What Kind of Tape Is That?

Someone asked a question about the wide, shiny, slick tape that they see where the handlebar tape ends on the tops of our handlebars; what kind of tape is that?

It’s self-fusing silicone tape, which you can find in either the plumbing department or sometimes in the speciality tape section of most hardware or home improvement stores.

It’s sold by several different manufacturers and comes in different colors. I use black because I also use black handlebar tape on just about all of our bikes: black doesn’t show the grime!

Anyway, while not inexpensive at between $5,00 and $12.00 a roll for some of the colorful offerings from “Rescue Tape”, I’ve not found anything better for that final wrap around the ends of your handlebar tape job. It doesn’t rely on adhesives for bonding the way electrical tape or those little strips of bar-end wrap that come with your handlebar tape do as they shrink.  Instead, this very stretchy material fuses to itself.  You can peel it back if need be, but it won’t refuse all that well so it’s pretty much one-and-done when you apply it.  Moreover, you need to be careful when apply not to let it stick to itself and it’s impossible to unstick. However, the expense and attention to detail in applying it will give you a nice looking and durable finish to your tape job that will outlast the handlebar tape.


You can also use this stuff to wrap cable housings that rub up against your frame to keep that rubbing action from marring your frame’s finish and on just about anything else that looks like it would benefit from shrink-wrap that’s too hard or impractical to use shrink-wrap for.

Posted in Technology & Equip. | Leave a comment

Getting Ready for 2018’s Riding Season

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.

Photo by Roger & Eve Kofsky

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Posted in Club & Org Notices, Tandem Folks, Tandem Rallies, Technology & Equip. | 3 Comments

Thank You Mother Nature…

Proof that the planets & stars aligned this past Friday…

20180209_142837Given our recent weather and an unfortunate motorcycling incident back in November, our days on the tandem have been few and far between for nearly 3 months.  However, imagine our delight when temperatures finally snuck into the 60’s with sunny skies on an off-day of the week!  We took full advantage of day and were able to sneak in a short afternoon ride squeezed in between the lunch time traffic and the end of the school day.

Posted in Bloggishnish | Leave a comment

Georgia Tandem Rally – Commemorative Jersey’s Now Available (Guest Contribution)

From our friends at Georgia Tandem Rally Headquarters, the following just went out to the hundreds of teams that have attended a GTR in the past, and is also out on Facebook.

Dear GTR Riders:

It only happens once every five years, and now is the time.   The time has come to order your GTR 20th Anniversary jerseys and apparel, clothing that will make you the best-dressed team at any cycling event you attend this year and in the future.  Not only are we doing jerseys in 2018, but we are also doing matching shorts, bibs, wind vests, and jackets.  We’ve got an entire store of stuff ready for you to order.  You do not have to attend the rally to order apparel.

Congratulations to Andrew and Ally Gill of Gainesville, FL, the first to buy GTR jerseys.  They noticed the jerseys were on sale via the GTR website and ordered them before this email came out!

Here’s the jersey, which is nice and bright and will increase your visibility on the road:

Jerseys are available in men’s and women’s sizes as well as club cut (a bit more relaxed) and race cut (that skin-tight look).  Most teams opt for club cut.  We’ve also got sleeveless for you sun lovers in Florida with big biceps.  All jerseys have full zippers.

And now the matching shorts/bibs for the full kit:

Shorts/bibs are available in men’s and women’s sizes and you get to pick what kind of chamois you want.  Yes, that’s a cute tandem on the rear end.

The wind vests look just like the sleeveless jerseys and the jackets look like a long-sleeve version of the jersey.

Pricing for the GTR 2018 stuff is as follows:
Jerseys: $65, the same price as 2013!
Shorts: $65 and up, depending on the chamois you pick
Bibs: $70 and up, depending on the chamois you pick
Vests: $55
Jackets: $60

Where else are you going to find matching, custom tandem jerseys for only $65 each?

The apparel is made by Voler in California.  This is the same manufacturer we used for the GTR jerseys in 2008 and 2013, so if you like the way those fit, stick with the same size.  You also had the opportunity to try on the jerseys (in club cut) at GTR 2017 in Valdosta.  If you wrote down your size, we have it.  Email us if you forgot it.  There are sizing charts for each item on the Voler ordering site.  Just scroll down and you will see the chart.  Please be careful when ordering your sizes because there will not be extras of anything to swap out.

You can order your jerseys from now until February 18th, so you have about six weeks to get your order in.  We are not ordering extra apparel, so this is the only chance you will have to order until GTR 2023.  (No, we don’t know where it is.)  Treat yourself…you deserve it.  Ordering is done through the Voler site.  Jerseys will be shipped to us and we will distribute them at GTR 2018 or ship them to you if you will not be at the rally.
Click here to order your GTR 20th Anniversary apparel.
Or here:  http://www.voler.com/custom/ordering/li/19187

Please let us know if you have any questions about our GTR apparel for 2018.  Sizing questions are best answered on the Voler site as they have extensive size charts for your viewing and dancing pleasure.

Registration for the GTR pre-tour in Madison and GTR 2018 in Athens are just around the corner.  GTR Hall of Fame members begin registering on January 21 and then we throw it open to everyone else on January 28th.  You will get a separate email when it’s time to register for the rally, including the link to our electronic registration site.

Happy New Year to all of our tandem riding friends.  We hope that your 2018 plans will find you joining us for GTR in Athens for the largest tandem rally in the south.

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Christmas Greetings to our Readers

From our home to yours, here’s hoping those who have just finished celebrating  Hanukkah and those who are just about to begin celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa Festivus and anything else are doing well, enjoying time with family and friends and are in good health.

We know that’s a tall order as life does tend to throw us curves, knuckleballs, sliders and more times than we like hits us with a fastball.  We like many of you have probably been hit with those fastballs a few times this past year and we understand and appreciate the challenges we are dealt are often times not of our making or not within our power to control.  However, we are reminded that we are certainly not alone in this, have the love and support of family and friends and always remain mindful that even with our burdens we are still thankful for our blessings.

For those who are interested in learning more about our past year, in words and photos, I’ve uploaded a .pdf version of my annual Christmas Letter that I share with our family.  For those who follow the blogs, much of it will be familiar and we thank you for your readership: we enjoy being connected to our virtual family and friends. You can download the letter by clicking on the link above, or the image of the first page at right. As I’ve mentioned, I write these weekly journals for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it allows me to reflect on what we have done, the people we have met and places we have been.

I was reminded of how valuable that can be this year as I attempted to compose my letter without having access to the Internet during our recent winter weather event that caused our network access to go dark for two days.  After finishing my first draft and sharing it with Debbie she noted there were several glaring omissions… I mean really glaring omissions.  I would like to believe that my mind is like a steel trap and captures everything, but that little exercise truly made me appreciate the time I invest in writing my journals.  And, as you might now suspect, the annual Christmas letter provides me with an opportunity to appreciate all that happened this past year and to consider what lies ahead.  Again, all of that is captured in the letter so I won’t go through it all here; those who are interested now have the ability to do so.

To those of you who are still following our blog, thanks for hanging in there.  As you may have noted, it’s been something of a dry spell since my last meaningful “journal” back in September, with just the calendar update a few weeks back.

Fear not, we are still devoted cyclists and tandem cycling enthusiasts; however, life sometimes gets in the way as do my competing interests in motorcycling.  The latter figured big in the equation between buying and selling motorcycles, a trip to Daytona and then a bump in the road, so to speak, that put me off of both bicycles and motorcycles for a few weeks.  Oh yes, and it snowed here… A lot!

Here’s a recap.

First up was trip to Costa Rica for what was our first-ever resort vacation.

The next distraction was a sudden desire to buy a new-to-us Honda Goldwing motorcycle in late August, as I wanted something more practical with more storage than the 2003 BMW R1100S I’d been commuting on since January 2009.

An un-intended consequence of adding the Honda to the motorcycle fleet and taking Debbie for a ride on the luxury bike was her realization that our current Harley-Davidson touring bike was really too small and uncomfortable. So, two weeks after buying the Honda we were in hot pursuit of a close-out deal on a 2017 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra. We found one in Savannah and Melissa at Killer-Creek Harley-Davidson was able to get it to Atlanta for us and we added it to the fleet in late September.So, instead of riding bicycles or tandems, I was now tinkering with two “new” motorcycles in my spare time, i.e., personalizing them with the various things that make them fit, ride and look right.  Yes, it was a a sight to see since I’d still not sold the BMW.Thankfully, a week after this photo was taken the BMW found an a new home.  It was a great bike that I would have loved to keep if we had room for it.

By now it was October and in between bouts of bad weather that kept us off the tandem we were able to sneak in a short trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, on the new touring bike for the fall version of Bike Week. The weather was less than ideal, but we had good friends with us and made our own fun during every waking moment.


Things settled down a bit towards the end of October and mid-November, but the weather kept us off the tandem, as it seemed like it was either cold or raining just about every weekend.  The next big disruption came when a lovely, 83-year old motorist failed to see me stopped on the big Honda with my left turn signal on during my evening commute on 21 November and sent both the bike and me tumbling.  My new pride and joy was totaled and I was “grounded” with respect to riding anything by a wrist injury, sprained joints and a strained back.

Of course, even if we had both been in good enough shape to go cycling, the weather intervened in early December to shut down the areas northwest of Atlanta with a foot of snow.  Yes, this was the scene the morning after 15″ of snow fell and about 12″ of it was left stacked up on everything for the next two days.

I was finally feeling well enough to get out for a single bike ride this past week and, boy let me tell you, it felt GREAT!  No, I was still feeling the wrist and my back complained a bit the next day, but it was a huge step and it was also nice to know I felt as much joy as ever being back on a bicycle.  There’s just no better way to spend a spare moment, other than cuddling my sweetie… that is.

So, we’re eagerly awaiting some free time so we can get back out on the tandem in 2018. Here’s hoping that you and yours have been able to get in as many miles of smiles as you’d hoped to in 2017 and perhaps our paths will cross in the not too distant future.  Still working on our 2018 rally plans.


Posted in Bloggishnish | 2 Comments

2018 Rally Information… Looking a bit Thin.

As I began to update the Tandem Event & Rally listing for 2018 I was surprised that many of the sites for scheduled events were not yet updated, never mind the number of recurring rallies that are not yet showing any schedule information.

So, here’s what I’ve got posted thus far.  If anyone has any corrections, additions or sees an event that needs to be dropped, let me know.

Winter 2018 

Rice Valley Tandem Rally, Feb 11, Gridley, CA, No Reg Fee

Sebring Tandem Rally, hosted by the PANTHERS, 9-11 Mar, Sebring, FL, ~$150 per team / $120 night + tax lodging

Spring 2018

OPEN HOUSE: TandemsEast – Tandem Expo, 1-2 Apr, Pittsgrove, NJ, No Reg Fee

Ridgeland OBO Tandem Rally, 6-8 April, Ridgeland, MS, details not yet available.

UK Tandem Rally – Easter, 29 Mar – 2 Apr, near Bodiam Castle on the Kent / East Sussex border, 7 GBP per Person; various camping / lodging options.

Alabama Tandem Weekend, 12-15 April, Huntsville, AL, Details not yet posted.

Southwest Tandem Rally , 19-22 Apr, Brenham, TX, details not yet posted.

Georgia Tandem Tour, 21-24 May, Madison, GA.  ~$100 per team + lodging. Registration opens in January.

Georgia Tandem Rally, 24-27 May, Athens, GA (Reg open in Jan ’18), details not yet posted.

Horsey 100 (Non-Tandem But Welcoming Tandems), 25-27 May, Lexington, KY, special hotel accommodations for tandem teams. Registration opens at 8:00pm on 16 Jan.


Southwest Missouri Tandem Weekend, 1-3 Jun, Springfield, MO, details not yet posted.

Saranac Lake Tandem Rally, 15-17 Jun, Saranac Lake, NY, ~$90 per team / lodging rates vary

Eastern Tandem Rally (ETR’s Homepage), 15-17 June, Williamsburg, VA.  

UK National Tandem Rally, TBD.  Nothing posted yet.

Canadian Tandem RallyTBD.  Nothing posted yet.

HOOTs Tandem Weekend, TBD.  Nothing posted yet.

MATES ’15 (ETR’s Homepage), TBD. Still looking for host / dates / location.

Summer 2018

Northwest Tandem Rally, 29 Jun – 4 July, Albany, OR.  Details not yet posted.

TandemsEast – Tandem Weekend, TBA, but I think it’s somewhere in New Jersey.

International Tandem Rally, 18-25 Aug, Saxnas, Öland, Sweden, ala carte fee schedule; see booking form

Midwest Tandem Rally, 31 Aug – 3 Sep, Grand Rapids, MI, details not yet posted.

Paired Iowans Going Somewhere Rally, TBA, ~$100 team, lodging on your own at suggested hotels

Tandems à Salviac International, No details posted as of yet. Email for more information / to register: stokinger@yahoo.com

Fall 2018

Southern Tandem Rally, 12-14 October, Venice, FL, $TBA per team, Lodging TBA

Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show & Convention, 12-14 October, Nashville, TN.

Florida Tandem Rally, hosted by PANTHERS, 19-21 Oct, The Villages, FL, Addt’l details forthcoming’

Posted in Events | 4 Comments

Riding at home instead of at STR 2017

A little bit bummed that we weren’t able to fit the 2017 edition of the Southern Tandem Rally into our calendar this year, but will hopefully be able to make it work in 2018.

Haven’t seen but a handful of photos from a few friends on Facebook, but from what we have seen it looks like the weather was fantastic and that everyone had a great time visiting with long-time friends and enjoy the great routes around Salisbury, North Carolina.

From left to right: Lisa, Linda, Eric, Betsy, Mark, Ryan, Christen Audrey.

Speaking of ride updates, the post-ride report from last week’s September Tandem Club of Georgia (aka, PEACHES) ride has made it to WordPress. The ride was held in Newnan, Georgia, with six teams participating.  You can see a small collection of photos at the PEACHES Blog: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/18192750/posts/1603941692

As for us, we were able to get out on Friday morning for a very nice ride from the house. It was our mid-distance loop and even though we decided to take it at a comfortable pace we ended up with one of our faster average speeds for the year.  I’m guessing last Saturday’s workout at the Beautiful Backroads Century may have played into that.

We returned home from an overnight trip on Sunday morning and after getting ourselves sorted-out, eating a little lunch and doing a little work on a noisy front hub on the tandem we headed out once again for a loop ride from the house.  Given that it was a little later in the day it ended up being a pretty darn warm ride for late September.  But, we needed to sweat-out some toxins so that was fine too.  It was just good to get out and spin our legs and like Friday’s ride, we actually had a pretty good pace.

It’s always a good weekend when we can get in a couple rides on the tandem.  Again, somewhat disappointed that we weren’t able to get up to Salisbury, North Carolina for the three days of riding with a lot of our friends at the Southern Tandem Rally, but then again it was nice not having to make the 5 hour drive home after the event as I had a lot of yard work to do back at home before returning to work on Monday.

Posted in Bloggishnish | 2 Comments