2014 Tour de Cure: Please Help Us Reach Our Fund Raising Goal!

PLEASE NOTE:  This is a “Sticky” that will appear at the top of our blog until we reach our $2,500 fund-raising goal; newer entries follow…  As of April 13th friends have helped us raise over $1,500 for this year’s Tour de Cure!
 11346615-american-diabetes-associationWe are doing what we can to raise both awareness and funds to help find a cure for Diabetes; will you help by way of a donation? 

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CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION!

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Why Do We Do This? The Tour de Cure is a major source of funding for the American Diabetes Association’s efforts to find a cure for diabetes on behalf of the 25.8 million Americans living with the disease.  For us, this includes far too many close friends, associates and co-workers… many of whom you’d never guess were quietly living with Diabetes, and that is why we were moved to support the search for a cure.

Please Join Our Effort: Year after year we are humbled by the generosity of our friends, co-workers and members of the tandem cycling community and their willingness to pool their donations with ours to support the search for a cure to Diabetes.  It is our hope you will consider joining us this year, noting that no donation is too small.

cv_56_34252Thank you for your consideration and a very special thank you to the many friends who, over the past four years, helped us raise nearly $7,700 for the ADA!  We’re hoping to better last year’s new benchmark of $3,200.00.

Feel free to read our 2013 Tour de Cure ride report — it’s an epic tale of adventure, having been caught out for 10 miles in a raging thunderstorm — and  see the names of the 76 awesome friends, co-workers and tandem cycling enthusiasts helped us set that new benchmark in our 2013 Hall of Fame by CLICKING HERE.

To become a member of our 2014 Hall of Fame, just CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION!

2014 Hall of Fame. (Now Inducting Members!) 

  • Mark & Debbie, GA  (First on the Beach!)
  • Deb & David, GA (Partners in Crime)
  • Bob & Carrie Ann, GA (‘Biker’ Friends)
  • Lisa & Paul, GA (Tandem Friends)
  • Ashton & Renee, MS (Tandem Friends)
  • Kevin & Linda, TX (Tandem Friends)
  • Eve & Roger, GA (Tandem Friends)
  • Betsy & John P, IL (My Big Sister!)
  • Nancy & Johnny W, GA (LM Friends)
  • Linda & Bill A, GA (LM Friends)
  • Debbie & Joe M, TN (Tandem Friends)
  • Greg & Angie K, FL (Tandem Friends)
  • Ed & Cindy R, GA (LM Friends)
  • Oscar & Lucy T, TN (Tandem Friends)
  • Mary & Ken B, FL (Tandem Friends)
  • Mark & Tracy W, GA (LM Friends)
  • Jim & Diana M, GA (LM Friends)
  • Shan & Eddie C., GA (LM Friends)
  • Please be next!!!

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About Diabetes

Prevalence

  • Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
  • Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes.

The Toll on Health

  • Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults.
  • The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without diabetes.
  • About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.

Cost of Diabetes

  • The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.
  • Direct medical costs reach $176 billion and the average medical expenditure among people with diabetes is 2.3 times higher than those without the disease.
  • Indirect costs amount to $69 billion (disability, work loss, premature mortality).
  • Further published studies suggest that when additional costs for gestational diabetes, prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes are included, the total diabetes-related costs in the U.S. could exceed $306 billion.
  • The cost of caring for someone with diabetes is $1 out of every $5 in total healthcare costs.
Posted in Fund Raising, Health & Fitness | Leave a comment

Riding Single Track in Non-SPD, Slip-On Sandals

sandals1Well, that was different!

Yesterday, after finishing up work from home, meeting Debbie for lunch and running a quick errand I found enough time to throw the Ventana Marble Peak into the truck for a quick trip to the local trail.

I did a pretty good job of getting just the bare essentials loaded up — no tool box or pumps, just helmet, Camelbak, bike and shoes — and headed-off for a little on-bike therapy.  Well, OK… I also threw my GoPro kit in the truck, which is now very easy to do: probably need to do an update on how I store/carry all of my gear.

When I arrived at the trailhead parking lot I had the bike out and together with the cameras mounted in no time at all but when I went to put on my cycling shoes I discovered they didn’t make it in the truck.  I’d picked them up and headed to the truck with them, but got distracted and put them down.  So, here I am with just enough time for a quick loop at the trail, not enough time to go back home and get the shoes: what to do?

Solution: Screw it:  I’ll just ride in the Nike slip-on sandals! I took a short test ride around the lot just to see how well the sole would do sitting on top of the Speedplay Frog pedals and was satisfied that it was good enough for the fairly flat to rolling terrain at our local trail.

With the GoPros installed and my helmet on off I went.  Yeah, well… my forgetfulness was still dogging me:  I’d left my Camelbak in the truck which was now about a mile behind me, noting it also had my tools and flat tire repair stuff.  Once again, screw it: I can certainly walk a few miles if I somehow puncture a tire…. something I’ve only ever done twice riding off-road.

All said and done, it wasn’t as hard riding in sandals as I’d expected.  The trouble spots were steep, short climbs where I instinctively wanted to pull-up on the pedals for added torque and, well, that wasn’t going to happen wearing flip-flops so I had to stop and dismount mid-hill twice. After that I remembered to get into granny gear and just spin up the ridges.  The other thing that was a bit of a challenge were the fast, rugged downhill sections where the challenge was keeping my feet from bouncing off the pedals.  Again, instinct was the enemy here since I assumed my feet would remain connected to the pedal.  Wrongo….  I was in the danger zone here, at risk of losing my footing, until a very old set of instincts learned snow skiing on moguls kicked-in: relax those legs and let them work as shock absorbers to soak up all of the bumps.

Anyway, it made a familiar loop a little more interesting and forced me to “think” about things I don’t normally think about while riding, and that’s not a bad thing.  It was a good ride.  But, I’m pretty sure I’m not ready to ditch clip-in cycling shoes just yet. And, I do prefer to have a bit more protection for my feet and toes when putting them in close proximity to rocks, sticks and other aspects of nature at a high rate of speed.

The obligatory 1 minute video:

Posted in Bloggishnish, Video clip | 2 Comments

Tandem Hauler On Steroids…

Well, the same day it hit 100,000 miles on the odometer, our faithful 2006 Toyota Tundra DoubleCab pick-up truck and tandem hauler got fitted with some bling: the new Pro Comp rims.

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Gotta say, the Photoshop job (below) did an excellent job of representing what the truck would look like with the new rims that we selected. 

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 All-in-all, a pretty interesting transformation.

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The only thing I’m thinking about changing are the center caps. I’ve ordered a set of flat black ones to see how they’ll look vs. the chrome caps that come with the wheels.  They’re just plastic, so it’s not a major expense and I suspect the black plastic will also “wear better” than the chromed plastic.

Posted in Bloggishnish | 1 Comment

Now That’s Entertainment: Captain America. The Winter Soldier

Captain-AmericaI’m pretty sure the new Marvel Studios release, Captain America. The Winter Soldier. will translate well to the little screen.  Just a great story, excellent performances with compelling characters and all kinds of interesting plot twists to keep you interested.  It starts out slow and confusing, but begins to build in interest and action throughout…

I’ll leave it alone at that.  Just a very enjoyable viewing experience.

Posted in Bloggishnish | Leave a comment

Gravity, or the Lack Thereof… (A Movie Review, No Tandem Content)

I’m going to have to assume that Gravity – which received rave reviews from critics – is a film that reminds people who still go to see movies on the big screen why it’s worth the time and effort vs. waiting to catch it on Netflicks, Sony Home Entertainment or a BlueRay disc on a small screen.

I say this because, with the exception of Marvel’s big screen movies, it’s rare that Debbie and I go out to see a film. In fact, it’s even rare for us to see most of the major films at all, big screen or small. However, Marvel will debut its latest with Captain America, The Winter Soldier this weekend so you can bet your boots we’ll be headed to the Cinema. Actually, I wanted to go last night once I confirmed it would be playing a night ahead of the advertised debut: this has become something of a habit once I realized that most new pictures can be found on the marque the day before their official ‘coming out’ dates.

Unfortunately, with it being a weeknight, Miss Debbie wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of going out to watch a show that ended at 10:15, knowing she had to be up and getting ready for work around 5:30am the next day. 

Since I had already gotten myself in the mood for a “major motion picture” I decided to pull down Gravity from Sony for $3.99 – gotta love the convenience – and see if it lived up to all the hype. Debbie saw the previews from kitchen and decided to join me to watch it in the family room, as we’ve both enjoyed many of the films that Sandra Bullock and George Clooney have appeared in. Sadly, we were both underwhelmed.

Gravity just didn’t “work” on the small screen for us.  Then again, I’m old school and always thought the key to a great movie was a great story, good acting and some element of surprise. I’m Ok with works of fiction that stretch the laws of physics too, so long as it’s pretty clear we’re talking fiction. But, Jeez-o-Pete, I hate it when history or science becomes blurred by works of fiction, you know… kind of like what you find in 99% of the content on the Internet. But I digress.

Gravity on the small screen without the spectacle and sensory-overload of the big screen, 3D, huge sound systems and the pulse of a large audience meant the true substance of the non-technical wizardry of the script and acting had to be captivating… and it was anything but. We learned very little about the characters before the drama began and what glimpses we were given from then on were hardly compelling or lucid; if you blinked you missed them. The dialog was a collection of one-liners. There was a total lack of credibility in the science and physics that created the disaster, never mind the ability to play hopscotch between space stations as if they were small islands near Key West. Case in point, Clooney wasn’t going anywhere when Bullock “caught him” while tangled in the parachute rigging of the Soyuz capsule at the International Space Station: once he stopped moving, he stopped moving! He, Bullock and the ISS would have all been in the same geosynchronous orbit.   That was a mild example, to say the least.

Bottom Line: I don’t think I’ve ever been so bored, disinterested and less caring about characters in a movie than I was with Gravity. The ONLY thing about that movie that made me smile was hearing Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control!

Posted in Bloggishnish | 2 Comments

NAHBS via Padraig at Red Kite Prayer & Some Tandems

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) was held in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina and it was my sincere hope that we’d be attending.  Sadly, it fell on a weekend where we already had travel plans that would put us in Daytona Beach, Florida.

I’ve asked a friend and tandem enthusiast who attended NAHBS  to pen his observations about tandems in an article for the Tandem Club of America’s website, which he is doing.   So, I while I’ve seen some short videos and photos of a few of the tandems and personalities that made appearances at NAHBS, I haven’t really done a lot of web surfing… with one exception: Patrick Brady’s (aka, Padraig) photo collection and accompanying narratives on the award winners, noting that Padraig was one of the judges.  Here is a set of links to the six installments; well worth a look & read:

NAHBS 14, Part I: Best TIG Weld, Layup & Fillet
NAHBS 14, Part II: Best Track, Tandem, Mountain & Cyclocross
NAHBS 14, Part III: Best City, Finish, Experimental & Theme
NAHBS 14, Part IV: President’s Award, People’s Choice & Best of Show
NAHBS 14, Part V: Honorable Mentions & Judging
NAHBS 14, Part VI-1: Best New Builder
NAHBS 14, Part VI-2: A Few More Special Mentions

NAHBS 14, Part VII: Padraig’s Photo Dump

Since this is a tandem blog, here are a couple bones. The first is Padraig’s narrative about Co-Motion’s Best Tandem of Show from a very short YouTube Video:

Here are a couple of still shots of the tandems at the show:

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Co-Motion’s Bosch Electric Assist, One-Off & Best Tandem of Show

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Co-Motion Java in an eye-catching paint scheme.

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Bilenky Titanium Travel Tandem… Several Years In The Making. I’m thinking this was runner-up to the Co-Motion and would have otherwise been the show-winner.

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Santana “Smooth” with Rohloff & BionX Electric Assist

Gallery: Velo's best of NAHBS awards for 2014

Calfee tandem that converts to a solo road bike; one of two at the show.

Gallery: Velo's best of NAHBS awards for 2014

Calfee tandem that converts to a solo road bike; this one in single bike configuration.

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The University of Iowa’s Hand Built Bicycle Program Titanium Tandem 36er

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Sojourner Wooden Tandem

Boo Cycles, Bamboo Tandem

Boo Cycles, Bamboo Tandem

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Kent Eriksen Titanium 29er

Posted in Events, Industry News, Technology & Equip. | 1 Comment

What Do I Think? Good Question. (Tandems & Composite Forks)

Let me confess that I really do enjoy getting comments when I post things.  Some of them come from friends who subscribe to our blog and stay in touch by sharing a compliment or an anecdote when something I’ve written inspires a reply and those are, well… awesome.  Others come from readers who have good follow-up questions or who just have something on their minds that they’d like to ask about, sometimes unrelated to what they are replying to.  That’s also pretty awesome, since that’s very much like the real world where at, say a tandem rally, a collection of folks are standing around talking about tandems and cycling and someone introduces a new topic.  Bottom Line: I’m a tandem cycling junkie, so all of this just feeds my passions for tandems, cycling and sharing observations and learning…. and it’s always a two-way street when it comes to learning.  I learn something from just about every interaction I have, even if it’s just what tandem enthusiasts have on their mind.

I recently received one of those questions that was unrelated to the blog entry that provided the impetus to comment and it was a good one. Jonathan asked,

“Just curious, have you written a review/primer on safety concerns (weight tolerances) of carbon forks on tandems…..specifically the Enve 2.0 that clearly states it is not Tandem approved? … Rodriquez Cycles posted an article in January of 2014 voicing some concern”

I replied to Jonathan with my own comment, but after penning it I thought that it might be worthy of its own blog entry, so here is what I shared:

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I’ve read most everything that Dan at R&E has written over the years and I have a deep appreciation for his insights and observations. R&E under Dan’s watch has always had the customer’s interests at the forefront and they don’t like to dabble at the ‘bleeding edge’ of bicycle or bicycle component design and engineering. Vanity ain’t worth a trip to the hospital. However, I had not read the new article on carbon forks, so thanks for sharing that. I would love to have R&E nearby as my local shop!

Anyway, I have lots of thoughts about lots of things and the one constant is that there are very few bicycle components designed for use on tandems. Therefore, unless a tandem enthusiast happens to have the right education or experience in engineering or materials development, they must look to the people who design and build tandems for insight into what works well and offers teams sufficient safety margins when it comes to tandem frame design and component selection.

So, when it comes to carbon forks there are only a few builders who have taken the time to work with composite component designers and manufacturing companies to develop or evaluate forks that MAY be suitable (within limits) for use on a tandem: it’s a short list. I’ve also spent some time talking with the engineers who developed some of the tandem-approved forks over the years and, clearly, there are ways to test forks to determine their limits and tweak designs to support the loads a tandem can generate, but within limits.

Therein lies the challenge and Dan does a good job of pointing out just how comprehensive the design requirements and testing needs to be when dealing with the loads a tandem can generate. So, as I said, there are a few tandem builders who have taken the time and made the investment to have composite forks proposed for use on tandems tested and/or worked with composite manufacturing companies to develop and produce composite forks that are suitable for their tandems (within limits).

You can probably do a little checking around and break the code on which companies these are and which forks have been deemed “suitable” (within limits), e.g., Santana worked with Reynolds early on to develop the very robust Ouzo Pro Tandem fork: we have one of those on our triplet… but then again, even riding three-up our triplet teams come in under 400lbs. Santana has also developed some house-branded forks made by 3rd parties that are very robust. Co-Motion used the tandem-rated True Temper Alpha Q X2 Tandem forks on their tandems until True Temper got out of the bicycle fork business. Co-Motion recently developed their own house-branded composite forks after doing some pretty extensive product testing and, oh… by the way, worked with Advanced Composites many years ago to develop the very robust and aesthetically-unique Wound-Up composite forks.

We’ve been riding Alpha Q’s since 2002 on three different tandems. They’re not nearly as robust as the Reynolds, but adequate for lightweight teams, whereas heavier teams will give up some handling. One thing that Dan hits on that also bears some attention is his observation that composite forks are more life-limited than a good steel fork: I tend to agree here. However, as to how long that service life may be will vary based on a lot of factors. Therefore, teams who have composite forks would do well to inspect them at least once a year, or more often if they ride a lot, and always after any type of impact that isn’t in line with the design use of a bicycle fork.

Your tandem builder — Calfee Design — knows composites about as well as anyone in the business: really. But, at the same time, Calfee is also all-about “lighter is better”. So, you’ll notice that they have always offered up a range of different forks for use on tandems. Unlike Co-Motion and Santana where the vast majority of their tandems are designed to work with a very wide range of riders (i.e., they tend to be very robust and built to a specification), most of Calfee’s tandems are built to order for a given team’s weight and riding needs. Therefore, having a range of fork offerings allows them to tailor recommendations to their clients.

So, all that said we have to ask ourselves, just how many tandem teams with what is now a limited field of composite fork offerings have had systemic or catastrophic failures? Frankly, I’m thinking if Santana, Co-Motion or Calfee had customers doing face-plants after fork failures we’d all know it in a New York minute and you’d see composite forks disappearing from the options list over night. That just hasn’t happened, at least to my knowledge and I keep my ear pretty close to the ground.

This then brings us to your ENVE 2.0 fork. If you provided Calfee with the usual design inputs for a tandem build — your weight, your stoker’s weight, how much luggage/gear you’ll carry and the like — then I would expect they recommended a fork that they have enough confidence in to put their reputation behind. And, if it helps, I can tell you that ENVE’s 2.0 forks have been tested against similar standards to what True Temper used for the Alpha Q X2 tandem forks, so the design characteristics are known. Therefore, the only variable becomes quality control and consistency…. and as I said earlier, I’ve spoken with some of the composite fork engineers in the past and that gave me the confidence I needed before fitting a composite fork to the tandems that our fairly lightweight teams use.

Disclaimer: These are merely my observations, and should not be construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any product. You will need to figure out how you can establish a level of confidence in the builders and component makers who you choose to provide you with equipment. There’s a reason it takes decades to build brand-name recognition in the bicycle business.

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Dan’s article on carbon forks on tandems is a good read that does offer up a lot of food for thought.  As always, it’s up to the reader to make sure they recognize that when they stumble on a subject that they feel is important and that could have a personnel connection they should pursue additional information and facts that will help them become well-informed enough to draw their own conclusions.

As someone who writes about tandem cycling I personally try not to tell people how they should think or try to suggest that everything they need to know on a given subject has been baked into my thought process and is therefore embodied in my brilliant article.  In fact, I usually try to stress the need to ask more questions and do more research so that readers will be able to make their own informed decisions vs. making too many conclusions based on a single data point or article.  It’s analogous to getting multiple quotes on home improvement projects, medical opinions when facing a serious health decision or shopping for a new vehicle; more information is usually good: just try not to get into analysis paralysis.

Without a doubt, cycling at the enthusiast level is all about passion and draws in passionate people.  Passion also has a habit of polarizing people with a common interest but different philosophies or biases.  You’ll find these divisions with sports car enthusiasts, wine aficionados, motorcycling enthusiasts, film & literary critics and tandem enthusiasts.  Want to start a passionate discussion at a tandem rally?  Introduce a discussion about something that a certain tandem builder has recently written about tandem technology; yikes!

And so it goes with all aspects of tandem cycling.  If you’re considering a large investment in a new tandem, or are shopping for a used tandem do your homework.  Call up and talk to the builders, noting that with the exception of the mega brands like Trek & Dorel (who in turn owns Pacific who in turn owns Cannondale: yeah, there’s a message in that) where you may be hard-pressed to find the person who actually designed your tandem never mind talking to someone in the mega-size factory that mass-produced your tandem, builders like Co-Motion, Santana, Calfee, Rodriquez, Bilenky, Seven, daVinci and other recognizable and reputable brands are very small businesses where the folks who design and fabricate the frames are very easy to reach and tend to be very happy to talk to customers about their products.

That’s all I’ve ever done when I’ve had questions about a specific product, along with making inquiries with the more experienced tandem speciality dealers who are also a wealth of information.  In fact, most of the dealers will help you sift through the fog of “facts vs. marketing spin” to arrive at a good decision on a tandem, tandem wheels or other components.  After all, the folks who’ve been selling tandems for 20+ years are still doing it for a reason: they take care of their customers and give them good advise.

If you think you’re smarter than dealers or builders are about tandems, then don’t waste their time: just go with your gut and do your own beta testing with the latest equipment.  Seriously, and that’s not a swipe.  I tend to fall into that category at times as there are things I’ve had builders do with our tandem designs that were not standard offerings because of my own experience and preferences.  There are also components or ways of rigging I’ve been able to learn and use on our tandems that are well outside the realm of conventional wisdom that work well for me, but not others.   Other times, not so much and I have the parts sitting in a box to prove it.  Thankfully, I’ve never found the bleeding edge, as I love my wife too much to put her at risk by putting a critical component on our tandems that I don’t have absolute faith in.

So, that’s what I think…. and I do a lot of thinking.

Posted in Advice & Commentary | 8 Comments