Spring is Here; Really? … and a note about Panniers.

80°F and sunny in Daytona and sporting a hat to keep my poor scalp from getting sunburned.

So, three weeks ago we were in Louisville and Nashville where they’d just received a few inches of snow.  Two weeks ago we were in Daytona Beach enjoying 80°F weather and getting nice tans.  Last weekend we celebrated the arrival of spring, with one nice day spent doing a bunch of yard work before the rain came in.  This weekend comes along and on Saturday we woke up to clear skies and a temperature of 33°F and then today it was 26°F at the crack of dawn on what looks like another beautiful day. Mother Nature, thanks for the beautiful clear days, but could you crank-up that thermostat a bit?  My sweet Georgia Peach wilts when she gets too cold!

Actually, we did in fact get in a tandem ride on Saturday despite being only 39°F at 11:00am when we rolled out of the driveway.  We’d been invited by friends on Friday night to go on a motorcycle ride at 9:00am Saturday morning. Debbie’s immediate knee-jerk response to that was, “Sh*t, it’s going to be cold”. I offered up a tandem ride a bit later in the day when the temps got into the 40’s and she still wasn’t biting, at first.  Then, a bit later while we were sitting a local pub watching a band she asked me how far it was to North Paulding High School.  I responded, 15 hilly miles; why?  Well, it turns out that our 8-year-old granddaughter Caroline had a lacrosse game at 12:15pm at the high school and, gee…. wouldn’t it be fun to ride to the game on the tandem?  Suddenly, riding in 40°F now had a purpose and she was all in.  So, we sent our regrets to our friends for the motorcycle ride and managed expectation around a brisk, hilly ride out to Paulding County.

However, given the temps and the fact that we’d be stopping mid-ride for about an hour to stand out in the cold, windy weather watching a bunch of little girls with very short legs running around with sticks, we’d need to carry along some warm fleece sweaters to keep ourselves warm, have on hand a few extra garments in case it was even colder on the bike than we expected and have a place to put some of the clothes we were wearing in case we’d over-dressed for the ride.  What to do?  Well, put on the Tubus Fly pannier rack and hang on the Ortlieb panniers that have been sitting pretty much unused for nearly 5 years.

March 2009 photos of our Calfee in full-on touring mode with panniers and mudguards.

 

I first introduced the rack and panniers to readers in the last entry to my Calfee Journal in March 2009, completing our “year in the life of a Calfee” objective for the journal.  Below are some extracts from that entry:

Tubus Fly Rack & Ortlieb Panniers: I started doing my homework on racks and luggage in mid-November and after checking out the usual sources here in the states I decided to see how the pricing was at some of the European Etailers. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled onto the Wiggle site and found theTubus racks and Ortlieb panniers I’d been looking at for prices well below anything I’d found thus far … even in light of what was at that time still a strong British Pound. So, on November 26th I decided to pull the trigger with Wiggle and ordered up a Tubus Fly rack for £37.58 ($56.01) and a Tubus QR Kit for £16.47 ($24.54) to support a work-around to accommodate our short rear stays and the rear disc. I also ordered up a set of Ortlieb Back Roller Plus panniers for £79.65 ($118.72). The icing on the cake was “free shipping” and, as it turned out, no sales tax or duty. My order arrived in a mere week from Germany and while the Tubus racks and Ortlieb bags are really pricey, the engineering, materials, fit and finish are superb.

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As you can see in the photos above, we’re currently using a rear rim brake so the installation still uses the same Rube-Goldberg mounting hardware but is a no-brainer that takes all of 5 minutes to complete.  However, given the Fly is not made for tandem spacing or a custom Calfee with a disc brake, it wasn’t an out-of-the-box solution:

Like most things that I do, the Tubus Fly rack installation is a bit of a customization. In addition to cold-setting the rack from 130mm to 145mm rear spacing needed for our tandem, I modified the Tubus QR mounting brackets so I could use them to position the rack whereby my rear disc would fall into the rack’s “crotch”. I also had to install a set of fairly wide nylon spacers (they came with the QR kit) to get some extra clearance between the rack and the disc. Finally, I carried over a trick from our Erickson travel tandem for mounting the front rack stay to the tandem whereby an extra seat post clamp is shimmed and trimmed so it can sit on the seat post and function as an anchor point for the rack.

As for the Ortlieb panniers, the engineering of the retention system is a thing of beauty and simplicity.  They clip-on and off in mere seconds with a slight tug on a single pull strap. No bungies or other tie-downs.  In terms of aesthetics, they look awful when they’re not stuffed to the gills, but who cares: whatever’s inside is 100% protected from the elements and you can really put a lot in these things.

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You can get an appreciation for how nicely the retention system grips the top rail of the Tubus rack; talk about a match made in heaven.  Even with the relatively short rear wheel stays on our Calfee, heel clearance for Debbie is not an issue with the big bags.

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Again, they tend to look a bit frumpy when they’re not stuffed to the gills and hanging on the rack, but definitely functional… and that’s what really counts.  Perhaps my decade of reading Jan Heine’s Bicycle Quarterly is beginning to take its toll on my view of the role bicycles play in our lives?! Regardless, I think our days of forgoing the rain gear and other “stuff” to keep our Calfee in racing trim at rides may be coming to an end.  I’m really liking the ability to slap on our quick-release full mud-guards and have learned to ignore the mounting tabs sticking out from either end of the brake calipers and really didn’t take any notice of the panniers on yesterdays’ ride: I certainly couldn’t tell they were back there, albeit with a fairly lightweight load.

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So, with our panniers installed and filled with a few extra clothing items and the tools that normally hang off a seat pack under Debbie’s saddle, we headed off towards North Paulding High School promptly at 11:00am.

debbie_NPHS1We arrived about 1.25 hours later after an 18-mile leg feeling pretty good. The sun was bright, but the wind was brisk and the temps still hadn’t gotten into the 40’s. But, we had some fleece jackets to put on so we were good.

 

DEBBIE_NPHS2And, nothing warms the heart and soul like getting time to spend with your kids and grandkids.  It didn’t take Debbie long at all to get our youngest granddaughter, Vivian Rose, into her arms.  Granddad even got in a little nuzzling time with Ms Vivian.

 

DEBBIE_NPHS3We also had time to chat and visit with Julie & Wesley, although 6-year old Miss Charlotte was pretty much on the go the whole time we were there so we didn’t see much of her.  Caroline was doing her best out on the field, but at times seemed like she’d rather be learning more about dinosaurs and dragons; she’s a sweetie.

DEBBIE_NPHS4The game ended around 1:15 and after saying our goodbyes and changing back into our long sleeve cycling jerseys and wind vests we were back on the road for the long climbs back to the house.  15 miles and an hour later we were back at home and enjoying the temps that had finally made their way into the 50’s.

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Yeah, I know: who’s that? The beard is growing back, but not fast enough. Hair might end up staying short. I like it long, but it’s a PIA to keep in check.

The afternoon was spent doing the required weekend stuff, e.g., laundry, light house cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. before heading off to grab some dinner and then a little us time at the Electric Cowboy.  We definitely need to learn how to do the Texas Two-Step and a few other structured dance steps if we want to hit the hardwoods for anything other than those slow dances.  Line dancing and southern waltzing is where it’s at Cowboys!

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Tandems at the 2015 NAHBS 2015

OK, so here’s my take on the tandems that were on display at the 2015 NAHBS…. and a note of thanks to the folks at places like Bike Rumor, VeloNews, NAHBS, and private individuals who have posted photos to the net, a few of which I’ve poached for this blog entry. I never take enough photos to support everything I’d like to mention. I’m really good a seeing things and remembering, just not taking photos along the way.

NAHBS & Tandems In General: Just some miscellaneous ramblings to start off.

Bottom Line: Tandems are not hot.   No doubt, there were certainly some nice tandems on display at NAHBS, but they weren’t show stoppers.  In fact, the tandems that caught my attention were the Calfee Dragonfly because of its paint job and the Black Sheep ICS family / travel tandem that garnered recognition for Best Tandem at the show.

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Interestingly enough, the Black Sheep tandem that took home the best tandem award (photo above) shared a few design cues with the two travel tandems that Bikenky brought to last year’s show (two smaller photos below), e.g., the non-linear, free-flowing tubes and use of different coupling systems on large and small diameter tubes.  This is not to take anything away from the Black Sheep tandem, it really is a spectacular machine.  But the hours of design, fabrication and finish work that went into the Ti Bikenky for last year’s show was certainly worthy of best tandem ITGHO.  Hey, I love Co-Motion, but the Bosch concept tandem (photo below the Bikenky’s) did not rock my world the way Bilenky’s amazing Ti travel tandem did and was more or less a concept bike, not something that was built for a client and headed “out into the field” where it would deliver the cycling joy, pleasure and memories for couples like no other bike.

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2015 NAHBS & Tandems: OK, now that I’ve aired my beef with last year’s award selections, let’s get back to what we saw this year and my related thoughts and/or inspirations.

Probably the best measure of what tripped our trigger was the tandem lust factor, i.e., if I was looking to drop a wad of money into a new tandem who would have gotten that check.  Well, there really wasn’t a tandem at the show that we would have taken home — although the Calfee Dragonfly came close and there was something about that brown Co-Motion Robusta that caught my eye — it was really a toss-up between commissioning a titanium tandem from Eriksen, Black Sheep  or DEAN.

  • Kent Eriksen has a pair of tandems at the show with some amazing welds and workmanship.  In fact, Eriksen took away the award for best TIG welds on an unfinished Ti frame that was worked on by Brad Bingham.

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  • DSCN1231Black Sheep, as already mentioned, took away the honors for Best Tandem for a travel tandem that was designed for a parent / child team built around the daVinci Independent Pedaling System (ICS) and that incorporated S&S Bicycle Torque Couplings (BTCS) as well as some other non-S&S frame joint systems to allow it to break down for travel.
  • DEAN, well… I don’t know if John Siegrist has ever made a tandem with a DEAN head badge, but I’d bet Ari Leon would be willing to give it shot! After all, I already have a DEAN Castanza road bike and a DEAN Scout mountain bike, so a one-off DEAN Ti tandem would really complete the set quite nicely if Ari could pull it off.  Gotta say, the welds on my DEANs will give any others a run for their money and there’s just not anything about these bikes that I don’t like!

IMG_20130302_133106_473 VLUU L310 W  / Samsung L310 W

Of course, at the end of the day, I think we’re more interested in an early retirement that will allow to spend more timing riding the tandems we already have so for the near term I suspect we’ll remain enthusiastic followers of all the great tandem builders who will look for any opportunity to take examples of their wares for an extended series of test rides.  After all, test riding a tandem is like going on a date; you really won’t know what you’ve got until you get to spend a lot more time together when you’re both not trying to be on your best behavior.

With all that said, here’s what we saw while ‘speed dating’ at NAHBS

The UnaTandem by Raymond Bicycle Co.

The first tandem I saw was perhaps the most unusual of the bunch; the Raymond Bicycle Company’s Una Tandem.  As the enthusiastic designer and builder Shawn Raymond described the various features it struck me that what I was looking at was the love child of a Green Gear (aka, Bike Friday) Family Tandem and a Buddy Bike.  For those unfamiliar with these two tandems, the Green Gear Family Tandem (left) is perhaps the most recognizable of the compact 20” wheeled tandem bicycles on the market.  The Buddy Bike (right), which was originally introduced as the Love Bike, is an “adaptable” tandem designed for a parent or caretaker to use with a second, less able rider.

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The UnaTandem combines the two to come up with a very short wheelbase tandem that accommodates two riders where, like the Love Bike, the rider in the rear controls the tandem.  The bike incorporates a variety of adjustability features like the Family Tandem that allows it to fit a large ranger of riders.  The exaggerated rake of the fork purportedly gives the tandem full-size wheeled bike handling characteristics.

The builder hopes to progress beyond the limited number of handmade prototypes and into production with the UnaTandem.  I guess my question would be, is there a market for a compact ‘adaptable’ tandem?  Perhaps, but I don’t believe it would be a large market targeted to folks who have such a need or interest who live in urban areas, use mass-transit or who have smaller vehicles / living spaces where a compact tandem would be a good fit.  Institutions might also have an interest so long as the cost was kept low.  Of course, the latter would require mass-production off-shore and that’s where the cost-model usually breaks, i.e., not enough demand to justify the volume needed to hit the price point.

Anyway, that’s my best shot at trying to be objective about the UnaTandem.

Erik Noren of Peacock Grove

Erik Noren, of Peacock Groove.Peacock Groove had a tandem at their “booth” but it really wasn’t on display… it was just there with a nice dried-on coat of mud and slush that I suspect was collected riding on the streets of Louisville which had just been blanketed with snow over the previous two days.  It was a 29″ off-road tandem with full suspension built around a Ventana MFS swing arm, brake bridge, and rocker.  Sadly, I took a photo of it sitting there at NAHBS but it wasn’t a great shot.  So, after sleuthing around on the net I found one that Erik posted a while back.

pgtandemWhile it wasn’t one of his signature deep custom bike finishes, it was a deep custom frame design. The unusual stoker compartment was designed to accommodate a 5′ tall stoker on a 29er with 5″ rear suspension travel and a 5’11” tall captain.  I’d have gone with a more conventional frame design but what seems to set Erik and his Peacock Groove builds apart is the lack of any convention, other than no two are alike. Case in point, check out the gold & green Peacock Groove electric homage to a motorcycle that hides the battery for the Shimano STEPS electric assist system in a faux gas tank. pretty sure it’s also sporting a Maverick inverted fork under all that gold paint.  Check out the video feature!

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Very funky and a lot of detail.  Oh yeah, and you can see the two saddles on the tandem sticking up behind the couch in the upper left corner of this photo.  That’s Erik sitting at the table in the green tshirt.  Check him out in this video short:  “Deep Custom”.

Scott Quiring & Quiring Cycles

The next tandems we came across were at Scott Quiring’s booth.  Steve brought along a Titanium 29+ with a nice “mid-size” 3″ tire that would have looked like a really large tire if it weren’t for the steel fat-tire tandem sitting next to it and sporting 26″ x 90mm Nextie composite rims with 4.0″ wide 45NRTH Hucker Du tires sitting right alongside.

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Now, let me be completely transparent here and note that I’m so far down the learning curve on fat-tire bikes and tandems that I really can’t offer any meaningful commentary on component selection or design decisions.  That said, what I did see and like about the Quiring tandems was a pretty straight forward, no non-sense approach to the frame construction and Scott was a really nice guy to talk with.  The 29+ was a solid build using a fairly conventional frame design that I’ve seen on a lot of Scott’s tandems.  The welds were excellent; just a great bike.  However, the Fat Bike really was the attention whore with what I believe is 142mm  front / 197mm rear spacing.  2X10 drive train using Middleburn cranks, a custom tandem fork built around Paragon drop-outs and a tapered steerer and a very nicely stepped top tube frame design that just looked right.  I would love to go and play on one of these in the right terrain, as they look to be an absolutely blast.  That said, if I had to pick between the two, the Ti-framed 29+ in the background was really sweet, and I think I’ve seen that same frame built-up with a Ventana rear suspension by Scott as well.

Don Walker, NAHBS Founder/Promoter & Bike Builder

Don Walker had an interesting booth in that you could hardly get near the bikes because they were selling NAHBS pint glasses for $5.00 and filling them with some type of craft beer for free (wink, wink).  I heard someone say the beer tasted like Budweiser… but not having partaken I can’t offer an opinion.  However, of most importance and sadly just about hidden from view by the pint glass sales and draught dispenser was the black and bright green steel 700c road tandem with dual discs, DuraAce, et al, that Don brought to the 2014 show.  It was a really nicely done steel tandem with an eye-catching paint job.  Once again, my photo was pretty sucky so I’ve pirated someone elses that does a better job of showing off the NAHBS and Kentucky native’s handiwork.  Not a fan of the wrap-around paint scheme that I’ve seen showing up on bikes and tandems over the past few years, but it works better in these colors than some others I’ve seen.

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However, to really appreciate Don’s skills you sometimes need to look to his more creative side; case in point this a replica of a track bike used during Stayer events.  Stayer racing involved the use of motorcycles pacing the track riders up to speeds of 60 mph as they raced other Stayer teams around a velodrome.  Yeah, pretty intense stuff.  You can learn more about the history of Stayer racing at this link: http://www.bikehugger.com/post/view/stayer-bikes.  The more you read from good sources the more you know!

Selle An Atomica

As regular readers are aware, Miss Debbie switched over to theSelle An Atomica Titanico saddles a couple of years back for use on the road tandem and triplet and couldn’t be happier.  We had a little bump in the road when we purchased a replacement saddle last year only to discover that Selle An Atomica had changed the seat rail design on their saddle frames.  Thankfully we found a new old stock saddle with the original, longer rails and have since learned and confirmed at this near’s NAHBS show that they’ve once again tweaked the frame design to add-back some of the rail length that had been lost.  Now, if they could just come up with a way of making their slotted saddle so that the cover didn’t stretch so darn fast.. or perhaps not at all.  Low and behold, a composite saddle!

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No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  In the foreground is a composite saddle cover modeled after theSelle An Atomica standard saddle and bonded to a composite leaf spring foundation with a set of aluminum rails.  The second saddle uses a composite cover attached to their standard steel frame.  The composite covers were every bit as compliant as a properly tensioned leather cover, which was quite intriguing. Obviously, the steel frame doesn’t really take advantage of the weight saving properties of composites as a leather cover isn’t all that much heavier.  However, if the composite leaf spring and aluminum rail element can be developed and made durable enough to meet consumer needs, that would be pretty cool.  There are also some issues with regard to how the composite edges need to be finished to make sure they don’t chaff or cut the riders shorts or flesh in the event of a crash scenario; composites become quite nasty when the edges fray.

So, here’s some real-time additional info on a composite saddle project that Selle An Atomica is looking to develop. Selle just launched a Crowd Funding effort on 23 March whereby they hope to secure 150 backers at $199 a pop within the next 30 days. The $199 investment will net a backer a limited edition of the ultra lightweight saddle with leaf spring damping later this year. For an extra $100, backers can also snag a new leather saddle on top of the promise of the composite model, assuming the project succeeds. When we signed-on at 10:00pm tonight we were the 39th backer, so I’m thinking they’ll hit their goal in far less than 30 days.

Calfee Design

To say that we’re big fans of Calfee’s composite frames would be a gross understatement.  Regular readers will recall that we documented the first year of Calfee ownership in an extensive series of articles written during 2008 that may still be linked off of the Calfee site; not sure about that as I haven’t checked.   Needless to say, we’re still as happy as can be with our Calfee tandem some 7+ years & 25,000+ miles later.  So, now that I’ve shared my bias, let me say that we finally saw a Calfee tandem that looked better than our nude frame at this year’s NAHBS. In fact, it gave me goose bumps when I saw it for the first time… which was apparently a reaction that a lot of folks at Calfee had when it came out of paint.  So, without further a du, here ’tis:

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calfeedf2Perhaps it’s just the subtle affinity I once again have developed for the color blue, noting that the blue faux lugs on the Dragonfly are nearly the same color as our sapphire blue Road King.  Who knows, but dang, that was an amazing-looking tandem / paint scheme on that tandem.  You couldn’t have pulled it off with any other frame, as the size of the lugs, the color of the blues and the translucent application that allowed the textures and shade variations of the composite tubeset and lug wrappings to show through really did dazzle in the show lights. I can only image what the bike looked like in broad daylight.

One of the other things that just “looked right” on the Calfee was the Co-Motion designed,T-390 composite disc fork and FSA SL-K crossover crankset.  This was actually the first time I’d seen the T-390 fork and it’s a beast of a thing that requires a really oversized head tube to “work” from a visual / aesthetics standpoint.  In fact, about the only thing that has always looked undersized, but more so now with the massive fork are the rear seat stays.  Now, I will also have to note that this particular Calfee Dragonfly tandem shares a frame design that is very reminiscent of our own custom Calfee, and that’s the steeply sloping top tube and shallow angle of the seat stays that pays homage to Glenn Erickson’s compact tandem frame design concept.  Where it’s most evident is in how tight-in the rear tire is to the seat tube cluster, noting that unlike our rakish Calfee, this one doesn’t even have a brake bridge.

CirrusCycles BodyFloatOh yeah and if you draw your attention up from the seat stays to the stoker seat post it may not be something you’ve seen before. That there is a Cirrus Cycles Body Float suspension seat post. The folks at Calfee’s booth were pretty jazzed about the BodyFloat, but just looking at the numbers it would really have to be a lot better than the parallelogram Thudbuster style suspension posts to bridge the cost and weight gaps.  Time will tell…  but thankfully, Miss  Debbie has never wanted or needed a suspension post on our road tandems, especially the Calfee!

Other “stuff” on the blue Calfee were Ultegra Di2 shifting, Gates carbon drive on the aforementioned FSA SL-K cranks, composite Rolf wheels (somewhat surprised that they weren’t ENVE) and I was somewhat surprised to see Shimano hydraulic disc calipers on the bike with Hope rotors: sure hope they don’t plan to descend Mount Ventoux!  Then again, maybe I’m behind the times on disc technology. I see a lot of TRP mechanical and even the hydro/mechanical brakes showing up on tandems these days.

BTW, while watching the Calfee Manta walk-through tour by Mike Moore on NAHBS’ YouTube video channel I noticed that Debbie & I were caught in the background talking to Steve from Calfee (at least I think it was Steve; I’m so bad with names) about the Dragonfly Tandem.  That would be Miss Debbie in the light blue Harley-Davidson sweatshirt and me in the black and orange Harley-Davidson pit crew shirt:

Anyway, looking past some of the component choices that didn’t tickle my fancy, and as much as I like nude composite and titanium frames, the paint job on this Calfee definitely earned my thumbs up for best tandem finish at NAHBS.  Yeah, that’s saying a lot because the nude Ti frames from Black Sheep, Eriksen and even Quiring were pretty sweet-looking.

Kent Eriksen & Eriksen Cycles

What’s not to love about Eriksen Cycles?  Kent and Katie are both world-class competitive cyclists who occasionally team up and ride on either their road or off-road titanium Eriksen tandems, and that’s really important as the best tandem builders are the ones who actually ride tandems!

Now, if you’re a long-time reader here at our blog you may recall that I did several entries back in 2010 about Eriksen Cycles as well as the man behind the company, Kent Eriksen; you can find them here:

As for what they brought to the show, they had two tandems in their booth. One was a fully-assembled tandem that looked to be a multi-purpose design suitable for the road, touring and perhaps even some light gravel grinding; perhaps another personal tandem made for Kent & Katie?  It was fitted with couplers that split it down the middle, something Kent has advocated for folks who want the ability to reduce the length of the tandem for car transport, shipping or travel but not the full-blown “fits in a regulation suitcase” approach.  It makes a lot of sense and also significantly reduces the cost of the frame, as couplers — particularly the titanium models needed for a Ti frame — aren’t cheap.  Like all Eriksen’s the welds were lovely and clean. The build was a bit unusual in that I believe it used Shimano Ultegra Di2 for the rear derailleur shifting duties, but was set-up with a mechanical front derailleur for a triple crankset operated by the stoker and had what I believe were dual TRP mechanically-operated hydraulic disc brakes controlled by the captain and a rear-only rim brake operated by the stoker like a drag brake using a bar-end shifter.  It’s this hybrid shifting and braking arrangement that makes me wonder if this wasn’t a new personal tandem for Kent & Katie, or perhaps a friend who liked the hybrid shifting braking arrangement they had on a 700c personal tandem that made appearances at several previous NAHBS shows.  To round-out the bling, the build also included an ENVE carbon fork, FSA SL-K cranks and HED Belgium+ rims were a nice compliment to the raw titanium frame with black decals, saddles and bar tape.  Definitely a tandem that was made to be ridden hard in a variety of different conditions.

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The second tandem they brought to the show was also a do-it-all road/gravel/cross frame that had not yet been built-up.  The frame was TIG welded by Brad Bingham of Eriksen Cycles and as mentioned earlier, was judged the frame with the The Best TIG Welds at the show:

2015 NAHBS, Winners: Best TIG welded frame

Dwan Shepard & Co-Motion Cycles

Despite what you might think, the highlight of our trip to Louisville was NOT the bikes and tandems.  It was, instead, the people who have made bicycle and tandem fabrication a central part of their lives.  At each and every booth we were routinely met by pleasant, enthusiastic people who were clearly passionate about cycling, bikes and people who were interested in cycling and their bikes.

Right at the top of this list of the best people in the world who you’ll ever meet was a long-time friend who I’d never had the chance to meet.  The latter isn’t all that unusual and is not really something created by the internet; pen pals have existed since man put quill to parchment.  But, in this case, it was the Tandem@Hobbes listserver where I met and became friends with Dwan Shepard of Co-Motion Cycles.  However, since first “chatting” with Dwan via what were essentially Emails-fed threads about tandems back in 1997 I’d never actually met with him face-to-face as he was in Eugene, Oregon and we were in Atlanta, Georgia and never did our paths cross…. until this year’s NAHBS!   However, it was truly a pleasure to finally spend some time with Dwan and that, in and of itself, make the trip worthwhile.  That’s not to say the opportunity to meet with a few other builders was any less enjoyable, but I’m not sure there’s been any other member of the tandem industry who I’ve spent more time corresponding with who I had not yet had a chance to meet.

As for the tandems and bikes that Dwan and his team brought to Louisville, I think Co-Motion did a great job of representing the upper end of the hand-built community as the quality of the workmanship and attention to detail on their “production models” was definitely on par with the one-off, smaller volume and boutique builders.  As hard as I always look at a Co-Motion, it’s rare that I find any glaringly obvious flaws in their incredibly tight weld beads, paint or other finish details.  With few exceptions, the builds are also rock solid and delivery ready parts vs. prototypes or customized configurations that can become a bit of a challenge to support “in the field”, something we’ve experienced with a few of our boutique tandems: nothing insurmountable, but not for the novice owner or shop to deal with.

Now, I will say, the one that did surprise me was how the full line of tandems at Co-Motion have gone to the open frame design.  The internal first disappeared on their high-end racing tandem, the Macchiatto, when it was introduced as a custom order performance frame. The Primera and Mocha lost them next and up and until last year I believe the Speedster still had an internal. However, I noticed that it had done missing this year.

Most of the other recent changes in the Co-Motion tandems have occurred in prior years, such as the PressFit30 bottom brackets, TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes, tapered head-tube and the T390 disc compatible composite fork.  All of their tandems come with dual mechanical discs.  Nice stuff!

DSCN1224As I look at the Reynolds 631 steel-framed Supremo above and the ACMUltra7 aluminum-framed Robusta below I can vividly recall when these two models were originally introduced.  To see have they have evolved over the years speaks a lot about how “being a great bike” just isn’t good enough to be appealing in today’s market; you have to keep it fresh.  So, change has been and will continue to be a constant in the bicycle and tandem market.

DSCN1225Without a doubt, the one thing that really caught my attention from Co-Motion was the composite T390 composite, disc brake compatible fork that I believe they introduced last year.  This is a follow to their internally developed Tandem Elite composite fork; an Elite fork on Steroids!  Seriously, the fork is massive-looking from the oversized crown that integrates to the massively large lower inset tapered headset compatible head tube, to the gobs of tire clearance — enough to probably get Jan Heine excited — and then there’s the fork legs, disc brake mount and drop-outs: massive, massive, massive.  Sadly, I’m pretty sure the fork would be a bat fit for our Calfee in that it’s not a single bike fork with short fork legs and narrow crown that’s been beefed up for tandems, it’s an honest-to-goodness tandem fork that probably makes tandems fitted with the for handle/steer like it’s on rails.  Personally, I think it’s a better fit on tandem frames with larger diameter tubing and deep section rims, as it tends to look almost too big on frames that have standard diameter steel tubing and/or box rims.  I’m also guessing a tandem also needs to have a tapered headset to work with the fork which limits backwards compatibility; I could be wrong about this as I did not investigate.
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ITGHO, you can’t go wrong with Co-Motion as a first time tandem buyer so long as you find a good dealer who knows tandems or is a pro shop that has a good reputation for delivering tandems that work well right out the door.  And, to be honest, unless you find you have a passion for boutique tandems, you’ll probably ride that Co-Motion until you are finally lured-in by technology, design changes or other cool stuff that builders are constantly trying to identify to keep their products fresh.  That’s one of the amazing things about bicycles when you consider that the basic safety bicycle design that we ride today was perfected 120 years ago.  Everything that’s come since then has been a refinement and evolution, with very few revolutionary changes.  Embrace the love!

John Bleakley & Black Sheep Bikes

Black Sheep Bikes has consistently turned-out some of the most eye-watering titanium frame designs year-after-year-after-year.  I’m pretty sure I’ve commented on a few in previous post-NAHBS blog entries since that’s where I typically get to see what they brought to the show.  Most of the eye candy is single bikes: speedster single speed, hard tail mountain bikes, 36″ wheeled ZEM concept development bike and the list goes on. They’ve also shown up with a pretty cool gravel grinder tandem (Jack’s Bike) in the past, a two-seat version of Jack C’s Black Sheep Luna Vista.

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The man behind Black Sheep, James Bleakley, is like many bike builders in that their background and experiences speak to following their passion, not chasing the big bucks. While both career pursuits come with their sacrifices, you gotta love folks who truly do love what they do more so than the trappings of more conventional career pursuits. This is why we as enthusiasts are so passionate about the bikes these folks build; we buy their frames because they mean more than “woo hoo, I have a nice bike to go and ride.”

That all brings me back to the tandem that he brought to this year’s NAHBS, one that will allow an adult to ride with a child until they are an adult vis-a-via a sleeved, telescoping rear seat tube (similar to a Co-Motion Periscope) that will allow short as well as tall riders to have a good fit on the bike.

2015 NAHBS, Winners: Best Tandem

The frame also incorporated S&S Bicycle Torque Couplings (BTCs) on the boom and internal tube and four pair of custom chain stay – bolt together joints, similar to the ones that first began to show up as builders came up with different ways to break the drive-side chain stay to allow installation and removal of the Gates drive belts.  It was also a bit unusual in that it was built around the daVinci Independent Coasting System (ICS), something you don’t often see on a non-daVinci tandem.  It also had daVinci’s beautiful cranks and owing to the bikes flexible nature, the three pedal position kid cranks in back. It’s worth noting that James spent several years building titanium and other frames for daVinci as well as another builder near and dear to my heart, DEAN.  Another obvious feature was the trademark Black Sheep truss fork.  The dual discs and ENVE composite wheels also jumped out at you, but what really caught my eye was what appeared to be a hybrid Di2 shifting system that mated DuraAce Di2 levers with the XTR Di2 derailleurs. Now, to make that work the ICS has only two drive cogs vs. the four that you see on every other daVinci ICS, so it’s a 2×10 drive system vs. 4×10 standard system.  I would have really liked to have had some time with John to investigate that a bit more closely as I’d love to know how that has worked.  With all of the other high-end Ti bits and custom features I’m guessing this would be about an 18k machine, all said and done.  I’ll leave you with a few photos and one last observation: each Black Sheep custom bike also has its own, unique head tube badge that speaks to something about the design.  If you ever see a Black Sheep, check it out and see if you can break the code.

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2015 NAHBS, Road & Track Bikes: Tandem Transmission

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Yeah, it really was the best tandem at the show… no question about it this year.  The workmanship, innovations, design and if all of that weren’t enough, John Bleakley is a native of Louisville, Kentucky who went west to Colorado for college.  It’s nice when all of that can come together.

Steve Bilenky & Tom Faust of Bilenky Cycle Works

Another long-time-in-coming introduction happened at the Bilenky Cycle Works booth.  Similar to my relationship with Dwan, Steve Bilenky is someone who I originally came to know via the Tandem@Hobbes listserver back in 1997. Steve and others at Bilenky would weigh-in on tandem technology and design subjects back when those topics were the norm at Hobbes.  Steve and his small crew at Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia have always had a special place in my heart as they more than anyone else have always been cool, funky and built soul into their bikes and tandems.  They were hipsters before there was any such thing as hipsters, sporting functional as well as ornamental facial hair, making music together after the put the torches down and building bikes the old school way in a small block building  in the corner of a junk yard up against an active set of train tracks.  What’s not to love about that?

I keep kicking myself for not snapping up a 650b tandem they built for a Vintage Bicycle Quarterly review by Jan Heine and took to the 2010 NAHBS show where it won Best Tandem.  I feared that it was too big for us, but in fact, later learned that we may have been able to “make it fit”, albeit with the saddles buried in the seat tubes.  You can read more about the bike in a December 2010 blog entry.  There’s also a really nice article here that talks about the folks who were at Bilenky back in 2010 that ties in nicely with the 650B project.

Anyway, getting back to this year’s show, I finally got to shake hands and talk with both Steve Bilenky and his right hand Tom Faust at their always busy booth.  Seriously, it was hard to find a time when they weren’t covered up with visitors chatting them up or looking closely at the various bikes they brought to the show, several of which were located in other displays around the NAHBS show floor.

Although it was mostly chit-chat about the tandem they brought back to this year’s show, getting passed over last year, his daughter Bina and their business in general, it was a pleasure to connect with Tom & Steve.  Talk about nice guys who are all-in to their work.

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The tandem they had on display was one of the two they brought last year.  Of course, like anything Bilenky builds, there tends to be a backstory that sheds a lot of light and opens up your understanding of why a certain bike looks or is equipped in a certain way.  The tandem pictured below was the 9th of 9 Bilenky bikes that Steve and his crew have made for a client couple in the Philly area.  The client and their stoker are both accomplished cyclists and randonneurs who have completed the Paris-Brest-Paris, etc.  What the clients wanted was a pleasure bike, along the lines of the classic 1950’s Schwinn Town & Country (see below), but with couplers so it could be downsized when needed.

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Talk about a great modern interpretation on a classic and somewhat utilitarian design. Like several Schwinn tandems, including the handmade Paramounts, the Town & County used a curved rear seat tube to shorten the wheel base likely owning to conventional wisdom that a shorter wheelbase is somehow better. Hey, we ride a triplet… it corners like its on rails.  Be that as it may, you have to appreciate how Bilenky picked up on the single, sexy curved seat post and applied that lovely bend to the top, internal and down tubes to give the bike an artistic flair that was missing from the original. The attention to detail is amazing in this build: custom guards for the sync & drive chains, retro stem-mounted single friction shift lever for the rear derailleur, faux lugs with gold pinstriping, color-matched mud & chain guards, color-matched front rack, and on and on.

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Bilenky_NAHBS_2015_Gaffney3 Bilenky_NAHBS_2015_Gaffney2philly-bike-expo-2014-1In a word, fun!  Sure, there are few things you could nit pick about, you could even be aghast that the bike was a little dirty from having been ridden.  I like to think of that as a fine patina and evidence that this wasn’t a show bike, but someone’s pride and joy on loan to help out a friend headed to a show.  Just amazing stuff.

And, I will say, I do find that I’ve become far more accepting and appreciative of mud guards and the ability to affix luggage to a tandem the less hard-core I become about cycling.  Case in point, it was nice to be able to throw the Tubus rack on the Calfee and affix the Ortleib panniers today so that we could take extra clothing along with us on a ride with a mid-point stop.  Of course, once the rack is on the bike the bike screams to have the mud guards put on so that it looks like a complete bicycle, not a racer’s bike…. as were certainly not racers.  Yes, practicality is beginning to shift my sense of style in a big way!  And, through it all, the folks at Bilenky have been there showing folks the way.  Damn, I really wish I’d have snapped up that 650B!

Summation:

Wow. That’s all I can say when I think back on our NAHBS experience.  The sights and people who we were able to meet were well worth the $22/pp admission to ensure that the show continues to succeed.  We even got to meet another friend from Hobbes who was just attending the show; Jay Hardcastle. That was really neat.

Here’s the deal, anyone who’s within spitting distance of the NAHBS and who really appreciates the hand-made bicycle movement will be in awe of what they see at the show.  It’s one thing to see a great one-off custom bike now and again.  At NAHBS, you actually get a point where you suddenly find yourself in pinch me mode; these are all one-off customs!  No, not every one of the bikes will resonate with every bike they see.  I certainly had my favorites and quite frankly, most of them were not tandems. Hey, I like tandems a lot and have spent a lot of time trying to get good information in the hands of consumers in the hope that more people will give tandems a shot and have a good first experience that keeps them in the niche.  But, at the end of the day, I’m really a bike geek who likes just about anything with two wheels, even those fuel consuming, fire-breathing motorized two-wheel machines.

In closing, what NAHBS reminded me of is that what I’m really hooked on is talented people.  Awesome bicycle frames and bicycle parts and accessories are all made possible by people with a passion for the sport who turned that passion into a business.  If I won the lottery you can bet that I’d make sure a lot of these folks had a little more work on their hands, as they all have something exciting and amazing to offer.

 

 

Posted in Bloggishnish, Classic Tandems, Events, Industry News, Technology & Equip. | 7 Comments

New Entries At Riding Two-Up

369252March was mostly about pulling the cover off of our Harley-Davidson touring bike after nearly three months of real winter weather that kept us off the road, and getting ready for our mid-month trip down to Daytona. Through it all, my trusty and oft time abused BMW has continued to give me my daily fix of two-wheel, big-bike therapy… something I don’t take for granted.  Anyway, what I lacked in article publication in March is made up for in the length of the Daytona piece; yeah, it’s a big one!

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Registration for STR 2015 in Richmond, VA, is now Open!

Registration for STR 2015 is now open. Come visit us in Richmond, VA  from October 2-4, 2015 for three days of lovely riding, great friends, and some modern southern hospitality.

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Check out the STR 2015 website: http://www.southerntandemrally.com/. Send in your completed registration form and make your hotel reservation. We look forward to seeing you in Richmond this year.

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NAHBS: Selle An Atomica Composite Saddle & Crowd Funding Effort

This is actually part of a larger NAHBS blog entry that I’ve been chipping away at for a few evenings here and there since the weekend that I decided to pull out and publish ahead of the other entry.  Reason being, I just discovered that Selle An Atomica launched a crowd funding effort to support the development effort needed to see if they can bring their composite saddle concept to market.  As you’ll see in this extract, we signed-on as a backer tonight; feeling pretty good about it too!  We love to support US-based manufacturing businesses and, when they’re supporting one of our hobbies, all the better!

Crowd Funding Link: http://selleanatomica.com/pages/crowdfund

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An Extract from the Upcoming Tandems at NAHBS 2015

As regular readers are aware, Miss Debbie switched over to the Selle An Atomica Titanico saddles a couple of years back for use on the road tandem and triplet and couldn’t be happier.  We had a little bump in the road when we purchased a replacement saddle last year only to discover that SA had changed the seat rail design on their saddle frames.  Thankfully we found a new old stock saddle with the original, longer rails and have since learned and confirmed at this near’s NAHBS show that they’ve once again tweaked the frame design to add-back some of the rail length that had been lost.  Now, if they could just come up with a way of making their slotted saddle so that the cover didn’t stretch so darn fast.. or perhaps not at all.  Low and behold, a composite saddle!

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No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  In the foreground is a composite saddle cover patterned after the Selle An Atomica leather saddle cover and bonded to a composite leaf spring foundation with a set of aluminum rails.  The saddle just behind it uses the same composite cover attached to their standard steel frame.  The composite covers were every bit as compliant as a properly tensioned leather cover, which was quite intriguing. Obviously, the steel frame doesn’t really take advantage of the weight saving properties of composites as a leather cover isn’t all that much heavier.  However, if the composite leaf spring and aluminum rail element can be developed and made durable enough to meet consumer needs, that would be pretty cool.  There are also some issues with regard to how the composite edges need to be finished to make sure they don’t chaff or cut the riders shorts or flesh in the event of a crash scenario; composites become quite nasty when the edges fray.

So, here’s some real-time additional info on a composite saddle project that Selle An Atomica is looking to develop. Selle just launched a Crowd Funding effort on 23 March whereby they hope to secure 150 backers at $199 a pop within the next 30 days. The $199 investment will net a backer a limited edition of the ultra lightweight saddle with leaf spring damping later this year. For an extra $100, backers can also snag a new leather saddle on top of the promise of the composite model, assuming the project succeeds. When we signed-on at 10:00pm tonight we were the 39th backer, so I’m thinking they’ll hit their goal in far less than 30 days.

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NAHBS…. Photo Preview.

I’m about out of gas after a busy evening taking care of a few things before we head back out for another out-of-town weekend.  However, before heading off I figured I’d share a few photos from the show.  It’s a rather eclectic collection of interesting bikes that caught my attention, noting that there are a disproportionate number of tandem photos here.  To be honest, I could have taken hundreds of photos because just about every bicycle at the NAHBS was pure eye candy in one way or another.

If you need a major NAHBS fix, let me suggest visiting their YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/HandmadeBikeShow/videos

As far as the best coverage of NAHBS, check out Tyler Benedict’s BikeRumor.com.  He’s got everything covered and then some.

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If you look closely you’ll quickly realize this Abbott Cycles creation is a she.

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The view of “Signorina” from an oblique angle is a bit more revealing of the female form.

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A really innovative collection of design & engineering concepts can be found in Green Pea’s Shimano-powered, electric mid-drive. It was the steering arrangement that blew me away.

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The Best New Builder creation from Chad Lovings and Bryce Baumann’s dba. LoveBaum. This is one of those bikes that you have to see in person to appreciate.

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The adorable Julie Ann Pedalino and her 3rd handbuilt frame. This one is her personal bike and it was spectacular; very reminiscent of Debbie’s also very petit Ritchey Logic Pro custom which also used very small diameter, lightweight tubing.

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A very intriguing composite design concept.

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Imagine if you will, the Buddy/Love bike mating with a Green Gear Bike Friday tandem and here’s what you’d get! Actually, there was a lot of thought that went into the design. An interesting design to be sure.

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Silent’s very cool cargo bike

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The Kentucky Wheelmen had an interesting collection of antique bicycles on display. Seeing them along side some of the cutting edge from current builders was very cool.

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Peacock Groove had an interesting assortment of fat-tire bikes, an electric bike modeled after a old motorcycle and out of camera view was an off-road tandem sporting a Ventana rear suspension.

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An Impromptu Trip to NAHBS in Louisville, KY

Final_horseheadLast year the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) was held at Charlotte, North Carolina, about 250 miles / 4 hours away. Sadly, it conflicted with our planned trip to Bike Week in Daytona on March 13th – 16th, as I really wanted to take advantage of the close proximity of the show and attend.

When they announced the 2015 show would be in Kentucky I figured we’d be “O-Fer” since it fell on top of Bike Week again.  And, in fact, up and until about Wednesday of this week, I had it in my head that NAHBS was just going to have to stay on my bucket list until I realized that the show was “This Weekend!” — which did overlap with Daytona’s Bike Week — but not the same weekend that we would be down in Daytona.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 11.37.59 PMI did some quick figuring in my head as to just how many hours of driving it would be to make the nearly 800-mile round trip vs. how many hours we’d actually be at the show — remembering I’m an enthusiast and blogger who’s really into tandem bicycles and not someone who makes a living grabbing interviews and doing product reviews of the entire bike scene for the masses — and it did not pass the sanity check.  However, the drive would take us right by Nashville, Tennessee, and Miss Debbie and I had talked about needing to make another trip up there to catch a few bands and otherwise have a good time at the honkey tonks.  So, if I revised my calculations using Nashville as the starting point for the drive to Louisville, the math didn’t look nearly as insane, i.e., it was closer to a 1:1 ratio of drive time vs. time at the show: 175-miles / 2.5 hours each way.

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I-65 just south of Louisville on Thursday afternoon. Yikes!

Then the snow hit the fan and suddenly Nashville had 5″ of the white stuff on Thursday, with about 2″ in Louisville, but up to 12″ had fallen in between shutting down I-65 for nearly 24 hours.  So, my grand plan of heading up to Nashville for two nights with a day-trip to NAHBS in Louisville stuck in-between was looking bleak.  Despite the dire-looking conditions, I decided to keep an eye on the video feed coming from cameras along I24 and I65 and by Friday mid-morning the roads were all looking pretty good. It would be cold and there was certainly the risk of black ice at night as day-time snow melt migrated across roads, but the risks all seemed manageable.

hampton-inn-suitesI’d shared my grand plan for the weekend with Debbie in an Email Thursday morning and she was excited about the get-away, but understood the weather issue could muck things up.  However, as noon time approached on Friday, I decided to throw caution to the wind and found / booked a hotel room at the Hampton Inn Downtown via KAYAK/Priceline. If nothing else, we’d make it at least that far and have a good time in Nashville on Friday night.  Of course, to ensure we’d arrive early enough to enjoy the night out we’d have to leave home promptly around 6:00pm.

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Olde Towne’s wonderful Wild Pie ‘Original” with chicken

To make that happen I’d have to leave work a little early and do a couple of virtual meetings as I had a new battery installed in my truck (it died Thursday night in the garage, wouldn’t you know) and I also decided I’d surprise Debbie by ordering a Caesar salad and Wild Pie for take-out from Olde Towne Tavern & Grille that I’d have dinner waiting when she arrived home at 5:30pm.  The plan worked well in that she was thrilled by being able to have a nice dinner at home before we hit the road and with the time change between EST and CST we rolled into Nashville at about 8:30PM.

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At the Second Fiddle… loving life!

After getting checked into and settled into our room at the Hampton Inn, we walked the 2 city blocks to Broadway and headed to The Second Fiddle where a female signer — Holland Marie — who we’d enjoyed on our first trip to Nashville would be playing from about 6:30pm until 10:15pm.  It was a brisk but enjoyable walk and although The Second Fiddle was packed, we were able to make our way to the back of the bar and right next to the stage where we’d spend the next 2.5 hours enjoying the live music and some liquid refreshments.

Holland Marie and her band were as good as we remembered and we had a great bar keeper taking care of us. We met a lot of nice folks and really had a great time. Not much room for dancing once the “kids” from Indiana who were down for spring break filled the floor as they’re want to do, but that was OK too.  Brandon Holder and his band came on at 10:30pm and they were excellent as well, giving us good reason to simply stay put and enjoy ourselves at The Fiddle for the rest of the night vs. cruising the other bars to find other bands…. hell, they’re all good!  It was a great night in Nashville and being able to walk back to your hotel is such a huge benefit

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We slept in a little longer than I’d planned, but the time zone and late night out had us a little off our normal early wake-up schedule.  However, we’d had our breakfast and were on the road by early enough to put us at NAHBS before noon, noting we’d be back on Eastern time in Louisville.  I’ll cover the NAHBS event in a separate blog entry, but it suffices to say, anyone who likes bicycles from an engineering or artistic standpoint MUST attend NAHBS at some point.

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Debbie was even blown away and said more than once, “We need to come to this every year!”  I had to remind her that it moves around and, as I suspected, it moved back out west for 2016… way west to Sacramento, CA.

We spent the better part of 4 hours at the show and as we drove south on I65 out of Louisville we’d talked about going ahead and just driving all the way through back to Atlanta, which would have put us home by 9:30pm… about a 6-hour trip.  Of course, we also talked about what a great weekend it had been thus far and while I’d been the one who suggested by-passing Nashville, I was having second thoughts.  While Debbie was napping I decided to try out Hotwire to see what kind of room rate I could find for a one-night stay.

sheratonI ended up finding a room at the Sheraton Downtown and my plan was to get us checked in and then we’d walk the 5 blocks or so to Merchants on Broadway for dinner around 6:00pm. After that we’d walk a few doors up to Nashville Crossroads where Holland Marie would be performing with her band.  Yes, even in Music City I’m a creature of habit; I always go for the sure thing when I’m just looking for a good time and not interested in exploring or being adventurous.

Merchants was amazing. We ate at the downstairs bistro / bar and had Dusty taking care of us; great guy. Debbie had the New York Strip and it was melt-in-your mouth delicious, as were the mushrooms and yukon taters.  I had the Strawberry Salad with blackened Salmon: out of this world!  Once again, we met some fun folks at the bar and even had a great encounter with a couple at a table next to the bar who were down from Chicago for a job interview and to see the area.  They had a slide of Butterscotch Pie and a huge hunk of chocolate cake sitting in front of themselves and I forgot what comment sparked our discussion.  But we ended up chatting with them for at least 15 minutes and Debbie even had a bite of the pie which was, of course, out of this world good.

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We wandered down to the Crossroads and found a couple empty seats at the far end of the bar and asked one of their awesome bartenders — all the folks who tend the bars in Nashville work hard at their craft since they pretty much live off tips the same as the bands — to keep an eye for any seats that opened up closer to the band.   The bar wasn’t all that crowded but pretty much every seat at the bar and every table had folks at them; however, it wasn’t five minutes before our friend behind the bar waved us down to a couple of seats much closer to the band.

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Holland was a lot more chipper than she’d been on Friday night and the guy she had playing second guitar was also really a character and a great singer to boot. What was really nice was having plenty of dance floor available and not too many folks who we had to share it with. So, we truly were able to kick up our heels a half a dozen times before we called it a night.  We also bought two rounds of shots for the band, which seemed like a nice gesture… until you remember how much a shot costs in Nashville!  But, what the heck; we were having a lot of fun!

FB_IMG_1425784345566I want to say we left by around 9:00pm and at my suggestion we headed back to Merchants to split a full piece of that delicious Butterscotch pie as a nightcap.  It was perfect!  After our pie we resisted the temptation to head back into another honkey tonk and, instead enjoyed a nice walk back to our hotel and a relatively early evening for Nashville.

Between the time change and eastern/central time zone differences, even though the clock said it was 7:00am we didn’t really get up until a little before 9:00am Atlanta time, which put us a bit behind for the trip home.  However, it all worked out just fine.  We were on the road by 9:30am and rolled into our driveway around 12:30pm.  20150308_154657After getting ourselves unpacked and a load of into the machine we had a light lunch and by 1:30pm we were dressed in our cycling gear and headed out on our Calfee for a nice 25-mile road ride from the house.  Despite having been in bicycle dreamland the day before, I must say that we’re both pretty darn happy with our Calfee for all the right reasons.  The tandem ride gave us a chance to get the 800-miles of cobwebs from being in the car out of our legs and some much-needed fresh air on what was one of the most beautiful, sunny and warm weekend days we’ve seen all year.

20150308_163152After getting back from our tandem ride Debbie headed off to get groceries while I did a little light cleaning around the house, loaded some more laundry into the machines and took my now filthy truck over to the car wash for an undercarriage flush as well as to get all of the salt / brine residue off the paint.  By the time I was back, it was just about dinner time so we hopped on our Harley-Davidson Road King and motored over to Loco Willy’s for some hot wings.

We were back at home by 7:00pm and that pretty much wrapped the day. Debbie spent about an hour in the kitchen getting meals prepared for the short week ahead of us, remembering that we’re supposed to ride the motorcycle down to Daytona Beach on Thursday where we’ll be vacationing for two more days before riding back home on Sunday.  Me, I made the mistake of checking my work Email which just put me in a foul mood (dumb idea to check the mail on my part) and then sat down here to begin collecting photos and thoughts on our weekend.

In sum, one of the best weekends ever!  It’s no secret to anyone that Debbie and I love being together more than anything else in the world.  We love all our friends, but we also do just fine “making it up as we go along”, which we did in spades this weekend.

More on the NAHBS tomorrow!

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