The Deceptive Nature of Elevation Maps on Cue Sheets

Men have been the butt of jokes about map making, map reading, navigation and otherwise getting lost since the beginning of recorded history, to wit:

  • “Men can read maps better than women… cause only the male mind could conceive of one inch equaling a hundred miles.” Rosanne Barr
  • “My ancestors wandered lost in the wilderness for 40 years because even in biblical times, men would not stop to ask for directions.” Elayne Boosler
  • Christopher Columbus didn’t discover anything; he thought he found a shortcut to Asia when he came upon islands and land masses he didn’t know existed populated by people who knew exactly where they were. Any good history book

edgeAs cyclists who venture out onto the open road, we too have been challenged with finding our way for over a century.  Even with the aid of Global Positioning Satellites and GPS enabled devices, we still find ourselves not where we supposed to be from time-to-time. At times it is due to our inability to use the devices, others because of a poorly developed GPS map or any one of several other issues. In regard to the latter, an executive from our Corporation half-jokingly noted that the GPS III constellation of satellites we’re currently putting into orbit to replace the 2nd generation GPS satellites will finally make sure that when your GPS device says, “You have reached your destination” you’ll really be at your destination, not just near it.

But, not everyone who rides a bicycle at a rally or tour has or uses GPS devices to help them find their way. Therefore, the most conscience of folks who plan bicycle routes and tours have always gone to great lengths to provide cyclists with maps, cue sheets and road markings of varying detail to make sure riders can find their way.


100milemapSome route planners have taken full advantage of advances in computer technology to create GPS-based route maps to kill two birds with one stone, if you will: software products that produce GPS maps typically can also produce printable maps, turn-by-turn cue sheets and downloadable .GPX files to drive personal GPS devices. This all sounds like goodness, but can too much information become a problem? It sure can…

At a recent tandem rally I listened as a more seasoned tandem team member at a rally talking to the ride organizers about the elevation maps on-line and on the printed cue sheet / route maps. More specifically, after a somewhat hilly first day of riding on a route that had an elevation map with what appeared to be steep, jagged and soaring climbs, the couple was concerned all three days of riding would be equally as challenging, despite a website describing the terrain as:

RIDES:  We will host mostly flat and gently rolling rides on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday visiting nearby villages and rural communities. Roads in the area are gentler than many in other parts of the south and should please all levels of cyclists (particularly those from flatter states).

The gentle lady’s point was, she and her husband had struggled with several of the very steep climbs on Friday’s route (we saw 11%, 12% and 13%) and in looking at the route and elevation maps for the Saturday and Sunday rides, they were left to assume those routes would be equally difficult and clearly not what they expected… nor something they’d like to ride.

While I quietly poo-poo’d their concerns, it suddenly dawned on me… If I’d never had to interpret elevation maps before, I might also draw the wrong conclusion. After all, unless you have really good eyes, know where to look and how to interpret what a map that plots elevation on the Y-axis with a scale of 100 – 800 feet and distance on an X-axis of 30 to 40 miles is really conveying, you could either find yourself facing unexpected and grueling climbs, or a ride filled with nearly dead flat roads. Case in point, here are the elevation maps for the rides on three different days at this event:

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 7.52.40 PM

Note that each of the above elevation maps use a different elevation scale that is further skewed by the different ride lengths. Therefore, even though at first glance the 2nd and 3rd elevation maps would seem to be just as hilly and grueling as the first, it’s simply not true. However, making sense out of that as a novice to GPS-based elevation maps isn’t necessarily intuitive.

Let’s take a look at those three maps where the elevation scales have all been normalized to be about the same and plotted the ride length along a common axis. Now, bear in mind that the elevation axis is still way out of proportion and exaggerated compared to the ride length axis.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 7.52.52 PM

It’s better, but the climbs are still greatly exaggerated due to the disproportionate elevation and distance axis.  So, lets just go ahead and reduce the disproportionate elevation to distance ratio to something that the mind can grasp a bit more easily.  Of course, to be able to “see it” I’ll still have to keep one of the exaggerated elevation maps above it (flattened by about 50%) because once you compress the elevation axis to something more in proportion to the distance (like 90%) , you really have no idea what to expected for elevation changes… it’s just a lumpy line.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 7.53.00 PM

The moral of this story is, as much as we’d like to think that most of our fellow tandem enthusiasts are “up to speed” with the latest technology and what not, there will always be a few who are either a bit behind the power curve or “old school” just as there will be a few other who are even further out there “on the bleeding edge” of technology.

Of course, you can also adopt the old alpine skier’s mantra when it comes to elevation, “If it’s too steep then you’re too old.”  Ouch!  Yeah, that’s pretty harsh.  However, having past the 1/2 century mark a few years back ourselves and not being cycling monsters who get out and train I get the “ouch” part.  That said, Friday’s ride was definitely NOT mostly flat and gently rolling.  Heck, there was even a 13% grade on the final leg back into town with the word, “Ouch” painted on the route…  we had to agree!  Thankfully, we didn’t have to walk but others did.

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New Entries At Riding Two-Up

369252Recently posted at Riding Two-Up.  There are a couple of long-ones in there as we did a two-fer in October, that is two-up fer two motorcycle rallies: one in Panama City Beach the first weekend in October and another at Daytona Beach on the third weekend.

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New Tandem Events: Mississippi in April & Missouri in June

Over the past few weeks I’ve learned of two tandem rallies that I wasn’t previously aware of by notes dropped in my Email from tandem enthusiast and rando-animal Jeff Sammons up in Tennessee and tandem enthusiast John White from Springfield, Missouri.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.07.34 PMJeff passed along a link to what is being called “Mississippi’s Inaugural Tandem Rally” scheduled for 17-19 April 2015 in Central Mississippi and featuring rides on and around the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway.

As I read more about the event I finally recalled that a couple who has supported our Tour de Cure campaign year-after-year had mentioned a possible rally in their home state of Mississippi and sure enough this appears to be that event.

The Saturday & Sunday rides appear to do out-and-back rides north and then south along the Natchez Trace which, at least in middle Mississippi, is fairly flat.  All of the details are on the website, to include ride route sheets and registration options.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.08.05 PMThe other new-to-me event is the second running of the Southwest Missouri Tandem Weekend on 5-7 June 2015.

Per John’s note, the first-ever southwest Missouri Tandem weekend was held near the Ozarks and Springfield, MO.  Last year’s inaugural weekend event drew 17 teams from 5 states and plans for this year’s event are still being finalized; stay tuned for more information via their website.

If you’re curious what the riding looks like in southwest Missouri, the Tandems of the Ozarks have taken care of that too; here’s a link to a short video compilation of on-tandem footage shot during last year’s event:

Yes, we’ll be adding information on these rallies to over the next few weeks.

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Southern Tandem Rally 2014, Columbus, GA… Part III of III

Sunday, 24 October…

Throughout the week leading up to STR Debbie started to suffer from weed-driven late summer / early fall allergies, just as I had been since late September. While she seems to be able to avoid the sinus infections that I’ve become prone to over the past couple years, she was still dealing with a persistent cough, sore throat, hoarseness and the other typical hay fever symptoms.

Miss Debbie and Lisa, my awesome stokers!

Miss Debbie and Lisa, my awesome stokers!

On top of that, I think we discovered that she neglected to let me know her Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle’s cover needed to be tightened. It had apparently stretched enough to allow her to make contact with the saddle rails on hard bumps leaving her sore and bruised (I’m guessing this was bad karma coming around for my less than flattering blog entry last week). The combination of the two prompted her to ask if it would be OK if she skipped today’s ride and to let Lisa stoke for me on our Calfee. I said if Lisa’s willing, then sure.

We headed down to breakfast shortly after that and as expected, Lisa was game to give it a go; she’s really a great sport and wonderful friend! So, we were set; Debbie would get some down time while Lisa and I were still able to get in a tandem ride. Once again, we shared a table with our friends Richard & Shirley who made our breakfast all that much more enjoyable.


Calfee inside the truck with triplet on top; trucks make great tandem support vehicles!

I guess it’s a good thing to have a spare tandem as well as a spare stoker available at tandem rallies! It certainly paid off for us at this year’s STR. Lisa was fine with stoking on the Calfee as she said she’d never been on a composite tandem. Thankfully I keep a full set of illustrated bike fitting measurements for our tandem and the triplet in my tool box and it only took me about 20 minutes to swap saddles and make other adjustments so Lisa would be properly fitted for the Calfee. The measurements were pretty much the same as the ones used on the triplet so it only took a quick spin around the parking lot to confirm that she was good to go with the set-up.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.25.10 PMSunday’s ride would take us south onto Fort Benning, Georgia via the Riverwalk Bike Trail, which would make for a fairly flat ride. In fact, there were only two climbs of any note and the folks who elected to do the 16 or 30 mile routes instead of the 40 mile option were treated to a nearly flat ride.

Again, while I’m not a fan of Multi-Use Paths the ones in Columbus were very nice and lightly used which was OK by me. I would definitely go back and ride them again as they provide a very nice way to move from the center of town to the more lightly travelled roads just outside the city limits.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.25.21 PM

We started somewhere closer to the back of the pack and did our best not to get too spirited on the narrow bike path and eventually found ourselves collected up by the A team riders. However, once we hit the more open roads and a slight climb they put enough distance on us that I finally decided it was time to slide back and find the usual suspects. Of course, about the time we found them the medium and long routes split and we guessed wrong on which way to go. After a hasty U-turn we gave chase and bridged back to the group on a fairly steep climb and then shared the rest of our ride together as a single group.

Throughout the three days of riding our Garmin and many others like it struggled with the GPS maps that were developed for the routes, all of which included a lot of out-and-back routing. A Garmin/GPS aficionado told us most Garmin devices seem to have trouble with out-and-back routes so it wasn’t totally unexpected. Thankfully, the STR organizers did an outstanding job of developing details maps w/cue sheets and marking all of the roads which made the Garmin GPS devices almost unnecessary.

We were back at the hotel before 11:00am which gave me plenty of time to find Miss Debbie in our room, grab a shower and have everything packaged and down to the truck before noon, well ahead of the 12:30pm late check-out time that the organizers had negotiated for everyone; another nice touch!

Packing up didn’t take all that long as I’d had to put the triplet back on top of the truck Saturday afternoon for overnight storage. It was too big to bring to the room – perhaps even too big for the freight elevator – and the hospitality suite had to be cleared by midnight on Saturday so that also wasn’t an option. With everything stowed in the truck we began to search for friends to say goodbye and so we could figure out who was hanging around for lunch and evaluate our own lunch options. Part of me wanted to hit the road so we could be back on our own turf around 2:00pm for some hot wings at Loco Willy’s, but once we found that a large group of friends were going to venture back onto Broadway in search of a place for one last meal together we opted to join them.

I believe the place was called “The Social” and featured Mexican cuisine as well as craft beers. Debbie and I stuck with soft drinks as I was having a hard enough time staying awake after three restless nights and three days of moderate to heavy physical activity. I suspect it was work-related restlessness more than the hotel or anything else as I was sleeping fine a week earlier down in Daytona under similar conditions. Well, OK… not as much physical activity but physical activity – long rides, long walks and lots of time in the sun – nonetheless. For some reason our server seemed overwhelmed by our group of 16 and it took quite a long time to get all of the drinks served, food orders taken and then food prep and delivery was interminable. However, the food was warm and tasty when it arrived and we really weren’t in a hurry. We finally said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel around 2:00pm for the 2-hour drive back home. After a few more goodbyes back at the hotel to our other friends who were gathered in the parking lot and still packing travel tandems for their respective trips home, we were on the road around 2:30pm.

We arrived home around 4:30pm and by 6:00pm had most of the laundry in the machines, the bikes unloaded, the triplet cleaned-up and put back up in the rafters until the next opportunity to use it comes around – GTR in May or perhaps earlier – and then decided to end our STR weekend the way we started it: with some soft drinks, a caesar salad and wild pie at Olde Towne and football on the tele.

Again, just a great weekend and our sincere thanks to Jose & Sherry and Ron & Shari for all of their hard work in developing and pulling off a wonderful Southern Tandem Rally.


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Southern Tandem Rally 2014, Columbus, GA… Part II of III

Saturday, 23 October…

We headed down to breakfast at the Houlihan’s around 7:00am two hours ahead of the riders meeting and mass start at 9:00am.  As before, same very nice set-up with breakfast basics: eggs, meats, starches, cereals, yogurt, etc. served buffet style which was apparently the norm for the Marriott / Houlihan’s.  After breakfast Debbie headed back to the room while I headed out to the truck to check on the temperature, unload the triplet and make all of the various changes to saddles, riding positions, etc. needed to get it ready for Saturday’s ride with Lisa added to our team.

triplet on tundraAs I was going about adjusting Debbie’s saddle on the triplet after removing it from the Calfee, Art from Elkhorn, WI, stopped by to chat and mentioned that he’d really hoped to see how we were able to get the triplet down from the truck, something I’d heard from at least two other tandem rally participants.

No doubt, seeing that very long bike so very high up on top of our truck with just a fork mount and rear wheel tray secured by a pair of large suction cups wasn’t the norm; most folks with the really long bikes or high-profile vehicles used a Tandem Topper or some other lifting device. I explained that it wasn’t all that interesting, but since they missed the opportunity to see how I do it, I figured I’d capture the 20-second process on video while unloading the triplet upon returning home from Columbus.

Here’s the dealeo: the triplet only weights about 42lbs without the front wheel installed so it’s not all that hard to lift it overhead for the loading and unloading process. The length makes it a bit unwieldy as does the center of gravity being a bit further back the rear truck door / folded down rear seat which in combination with my portable step-ladder are the key to my one-person process.  Note that I’d already loosened the rear wheel straps and had unlocked the front skewer before ‘making the lift’.  Anyway, there you go. Not a lot of drama.

Saturday's RouteThankfully, the weather was not as cool as it had been on Friday morning so we wouldn’t need as many layers to stay warm during the first part of the ride.  Our original plan was do the 54 mile route on Saturday but we were almost talked into the longer 65 mile route.  Again, even with our third motor — Lisa — aboard for today’s ride, Debbie and I just didn’t have the legs and lungs for spirited rides in the metric century range. Doing the slightly shorter distances at something between a social and spirited pace just seemed to be a better fit. Thankfully, we came to our senses at some point during the ride and returned to our original plan for riding 54 miles; it was the right distance.


I should probably note that Saturday’s route was a completely different cycling experience compared to Friday’s; everything about it was great!  The escort out of town by the Columbus PD well-executed by the men in blue; kudos for a great job of securing our route through the traffic lights until we were well outside of the city proper.  The route itself started off with a few moderate but short climbs but then transitioned to what even I had to admit was an excellent Multi-Use Path (MUP) system. We rode the “Fall Line Trace” for about 5.5 miles to get well east of the more urban areas surrounding Columbus.  We’d also ridden on a one-mile section of the northern-most stretch of the Chattahoochee River Walk on Friday; it was also quite nice.  I know, hearing anything positive about a MUP from me is a rare occurrence, but these were pretty nice trails from a cyclist’s perspective given their proximity to a major metropolitan area and there were only a few other runners and cyclists on the MUPs.

As it we did on Friday’s ride, we spent the better half of the first half of the ride gaining elevation with just about every pedal stroke. However, the elevation change was a steady incline of 1% – 2% with just a few modest hills and some short downhill sections.  Coming back would, at least in theory, yield some easy miles.  The quality of the roads was also far superior to some of the sections we encountered on Friday’s ride and, with just a few exceptions the motorists were generally quite tolerant and courteous.   All-in-all, it made for a wonderful time out on the road with our friends, including a large number of the original “usual suspects” from the late 1990’s: the Shavers, Wood-Goods, Strausskys, Team LGood, Phinneys and representation for Teams Hunter, Davis & deJong.

Let’s see, some of the more notable memories from the ride:

- Riding Triplets: During one slight climbing section we’d been riding alongside Linda & Eric carrying on a conversation that ended when we momentarily pulled ahead. Suddenly I heard Debbie having a conversation about our newest granddaughter, Vivian, and couldn’t figure out who she was talking with.  It was only then that I remembered we were riding the triplet with Lisa. You know you have a great handling triplet with a smooth crew when you can honestly forget you’re even riding a triplet.

Impromptu photo op with little Audrey, my sweetie and Kurt & Debbie from California.

Impromptu photo op with little Audrey, my sweetie and Kurt & Debbie from California.

- Mechanical Challenges: During the first store stop our friends from California were attempting to adjust-out some chain rub from their front derailleur.  I saw a few things about the front derailleur set-up that weren’t ideal and made an orientation adjustment to the change and after giving up on making any other adjustments at the derailleur with a multi-tool that really didn’t work well I put about four turns into the down tube cable stop adjuster to give the front derailleur a little more travel.  However, when we went to do the function test of the drive train the 1999 vintage Shimano Ultegra shifter (right hand) didn’t want to move the rear derailleur below the 4th cassette cog?!  It felt terminal as there was clearly a lack of pawl engagement inside the lever, but I suggested giving it a WD40 flush on the off-chance there was a build-up of crud limiting the shifter’s movement. No dice; it was toast.  Not sure if it just failed at an inopportune time, or if the rear derailleur had inadvertently been shifted while the rear wheel wasn’t turning; that could have easily been the coup de grâce for some worn/weak teeth. Thankfully, they had all of their climbing gears and the mid-range gearing was probably good enough for the rolling terrain we were enjoying.

- The Chase & Catch: After heading off on the 54 mile route with a few of the “B Team” riders we made a store stop on the return half the loop. Just before heading off to finish the leg to lunch, the “A Team” herd rolled by and Team Osgood-Wood took chase.  We went off behind them but never really got fully committed to idea of time-trialing for the next 10 -20 minutes.  Son-of-a-gun if Linda & Eric didn’t catch the A Teams before the lunch stop! There was a time…

- BBQ Lunch: Lunch at Flat Rock Park was a pretty tasty BBQ meal, something I think I’ve only had one time in the past when Santana held its rally in Chattanooga.  While not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, we both enjoyed the BBQ, sides, deserts and very sweet tea! I made the mistake of eating a large piece of pecan pie. It was delicious, but oh so packed with sugar! Heading out of the park we got a chance to watch Ted & Sandy from St. Louis use their Santana road tandem for some off-road excursions over the flat rock and grassy fields as well as onto the dirt trails, noting they’ve got extensive off-road tandeming experience. It’s not something I’d recommend to anyone who has never ridden an off-road tandem. The park sat right alongside the “Fall Line Trace” so we were quickly on our way back to town right from the park.

Debbie spent the afternoon relaxing in our room while I ventured out to do a few things with the bikes and then visited with a large group of friends out by the Marriott’s pool. There was a second gathering of friends out under a tree in the parking lot.

phinney craig_carla_gang


Left to right: Sanna & Chuck, Ryan, Linda…  Craig, Claude, Sandy, Carla & Donna.

Sanna_gang eric_ted

Left to right: Linda, Smith & Claude, Sam, Sanna…  Eric, Ted.

Our plan for the evening was to visit Houlihan’s pub for cocktails and college football before walking across the street to the Columbus Conference Center for the rally social and dinner. Unfortunately, we discovered that Houlihan’s like many pubs in Columbus didn’t offer frozen drinks. We let our friend Lisa know that we were going to call an audible and return to the Cantina for some frozen drinks and would then make our way over to the Conference Center and welcomed her to join us but also let her know that the craft beer was flowing under the tree in the parking lot. She opted to visit with the gang while Debbie and I got some alone time and frozen drinks; win-win!

The Conference Center was an amazing facility that re-purposed a brick-walled factory: it was jaw-dropping architecture. The STR social was being held in the common area outside of the ballroom where a local blue grass band was set-up and providing entertainment before the dinner instead of after; brilliant!

bluegrassband confcenter


debbie_cloggingMiss Debbie was in fine form and put her western boots to good use clogging away to the bright and happy music as we visited with friends before the banquet hall doors opened around 6:45pm. We sat with our friends Richard & Shirley along with (two other couples – get names) and the buffet style dinner was very nice and moved quickly with four lines of guests moving along two buffet serving lines. The post dinner festivities and announcements also moved along quite quickly which was also first class!


We wandered back to hour hotel and went into Houlihan’s to catch some football in the pub and visited with some friends in the lobby before calling it a night.

Just an outstanding day


ryan_christenA special thank you to Christen for taking and sharing photos over the past 17 years and throughout the weekend that I’ve shamelessly poached to help add a little color and context to my otherwise bland blog. Were it not for Christen’s photos all these years there wouldn’t be any photos of Debbie and me cycling!

randy_claudiaAnd a special thank you as well to Randy & Claudia whose always have the forethought to take lots of photos!  Were it not for their photos there wouldn’t have been any from Saturday night.



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Southern Tandem Rally 2014, Columbus, GA… Part I of III

I”m really, really, really going to try hard to keep this short…

Thursday, 23 October…

We both worked a full day and then left for Columbus, GA, at 7:00pm.  It’s about a 2 hour drive so we decided to stop for dinner before we got out-of-town.  After a can’t go wrong caesar salad and wild pie at Olde Towne, we were back on the road by about 7:45.

It’s funny how different this drive to Columbus feels vs. the ride we take along the same route to Panama City Beach; frankly, it’s a lot more relaxing and enjoyable on the Harley!  I’m not sure why that is.

We arrived in Columbus around 9:30 and spent 15 more minutes negotiating the gauntlet of stoplights that stood between us and the Marriott Columbus along the Chattahoochee. We found quite a few friends in the lobby when we arrived and checked-in… and that’s the real draw for these events: seeing good friends who we’ve met through tandem cycling.  We even had a chance to see some friends who lived in Atlanta briefly a few years back before returning to Bend, Oregon, who had made the trip to Columbus.

We hit the sack early knowing that we’d need to be well-rested for Friday’s ride.  As much as I had it in my mind that the roads around Columbus would be flat and rolling, the elevation maps for the ride options suggested otherwise.

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Friday, 24 October…

We were up around 6:30 and headed down to breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, Houlihan’s.  It was actually a very  nice set-up.  We were joined at our table by our friends Richard and Shirley from Muncie, Indiana / Naples, Florida.  What a joy it is to spend time with them!  We had a great time catching up and talking about all kinds of things.

It was a cool morning so we’d definitely be starting out with our legs, arms and hands covered and with wind vests / jackets on.  I should probably note, we’d be on the tandem today and then move over to the triplet for Saturday and Sunday.  Our guest stoker Lisa would be spending Friday’s ride stoking for our friend Ted from St. Louis, MO, as his wife Sandy wasn’t flying in until Friday afternoon.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 8.49.58 PMThe ride began from the hotel and negotiated its way through the aforementioned gauntlet of stop lights with a little help from the Columbus Police Department. Bless their hearts, they did their best but they really didn’t have a good plan for how to marshall a 100 tandems through a heavily traffic-light infested urban area.

As you can see from elevation map, above, it was a pretty steady climb all the way to the half-way point in the ride.  We fell into no-mans land for a while as the A teams went off the front and eventually found ourselves riding with our friends Linda & Eric, noting Linda was celebrating her birthday today.

Somewhere along the line we ran across some of our friends from Florida — Greg & Angela — who had been riding with the A teams and punctured their tubeless rear tire to the point where it wouldn’t self-heal.  We stopped and lent them a hand in getting the tire booted, a tube inserted and inflated and then rode with them to the store stop located about 4 miles before the 45-mile and 57-mile routes split-off.

Our original plan was to do the 57-mile, but we were really struggling on the ride: apparently doing motorcycle rallies for the past two out of three weekends didn’t do much to improve our cycling fitness.  Another couple we know from Ohio who were at the store said they planned to change their plans and do the 45-mile route and we were all-in for that.  It was a good call. There were a couple 11%, 12% and 13% climbs on the way back in to Columbus and they really put the burn in our thighs while taking the wind out of our sails.

We finished the ride by passing back through one of Columbus’ public housing projects and then taking a right turn onto a bike path that put us down on a lovely river walk along the redevelopment area that lined the Chattahoochee River; it was an interesting contrast to say the least.

We exited the river walk a mere 100 yards from our hotel which was a pleasant surprise, as I’d expected we’d be tackling the traffic lights again.

It was a good ride, but I must say that while Columbus has secured designation as a bicycle friendly town quite a few motorists we encountered on our ride outside the city limits certainly weren’t.  We’ve had similar experiences when cycling up and around Pine Mountain, Georgia as well.

cannonOnce we were back at the hotel we made a quick change and headed down Broadway Street on foot in search of lunch.  We decided that the Cannon Brew Pub looked inviting and stepped-in to investigate.  Definitely a place I’d recommend to anyone looking for a nice meal in Columbus .

They quickly seated us and we had a wonderful lunch with a delightful server.  Debbie opted for the crab cakes, I had the Sushi grade ahi tuna ciabatta sandwich and they were wonderful. I also had some of their home-made root beer and it was out of this world.  Of course, we also learned from our server that it was loaded with sugar, which explains why it was so darn tasty!


My dining companion was as lovely as could be, even after that thigh burning 45-mile ride; I’m a lucky guy!

We went back to the hotel to rest and recuperate for a while before heading back out at 5:00pm for dinner at the Loft with Linda, Eric and 30 other friends. I’m still not sure why Friday’s ride seemed to be so hard on us, but it was as I never lay down and rest in the middle of the day… never.  But, I definitely needed it today.

cocktailsWe wandered down to the Loft a little early as my sweetie felt the need for a Pina Colada. Sadly, they didn’t do frozen drinks at the Loft but said the Cantina next door did.  Great recommendation as the gal working the bar — Christina — was about as nice as could be and did a great job of taking care of our need for a frozen drink fix!

We finally made it back to the Loft around 5:25pm and found our party in the back of the main dining floor.  We were able to visit with some dear friends who moved to the west coast about 10 years ago and who we hadn’t seen since then and several other friends that we only get to see at tandem rallies.  We had a wonderful time at dinner and then headed upstairs for a desert social and some “cycling olympics”.

The cycling olympics included a “guess the fat-tire tandem weight” contest, a “pump up the tire until it blows” event, a “who can change the tire the fastest” skill test and a “how slow can you go” cruiser bike race.

I entered all four and won one of the heats in the blow-up the tire” event.  I was on the fast track to win a tire change heat when my tube blew at 90 psi during the reinflation… apparently I’d pinched the tube in my haste.  I threw my heat in the “slow ride” event as I was just too darn tired to play, but I’m pretty sure Tom would have won any way.  I cheated on the bike weight contest by checking the web and it backfired on me: the cited weight was overstated by about 7 lbs: when’s the last time you saw a bike manufacturer over state a weight!

It was all in good fun and we had a great time: definitely not something we’d ever seen at a previous tandem rally!  I gave my “blow the tire” growler to a friend who truly enjoys craft beers as it would have been a waste for us: Debbie likes frozen drinks and I like tequila.

We headed back to our hotel around 8:30pm as the combination of the hard ride (at least for us), our cocktails at the Cantina and pumping up that darn tire conspired to wear me down earlier than usual.  So, here I sit at 9:30 finishing up this first entry recounting our trip down and first day at the 2014 Southern Tandem Rally.

All-in-all, a great start to a great weekend.

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How To Screw Up A Great Saddle…. (Selle Anatomica Titanico)

Let me start off with a disclaimer…

I’m still fuming after making a pretty eye-opening / disappointing discovery this evening as I prepared our triplet and tandem for this weekend’s Southern Tandem Rally.

Here’s the deal:  We purchased a Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle for Debbie at the May ’13 Georgia Tandem Rally after Debbie had started struggling with comfort issues on the saddle she had been using for a couple of years. The Selle Titanico was a Hail Mary as we were going to be doing a metric century the next day.  Suffices to say, the Titanico was the first saddle that Debbie used that didn’t become the source of any discomfort: it was perfect!  As you’d expect, there’s a detailed review in an earlier blog entry.

Fast forward to GTR ’14 in Athens this past May: Debbie thought she’d be OK using the same F’zik saddle on the triplet that she used on her single bike and that’s what we used on the Friday ride.  Yeah, well… that didn’t work.  Fortunately, I’d brought the Calfee along and was able to move her Titanico over to the triplet for the Saturday & Sunday rides.  But, I decided that before the Southern Tandem Rally (STR) in October when we next pulled the triplet down from the rafters I’d get a second Titanico for the triplet.

With STR approaching, I went out and purchased what I thought was the same Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle in September and set it aside to install in October before we headed to Columbus, Georgia for STR.  Tonight was that night and boy did I get a rude surprise: they redesigned the darn saddle and completely changed the rails!

Below is a pretty good comparison of the original design at the far right, with the new design in the middle and at right.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 8.56.26 PMLet me point out what may or may not be the obvious difference:

  • Take a look at how long the straight segment of the rails are on the original model at the far right.
  • Note how narrow the rails are at the nose and through the neck of the saddle and how far back and narrow the rails remain where they taper along the nose.
  • Now look at the new design and notice that the amount of fore/aft saddle adjustability has been reduced by a full 1/3d from the original.
  • Consider how the wider and more forward taper near the nose of the saddle really adds nothing to the function of the saddle, while creating an interference point for anyone who rides knees-in.

Original Titanico

  selle selle2

New & Improved “T” Model

DSCN0497 DSCN0496

This new design made it impossible for me to get Debbie’s riding position far enough forward for a proper fit.  In fact, the change in saddle rails left the nose of the saddle sitting a full 3cm too far back from the handle bars and the correct saddle nose over crank set-back for a proper fit.

Thanks Selle Anatomica for eliminating what was a great saddle option for my wife.  Of course, I’d already chucked the packaging and other materials that came with the saddle back in September when I foolishly assumed the saddle would be dimensionally similar to the original so I’m pretty much stuck with it and out $150.  I’ll be offering up for sale on eBay just to get rid of it as I now have to figure out if Debbie will do best on a Rivet Cycle Works knock-off of the Titanico with its anatomic cut-out, or a Brooks.  I’m guessing the Rivet will be my next move as I don’t want to put Debbie through the pain and suffering that seems to go hand-in-glove with a Brooks saddle.

Still shaking my head on this one; what the hell were they thinking?  Then again, these were the same folks who decided to undercut their dealers by offering a deep discount / blow-out of their saddles via their on-line store during winter 2013/14, leaving their dealers holding saddles in inventory purchased with a much higher MSRP than what was being offered by Selle.



Posted in Editorials & Rants, Technology & Equip. | 8 Comments