A Perfect Shift Every Time…

20160807_111122Well, after several months and perhaps 2,000 miles of riding the Calfee since installing the Shimano Ultegra 6700/6703 shifters and an old M950 XTR rear derailleur from the 90’s plus all new cables and housings I’ve got to say I’m pretty impressed.  I didn’t think I’d ever be able to adapt to anything other than my beloved Campy Ergo shifters but I’ve really come to appreciate the well-engineered the Shimano Ultegra shifters.

Shimano-Ultegra-Schalt-Bremsgriffe-STI-ST-6700-ST-8a4c5cc8afe04e6adf35e344789c65b9I think it was about five minutes before I took our ubiquitous mid-tandem ride selfie that I realized I was now taking smooth shifting for granted.  That’s saying something when you consider that I’m still running what is a mish-mash collection of components that are not designed to work together:  New Ultra 10 speed shifters with a 26 year old 8/9 speed Shimano XTR off-road derailleur, a Campy Record triple front derailleur with FSA chain rings and a Shimano 11x34t 10 speed cassette and KMC SL chain.

Yes, there are moments when I miss having that little thumb paddle on the Campy Ergo’s that I can flick with my pinky fingers without taking my hands off the bars while descending at speed, but those moments are far and few between.

Anyway, just thought I’d share my moment of cycling zen.




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Over at Riding Two-Up

Version 2The new division of blog posting practices is probably best described as still a work in progress. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping the “weekly diaries” off The TandemGeek’s Blog which while reducing the number of blog postings, does ensure the ones that do get posted (except this periodic summary) are definitely tandem-cycling related.  Of course, this now means that the folks who were more interested in motorcycles are getting the lion’s share of the “noise”.  While traffic is a bit down on that blog because of it, there was never all that much traffic anyway. After all, while there are only a handful of tandem-cycling related web sites and blogs on the internet, there are million’s of motorcycling-related blogs.

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Want to Race Your Off-Road Tandem near D.C.?

Phil Troutman, race director for the Dirty BikenetiCrit being held in Haymarket, Virginia, just west of Washington, D.C., on August 27th, wrote to let us know that they’ve included a tandem class in their off-road event.
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7th Annual Florida Tandem Rally

October 21-23, 2016

Central Florida is a great location for tandem riding and the location for the 7th Annual Florida Tandem Rally held in… ‘Florida’s Friendliest Home Town’…The Villages, FL. The Waterfront Inn will be your host for the weekend and a rate of $109 will be available for those attending the rally. Check out their website atwww.waterfrontinnvillages.com to make your reservations or call 352-753-7535 and mention the Florida Tandem Rally for this special group rate. Please make your reservations early to get your choice of rooms and to make the cut-off date of September 15, 2016.

This year, we were awarded the John Rohan Recreation Center as the host for our banquet on Saturday evening. The banquet will be held in the Colony Cottage room and catered by La Hacienda Catering. This is the newest center in The Villages and it is named after our Recreation Director, John Rohan. If you are into exercising there are a number of stations for your workout located along the running path adjacent to the main building.

The Rides
All routes will start and end at the Waterfront Inn and will pass by convenience stores for rest stops.

Friday’s Rides
During the FTR2015 we had 31 teams who arrived early and ready to ride. This year the rides on Friday will be a minimum of 20 miles and you are invited to begin your day riding with tandem couples who arrive early. All rides will begin at 8:30am across from the Waterfront Inn and will be led by teams who now live in The Villages. Riding speed and distances will be tailored to meet all who attend. If you arrive later, route sheets will be available and you can start your ride at any time during the day.

Friday’s Social
All who register will be invited to attend an ice cream social at the Waterfront Inn on Friday evening. This cost is included as part of your registration.

Saturday’s Rides
Multiple rides from 36, 47 and 60 miles will be available for Saturday with an end-of-route lunch at RJ Gators Restaurant at Sumter Landing. This lunch is included as part of your registration.

Saturday Evening Banquet
This will be a buffet dinner held at John Rohan Recreation Center, which is located approximately 7.2 miles south, from the Waterfront Inn. The banquet is included as part of your registration.

Sunday’s Rides
Routes for Sunday will be 32 or 43 miles in length.

Extend Your Stay
We have over twenty (20) tandem teams living and riding in The Villages…and you are invited to spend the week before or after FTR2016 to ride with us. In addition, route sheets will be available for out-and-back overnight rides to Brooksville, FL [49 miles each day] and Palatka, FL [70 miles each day]. Arrangements have been made with motels that are located within short walking distances of excellent restaurants. You are assured to have good roads, routes and PANTHERS to ride with daily.

The Application for the Florida Tandem Rally 2016 is now posted on our PANTHERS website. If you enjoy riding with tandem friends from the Southeast and Central Florida, make your plans now to attend.

For more information go to http://www.floridatandemclub.org/

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Georgia Tandem Club Rides

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 7.43.18 PMWell, despite the best of intentions, we’ve missed the past two Tandem Club of Georgia monthly rides and will likely miss the one for August as well. However, just because we didn’t attend doesn’t mean our readers have to miss out on the post ride photos & ride reports!

Here is a link to the report on the June ride held in Taylorsville, Georgia, hosted by Eve Kofsky & Roger Strauss.

Here is a link to the report on the July ride held in Madison, Georgia, hosted by Jose & Sheri Rodriguez.

As to why we missed those rides? Well, it’s pretty simple actually: we’d rather ride our tandem right from the house on our local roads and be done in two hours instead of getting up an hour earlier so we can spend two hours or more driving to / from the ride start location where we’ll ride for about two hours.

Of course, that also means we miss-out on the social aspects of cycling with other folks who have a shared interest in cycling and other things which kind of sucks. However, I guess the honest-to-goodness truth is we seem to have fewer shared interests in “other things” as many  friends who used to frequent these rides have also been pulled away by other interests. There’s still a core group of friends who spend several weekends a month cycling and socializing together and they are the mainstay of the club and monthly tandem rides… so that’s goodness.

Who knows, perhaps after Debbie and or I retire we’ll be able to make the social aspects of cycling a higher priority. In the meantime, we’ll just settle for getting out by ourselves once or twice each weekend on the road and/or off-road tandem, the occasional monthly tandem club ride and a couple of tandem rallies each year.


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Switching Between Campy Ergo & Shimano STI: It Gets Confusing

Even though I haven’t been posting much to The TandemGeek’s Blog over the past few months I still try to add snippets to let you — our readers — know that we continue to get out and ride on the weekends, reserving Saturdays for the road tandem and Sundays for the off-road tandem. Of course, things like our trip to Key West can keep us off the bike and the weather has yet again become a factor as the dog days of summer bring with them pop-up thundershowers here in the South.

20160401_142922What prompted this blog entry were some thoughts I had while out riding solo on my road bike this past Sunday. While there’s nothing I enjoy more than riding with Debbie, be it on a tandem or a motorcycle, I also find a different kind of enjoyment when I get some alone time on a bike.

Now, to be completely candid, Debbie and I do not do a lot of talking when we’re out riding together so it’s almost equally quiet as when I’m riding alone.  But, the ride tempo is a bit different and I don’t have the added responsibility that goes along with making sure you do everything in your power to keep your tandem cycling partner safe: it makes for a huge difference in terms of the reduced mental task load.  Curiously enough, the actual mechanical act of riding the tandem doesn’t really add any task load whatsoever… in fact, it’s very hard to tell the difference. That may say more about how well suited we are to our Calfee tandem and just how clean Miss Debbie rides than anything else.

However, what stuck out in my mind on this ride was how alien the Campy shifters on my single road bike felt after riding our Shimano STI-equipped road tandem and triplet for the past several weeks. Mind you, for years I made a point of having all of my road bikes fitted with Campy Ergo shifters so there wouldn’t be any cross-over issues with shifting by rote and muscle memory on those shift movements.


However, when we added the triplet to the fleet I decided to leave the Shimano DuraAce STI shifting on the bike as we’d only ride it a few times a year making the added expense of a grouppo change hard to justify. As it turns out, adapting to the STI on the triplet was relatively easy.

20151004_122813Regular readers will also recall that last October I decided to convert our Calfee tandem from one equipped with Campy shifters, derailleurs and brakes to STI just so I could see how different the systems had become. After all, it’s kind of hard to be a “tandem geek” if you don’t try to keep up with the technology.

As it turned out, the Shimano STI was very easy to adapt to and using it had become second nature after several weekend rides and a couple tandem rallies, one ridden on the STI-equipped tandem in Alabama and another on the STI-equipped triplet in Georgia.

However, imagine my surprise when I headed out on my ride this past Saturday and found that it was converting back to Campy that was confusing.   In fact, instead of triggering my memory and quickly re-adapting as I rode I found I was still having to think about which lever to push in which direction well into the ride. It was truly was disconcerting to have as much trouble as I did, particularly since I’ve always maintained (and still believe) the Campy Ergo shift lever positions and movements are more intuitive. Sadly, Sunday’s experience did not prove this out!

Well, while I’m not going to run out and convert the rest of my road bikes to Shimano STI, I will remain ever mindful why “keeping them all the same” was actually a pretty good idea. After all, with as many things that demand your attention while you’re out sharing the road with motorists, the last thing you want to actively think about how is how the shifters on your bike work!

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23 Years Together, 19 On The Tandem…

annivThis past Saturday Debbie and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary.  It’s nice to look back over our 25 years together (we had a 2-year courtship) and know that you’ve found “the one” you were meant to be with!  We’ve had our moments, to be sure, but by and large it’s been a non-stop honeymoon that began on July 16th in 1993.

Interestingly enough, of our 23 years together the last 19 have included a regular diet of tandem cycling.  We first began talking about tandems on our 4th anniversary and went for our first test ride about a month later… a test ride that ended with putting our first tandem bicycle in the back of our 4Runner for the 2-hour drive back to Atlanta from Birmingham, Alabama.

As we celebrated our 23rd anniversary on Saturday we knew the weekend would not be complete until we made time for a tandem ride, which came on Sunday.  We may not be as fast or as strong as we were 19 years ago, but we still enjoy riding together as much or even more than we did from day #1.

20160717_114039It’d be hard to say if it was tandem cycling that has enabled our relationship to get stronger year-over-year, but I will say that even if it wasn’t the enabler it certainly provided a lot positive affirmation!

Here’s looking forward to another 19 years on the tandem… and maybe even a few more if we’re blessed with good health and keep exercising!


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