For the first time in I don’t know how long, we finally had a nice spring day. Temps in the 70’s, sunshine, a moderate breeze and, well, a pollen count of 6,000 (unhealthy)… 3 out of 4 was good enough!
It’s an organizer’s least favorite thing to hear, but there are a lot of times when we’ll go ahead and pay for the Rain Insurance on pay-to-play cycling or tandem event where you’re not locked into a situation where you’ll forfeit a significant portion of your registration fees.
For those who’ve never heard of rain insurance, it’s quite simply paying the added cost for late or same-day registration fees associated with an event. Or, in some cases, simply eating a non-refundable registration fee but cancelling your lodging reservations before you hit the cancellation deadline.
This weekend we’d planned to make the 2 hour and 15 minute drive over to Scottsboro, Alabama, for the Alabama Tandem Weekend. The event kicked off on Thursday night with three subsequent days of cycling. However, since I still work for a living, we decided we’d just get in two days of riding and pay the non-discounted room rate at the host hotel for a one-night stay and get in two days of cycling.
We used this approach for a couple of reasons, the biggest was the weather in April and — more to the point — the weather of late: we’ve not had many weekends with nice weather thus far in 2018.
As the weekend approached it became pretty clear by Tuesday that the weather for Scottsboro’s weekend was taking a turn for the worse and by Thursday it was looking bad enough for the organizers to move Saturday’s longer, more scenic rides to Friday so that the folks who made the trip to Scottsboro would have at least one great day of riding on a warm, sunny day in Alabama.
We’ve only had to invoke the big write-off of a tandem rally registration fee once, three-years ago when the 2015 Southern Tandem Rally was held in Richmond, Virginia. Hurricane Joaquin was working it’s way up the eastern seaboard as the rally approached and we decided we’d come out way ahead if we forewent the 1,300-mile road trip and three night hotel costs and simply wrote-off $200 rally registration fees, aka, the rain insurance premium. It turned out to be the right thing do for all reasons, other than missing out on visiting with friends.
Closer to home, there have been several one-day events where we’ve either forfeited the pre-paid event fee or opted to pay the bump-up for same day registration in the event the weather went south on us. I’d say on the whole we’re still ahead of the game.
All of that said, we were really looking forward to popping-in on the Alabama Tandem Weekend for the Saturday ride, meals & social engagement and then the Sunday ride before heading back home. Sure wish we could get a couple of Spring weekends with warm and sunny
Sadly, we can’t make it up to visit our friends at Tandems East this year. But, for those of you within a few hours of Southern New Jersey, it might be worth a portion of your weekend to check out Tandems East’s annual Tandem Expo.
Full details here: http://www.tandemseast.com/events/tandem_expo_2018.html
(A) YES WE DID… we finally had a day when the weather was nice enough to entice out on the tandem!
This past Saturday provided us with just the window of opportunity we needed to squeeze a tandem ride in between a late lunch and a late afternoon social commitment. It was one of the first weekends when it wasn’t too wet, windy and/or cold for heading out on the tandem. It wasn’t a long ride, just 20 miles… and we didn’t set any records. But, the bike felt pretty good underneath us and traffic wasn’t all that bad / annoying.
Given some issues I’m having with my left wrist and right elbow, on-the-road selfies aren’t something that I can easily manage at the moment so the only evidence of our ride that I was able to collect were these post-ride photos snapped out relaxing on the breezeway after returning home.
We’d thought we might be able to attend next weekend’s Tandem Club of Georgia monthly group ride; however, fate intervened to make sure we couldn’t do that because (a) the ride was postponed a month due to weather-related issues (a recent tornado skipped through our ride route and the weekend outlook isn’t promising) and low interest likely due to the latter, and (b) we’re making a last minute trip up to Pennsylvania on Saturday morning so we can surprise my step-dad of 32-years and for his 90th birthday.
My step-brother Mark and his wife Patty are driving down Friday to take Bill and my mother out to dinner on Saturday — which Bill knows about — but we’ll be flying in on Saturday at noon unbeknownst to him so we can join them for dinner. It will be a short trip, as we’re flying back home on Sunday afternoon. But, we surprised him for his 80th and he seemed to appreciate that so we’re going for the double!
(B) Sadly, No We’re Not…, going to be at Tandems East’s Tandem Weekend in Lancaster, PA, on July 14-15. But, we have a good excuse: July 16th is our 25th wedding anniversary! It’s not that we wouldn’t enjoy visiting with tandem friends and enjoying the camaraderie at a tandem rally, we just think we need to do something that we don’t do all that often and that is get away just by ourselves for a week or so. If all goes according to plan, I should be retired by early July so we won’t be constrained by vacation time… only by our retirement budget! So, we hope to become frugal travelers… whatever that means. We’ve never tried it before, but we have good role models in our friends Linda & Eric who have mastered the art of frugality. I tried it, but didn’t like it. Of course, I lacked the proper motivation. NOW we have the proper motivation: early retirement. Wish us luck!
Here’s a strange…
We finally had nice weather and some free time this afternoon so we took advantage of both and got in a much-needed tandem ride. Sadly, traffic continues to increase on weekends so a “low stress” road ride is no longer possible. But, I put my best foot forward since Miss Debbie prefers to ride on the road vs. off-road, and we had a go.
It was an OK ride, noting that we ran into road construction twice… on a Sunday. Really? But, what really threw me for a loop was having the timing chain come off as we were “just riding along”. That’s something that has never happened to us before and as I put the chain back on I couldn’t figure out what caused it.
- The chain had the normal amount of pre-load, which is to say just enough to allow me to roll it on and off the chain rings without loosening the eccentric.
- The timing rings looked fine; no broken or deformed teeth.
- The chain itself appeared to be OK
- The frame couplers were tight, so no frame issues to speak of.
With the chain back on the bike we continued on our way. Well, son-of-a-gun if that darn timing chain didn’t come off a second and then a third time. The third time around I finally discovered the likely culprit: a chain rivet that had pulled out of an outer chain plate.
We nursed the bike back to the house where I pulled the chain and then re-set the rivet. With any luck, it will stay seated, but I’ll be darned if I know how it came apart in the first place, other than being “just one of those things.”
If there’s one thing that continues to baffle me it’s the cost of tires. You’d think with the cost of oil going down, tire prices would have hit a plateau and leveled off. But, not so.
And, it doesn’t matter what kind of tires they are: car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle. And, quite frankly, the more research I do the more I come to realize that the price we pay for tires in the U.S. is somewhat out of line with the cost of tires elsewhere in the world.
So, here’s the deal. As mentioned, the Calfee tandem wore through yet another Vredestein Fortezza and when I looked into my spare parts cabinet I discovered most of the tires that were taking up space were 60% worn-out 23mm racing tires, not the 25mm or 28mm tires we’ve started to use of late. So, after chucking out the dregs, I went out to do my homework on tires, hoping to find some 25mm – 28mm Vredesteins. Yeah, well… when bicycle tires are going for $50-80 a pop something’s wrong. Suffices to say, Vredestein and we have parted ways.
As part of a “what the heck” tire trial that I conducted when we bought the Triplet a few years back, I fitted a set of Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires to both the triplet in 28mm and one of my single bikes int he 25mm size. It took a little getting used to during the tire break-in period as the Ultremo’s had a somewhat lower friction compound that didn’t hug the road like the Vredesteins. It became an acquired taste, so in the back of my mind Schwalbe tires have remained my 2nd choice. Well, that’s not entirely true: I’d really like to throw a set of the Compass 28mm folding tires on the Calfee to see how they perform, but… once again, they’re cost prohibitive at $75/ea.
So, with just one more set of 25mm Vredestein Fortezza tires left in the tire bin and Debbie’s Calfee Luna Pro needed some new skins, I went ahead and ordered up two sets of 25mm tires from my current go-to source for tires, Wiggle / Chain Reaction cycles in the UK. I feel bad because as much as I’d really like to patronize my local shops, I can’t wrap my head around paying 45% more for a set of $55 tires that will wear out in about 4-6 months. They’re tires… consumable items, not meaningful upgrades.
Now, some of this is just being bullheaded when it comes to having a desire to ride on “performance tires” as I know that there are skins out there like the Panaracer Pasela that are more affordable and will last 2x – 3x longer than my performance tires. But, there’s just something about being able to dive into a curve with a soft, grippy tire that makes the climb up that hill worth it. Sadly, it’s the climb up those hills that eat away the tire compounds and send these grippy performance tires to the trash bin prematurely.
Anyway, more to follow. Looking forward to wearing out a few more sets of tires this year than we did last year!
As has been reported locally, the city of Marietta, Georgia — where I work and where we routinely drive — adopted a new “hands-free” driving law back on 14 February that goes into effect on 1 April. The idea is by imposing a $150 fine on motorists who are operating vehicles with a telephone device in their hand, fewer accidents will occur. As a cyclist and motorcyclist whose life depends on attentive motorists, I like the prohibition.
However, that said, I’m dubious as to how effectively it will be enforced. I also found it amusing that, as usual, the city of Marietta has already offered an exception for first responders and public utility employees; really? Given all of the clutter and devices that now fill your average $50K – $70K police sedan or SUV, I suspect a police officer may rank as one of the most distracted drivers on the road. Motorists who pull off the road to use their phone are also free-and-clear of the $150 fine as are motorists who are using a phone to report an emergency; think about that one for a minute. “Yes officer, I just ran over a cyclist about two blocks back, you might want to go and see if he’s OK because I’ve got to get an appointment and just didn’t have time to stop and check myself.”
Anyway, yes… I’m cynical when it comes to what sound like good laws that won’t be enforced with any consistency or proactively, aside from a few high-profile ticket-writing festivals that will be held on 1 April at busy intersections: it will be like shooting fish in a barrel! Instead, it will be like so many other laws that are on the books and invoked only after an accident has occurred, e.g., Georgia’s Better Biking Bill which sort of makes it illegal to pass within 3′ of a cyclist when overtaking said cyclists traveling in the same direction. Given how often we’re “buzzed” by cars well within that 3 foot no-go zone I’d say it’s fair to suggest most motorists are completely unaware of this law. About the only time they’d be made aware is after an accident where prima facia evidence would allow the responding officer to cite the driver for passing too closely.
Anyway, that’s been my experience with laws like these so perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised and see evidence to the contrary of my expectations.