I’m not going to over-commit, but I will so so far as to say we’ve got tandem cycling fairly high on our to-do list for 2018. Admittedly, it is a balancing act since we also have a variety of other obligations and interests, but we’re really, really, really going to try to carve out a bit more time to join the Tandem Club of Georgia for a few of their monthly rides and will also try to get to at least two and maybe three tandem rallies this year.
With that goal in mind, we made a point of attending the annual Tandem Club of Georgia planning dinner, hosted by Roger Strauss and Eve Kofsky a their home in Marietta, Georgia, on Saturday night.
We’ve belonged to “PEACHES” since August 1997, which was about 3-4 months after it was formed by a group of tandem enthusiast who lived in and around Atlanta. It’s a club in name only, so the “size” of the club is only measured in terms of participation at each event. So, what you see here in the group photo from Saturday night is probably on par with the average turn-out for a club ride over the last few years. Sadly, cycling in general is not something that Gen-X or Millennials have embraced and we’re reminded of that as we think back to those early days when we were “the kids” in our late 30’s at most tandem gathers instead of the old timers.
Setting all of that aside, it was good to get out and see old friends and meet new ones, as there were several new faces whom we’ve not spent much time with as we sat-out most of the club rides in 2016 and 2017. The Mardis Gras themed meal built around a Turducken, red beans and rice, gumbo, mac & cheese, mushroom & cheese pie, corn bread and bread pudding for desert. Our contribution was my scratch-made sweet corn bread; one batch of regular and a second of Southwestern with a touch of salsa.
In parallel with mixing and baking corn bread, our rainy weekend gave me some time to spend working on our tandem. Regular readers may recall, back in May the front derailleur became bound-up when a small screw and nut plate lost a bit torque which is, apparently, is a known issue with the Shimano Ultegra 6700 series left-hand / front derailleur shifters. Well, it did it again on our Friday ride. Of course, it’s something we didn’t realize until we hit the 8% grade leading out of our community. So, we made the best of it riding in the 52t chain ring and our 11x32t rear cassette.
Back at the house I went and looked at my blog so I could remind myself of what caused the problem back in May. As I read what I wrote, I recalled that I opted to just tighten-it from the underside of the lever vs. removing the lever assembly to get to the nut-plate so I could add some Loctite. This time, I went ahead and pulled the lever and put that all-important drop of Loctite on the left-hand threaded screw. Here’s hoping it will hold as I’d rather not have to keep pulling the bar tape off the left-hand handlebar to remove the lever assembly to get to the screw head on the underside of the lever. And, I will confess that I’m very tempted to purchase a back-up 6703 lever to have on hand “just in case” this continues to happen with this lever, in the hopes that the back-up might not have this little problem.
Since I had the handlebar tape pulled half-way off the left-hand handlebar, and because Debbie’s bar tape was looking pretty sad, I decided it was probably a good time to go ahead and address a couple of pre-season maintenance items on the tandem.
In addition to removing and replacing the handlebar tape — noting I happened to have two rolls of black Cinelli cork tape on hand — I also moved the in-line cable adjuster from the rear derailleur cable housing at the front of the bike to the front derailleur cable housing. My reason for doing this was two-fold:
- The in-line cable adjuster has been more trouble than help in keeping the rear-derailleur in trim, noting that Craig Calfee preferred to run the derailleur cables through the head tube using fixed stops vs. putting down tube bosses on the frame with integrated barrel adjusters.
- Adjusting the front derailleur without the aforementioned barrel adjuster has always been problematic.
With fingers crossed, here’s hoping both the front & rear shifting will be trouble-free for 2018. With the front & rear derailleur cable housings all reworked and the shifting dialed back in, I was able to finish up the handlebar tape replacement.
Next up was getting a fresh tire on the tandem. Once again, even though we haven’t been putting a lot of miles on the tandem, the miles we have been putting on are here around the house where we can easily climb 2,000 vertical feet on any one of a couple 25-mile loops. Well, that and the tread compound on our Vredestein Fortezza tires is pretty supple, so tread life on a back tire is maybe 1,500 miles. And, as you can see from the photo at left, below, I squeeze out every one of the 1,500 miles.
As is my practice, I moved the front tire — also with 1,500 miles of use but showing nearly zero tread wear — to the back rim where it will likely deliver another 1,500 miles of use before heading to the trash bin and put my second-to-last, new Fortezza on the front rim.
The daVinci bare aluminum cranks got a little Mother’s polish to complete my mini-service. I’ll clean the rear cassette, chain rings and chains in a few weeks when the tandem finally gets a proper wash. Everything else such as headset, hub and bottom bracket sealed bearings are still OK from last year’s service and the brake pads / cables / housings are also looking pretty good.