A Busy Day, But Not Too Busy To Get In A Ride!

Well, I was pretty sure Saturday was going to be a busy day but included on the “agenda” was a tandem ride.  The other things included cleaning-up our Road King from last week’s 1,300 mile trip to Daytona Beach, where we spent the better part of two hours riding home in a monsoon.  I also needed to fix a little issue with the Road King’s backrest and change out the shocks on our Wide Glide.  Debbie wanted to go and see our granddaughter Caroline’s Lacrosse game and I needed to spend several hours doing spring yard work.

Temptation almost got the better of us and threatened to derail our productive day when our friends Jeff & Sharon sent out a text message inviting us to join them for a motorcycle ride into the Georgia mountains beginning around 11:30am.  That sounded like it would be a great way to spend the day, but we also knew nothing else would get accomplished since the ride would likely extend into an evening get together at a local pub or club.  So, as much as we wanted to join them, we sent our regrets and stuck to our original plan for the day.

So, the day started early out in the garage with me working on the motorcycles and by 11:00am the temps had worked their way into the 60’s so we were able to head out for a nice 25-mile tandem ride. The Calfee shifted well for most of the ride, noting this was the first time back out since our rear derailleur’s spring popped during our ride up in South Carolina.   However, it still needs a bit of a tweak as it was skipping a lot in the smaller cogs: might even need to check the drive train for wear as the skipping had that kind of “quality” about it.  Regardless, it felt so good to get out and put a few miles on the bike: we both needed the fresh air and exercise so badly!

Make no doubt about it, it’s tough juggling our passion for riding bicycles and motorcycles since a nice day forces us to choose between one or the other unless we “do the double” with a short ride on each.  What makes it even harder is that the motorcycling has now surpassed tandem cycling when it comes to the amount of time we spend with friends from both areas of interests. We love our tandem cycling family, but sadly… we just don’t get together for rides the way we used to.  And if we’re not riding together every weekend, then there’s very little chance that we’ll interact socially.  Conversely, we spend every Friday & Saturday evening having dinner with our closest friends — David & Deb — and spend several weekends a year going to motorcycle rally’s or doing our own trips together.  Our other, “new” and extended motorcycling family never miss a chance to ride and have been quick to offer up invitations to ride and meet for other social gatherings and that’s led to some very fast and fun friendships filled with all kinds of ride opportunities.  So, it will continue to be a tough thing to keep in balance. But I digress… sort of.

We returned home just in time for Debbie to scoot off to Caroline’s Lacrosse game as I shifted gears and moved from the garage out to the yard work.  First on the list was burning off the thatch from the dormant Bermuda grass in the front yard (it’s a southern thing I think) and then making several tedious passes over the side and back yard with the mower to scalp the thatch off the top of the zoysia grass: burning it off just doesn’t work well.  I filled 10 – 55 gallon bags with the thatch that came out of the side and back yards; talk about harvest time! Speaking of time, this first phase of spring yard work pretty much consumed the entire afternoon and took us up to dinner time and our weekly visit to Loco Willy’s where we’d meet our friends David & Deb.

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As always, we had a great time at Loco’s while enjoying my favorite dish: Ahi Poke tuna!  I think it was almost 8:15pm before we headed home, but to be honest… I really didn’t feel like calling it a night.  One of our friends — Paul B. — was playing with his band Sidewayz at “TheWing”, but didn’t start until 10pm.  Normally we’d just go to a club early and wait for a band to start, but “The Wing” just isn’t our high on our list of “comfortable places” to sit and chill.  So, that was something of a non-starter and we just headed home.

FirePitBefore putting up my phone I saw there was a text message which had apparently come earlier in the day on the thread with the motorcycle trip planning information.  I decided to shoot off a note to ‘the gang’ to see how their day was.  Much to my surprise, my phone rang about 30 seconds after I shot off the note and it was Julie, along with several other folks in the background all shouting out hello’s and inviting us to come join them at the fire pit behind Sharon & Jeff’s house on Lake Allatoona.  I looked to Debbie and she said, sure; you need to go unwind!  She’s so good to me!

So, we made the 35 minute drive over and spent a few hours enjoying the warmth of friends and a smokey fire listening to Chuck’s amazing collection of music on his iPod, enjoying a variety of interesting liquid refreshments and catching up with Jeannette and some other friends we’d met at Chuck & Julie’s Christmas party.  It was a good time and just what I needed: kinda like that tandem ride earlier in the day.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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2 Responses to A Busy Day, But Not Too Busy To Get In A Ride!

  1. jonathan says:

    Just curious, have you written a review/primer on safety concerns (weight tolerances) of carbon forks on tandems…..specifically the Enve 2.0 that clearly states it is not Tandem approved? Of course my new Calfee Tetra Tandem (our team is at 330 lbs) which is being shipped right now is equipped with the above named fork! Rodriquez Cycles posted this tidbit in January of 2014 voicing some concern: http://www.rodbikes.com/articles/tandem-forks/tandem-forks.html

    Any thoughts?

    • TG says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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