Calfee Update #4: Still Clicking / Still Evaluating

We finally made it out on the tandem Saturday morning  and had a very good ride. However, the clicking sound and evidence of frame flex continue.  I’m truly perplexed by it and continue to try and come up with low-cost solutions vs. saying, “The heck with it, it’s time for a new tandem.”

Don’t get me wrong, our Calfee tandem still provides us with a great and comfortable ride and the shifting is as smooth and predictable.  It’s just that annoying “click, click, click” that comes with every right-foot pedal stroke under anything more than moderate pedal pressure and what appears to be rear derailleur “flutter” induced by frame flex that’s become more than annoying. But, as I said, it was a good ride with a higher than usual average speed.  In fact, I wasn’t even aware of our healthy average speed since I failed to reset my computer from our previous rides since I’m not chasing personal bests: we just like to get out and enjoy the day on our tandem.

Back at the house following the ride I took one more shot at addressing the clicking sounds by putting teflon tape around all of the coupler threads and then re-torquing the coupler nuts.  I also re-torqued the crank arm bolts, the chain ring bolts and eccentric as an extra measure.  Again, I’m at a loss as to what else it might be.  So, fingers crossed, perhaps we’ll have a click-free ride on Monday.

The only other issue we’ve been having that’s new since my last update was unrelated to the mechanicals: my DiNotte tail light was acting up.  By acting up, it’s been working fine for years and then suddenly it wasn’t working.  I tried freshly recharged / rechargeable batteries and fresh out of the box non-rechargeable batteries with no luck.  I checked the batteries with a battery tester / multimeter and they were all “good” so it wasn’t the batteries. However, when I put the batteries in the 4AA battery holder there wasn’t any power at the contacts / connector for the light’s pigtail connector.  Hmmm.  Well, I knew I had at least one spare 4AA battery holder as I’d purchased two of them from Radio Shack for $1.79 several years back and kept at least one of them in my cycling event / rally duffle bag.  Sure enough, it was the battery holder.  Now, sadly, Radio Shack has closed all of its stores and the same battery holder is $10.79 from Walmart: what the hell?  Oh well, at least for the time being I’ve got our taillight back.

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GoPro Captures & Video Shorts for October 2nd: It’s Not Getting Any Better

First off, apologies for errors in this document. WordPress can’t seem to stay out of it’s way and released a new editor that’s pretty awful, never mind void of any proofreading tools.

I’m going to violate my own, recently announced protocol for posting only monthly compendiums of our more notable motorist encounters as captured on our GoPro cameras and post this one out today even though I just posted September’s compendium a couple days ago.  October is going to be a very busy month for us with a day at the Porsche Experience this week, the Southern Tandem Rally next week, Fall Bike Week in Daytona the following week, Fall Bike Week in Panama City Beach the week after that and a new grandchild due on Halloween.   So, I’ve got a lot of blogging to do and this one has a couple of really special treats, including a trifecta of very short videos from some of yesterday’s encounters.

The first was on Stilesboro Road when this Chevy 1500 with GA Tag #RNL8221 decided to pass on a partially blind curve and ended up “squeezing” us as well as the red Toyota Tundra coming the other way… all to save about 5 seconds on his drive time.

The impatience of drivers now days is amazing.  Moreover, when driver’s realize they’ve erred in judgement about how fast or close an on-coming vehicle is they invariably speed up to “make the pass” instead of slowing down and dropping back behind us until it truly is safe to pass.  We see this time and time again.  Where does this aggressive / win at all costs behavior come from?  And, quite frankly, within 5 minutes these same people will find themselves sitting at a stoplight for 90 to 120 seconds, often times with us falling in right behind them: did you really save any time by taking those risks??

Our next encounter was on Wright Road, where a landscape maintenance truck whose driver was in a hurry (turns out, his wife was purportedly in labor) decided to pass us well within the stop sign warning / deceleration zone, essentially cutting us off as he returned to the lane and quickly slowed.  But, then then ran the stop sign and made a short radius right hand turn, too short for the long, tandem axle trailer he was towing which sent the right side tandem wheels into a ditch with a resounding impact.

We shared the video with the owner of the company who was appreciative and who also followed up with the back-story on why the driver was in such a hurry, noting that the urgency did not justify the poor motoring decisions.

Next up was a UPS truck driver on Holland Road.  As we approached a stop sign at the top of a small climb the UPS driver began to make a passing move also well within the stop sign warning / deceleration zone. Seriously, up hill with less than 200′ to the stop sign.  Fortunately for us, he abandoned the passing move and fell in behind us and then — amazingly — made a right turn on Black Iron Trail into the cul-de-sac at the stop sign.  Had he made his pass, he would have most certainly cut us off.

I suspect at some point they’ll widen Due West Road from Mars Hill to the Paulding County Line as the motorists who use it already treat it like it’s a 55 mph rural highway and not a 40 mph limit major road. Today did not disappoint.  First up was a silver Porsche Carrera cabriolet with Georgia Tag #RNI2387 flying along at 55 mph+ who felt compelled to pass within the lane even though there was no on-coming traffic to preclude him from giving us the 3-foot safety margin mandated by Georgia law.  And yes, the license plates are very readable using the 1080 @ 30 frames per second on the GoPro cameras.

Not more than a few moments later we had trio of pick-up truck drivers who were all in a hurry.  This one warranted a video clip.

As you saw in the video, the first pick-up truck was a white Ford F350 FX4 Off-Road Crew Cab with what looked to be an Oregon Tag, who was apparently trying to catch up to the Porsche and moving well above the 40 mph posted speed limit… well above.

Lagging a bit behind him was a white Chevrolet SD2500 crew cab work truck with US DOT Reg #1606687 and GA Tag #CHT9782 belonging to Every Thing Construction out of Locus Grove, GA.  He and the truck behind were held back from passing by two on-coming vehicles.  As soon as the second vehicle was clear of the white ETC truck, he pulled into the on-going lane to make his pass while approach an intersection where — as we’ve seen time and again — a motorist turning right onto Due West Road was now suddenly on a collision course with the truck making the passing maneuver.  As you can see in the video, the severity of his error did not escape Debbie’s notice. Again, his performance demands a few stills that clearly show the severity of his poor judgement.

Bringing up the rear we had the blue Chevrolet Z71 4WD 1500 crew cab / work truck with a Georgia Navy Veteran’s Tag #921985 (?, it was bashed-in by a trailer hitch) who felt compelled to go Wide Open Throttle (WOT) to make  his pass, as I’m sure he too was held up for far too long by those idiots on a bicycle that shouldn’t even be on this road: yeah, I know what WOT implies (F.U.), yet another passive road rage gesture like rolling coal with a diesel.

Finally we have this special fellow driving the blue Ford Escape with Pennsylvania Handicap Tag #66749 on Old Stilesboro Road.  As we approached him I could tell that, had it not been for a white Jeep Cherokee that came around a corner just behind us, he would have pulled out and cut-us-off as he started to pull-out and only then stopped as the Jeep came into view.

Once he was behind us he failed to follow the Jeep’s example by giving us nearly the full lane when he passed — noting there was no on-coming traffic — and instead passed us within the lane way too close for comfort and clearly unaware of Georgia’s 3-foot law and, most likely, doesn’t have a clue that Pennsylvania enacted a 4-foot law when passing bicycles.

P.S.  I loved the NRA sticker on the passenger window; I guess that’s for the benefit of the Pennsylvania Highway Patrol who typically approach stopped cars from the passenger side.  As a Life Member of the NRA and CCW license holder, I don’t advertise.

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Calfee Update #3: The Frame Returns Home…

As mentioned in my note on 30 September, our Calfee tandem was shipped out via FedEx on Monday and arrived at the FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Georgia, on Thursday evening, 27 September.  However, delivery of the boxed-up frame was deferred until Monday, 1 October, as we weren’t returning from a trip to Utah until late on Sunday night, 30 September. It was right around 9:00am on Monday when FedEx delivered the frame. Shortly after finishing up yard work around 2:00pm I pulled the frame out of the box and put it together for the 1st time.  It seemed much-more solid than it did when it left so, being cautiously optimistic, I was looking forward to a quiet ride on Tuesday morning!
After finishing up a few other must-do things around the house around 4:30pm, I organized my collection of bagged-up parts and began the process of rebuilding the tandem so we could give it a shake-down ride on Tuesday morning. Things were going well until l hit an unexpected snag: the left-hand / front derailleur shift / brake lever decided it was time to not work again.  Yes, this was the third time the Shimano Ultegra ST-6703 triple shifter decided to stop working; the prior time back in May/June 2017 is covered in another blog entry that outlines the cause and repair procedure.  It was at this point I took a break to make dinner… lest I take out my frustration with the shifters on some other part of the tandem. To make an already long story short, after dinner I decided to go to a local bike shop to get some new Shimano STI brake and derailleur cable housing so I could add a pair of in-line derailleur cable adjusters and otherwise address a few other issues with my cables and housing that I discovered during the build-up process. It was about 8:00pm when I returned home and resumed work on the bike. I installed a new rear brake cable and housing to see if I couldn’t reduce some drag that I was experiencing with the Gator-Housing.  After that minor success, I repaired the left shifter and installed it with new STI cable housing and an in-line adjuster.  As before, once the through bolt that that holds all of the left-hand shifter cogs, gears and bushings together was re-torqued the shifter worked fine. Now all I had to do was to run a new cable for the rear derailleur, right?  I wish. No, now the rear shifter was acting up and it took me close to 30 minutes to get that sorted-out.  However, as the clock ticked off 10:00pm I had new housing and cables installed and both shifters were functioning correctly. All I needed to do was to re-wrap my handlebars with new bar tape, then clean up and go to bed.  Never did I have so many issues reassembling a bike or tandem, never!
Around 9:30am on Tuesday, we headed out on the Calfee for a 32-mile shake-down ride. It was a bit cooler at 9:30am than when we last rode about 10 days ago, but the skies were blue and the sun was shining so I knew we’d be fine once we got moving…. and we were. As for the bike,  sadly the clicking that alerted me to the S&S coupler issue returned about 1/2 way through our ride; I was not a happy camper. We finished our 32-mile loop and once we were back at the house I did a re-check of all the couplers. Thankfully, there wasn’t any play in the rear coupler joint. Before rendering a decision on whether or not the problem had truly been resolved I decided to re-seat and re-torque all four couplers but did so such that each coupler nut was unloaded when I applied torque just to be sure they fully-seated. After doing so the frame felt pretty solid again. Hopefully we’ll get out for at least a short ride on Wednesday since we won’t be able to ride on Thursday due to an 11:00am appointment on the south side of Atlanta. More to follow.
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GoPro Captures for September: Hazardous Drivers & Flying Objects


The first was on Mars Hill Church road when this Chevy 1500 with GA Tag #CET4433 felt compelled to pass within the lane even though there was zero traffic in the on-coming lane to preclude him from following the 3-foot law when passing bicycles.  I think we’ve encountered him before, pre GoPro.



Next we have a white Cadillac CTS with Georgia Tag #QAU4973 along Old Stilesboro Road who assumed since we were to the right of the fog line on a subdivision turn-out that they could pass as close as they liked: force field in effect I’m guessing.  Again, no on-coming traffic, just the lane-locked mentality.



While the driver of this gold Nissan ZX convertible with Georgia Tag #PYJ3165 gave us plenty of room while passing, as soon as they were clear they made an abrupt lane shift, as if there was a on-coming car… when in fact there wasn’t. I’m not sure what that was all about, so they’ve made the hall of fame just in case we see a pattern here with future encounters.


A gold BMW 5-Series with Georgia Tag #BSY3963 on a different part of Old Stilesboro Road easily driving 45mph in a 35mph zone, no on-going traffic and passing within the lane to the extent that I had to move right up to the ragged edge of the lane / fog line.

And then we have a different kind of hazard: landscapers.  I’ve written a dedicated blog entry on this one that you can find here. The video speaks for itself: inattentive landscaper running a line trimmer along the road who is kicking up rocks and debris without regard for passing traffic.


It was a pretty good day as far as how the motorists behaved.  Still a lot of folks driving well over the posted speed limits on these secondary roads, some way over and we’re starting to see some of “the usual suspects” on the same roads at the same time so it’s habitual.

About the most memorable bad decision by a motorist was when the driver of this Clay Enterprises double-axle dump truck, USDOT #1203866 (no tag) decided to pass us on a blind curve on a fairly busy road and, sure enough, caused a white Jeep in the on-coming lane to come to a near stop lest he run into the truck.Sadly, we probably won’t have as many photo moments for the rest of the month since we’re now without our tandem.


Well, we made it out at 9:30am per schedule on Monday on our single bikes vs. the tandem.  Turns out, motorists are no more careful passing us on the tandem than they are on single bikes.  Still the same bad judgement on passing with on-coming traffic vs. waiting 2-3 seconds until its safer, encroaching on the 3-foot passing distance, etc.

First up was this grey BMW 420i with GA TAG #CIU5291 who opted to pass with another on-coming car on Poplar Springs Road.

This was a constant theme throughout the day, as that’s what this green Toyota Tacoma with GA TAG#WI82MW did on Due West Road, squeezing Debbie to the fog line as he followed another car around us with another car in the on-coming lane.

And then again on Old Stilesboro Road when a Silver Toyota Camry with GA TAG #RIL0234 passed too closely with on-coming traffic, followed immediately thereafter by a gold Toyota Camry with GA TAG # RGX8621.  I should probably note, we were out a bit later than usual to a slower ride pace so it was lunch time traffic when we were headed towards home on Old Stilesboro Road just before the Mars Hill interchange.

And, if that wasn’t enough fun, we also encountered several crews out working on the overgrown median strips during our ride, perhaps 15 workers in high-vis vests with line trimmers.  All but one were very aware of their surroundings and paused their cutting as we passed, all but one along the same stretch of Old Stilesboro Road ahead of Mars hill who was kicking up a nice debris field, completely unconcerned about passing traffic.

This is an honorable mention: I wasn’t able to get a good shot of his license plate but, once again, no awareness of the 3 foot passing law in Georgia and more concerned with putting a tire outside of his lane than possibly brushing up against cyclists.

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Calfee Update #2: The Frame & We Are Headed Home…

Good news!

Our Calfee tandem was shipped out via FedEx on Monday and has been in Kennesaw, Georgia, since Thursday evening, 27 September awaiting delivery on Monday, 1 October.

The reason it’s waiting is because we’re still out in Utah and won’t be home to sign for the shipment until Monday.  If all goes according to plan, I should see our FedEx folks around noon which will give me just enough time to take care of the yard work before being able to put my hands on the tandem frame and get it built back up and ready to ride on Tuesday.

Again, more to follow….

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Calfee Update #1: Not A Coupler Fail, per se

Craig Calfee called yesterday afternoon to give me an update on our tandem.

What they discovered was somewhat interesting and a bit perplexing.  It turns out the coupler sleeve and welds are all just fine.  Instead, what they found was, during the initial frame fabrication and lay-up of the carbon fiber around the couplers a little too much carbon fiber was applied around the threaded part of the coupler. The result is that the excess carbon precluded me (or anyone else) from getting a 100% threaded mate between the coupler’s teeth.  Yes, the coupler would be snug, but the teeth weren’t fully engaged.

As to why the poor mating never made any noise or demonstrate anything less than a solid bond in the past, that’s a bit puzzling to me.  I honestly can’t ever recall not getting a solid joint with that coupler, even when we had the top tube out back in August 2015.

Anyway, they removed a little carbon from the frame so that it will mate properly and Craig also offered to give our frame a little freshening-up, a re-nude if you will… complete with fresh decals.  We opted to stick with the classic Calfee logos vs. their newer block style since our other two Calfee singles are both sporting the “classic” logos.

With any luck, the frame will be headed back to us and will arrive even before we return from Utah, which will be great!  We’ll just have FedEx hold it at the local office and we’ll pick it up on Monday, October 1st.  That will give us enough time to get it built back up and ridden a few times before we head to the Southern Tandem Rally at Venice, Florida.

More to follow….

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Making Do Without The Road Tandem

As noted in my previous blog entry, last Thursday I finally realized the source of a “click” I was hearing on every pedal stroke since August was a failing S&S coupler installation at the junction of the boom tube and the rear triangle of the frame.  After chatting with Craig at Calfee Design about the failing coupler it was pretty clear the frame should not be ridden and would need to be sent back to Calfee for a warranty repair. I stripped, boxed and shipped the frame to Calfee Design in La Selva Beach, California, later that same day and I’m happy to report that — at least according to FedEx — the boxed frame arrived on Wednesday.  Hopefully I’ll hear something from the good folks at Calfee in the next day or so on the prognosis for how long the repair(s) will take and when it will be shipped back. In the mean time, we’ve been making do this week by riding our respective single bikes together.  Coincidentally, we both have Calfee single bikes so at least we’re still enjoying the same plush ride qualities that we experience on our Calfee tandem.
Riding our single bikes together is something we haven’t done since the last time we found ourselves without our tandem back in August 2015.  Yes, it’s definitely a double-edged sword: it’s truly disappointing that we had to ship the frame off on our nickel for a repair, but we’re really enjoying our time out on our single bikes.  Riding our singles reminds us why we enjoy cycling so much, but it also crystalizes what it is we love about riding our tandem.  The experience is similar, but oh so different when you’re sharing the same bike and working as a team vs. riding your own bikes your own way. I sometimes forget that Debbie and I have very different riding styles.  It’s only when I get to follow her on her single bike that I can see her preference for pushing a big gear at a low cadence.  Me, I’m more of a spinner and thankfully, she adapts to my higher cadence when we’re on the tandem. Another benefit I get from riding with Debbie on her single is being able to identify things that need attention, such as the rear derailleur being just a little bit out of adjustment.   She’s not all that in-tune with her bike and so long as the thing steers, stops and will shift gears she’s good-to-go.  Having the chain crossed-up from big ring to big cog or visa-versa with the chain rubbing on the front derailleur cage doesn’t faze her in the least.  And, while I know she could trim it out with a slight push of her left Ergo shift lever, I also know better than to make that suggestion.  After all, it’s not bothering her!   So, when we finish a ride I’ll make adjustments unbeknownst to her that help to dial-in the shifting as best as I can.  Of course, if she knew I’d made adjustments I’d be in the dog house since, after all, “It was fine the way it was!” Sadly, I’m pretty sure we’ll be off the bikes until October 1st, at the earliest.  We rode 32 miles from the house on Monday and yesterday, Wednesday, and between getting ready for a community garage sale on Friday and Debbie having to spend time seeing to her mother an hour away in Canton, Georgia, there won’t be an opportunity for a ride later today (Thursday) or Friday.  Saturday we’ll be out of town for an event here in Georgia, and then on Sunday we’re scheduled to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, for a week-long sight-seeing trip with friends.  Of course, if her mother’s condition becomes an issue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see our travel plans change. Regardless, we’ll be anxiously awaiting word from Calfee on our tandem.  We’ll only have a week and two days between the time we return from Utah and the day we’ll need to head south to Venice, Florida, for the Southern Tandem Rally.  And, while friends have offered to loan us their spare road tandems for that pre-rally week and the rally, we’d really like to have our Calfee back under our butts.   And, to be really honest, we wish we were taking the triplet to Venice and riding with our friend Lisa, but she is otherwise indisposed.
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