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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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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