weren't working well either, turning in the wrong direction for a start and with riders making futile breakaways. Anyway the last couple of km was basically a descent, a climb and a small descent into the final which was slightly uphill. Typically we got a gap on them on the big descent, then we went up that climb as best we could which was good enough to make sure that we got to the flat bit at the top before they could blast past. This meant that they mostly were content to leave us on the front. Then Kathryn put in an attack just as the road started to tip down, we weren't worried about that since we were always going to catch her by the bridge at the bottom. We laid off for a bit before lighting the afterburners. We hit the bridge at full speed and unleashed our best sprint. I have no idea how far the others were behind, but it seems that they missed the opportunity to grab our wheel at the initial jump. We had a clear gap to the next rider.
All in all, with some good climbing and a sprint we were well pleased.
As for the turns, we need to do more practice to get the mojo back. I suspect that it has something to do with the altered position. Last week I lowered the pilots bars by 20mm or so for the TT. It was so comfortable that we'll keep it that way unless one of John's other pilots has strong objection. One has already noticed and approved, so we'll wait to see if the other regular one notices.
I'm really going to disappoint you now. You might as well be talking Dutch, I'm just not technical at all but I will, give you the details I can.
Rings are 48/38/28
Square taper? no idea
Hubs, no idea
The frame has lugs to fit disk brakes if wanted
Here is a link to their website which has dimensions. http://www.daccordicicli.com/telaio-in- ... to/13.aspx
National selection, Keiran would not have put himself forth. He is trying to retire from international competition, not very well though as he is training for the Commonwealth games, but track only.
We have some great go pro footage from the race which is being edited at them moment. Will post it when I have it.
Certified Brand Snob
Entirely possible Foo, I am just one of several who jumps on the front of this bike to train with Simon on a weekly basis so all I adjust is saddle height. It's just a different set up from my road bike so the different position would certainly contribute.
Certified Brand Snob
It is a common issue with tandems that stokers need to ride with several pilots. Typically that means that pilots have to compromise their positions in order to minimise the adjustments that have to be made each ride. For the heavy tandem, John is fortunate to have two other regular pilots who can use the same seat height (either because it is right, of because they don't complain about it) and whilst I have the post about 40mm higher, I also prefer to ride with a fairly low bar position. Because there is an element of compromise, you can find that people settle for positions that aren't as good as they could be.
Even so when I dropped the bars (slam that stem!) for the TT at Gunning, I found that it was better for me, so we kept it after that. One of John's other pilots commented favourably on the new position after that, but the other either hasn't noticed or hasn't commented on it.
However the heavy tandem is taking an enforced break whilst John is doing Guide Dog training with his new dog. For us this rules out two races that we were looking forward to mostly because they are considered to be too steep for tandems. The Apollo Road road race which is basically a 9km hill-climb, although there is a bit of racing beforehand to present an opportunity to get dropped, so that you can ride more of the race alone. Anyway, we had a mechanical last year which ruled us out before we even started. We still road about 7km of the hill to get back to the car last time, so we were pretty confident that we could do it again. The 30x34 combination would get a workout though. Next weekend is the Orroral Valley race which also has steep hills in it, however for most of them there is a downhill lead into them so it is possible to carry a bit of momentum to start the climb off, before plummeting back throughout the gears, which really tests the shifting system.
Anyway it is not to be this year. Why does Guide Dog training come at such awkward times? Tandem Armidale (for whom Drubie is one of the pilots) was unable to attend the para-cycling nationals for the same reasons.
Anyway we have further dramas with racing. The AVCC in their wisdom have made a few odd decisions in the recent AGM, including a the idea of banning disc brakes 'until their use is sanctioned by the UCI' which our club opposed, at least for tandems. (I think that this ban is silly in any case for a number of reasons.) The mention of tandems caused the 'executive' to say that they opposed mixed racing between tandems and single bikes on safety grounds but granted a stay of 6 months, with the club to have an opportunity to present a case for continuation in September.
Whilst this is annoying we feel that the club does have a good case to put forward. The club currently has 6 members who can only take part as tandem stokers. There have been 166 tandem participations, with no incident and in a recent survey of the club, the majority of members were in favour of the inclusion of tandems in mixed racing. This is all before there is any need to get into the Disability Discrimination Act.
The tech regs are silly and even though they've been published I don't think that they can be enforced. Largely because if they were to be applied equally to all bikes there would be no racing under the AVCC banner since among other things the rules specify wheels that don't exist. Laughably the new rules don't prevent the fitting of disc brakes, just the use of them so presumably as long as we don't use our brakes we'll all be safer.
I have yet to decide whether the AVCC executive have been recruited from the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.
I'll reserve judgement until September.
Well John was available to race and despite the unfavourable forecast we kitted up and headed out to Gunning. Alas the racing was not to be, 4 degrees, wet and windy meant that few others turned up to race. I don't think that there was a single grade with 3 riders to even call it a proper race, so it was abandoned. Last time this happened we went for a ride anyway, but opted instead to drip in for coffee with a friend who lives local.
More tinkering to the bike happened this week. Two spokes broke on the training wheels (both at the threads). I finally replaced the left brake lever and the pilots bar tape. This was to finally have a matched pair of Microshift levers, having given up on getting the warranty replacement for the previous right shifter. It was an overseas ebay seller so there wasn't much chance anyway, but apparently they had answered emails at first so it did look promising.
I also started the test of 'Sugru' as a solution for the rear brake and gear cables. When the bike was being re-built after the falling off the car incident it was deemed necessary to use a full length rear derailler cable housing. This partly avoided an awkward arrangement under the stoker's BB that potentially added friction and could also impact on shifting accuracy since the cable guide used often moves. However to do so means that the housing is held onto the frame with unsightly cable ties. Since the housing is black and the frame is black the idea is to run some black Sugru on both sides of the housing, like a bead of silicone sealant, and hopefully it will hold well enough that the cable ties can be cut off. For the brake cable, the housing runs through the cable stops well enough but it is loose enough to move against the top tube, making an annoying noise, and also scratching the powder coat. I'm hoping that the same solution will work there too. Seeing it out in the light my application method of rolling a thin sausage and pressing it into the junction appears to be working. It looked okay in the daylight too.
I also re-waxed the chain, but this time had a 'spare' rag available to make a more determined effort to wipe the excess off the outside whilst it was still hot. I must say that the chain was much prettier having done so, and presumably there will be less to deposit on the rest of the running gear to keep it pretty too.
There is no rest for a bike tinkerer, especially when it comes to tandems.
I mostly started this thread to document the trials and tribulations of John and his tandem and also to raise the profile of mixed tandem and single racing. For John it is not just a matter of deciding that he wants to go for a ride and jumping on a bike, all his rides have to be planned and have to cater for the availability of others who have other priorities in their lives. Even when the personnel lines up, the bike always needs to be adjusted before nearly every ride, for saddle height if nothing else. Fortunately the other pilots have been comfortable on my Brooks saddle, otherwise the only sensible solution would be to have a separate saddle, seatpost and stoker bars set up for each pilot and to swap the whole setup over as required. This is possibly why the weather is less of a deciding factor. If John had to put off every ride that was a bit cold, wet or windy he'd hardly ever get out.
John is always keen to take on different challenges, hence why we like doing the difficult races, the steep, hilly courses, hotdog criteriums etc. He has even talked about trying to find a track tandem so we can ride at Narabundah, but the bike may be a problem. Track tandems are hard to find, and expensive to build, but it would be fun. I might have to do some measurements to see if there is a chance of converting my commuter tandem. Track cycling would have the least disparity in performance between us on a tandem and the singles we race against.
All the ACT clubs seem to be pretty inclusive of different riders. Apart from the 6 VI tandem stokers, there are at least two above the knee amputees, and one with another leg function impairment. There are possibly others who I don't know about in the other clubs too. Because the numbers are so small that segregation does not work, particularly when the vets club at least deliberately caters for riders of different abilities by grading riders down to G grade. It would be even worse than making all the women ride together for no other reason than their gender. Even if all the tandems did turn up to race together there is a wide disparity in ability. The 6 stokers include 2 who are on their way to Glasgow to prepare for the Commonwealth Games, 1 who rides with an A grade pilot in A grade, 1 retired multiple paralympic medalist from Athens and Beijing who now most often rides with an either an E grade pilot in E grade (but she is mainly focussed on triathlons), another who is mostly a social rider, but turns up to race in springtime especially as preparation for some of the charity/challenge rides and us.
This is why we were particularly disappointed with the report from the last meeting of the AVCC. The next meeting, when things might be decided further will be in line with the Nationals which will be held in Perth, just another inconvenience.
In the meantime I'll try to keep up the reports, we do enjoy our racing and I hope that it translates to the page.
Can you provide more info on AVCC meeting that has disappointed you? More probs with intergration?
We have heard that the Para Nationals will be in Adelaide next year. Hope so and maybe you guys can come down for some fun!
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