Our Schedule Thus Far…

As we look ahead to our options and try to balance our motorcycle rally schedule with our tandem rally schedule, this is what it’s looking like thus far:



  • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL, 14-17 March
  • Thunder Beach, Panama City Beach, FL, 3-5 May
  • Road Trip – Nashville, Memphis & New Orleans, June
  • Road Trip – Key West, FL, 2-7 July
  • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL, 17-20 Oct
  • Fall Bike Week, Panama City Beach, FL, 25-27 Oct

There will, of course, be a few other trips to Pennsylvania to visit my family and we’re trying to build on some of the tandem rallies to add in family & friend visits to New England and the Chicago area.

Posted in Events | 3 Comments

44th annual Midwest Tandem Rally Rally in Columbus, Indiana.  

Our friends at Hoosiers Out On Tandems (HOOTS) are hosting the year’s Midwest Tandem Rally in Columbus, Indiana, over the Labor Day Weekend, 30 August through 2 September, and passed along this invitation for us to share with our readers.  It looks like it will be a great event. 

We invite you to join us for the 44th annual Midwest Tandem Rally Rally in Columbus, Indiana.  

You may register at http://www.mtr2019.org

“Rediscover Columbus” will start in a new headquarters located just north of the city of Columbus.  This new location provides first rate hotel accommodations, easy access to I-65, and country roads connected directly to the parking lot.

Columbus is famous for its architecture, and our Friday route will explore the many buildings that make the city unique

What’s New for MTR 2019

Friday Modified Poker Run route starting at the Hilton.  You will have several stops in Columbus where you will have the opportunity to draw a playing card for your poker hand.  At two of these stops, you’ll be free to exchange a card with another team that you don’t already know (hence “modified” poker run).  The last stop in Columbus will be at the Upland Pumphouse where we’ll encourage you to hangout and socialize.

Friday Evening Mixer for Families:   This will be a simple gathering to allow teams with children to meet each other.  More details to follow.

Saturday Evening Hospice Concert (free): The performers for the 2019 Hospice Concert will be announced in May.  We have arranged for reserved seating to accommodate 200 people.   This number may be increased depending on the performer and rally attendance.  A variety of food trucks will be at the concert, and you may bring your own food and drinks including alcohol.  You should plan to bring folding chairs or a blanket.

Sunday Evening Dessert Social (optional fee):   Socialize with your fellow tandem riders.

Monday Mountain Biking (optional fee):  Before you head home, please join us for a no drop mountain bike ride on the trails of Brown County.  We will start in Brown County State Park and head out to enjoy the trails of Yellowwood Forest, and then back into the park.  The ride will be approximately 3 hours long, consisting of single track, double track, and loads of fun.  We will have a SAG stop to provide drinks and snacks.

More Information at http://www.mtr2019.org

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S.O.O.R.T.A. Calendar Update: Six Months & Five Events

Chris Judd passed along an updated Self-Organized Off-Road Tandem Adventure (S.O.O.R.T.A.) event update that covers five events over the next six months; yes, this is definitely becoming a thing!  There are events in Florida, Arkansas, Colorado and Vermont coming right on the heels of last month’s SOORTA gathering in Arizona.



SOORTA Bentonville

  • Apr 25-28, 2019
  • Bentonville, AR
  • Hosted by: Alex and Kim Nutt
  • RV & Camping reservations can be made by contacting the RV park directly by clicking this link! Please tell them that you are part of the SOORTA weekend group, as we have a block of sites set aside for the event. Join other Tandem Mountain Bike enthusiasts as we experience Bentonville’s many great mtb trail systems!
  • Learn more

Bike the Brek!

  • June 30- July 6, 2019
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • Hosted by: Hollansworths, Rudolphs & Judds
  • Building on the success of Pedal the Butte, teams Hollansworth, Rudolph and Judds are very pleased to announce yet another Colorado SOORTA extravaganza!
  • Learn more

SOORTA Sizzler

  • July 26-28, 2019
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Hosted by: Chris and Monica Judd
  • Ride your tandem bike on some fun (shaded) trails and hang out on a beautiful Florida beach!
  • Learn more

Stowe Vermont Labor Day Weekend

  • Aug 30 – Sept 2, 2019
  • Stowe, VT
  • Hosted by: Al and Sandy Smith
  • There are fast, flowy and technical trails. There will be rocks, roots and you will climb. BUT they are fun and the area is beautiful. This event will be two weeks before ETOR (you don’t want to miss that).
  • Learn more


Posted in Events, Off-Road Tandems, Tandem Rallies | Leave a comment

S.O.O.R.T.A. Heads To Arizona: A Guest Entry by the Rudolphs

Chris Judd, who pretty much is the engine driving the Self Organized Off-Road Tandem Adventure (aka, S.O.O.R.T.A.) movement, asked us to share a blog entry by Barbara & Glenn Rudolph (see more at their WordPress blog: Reindeer Games) that provides their account of this past weeks’ “Winter Camp” in Tucson, Arizona, hosted by our friends Mark & Laura Russell.  Here ’tis:

 Mountain Biking in Tucson, AZ

Beautiful weather and amazing trails! Glenn and I spent the last week attending a Self Organized Off Road Tandem Adventure (S.O.O.R.T.A) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1534869173484183/ event. 

Riders from New Hampshire to California converged on Tucson MLK weekend to reconnect, make new friends, and tandem mountain bike ride.

We rode the following trails: Honey Bee Canyon Loop, Fantasy Island, McKenzie Ranch, and Sweetwater. We also attempted Gabe Zimmerman Canyon over Pistol Point, but turned around approximately 3 miles in for fear we were getting in over our heads with the chunky rocks, boulders and cactus. (Routes can be found on MTB Project.)

The cactus have a way of jumping on you and sticking you if you are not on the top of your game. There is not a lot of room for error in the desert!

Looking for a place to eat? Try Saguaro Corner, just outside the entrance to Saguaro National Park or Hot Rods Old Vail.

Each day we came across local riders enjoying the trails. The Sonoran Dessert Mountain Bicyclists is also a group to contact when in the area. They were very friendly and willing to give guidance as needed.

We will definitely return to enjoy more desert riding!

Posted in Off-Road Tandems | Leave a comment

GTR 2019 in Covington…

Yes we are

Look for us on the triplet with Miss Lisa D. riding tail gunner.  Here’s hoping for better weather than the last time we headed to Covington for GTR.  But hey, it’s always a great time seeing all of the GTR regulars and meeting new folks.

The Yakima rack bits for the Tacoma’s triplet carrier just arrived today so everything is now on track.

Still deciding if we’ll be able to make it over to Pell City, Alabama, in April for the Alabama Tandem Weekend.

Other rallies high on our ‘to do’ list are the Southern Tandem Rally (of course), perhaps the Tandem East Tandem Weekend and MATES is very attractive as it would give us a chance to let Debbie see Ramsey, New Jersey, where I lived from the age of 3 to 11 years when we moved to Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Getting excited, to be sure!


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Et tu Yakima? More Designed Obsolescence or Just Keeping Up With Technology?

I bought my first Yakima Sport Rack system back in 1985 so I could carry my road and mountain bikes on top of the Brahma shell on my Mazda B2000.  It was the basic Yakima tower system attached to some bolt-on pseudo gutter mounts that I attached to the roof of the plastic (but incredibly durable and light) Brahma shell using some strategically placed wooden supports in the ribs of the shell’s roof.

Those towers were moved to the Brahma shell on the top of my ’89 Toyota SR5 X-Cab, but with the pseudo rain gutters now mounted on the sides of the shell.  Same basic, very simple tower designed to fit in the basic rain gutters found on most cars and trucks

Next up was our ’95 Toyota 4Runner.  Gone were the rain gutters for the front cross-bar so I had to purchase the newer Q-Tower, designed to work on vehicles that didn’t have rain gutters.  Well, at least for the front most rack. But, since we were hauling tandems, I also needed to buy a set of short towers that bolted to the factory roof rack.  When the ’89 Toyota was replaced with our 1998 Suburban, once again I had to buy new Yakima towers that would work with the factory roof rack, 3 pairs worth.  In fact, I believe I had to buy a new set of 10 lock cores to make all of this work. It suffices to say, we were heavily invested in Yakima hardware by this time.    Thankfully, the 2002 Suburban that replaced the 1998 Suburban used the same luggage rack design at least on the mid-span so those mounts were carried forward and remained in use through 2006.

When the 2002 Suburban was replaced by the 2006 Tacoma, there was no longer any need to carry tandems or bikes on the roof; they all could fit inside the enclosed shell.  Well, that was until 2012 when we added a triplet to the bicycle livery.  With the Triplet, roof-topping was a requirement.  Thankfully, the old Q-towers that I’d purchased for the ’95 4Runner’s front door racks could be used on the Tacoma with just the addition of the correct Q-Clip: a minor expense.  However, for the rear wheel I opted to not install a roof rack system and, instead, found these nifty suction cup devices called “Sea Suckers” that were designed for use on boats that that also worked well on cars.

After trading in the Tundra on the 2017 Tacoma I assumed a new set of Q-clips would be all I needed to move my Yakima front cross-bar from the Tundra to the Tacoma.  Well, not really.   Even though the roof and door frame of the Tacoma looked just like the Tundra in terms of fit, finish and design the Yakima Q-Towers were no longer compatible with the newer, 3rd Generation Tacoma. I suspect it may have had something to do with the strength of the Tacoma’s roof, or the lack there-of.

So, I’ve now had to order a new pair of Yakima’s Baseline towers along with the Tacoma Mounting Clip kit and a set of round bar adapters so that I can at least continue to use all of my remaining cross bars and the associated bike mounts.  Well, I say that: quite frankly, I only need the one crossbar for the triplet so I’m thinking it’s time to sell off all of the now obsolete Yakima rack components.  Yes, in keeping with my current push to rid the house and storage spaces of all unused, non-essential things I’m going to need to catalog and then put all of the various bike mounts, towers, crossbars, etc. out for sale.  I will say, I though I still had a lot of the very old, original towers, bike mounts and what not up in the attic.  But, apparently I sold the oldest racks back in 2001 after selling the ’89 Toyota truck and buying all new racks, bars, etc. for the Suburban’s.

Anyway, here’s a preview:

  • Four (4) Rail Rider 1 towers, which slide into the factory rack tracks on the earlier 4Runners; these were on a ’95 Limited
  • Six (6) Low Rider towers, which were installed on a couple Chevrolet K1500 Surburbans. Also a good fit on smaller European rails, as well as very large rails, Subaru Forester and Nissan Xterra, etc.
  • Four (4) Copperhead, fork-style mount with fork block, locking skewer (3 of 4), a wheel tray with micro-adjusting, ratcheting wheel strap that fits a wide range of tire sizes and designs.
  • Vintage Ski Rack that holds two pair of skis, with locks
  • Vintage “Basketcase” cargo basket
  • Three (3) wheel forks
  • Single Wheel Tray with retention strap
  • Two (2) spare retention straps
  • Set of 7 lock cores, all keyed the same
  • Several 48″ and 48″ cross bars.
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Posted in For Sale, Technology & Equip. | 1 Comment

Fabricating a Tandem Transportation Fixture for the Tacoma

As noted in my 31 December entry, we traded-in our 2006 Toyota Tundra / tandem hauler on a newer, smaller 2017 Toyota Tacoma long-bed pick-up back on 28 November.  To transform it into a tandem hauler would require a few things: a shell to enclose the bed, a bed liner and because the bed once enclosed isn’t quite large enough to just roll the tandem in with only the front wheel removed, I’d need to fabricate a fixture that would hold the Calfee tandem upright without any wheels such that it could be easily slid into and out of the enclosed bed.

Oh, there were a lot of other things we’d need to change to make the little Tacoma “our truck” and most of those have been completed while we waited for the long-lead item in the tandem hauler transformation — the A.R.E. Z-Series shell — to be fabricated in Mt. Eaton, Ohio, and shipped to Georgia; they included:

  • De-badging the exterior, i.e., removing brand & feature emblems from the doors and tailgate as well as the special edition decals from the back corners of the bed.
  • Replacing the stainless running boards with a set of NFab step rails.
  • Getting the front cab windows tinted to match the rear windows.
  • Swapping out the stock wheels & tires for some that were more fitting.
  • Installing special shocks to level the front & rear of the truck.
  • Swapping the stock TRD Sport grill for a “TRD Pro” model.
  • Replacing the grey cloth seat covers for black leather seat covers.

Tandem Hauler Specific Items

As for those tandem-hauler specific items, the BedRug bed liner was ordered on 29 November and delivered / installed on 4 December. An A.R.E. Z-Series shell was ordered back on 2 December from Custom Camper in Lake City, Georgia, which is where I purchased the A.R.E. Z-Series shell for the Tundra and it finally arrived last week and was installed this past Wednesday.

With the shell on the truck I could finally design and fabricate a new fixture that would hold our Calfee tandem upright with the front & rear wheels removed so it could be carried inside the now covered bed of the Tacoma, pretty much how we hauled around the Erickson in our  1989 Toyota SR5 X-Cab with its high-top/rear door Brahma shell.  However, the A.R.E. shell I bought is a low-profile Z-Series, so the fixture I used with the ’89 Toyota was too tall and I needed to come up with a lower-profile design.

I should note, since 2001 we’ve had a couple of K1500 Suburbans and the 2006 Tundra that could carry our tandems with just the front wheel removed and placed in a fork holder to keep it upright and stable, so there’s been no need for a transportation fixture.  While the Tacoma’s bed is actually an inch or two longer than the Tundra, it’s four inches more narrow so the rear wheel now needs to come off as well to get the tandem in the covered bed.

Anyway, I found the materials I needed for my new design on Thursday night and I headed out to the garage on Friday afternoon to fabricate the tandem transportation fixture.  My materials of choice were a 1″ x 4″ x 8′ piece of oak  and a few PVC plumbing fittings that I cobbled into a boom tube cradle. Back at the house I did a quick mock-up before putting the piece of oak on the chop saw.

The cradle’s base was about the only tricky part since I needed to create a recess around a center hole in a wood block that would hold a PVC plug threaded into another PVC fitting through the wood block; this was how I decided to mate the dissimilar PVC and wood materials together.  Once the block of wood was attached to the center support of the fixture, the PVC plug became hidden from view and the other fitting is where a PVC T-connector would attach to the fixture after I shaved-off the top-half of the pipe: instant boom tube cradle!


After that it was just a matter of attaching the fork mount and two cross supports to the center support so the fixture would stand upright. A wheel holder went on the left-rear half of the cross support which is where the rear wheel of the tandem goes once it’s removed. There’s a padded piece of material that goes in the cradle and a bungee cord that holds the tandem’s boom tube to the boom tube cradle and that’s it.

I may replace the bungee with some velcro straps and I need to permanently affix the padding to the boom tube cradle after sorting out the tie-downs. I may also add a second wheel holder for the front wheel just so the tandem is fully self-contained on the fixture. But, other than that, it fixture is done and it works as intended. It takes an extra minute or two to get the tandem out of the truck and ready to ride vs. just rolling it into the Tundra with only the front wheel removed, so not a huge change.

I also need to rethink how I’ll make sure the fixture doesn’t move around inside the bed. I don’t think the red bungee cord will do what I want it to.  But I’m 98% there.


As mentioned, I decided to go ahead and add a second wheel holder to the fixture so the tandem is fully self-contained when it’s on the fixture.  I also gave the white PVC a coat of black pick-up truck bed liner paint and customized a velcro carrying strap to work as the hold-down strap for the boom tube.  It’s a bit lighter weight than the previous fixture which was basically an old-style Yakima tandem mount attached to two 1/2 x 4 x 16 pieces of Oak.



And here you have it; the new tandem hauler.  The 2017 Tacoma is pretty much a scaled-down, red version of the 2006 Tundra, which says a lot about our tastes and preferences for how a truck should look.  So, once again, if you don’t see the big black Tacoma at a tandem rally, it’s because we’re in the not-as-big, but hard-to-miss Barcelona red Tacoma.

Posted in Technology & Equip. | 4 Comments

Alabama Tandem Weekend, Pell City on 11-14 April

From Jack Goertz on the ATW Facebook Page:

Announcing the location for the 2019 Alabama Tandem Weekend! – PELL CITY, ALABAMA!

Pell City is located on I-20, about 35 miles east of Birmingham and about 110 miles west of Atlanta, GA.

  • We’ve selected the Hampton Inn — Pell City, as our host hotel, and we’ve negotiated a rate of $88/night, plus tax, for our rally-attendees. This rate is good for the period beginning Thursday, April 11, 2019 through Sunday, April 14, 2019.
  • The Alabama Tandem Weekend officially runs from April 12 through April 14, but some of you may want to arrive early or stay an extra night to explore more of the region.

Book your hotel now by clicking on this link: https://secure3.hilton.com/en_US/hp/reservation/book.htm… or by calling the hotel directly @ (205) 814-3000. If calling directly, be sure to ask for the Alabama Tandem rate. Specify the rate code “ATW”!

For those wishing to camp, we recommend Lakeside Landing Marina and RV Park. Lakeside Landing is located about 7 miles south of the hotel on US231. Make your reservations directly with Lakeside Landing by calling (205) 525-5701. Tell them you’re with the Alabama Tandem Weekend.

We don’t anticipate charging a registration fee for the 2019 Alabama Tandem Weekend, but we would appreciate an e-mail (send it to Goertz @ mindspring.com – leave the spaces out), letting us know you will be attending! (Headcounts are nice to know in advance).

Stay tuned for more information as we confirm routes and our schedule for the weekend.

Posted in Tandem Folks | Leave a comment

Southern Tandem Rally, 19-22 September

We recently received this advanced notice from Eve Kofsky & Roger Strauss who will be hosting the 2019 Southern Tandem Rally on 19-22 September in Greenwood, South Carolina.  From their announcement:

For those of you who don’t know us, we have hosted the Georgia Tandem Rally twenty times.  This year, we are doing double duty, adding STR to our rally organizing schedule.
Are we just a little nuts?  Perhaps!

Join us for three days of cycling and socializing in “The Emerald City”.  Located halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta, Greenwood has been named “South Carolina’s best kept secret” by WIS television.  Come enjoy the secret wonders of Greenwood at Southern Tandem Rally 2019.

It’s early, but details are posted on the newly-redesigned STR website: www.southerntandemrally.com

Rally registration begins May 1, 2019.

Happy New Year, and we hope to see you in September in Greenwood!

Posted in Tandem Rallies | Leave a comment

Southwest Missouri Tandem Rally, 31 May – 2 June

John & Jean White from  the Tandems Of the Ozarks wrote to let us know they’ve launched their website for the 2019 Southwest Missouri Tandem Rally on 31 May through 2 June at Springfield, Missouri.  From their note:

  • We have moved on with the new year and are ready to start 2019.
  • True, we have had a few asking about this years rally….. so
  • We got the link for the hotel and we kept the same rate as last year.
    • Our host hotel is the DoubleTree by Hilton with breakfast for $99.00 a night.
  • The web site just went live…..
  • We had so much fun at last years rally and we met several new folks, we hope that your schedule will allow you to join us again this year.
  • We have some new routes for you to see, sort of south but still great riding.
  • As always we will still a few surprises for you but always fun and exciting.
  • All forms and info is now on the web site
Posted in Club & Org Notices, Tandem Rallies | 1 Comment

Hoping For Better Weather in 2019!

Well, it has certainly been a challenge to find days when the weather was conducive to cycling here in the Atlanta area. Like a lot of places here in the states, we’ve found ourselves with cooler than normal temperatures and well above average rainfall since September. No wonder so many tandem teams retire to the warmer climates in Florida, Arizona and New Mexico!

Truth be told, other than one tandem ride back on 17 November, we’ve been off the tandem since the Southern Tandem Rally in Venice, Florida, back in early October.  And, I can’t fault Debbie as the weather hasn’t been all that inviting period. I went out on my single bike on 18 November and between the weather, a six-day trip to Pennsylvania and various other commitments and distractions between Thanksgiving and New Years I was only able to get out for a ride on one other day, this past Saturday afternoon.  And, I will say, it felt great to get out but 53°F with 89% humidity during a rainy spell sure felt a lot more like 45°F.

Anyway, this is why I’m now looking to 2019 to deliver on some better weather!  We definitely want to get back to riding 100+ miles a week as we did during August and September and would like to take in at least one more tandem rally than we did in 2018.  Speaking of tandem rallies, I’ve done my best to update the our 2019 Tandem Rally & Event Listing and hope that it’s movement from the TandemLink.com to our WordPress site hasn’t bothered too many readers.  It really is a lot easier to update!  I just need to remind myself to do so. I still need to go and check on the off-road event list but, to be honest, the hottest ticket for any off-road tandem enthusiast continues to Chris & Monica Judd’s “Self Organized Off Road Tandem Adventure”  (aka.,  S.O.O.R.T.A.) Facebook Group now with nearly 300 members.  They’ve definitely found the pulse of the off-road tandem enthusiast community with the less structured, come-as-you-will events being hosted by anyone with an interest in off-road tandem cycling.  As much as I’d really enjoy heading off for these events I’m still struggling to get Debbie back on the Ventana… so don’t look for us at these events any time too soon.

As for our 2019 road tandem travel plans, they’re still taking shape.  As mentioned, we’d like to expand our personal rally calendar by at least one event in 2019.  Last year we only managed to make it to the Georgia Tandem Rally in Athens, Georgia, and the Southern Tandem Rally in Venice Florida.  So, adding perhaps the Alabama Tandem Weekend, the TandemsEast Weekend or even the MATES rally is high on our “Let’s make it Happen” list.  To that end, we now have a newer tandem hauler that should give us less pause for road trips.

Yes, we finally parted with our sometimes problematic 2006 Toyota Tundra at the end of November and replaced it with a 2017 Toyota Tacoma.  We are still waiting for the  Tacoma’s A.R.E. bed shell to be delivered and installed so that we’ll have a dry and secure place to stash our tandem when we drive to rallies, but that should be here in the next week or two.  So, if you’re used to seeing us in the big, black Toyota Tundra you won’t find us anymore.  Instead, we’ll be in the not as big, but still pretty big, red Toyota Tacoma.  The photo at right of the Tacoma is a visual study of what it might look like with the color-matched A.R.E. Z-Series shell.  So, yes… it’s similar to the Tundra, just a bit smaller and, well, red.  I’ve never owned anything but black trucks so this is was a huge leap for me.

In closing, thanks for sticking with us and being loyal readers.  As much as I enjoyed my days of participating in discussions at Tandem@Hobbes and other tandem cycling lists, I find this approach is a lot less taxing on my patience.  We certainly expanded out knowledge of tandem cycling and circle of friendships with the tandem cycling community through my participation on those lists and will forever be grateful for that.  As for the future of TheTandemLink.com, this may be its last year unless I suddenly get an urge to update my web authoring & management skills and software to breath new life into the old site.  But, regardless of what I do with that Website, I still plan to keep on blogging and will do my best to keep the tandem club listings and event calendars up to date here at my WordPress site.





Posted in Bloggishnish, Club & Org Notices, Events | Leave a comment

Wishing You All A Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

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Kiddie BSO’s… that would be Bicycle Shaped Objects.

Sadly, we’ve not been out on the tandem since late October.  Our weather has been cold and wet and nothing but cold and wet ever since.  In fact, I’ve only gotten out on my single bike once in that same time.  Pretty sure it’s time to set up a bike on the Erollers or CycleOps Fluid II.  Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m having issues with my left knee which is now showing signs of Crepitus.  I’ll try to work through it with exercise and supplements during the winter but it may need to have a look-see by a ortho.  But, that’s not what this entry is about…

No, this journal entry is all about those wonderful little kiddie bikes that parents are always compelled to buy for their little ones at Christmas as they reach the age of 4.  And, this year it was little Miss Vivian’s turn to get her 1st bicycle.

The model our son and daughter-in-law bought for Vivian was clearly selected for its non-technical features which, quite frankly, are apparently inconsequential for 3-6 year old’s 1st bicycles.  No, the really important thing is making sure you find the right Disney-licensed character theme and Vivian’s favorite Disney character is Minnie Mouse.

So, the logical choice for the 1st bicycle was Huffy’s Minnie Mouse Happy Helpers bicycle with training wheels.  I’m not sure where they bought it, but they sell for between $107 and $149 and “adult assembly” is required.  It was brought over to our house so as to keep it out of sight from Vivian and, like a good granddad, I volunteered to do the assembly as I know our son Wesley is more than swamped with work and taking care of the older girls while Julie tends to Scarlett, their 2-month old newborn.

So, here’s the deal: I have no idea how the average dad assembles one of these bicycle-shaped objects.  No, no… I didn’t buy this. It’s from Santa, i.e., our son Wesley. To his credit, there aren’t many other options out there for kiddie bikes so you go with what’s available and what you believe your child will find attractive and enticing enough to embrace.  As they get older the quality of the bike options get better such that his oldest is at least now riding a fairly good Trek. But, let’s get back to the Happy Helper, shall we?

Looking at the tape-sealed box, I immediately suspected this was a bike someone bought, took out of the box and then decided to return. Once I opened the box my suspicions looked to be about right. There was definitely evidence the bike had been pulled out of the box, but never assembled. And, had it been me who bought this particular bike, I’d have done likewise.  But, seeing it was December 22nd, trying to exchange what is likely a sold-out model was a non-starter.  So, it was now my duty to make the Happy Helper as good as it could be and that’s what I set out to do.

Given the small size of the bike, I didn’t even have a spare seat post that was small enough to let me put the bike in my workstand to assemble.  And, given how much-needed to be “worked on” to get the bike into a rideable condition, it really needed to be in the workstand. But, I made do with what I had to work with.

The clearly visible issues included:

  • A screwed-up headset that had been over-torqued when it was assembled for shipping.
  • A fork that was 2cm too wide for the front axle.
  • No grease on the headset bearings; just a splash of lightweight oil.
  • A pseudo front brake caliper that had misaligned arms and a variety of other issues rendering it useless which — given this is a coaster brake-equipped kiddie bike — is redundant.
  • A plastic purse where the plastic hinge-mounted door was now detached.

It took me about 30 minutes of wrenching, bending and adding lubricants to bearings so the Happy Helper would be “good enough” for Miss Vivian. And, relative to having the average adult doing the assembly, it took about every measure of my many years of bicycle mechanic experience and several bicycle specific tools and materials to fix this thing.

As mentioned, when the bike was assembled for shipment with the fork turned at a right angle, the headset adjusting nut had been over-torqued and the index tab on the headset washer was jammed in the threads instead of in the channel before the fixing nut was screwed on and also over-torqued.  So, job #1 was getting the fixing nut off. It was with that nut off I discovered the headset washer’s index tab was mashed into the threads on the steerer tube instead of sitting in the steerer’s index tab channel. So, I had to use a punch and plastic hammer to coax the washer’s index tab back into the channel so I could get it off the steerer tube. With the washer off, now came getting the over-torqed headset adjusting cap loose, noting it lacked wrench flats and was something intended to be hand-tightened.  With much gusto it finally budged and I was able to remove it from the steerer, albeit with a lot of binding where the index tab had buggered up the threads in the steerer as it was driven down the tube outside of the index channel.  With the headset cap removed, it was pretty clear the bearings had not been properly lubricated, only given a slash of light oil so they received a light coating of teflon bearing grease before I reassembled and adjusted the tension on the headset so the front fork could move freely without slop or binding.

Next up was the front wheel installation.  Well, the fork blade ends were at least 2cm too wide for the front axle so I had to jockey-around the tabbed washers and add a second set of washers to minimize the cold-set bend of the short and stout fork blades. Again, getting back to the average adult doing the assembly, I’m not sure they would have recognized the need to use a set of cone wrenches on each pair of nuts that hold the fork ends while also pre-loading the bearings so as not to unscrew the opposite side nuts on the axle while tightening the other side.

With the wheel now installed, the extent of the problems with the front brake became evident.  But, hey, let’s be honest: there’s no reason to have a hand lever operated front brake on a 3-6 year old’s coaster-brake equipped kiddie bike.  Yes, it looks like an adult bike with that brake added, but even once properly adjusted the darn thing won’t work because it had rock-hard plastic “brake pads” and glossy black paint on the rim’s brake track, massive brake arm deflection under load and, well, the brake lever is too big and too hard to pull for a 3-year old.  But, be that as it may, since it was on the bike I had to make sure it worked as well as it could.  To do that required using a pair of adjustable wrenches as levers so I could bend the lower brake pad mounting flange without bending the upper part of the caliper arm so the brake pad would be parallel with the rim when the brake was operated.  The brake pads were chamfered to fall flat on the rim’s angled surfaces which was, in itself, prima-facia evidence that the front wheel was never designed to work with a front caliper-operated hand brake: brake tracks need to be parallel with each other!  Again, my job was to make it all work so I pressed ahead, connecting the brake caliper to the hand lever and then spent a good couple minutes using a 14mm flat wrench (not something your average adult will have in their tool box) to align the front brake so both arms would move correctly and contact the rim surfaces at the same time while applying torque to the fixing nut on the backside of the front caliper center bolt.  So, even though it’s ineffective to the point of being useless, the front brake caliper is about as good as I can make it.

Amazingly, even the cheap plastic “purse” that was stuck on the front of the handlebars to pretty-up the bike was even screwed up.  It has a small door that pivots on two plastic, molded-in pins and son-of-a-gun if the door hadn’t popped off of those pins.  Well, let me tell you, getting that door back on those pins was no small feat.  And, I’m guessing that door will pop-off again in short order.

There were several other “nits” that needed adjusting and a few things I just let go “as is” since they’ll likely loosen up over time and the bike will not ever be used enough to wear anything out before Vivian outgrows it in a year or two.  Hell, it may even be in good enough shape for Scarlett when she turns 3!




Posted in Technology & Equip., Whimsical Or Entertaining | 6 Comments

So, We Rode the Tandem on Saturday…

It was around 2:00pm on Saturday when the temperatures finally reached the 60’s so we could head out on the tandem for a 14-mile “spin” just to test our legs, remembering it had been a month since we’d last ridden the big bike together.

It felt cool, to be sure but it also felt good to be back on the tandem.  As usual, we had more than our fair share of motorists passing far too closely than need be or at the wrong time and forcing on-coming traffic to slow to a near stop. In fact, we had one motorist who did both and in a very aggressive manner which prompted me to create a video of the encounter that I reported to the Cobb County Police.  We’ll see if anything comes of that; I’m not holding my breath.

Debbie declined my offer of an afternoon tandem ride on Sunday, but she encouraged me to go ahead and get out on one of my single bikes.  I did just that and decided I’d give the Erickson its first shake down ride after changing out the stem and saddle.

I had a bit of a false start in that, as I was riding out of our community, the back tire felt like it had a bulge in it.  Sure enough, when I stopped and checked I discovered the very old rear tire’s casing was so dried-out from age that it was coming apart and had a huge deformity.  I was able to ride back to the house without further incident, changed the rear tire with a spare and then got on my way again.

It was a good ride and the bike feels very comfortable now with the bars raised, etc.  It’s still not as comfortable to ride as the titanium or composite frames, but that’s OK too. It’s good to be reminded how nice those other materials are.

As far as any more tandem rides in the coming week, I’m not seeing it in the cards.  Today would have been a good day for a ride, but Debbie had to take care of some family business that had her away from the house from 8:00am until 2:30pm and she was worn-out when she arrived at home.  Tomorrow’s high will only be 52°F with cloudy skies so that’s not promising.  While Wednesday is looking OK with sunny skies and temps in the mid-50’s, Debbie will be getting a new crown in the afternoon which means she’ll have to spend the morning preparing appetizers and such for Thanksgiving Day.  Thursday, Thanksgiving brunch at Debbie’s mother’s home at 10:30am will have us tied up until 3:30pm, so that’s not looking all that great.  And then the temperatures drop and the rain comes in on Friday, with rain again on Saturday.  Of course, the chances that these day-by-day forecasts will hold up as the week goes along is pretty much a 50/50 bet.  So, we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Posted in Bloggishnish | 5 Comments

Is There A Tandem Ride In Our Future?! Here’s Hoping…

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly four weeks since we last rode the tandem.  The last time we were on the Calfee was for the Sunday ride at the Southern Tandem Rally in Venice Florida on 14 October.  We did the shorter of the two routes so we could get on the road for the 5-hour drive back home to Kennesaw, Georgia, as Debbie’s family lost a loved-one over the weekend and we needed to be at the day-long visitation on Monday ahead of the funeral on Tuesday.

On Wednesday we had a previously scheduled a morning meeting with our financial advisors in Atlanta and, from there, we headed down to Daytona Beach, Florida on our Harley-Davidson Road Glide for the fall version of Bike Week.  It was a much-needed distraction for Debbie as her family seems to be plagued with more than its fair share of serious health issues.  My family is not immune either, which is probably true of most folks our age as our parents, aunts & uncles and even some of our siblings begin to deal with the challenges that life throws at you, as well as the inevitable mortality issues.

If that weren’t enough, we were also under a baby watch as our youngest son and daughter-in-law were expecting their fourth daughter on or about 31 October.  Well, Miss Scarlett decided to make her appearance at 7:33am on Tuesday, 30 October so she could be home for her 1st Halloween.  As you might expect, this became something of a distraction for a few days and, at the same time, our weather here in Georgia began to remind us that it was indeed fall.  As November began so did what has been nearly 3 weeks of colder, wet and dreary weather which has definitely limited our cycling opportunities.

As mentioned in other recent blog entries, Debbie is not all that interested in getting out to ride when the temperatures are below 60°F, the exception being those days when it’s in the 50’s but with the full warmth of the sun.  Given that during the week our low-traffic riding window is between 9:30am and 1:30pm and the daily high’s aren’t achieved until mid-afternoon, there just hasn’t been any day where the temperature thresholds were met.  I’m a bit more weather resistant so on those days when it wasn’t raining I either headed out to ride the trails on a mountain bike or hit the road alone on one of my road bikes.

As for the weekend afternoons that followed, on 3 & 4 November it just never got warm enough for Debbie, but I did get in a solo road ride on Sunday.  On Monday the 5th we had our pest control technician, Larry, at the house pretty much all day doing a full-house Sentricon treatment which had us tied up. On Tuesday and Wednesday the weather was once again not all that warm and inviting so Debbie passed on the tandem and I headed out on my single road bikes for early afternoon rides and just did my best to tolerate the MV/MUP/SUV moms blasting by mere inches a way as they headed out to pick up their kids at school since no one lets their kids walk or ride a bike to school anymore.  Once again, the weather was an issue for Thursday the 8th through Saturday the 10th.

Sunday’s weather wasn’t looking too bad and the prospects for an afternoon tandem ride would have been good.  However, on Thursday our oldest son and his girlfriend of 8 years decided they’d like to get married and the impromptu ceremony was scheduled for Sunday afternoon at her grandmother’s home.

As for this past week, every day has been cold, wet and dreary to the extent that I couldn’t even find a window when the roads were ever dry so I could at least get in a solo road bike ride.  As for off-road riding, forget about it: the trails close when it rains and remain closed until they dry out.

But, there’s now a glimmer of hope ahead of us.  While tomorrow won’t likely yield temperatures that are warm enough in the morning for a tandem ride, a solo road bike ride for me is definitely in the cards.  But, looking ahead to the weekend both Saturday and Sunday afternoon’s look as though we’ll have temperatures in the lower 60’s with sunny or partly sunny skies and, to the best of my knowledge, we have nothing else planned.

So, fingers crossed, I’ll finally be able to pull the tandem down, pump up the tires and get some quality time with the lovely Miss Debbie this weekend.  We’re both in dire need of that tandem time, as cycling was always intended to be a really big part of our retirement plan, along with lots of time spent out riding the motorcycle.  As you can tell from the events and weather that has kept us off the tandem, the same has been true for the motorcycle.  So, yeah… getting out on at least the tandem this weekend is priority #1!

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The Soma Crane Stem Arrived Today

As mentioned in two recent blog entries, as I was putting my ’99 Erickson Signature single road bike back into service I discovered that I’d need to raise the handlebars as my riding position has gotten a bit more relaxed over the past 19 years.  Given the Erickson has a 1″ AME Alpha Q threadless fork that was custom painted to match the frame, doing a fork swap was not feasible. I also looked at stem risers, but they just seemed a bit too klugey once you had the riser + a stem bolted-on.

As I did my research I came across an 80mm tall Soma Crane stem with an 80mm reach & 17° rise.  These are made by Nitto for Soma, but are only offered in a 1.125″ steerer size.  However, I assumed that like most 1.125″ stems, this combination riser/stem would also work just fine with the same type of spacer used to allow the installation of 1.125″ theadless stems on 1″ fork steerers.  So, that was my plan.  My only real moment for pause came on the stem length.  My current stem was an 80mm reach model, but with the stem height being raised a full inch, I wondered if I might not need the extra 20mm of reach.  I opted to go with the 80mm length and will keep my fingers crossed that it will net out to be “close enough” to the 50cm of reach that I have on my other bikes.  Again, the most important change will be raising the handlebars ~40mm to achieve a 35mm bar drop from the top of the saddle, again… on par with my other bikes.

Well, the stem arrived today.  Sadly, it did not come with a stem cap or the M5 x 60mm preload bolt needed that runs through the stem cap to the star nut in the fork.  However, in addition to having the spacers I needed to install the 1.125″ stem on my 1″ steerer tube, I also had several spare aftermarket 1.125″ stem caps and four M5 x 60mm bolts.  The bolts are from two spare OEM Calfee eccentric’s for our Calfee tandem which were replaced by a daVinci eccentric. Having those long M5 bolts saved me from making a trip over to Ace hardware, about the only place I know of that has every bolt available ‘ala carte’ vs. having to buy more than I’d ever need at Threads for the South, an industrial fastener supply house.

The transfer of stems didn’t take long as I already had the left-hand side of the bar tape removed from the Erickson.  However, as part of the stem installation I did end up having to change out both the left-hand brake and shifter housing and cables to allow for a longer cable housing run. For some reason, the right side was just fine: go figure.  Fortunately,  the UPS guy dropped off  two boxes of Shimano bicycle brake and shifter cable housing on Monday, as I had used up pretty much every other spare length of cable housing two weeks ago.  So,  I had 130′ of brake housing and 160′ of shifter cable housing on hand which should last me for several years, perhaps a decade of bicycle maintenance.  On average, a tandem or bicycle use perhaps 5′ to 6′ of each type of housing per replacement so even I can do that math: 20+ rebuilds, or about $7.00 per rebuild, half of what it costs to buy it by the foot or in “kits”.

Anyway, below are the before and after photos.  As for accomplishing what I’d hoped, the bars were indeed raised 40mm and are now 35mm below the top of the saddle, right where I want them.  However, I did lose 20mm in bar reach with the 80mm stem.  As for the overall impression of the stem and installation, I think I like it much more than the alternatives.  The 80mm stem essentially incorporates a 40mm riser but in a seamless looking package, with an integrated neck. The fixing bolt is on the front of the stem, which is a bit unusual.  I’ve only see this on one of the other risers sold under a couple different brand names.  Again, it’s a clean-looking stem and the use of the spacer doesn’t seem to compromise the integrity of the chromoly stem in any way.


I’m going to double check my saddle set-back to see if there might be a little room for adjustment there to add-back the 20mm I lost by not using the 100mm length stem, but will otherwise just ride it this way to see how it feels.

Anyhow, here’s how the Erickson looked as originally configured in 1999 (at left) and now with the Soma stem (at right).  And yes, the Erickson is also sporting the new Bontrager Montrose Comp saddle.  Now, if the rain would just stop long enough to allow for a ride!


As a final image for comparison, below is an overlay of the before and after photos that shows the increase in bar height achieved by changing the stem.  Note that the shifter position in the after image appears to put the bars a bit further out… that’s just an optical illusion created by the bars being turned slightly to the left in the current photo.  And yes, I’ve adjusted the nose height of the saddle to be up a bit higher, consistent with the tandem and the other single bikes now that the bar height is corrected.

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Good Bikes Are Like Fine Wines…

… they’re all different and delicious in their own ways.

Sadly, I’m not able to offer some new and exciting insights on the ride qualities of a new tandem as we’ve pretty much got all the tandems we need, perhaps even one or two too many.

The Calfee continues to deliver outstanding comfort and handling, even with the short fork rake and long steering trail of the True Temper Alpha Q X2 fork.  I’ve toyed with installing a spare Reynolds Ouzo Pro Tandem fork with more rake to see if we’ve reached the point where extra straight line stability and the ability to handle a 28mm tire might be preferable to the riding-on-rails cornering of the Alpha Q and it’s max tire capacity of 25mm… perhaps next Spring?  We’ll see.

In my last blog entry I mentioned I’d be interesting in finding our 2002 Erickson Custom travel tandem but, alas, not a peep has come forth from that solicitation. And, quite frankly, that’s probably OK too.  Debbie wasn’t all that keen on returning to a steel frame after 10+ years on carbon, remembering that she instantly fell in love with the Calfee back in January 2008. She saw no need to ever ride either of our steel Erickson tandems again… which is why we ended up selling them.

However, the impetus for the subject line on this blog entry was back-to-back rides on the recently resurrected single road bikes where the titanium Dean Castanza (photo at right) suddenly emerged as the bike I enjoyed riding the most on just a regular rolling loop ride.  Yes, that means my all composite Calfee Tetra Pro came in second, with the Dedacciai Zero / Steel Erickson a distant third.

Now, to be fair, and as noted in my previous blog entry on the single road bikes, the Erickson wasn’t fully sorted out when I first rode it and I hadn’t even ridden the Dean when I wrote that blog.

Since then I’ve ordered  a taller stem for the Erickson — an 80mm tall Soma Crane model — that should raise the handlebars a net of 35mm.  That will put it on par with the Dean and the Calfee in terms of riding position.  I’m guessing the reward shift of CG and more upright posture will yield some positive changes in riding efficiency and comfort.  The current, stock riding position with the handlebars 40mm below my saddle height is just too aggressive for my near 60-year old body.

Now, if the weather would just cooperate!  The colder temps have caused the tandem to be sidelined since late October as Debbie is not fond of riding below the 60°F mark and I’ve been rained out of solo bike rides for over a week thus far and.  While it’s nothing compared to the long-term disruptions in life that folks who have been impacted by Hurricane’s Florence & Michael are still enduring — never mind the folks now being impacted by wild fires in California and more recent flooding from just seasonal, non-tropical storms — riding on a near daily basis was a major part of my retirement plan so I’m struggling with that a bit.

Now, in terms of the other tandems I alluded to, I’m still not getting a sense that Debbie’s all that interested in getting back on the off-road tandem for trail riding.  I’ll take a run at it again next year, but I’ve deferred any further work on the Ventana — it’s about due for seal replacements — until we get out for at least 4 rides. Otherwise, I’m just wasting money on servicing a fork the next owner may not care about.  Yes, next owner.  It really makes no sense to hold onto a tandem that’s not going to be ridden, especially one like a full-suspension tandem where things like seals and fluids don’t last forever. 

That leaves the triplet which may also be a bit in doubt.  When we first bought it the idea was we’d have it available for the three or four big rallies we always attend here in the Southeast where one of two or three gal-friends has usually been available to “stoke” the triplet.  But, I sense there may be a shift in guest stoker availability and, unless our granddaughter Caroline decides she’d like to ride with the grandparents, it too will just collect dust.  So, it may be short-lived as well.

Oh, it’s so hard to part with the bicycles!!  Guess that’s why we still have 12-13 of the things here at the house.  Like I said, good bicycles are like fine wines, they warrant collecting so that you can savor their individual and unique characteristics every now and again.



Posted in Technology & Equip. | 1 Comment

Helmet Mirror’s & Moisture Damage

Sadly, I lost the photos of the two mirrors with the moisture damage in evidence and will likely have a hard time properly describing what occurred.  However, I’ll do my best…

It was in early August and the day after Debbie and I had been out for a 35-mile ride on a very hot and humid day that I first noticed the mirror on her Hubbub Cycling mirror didn’t look quite right.  Instead of being fully reflective it had taken on a copper-colored hue around the edges with a large, hazy blob covering the middle of the mirror.  It appeared as though something that had compromised the silver coating on the mirror such that the copper backing was showing through the otherwise clear glass.

When I went to get the mirror off of my own helmet to put on Debbie’s, son-of-a-gun if its perimeter didn’t have the same, sudden loss of silver uniformly around the edge of the mirror.

I ended up applying heat to the mirror / mirror housing to encourage the adhesive holding the mirror in place to release so I could get the mirror out of the housing to examine the backside of the mirror.  Sure enough, on one mirror the glass and silver coating had de-bonded from the copper backing which was still adhered to the grey plastic mirror housing.  On the other, the mirror released with the remaining silver / copper backing attached.

After considering my options, I decided I’d take a shot at fixing the mirrors as we really like their large, well-placed mirror design.  Given that one of the mirrors lost all of its silver-covered copper backing, whereas the other only lost a thin strip of the silver and copper around the perimeter, I ended up using two different repair methods.

  1. Mirror Effect Paint:  On the one mirror that had lost all of it’s copper and silver backing, after doing a little cleaning with a solvent I essentially had a clear piece of glass in my hand instead of a mirror.  I’d seen a can of “Mirror Effect” paint at the home store when I was picking up some touch-up paint for an appliance and figured I’d see how well that would work on something like a functional mirror vs. just a decorative item.  The final result is visible in the mirror to the right in the photo below.  Yes, it did in fact turn the piece of glass back into a mirror; however, the reflected image was not of good optical quality. In fact, it was very hazy with some spotting.  I made several attempts at coating the glass with the paint, cleaning off the prior coat with solvent between each attempt and it always came out the same regardless of technique used, e.g., many light coats vs. thick coats, air dry vs. heated dry, etc.  So, the paint approach was not going to work well on that particular mirror.  However, it worked well-enough that I was able to use it on the other mirror with the loss of silver around the perimeter.  No, the optical quality wasn’t great, but since it was only around the perimeter it was good enough and returned the mirror to service once the glass reinstalled in the plastic mirror frame.  It’s the mirror in the middle of the photo below.
  2. Making a New Mirror:  For the other mirror where the Mirror Effect paint didn’t delivery the desired optical qualities I went to the auto parts store and purchased a small piece of replacement mirror glass.  It wasn’t as thick as I would have liked, but if I could score and snap it with relatively clean breaks I believed I’d be able to get the complex, 7-sided mirror I needed to fit back in the plastic frame.  I had enough mirror material to make 3 attempts and my second attempt proved to be “good enough” to return the mirror to service.  As feared, the small size of the mirror needed in combination with the cheap, thin-glass used for the replacement mirror did not break as cleanly as a thicker, better-quality piece of mirrored glass would have.  It’s the mirror at the left in the photo below.

So, all told, I spent $7.00 for the Mirror Effect paint and $8.00 for the auto replacement mirror and returned both of my 7-year old, $29 Hubbub Mirrors to service.  I was good with that as we’re very happy with the Hubbub mirrors and haven’t found any that we’d be willing to replace them with as most use a much smaller, round or rectangular piece of mirrored glass vs. the large heptagonal Hubbub mirror glass.

Posted in Technology & Equip. | 6 Comments

Getting Back into Bicycles: A Busy Week in the Garage

As the temperature dropped into the 30’s and 40’s in the morning, Debbie’s enthusiasm for getting out on the tandem 3 times a week for 35-mile loop rides from the house quickly faded.  She’s more or less uninterested in riding unless the temps are above 60, or in the 50’s with the sun warmth in full effect.

Therefore, this change in my retirement cycling regime required an adjustment on my part.  So, it was on this past Monday afternoon that I took my Dean Scout, hardtail mountain bike over to the local trails for a nice 10-mile ride.  It felt really good to be back on the trails.  Sadly, a significant portion of the local trails (Areas A, E & D on the map at right) will close on 1 November through 31 December for bow hunting season.  Thankfully, they’ve adjusted the trail closings a bit over the past two years such that one set of loops located in the “C” areas bordered by subdivisions are off-limits to hunters and open for cycling, hikers, runners, etc. So, I will definitely be taking advantage of those trails during November and December as time and weather permit.  And, I’ll also be heading out on my single road bike and, when we get those occasional sunny 50°F days you can bet that I’ll be checking to see if Debbie is up for a tandem ride.

Anyway, during my ride on Monday I realized my late 1990’s Dean mountain bike needed some mechanical attention as the rear wheel was a bit out of true and I also realized the tubeless tire never full-seated on the tubeless tire rim, noting that I’m using them with tubes: yes, I’m a cycling troglodyte.  It was also a filthy mess after several rides and in need of a wash.  It didn’t take me too long to attend to those things and it gave me the motivation I needed to clean our tandem, which was still carrying a lot of road grime from our 120 miles of riding in Florida, my Ventana F/S mountain bike and my Calfee road bike… all of which were quite dirty.  I used to be really good about keeping all of my bicycle’s spotless; hmmm.  Maybe I have shifted too far to the other end of periodic maintenance.

After getting the bikes I ride most often cleaned-up I was definitely back in the bicycle mechanic groove.  This was a good thing as I was way behind on a few things, like rebuilding a broken Campy Chorus shifter that came off of Debbie’s Calfee single bike over a year ago.  My quick fix for her bike was to use a spare Campy Record shifter.

Her broken shifter and the replacement parts for it have been sitting on my workbench but without a pressing need to fix the thing I’ve just let it sit.   So, on Tuesday morning the rebuild went really well and the Campy Record shifter went back into the box with the left-hand shifter for future use.  I should switch it back out with the one on her Calfee, but I know she won’t like the very stiff shifter movement that comes right after a rebuild so at some point I’ll get it switched-out.

With that rebuild out of the way I remembered that my Dean single bike sitting on the stationary trainer upstairs in the exercise room adjacent to our master suite also had a Campy shifter with worn springs that needed to be replaced.

So, I brought that bike down to the garage and started working on it Tuesday afternoon.  I was moving right along until I went to re-assemble the shifter and ran into problems with one of the springs.  I’m not sure why the little return spring (item F in the photo above) just didn’t want to compress the way it should have, but after fighting with it for well over an hour — it should have taken 2 minutes — I gave up and ordered a new one.  Good grief, $8.00 for a little spring that probably cost $.05 to make.  Oh well, when you must have it, you must have it.  So, the bike would just sit in the work stand until the parts arrive sometime next week.

I found myself on something of a roll and with the Dean project now stalled I was eager to take on something else bicycle related.  I’d thought about building up a 1998 Bianchi Mega Exo / Team Mercatone Uno Tour de France replica frame that I’ve had hanging in a closet for well over a decade.  But, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money building up a set of wheels for it as that was the one thing I didn’t have sitting around with the right hubs as I probably would ride it once and then it would sit for another 10 years.  After all, I had the aforementioned Dean road bike sitting upstairs getting very little use and my purple and white 1999 Erickson that still needed some attention. Ah hah, that would be my next project!

The one issue I had with the Erickson was the handlebars. The Erickson was built-up with the Campy Centaur compact triple group from Debbie’s now retired Ritchey Road Logic bike which is now hanging next to the Bianchi in my upstairs office closet.


The problem I ran into but never addressed were the 38 cm wide handlebars, which were about 4 cm too narrow for me.  Sadly, I just didn’t have any spare 42 cm wide drop bars sitting around and it didn’t seem worth pursuing as I was still working and not riding single bikes all that much. However, now that I find I’ll be riding alone during the winter months I had the motivation I needed so on Tuesday night I ordered an attractively-priced set of Deda Elementi / Tre Speciale bars for it. My plan is to use the Erickson with the 50/40/30 triple crankset and 13x29t cassette for climbing Kennesaw Mountain at least once a week over the winter.  I’ve done it on my Calfee, but the 12% grades were a grind with the 50/36 compact drive and 13x26t cassette on the Calfee.

On Wednesday — and while waiting for the parts I needed to finish the Dean and Erickson — I began working my way through the two cabinets in the garage that hold most of my cycling parts and tools.  I’d organized everything back in April 2009, but there was a lot “stuff” in those cabinets that was just too old and/or worn to be of use to me that either needed to go up on ebay or out with the recycling/trash.  Amazingly, it took me the better part of Wednesday intermixed with some other errands to go through about half of the “stuff” in just one of the cabinets. On Thursday morning I resumed sorting through all of my cycling parts, tools, etc.

I found it interesting as I went through the cabinets how many times I’d look at something and ask myself, “Do I really need to keep this?”  I’d put it in the discard container, then pull it back out of the discard container and either set it aside as a potential keeper, move it to a growing stack of potential ebay items, or finally just put it back in the discard container.  I truly am a pack rat when it comes to certain things, but ultimately a LOT of stuff went in the discard container, e.g., 20-year old two-way radios that still worked but where the rubber and plastic parts were crumbling, worn-out chain rings, cheap bottom brackets that had long-ago been replaced by good ones, partially worn shifter cables that I held onto for possible reuse, etc.  In the ebay stack were older components that I have no use for, but by-golly I’ll bet there’s someone out there looking for that exact part!  Well, maybe…  I’ll list them once for nominal listing fee and ask for $5.00 shipping and handling and if someone wants to pay $5 for something, I’ll break even and feel better for not sending a potentially classic cycling component to the smelter.

Thursday’s mail arrived around 10:00am and in it were the parts I needed to finish rebuilding the shifter on the Dean road bike. After making sufficient progress on my cycling cabinet project I was able to spend a few minutes later in the afternoon re-assembling the shifter with a new spring carrier, indexing springs and the return spring.  Now, all I needed was for the rain to stop so I could go and ride.

When I woke up on Friday I’d expected the rain to be gone so I could get out and ride the Dean; however, the soggy weather stayed with us well past noon.  After doing some other things on my to-do list in the morning I headed back out to the garage to sort through a couple more drawers in the second cabinet then turned my attention back to the Dean sitting up against my cycling work bench.

Having now mentally cataloged all of the extra bicycle parts I had on hand I decided to change-out the all-alloy Campy Chorus crankset for a Campy Chorus carbon crankset that was sitting unused as they’d just look better on the bike with their dark grey/black carbon crank arms. Both sets used conventional 53/39 gearing so no change there.  It will be interesting to ride this bike with its conventional crank gearing and the 12×25 cassette vs. the Calfee with its 50/36 and 13×26 cassette.  As it sits it weighs 19.3 lbs with its somewhat heavy Mavic Cosmic wheelset, 1.3 lbs heavier than the 18.0 lb Calfee Tetra Pro.


Of course, one thing leads to another and as I worked on the bike I realized I really needed to change out the rear derailleur’s shifter housing and cable to eliminate some binding.  So, as usual, a 15-minute task — changing the cranks — turned into an hour-long project.  In fact, it was just long enough for Friday’s mail to arrive which included the new set of handlebars Erickson which I honestly didn’t expect to see until next week.

Like the Dean project, the Erickson handlebar replacement turned into a cable and housing update, remembering the Erickson was built-up from components I removed from Debbie’s Ritchey Road Logic after I upgraded her to a Calfee Luna several years back.  I was able to get the Erickson all sorted-out and everything works.

 However, I discovered I need to figure out how to raise the handlebars without replacing the fork and it really needs a new saddle: the one on it is worn-out and falling apart after 20 years and a few thousand miles of riding between 1999 and 2005.  So, a new saddle is coming along with an 80mm tall Soma Crane stem with an 80mm reach & 17° rise that ‘should’ yield the 30mm to 40mm higher handlebar position I need for my more mature riding posture.  With that improved riding position and the 50/40/30 cranks with a 13x29t rear cassette I should be all set for Kennesaw Mountain.  At 20.6 lbs as it sits, it’s the heaviest of the three solo road bikes, a full 2.6 lbs heavier than the Calfee at 18.0 lbs.

I rode the Erickson on our short loop from the house on Saturday and the Calfee on the same loop Sunday just to so some back-to-back comparison riding.  The Erickson definitely gets top marks for handling, but the Calfee still takes top honors for comfort, acceleration and planing. Its truly a sublime ride.  Now, to be fair, my riding position on the Erickson was far too aggressive for an apples-to-apples comparison.  Years ago, both the Calfee and the Dean were set up with the handlebars a good 3.0cm lower than they are today. Gotta love that about threaded steerers and quill stems: lots of adjustability without using spacers, different stems, etc.

I hope to get out on the Dean Monday if the weather will permit.  After that I’ll be consumed by a small repair project in the garage after discovering a small termite problem earlier this week.  All I’ll say is, it could have been worse. Ugg.  We have our pest control guy coming out tomorrow to do a refresh on the Sentricon system around our house. Somehow we decided not to have it updated back in 2014 and now I’m regretting that. Hopefully he won’t find any other evidence of infestations. But I digress….

As to why I have all three of these bikes?  The year 2005 is when the Erickson was replaced as my every-day bicycle by the 1998 Dean, which was in turn replaced by the 1997 Calfee in 2007.  In the past I’d sell off my old bikes when I bought a new one and I’ve lived to regret.  I had several Raleigh’s from the early 80’s that were really quite nice: a Grand Prix, a Prestige and a Custom.  I also sent a really nice early 90’s Trek 2300 off to a new home. And then there are the tandems; the ’98 Cannondale MT3000 and both Erickson tandems.  In fact,I know where the 1998 Erickson is and I’m good with that one having stayed “in the family” so to speak.  However, I’d love to find our 2002 Erickson travel tandem and, if it’s not being used, buy it back so we’d have a “spare” tandem and, well, because it was really a very nice riding tandem, perhaps even a bit better handling than the 1998 model.

So, if anyone has seen this white to carbon grey fade 2002 Erickson Custom travel tandem that we sold to a couple from Kentucky back in the fall of 2007, please let us know!!



Posted in Technology & Equip. | 2 Comments

Southern Tandem Rally – Hosts Still Needed for 2019

The following is a note from Jack Goertz, Co-Founder of the Southern Tandem Rally

Calling All Tandem Teams!

This year, STR celebrated its 40th year of tandem rallies hosted across the Southeastern United States.   Forty years is quite an accomplishment for our small tandem community.  It’s longevity is a direct result of the many volunteers who have worked to bring this rally to their neighborhoods.  I want to thank you if you have organized or assisted in organizing one (or more) STR rallies over the past forty years!

Why am I writing this?  As of November 1, 2018,  the 2019 Southern Tandem Rally has no hosts! Without a host team, there will not be a 41st Annual Rally!

If you’ve ever thought that perhaps some day you might consider hosting, today is the day!  Talk to your Captain/Stoker!  Talk to your friends!  Reach out to Steve and Debi Katzman, our hosts from this year.   Ask Steve and Debi how much fun they had hosting and what’s involved.  (You can reach them at skatzman@live.com.)

Susan and I are also available to help!   Contact us so we can answer your questions about what it takes to host a rally.  We have coordinated these events since the late 1970’s and we are happy to help you with “your” Southern Tandem Rally. We can help with budgeting, planning, answering your questions, etc.  Southern Tandem Rally has seed money, so you should have no out-of-pocket costs while you’re waiting for registrations to roll in!

Finally, don’t think you are limited to volunteering to host 2019! We’re also looking for hosts for 2020 and beyond!

Don’t wait expecting someone else to volunteer.  If you have questions or think you might be interested, please contact me today at goertz@mindspring.com.

2019 will be here before you know it!

Thank you!

Jack Goertz
Co-Founder of the Southern Tandem Rally

Posted in Tandem Rallies | Leave a comment

Southern Tandem Rally 2018: Venice, Florida


Unlike previous Southern Tandem Rallies (STR), this year Debbie and I would be on the tandem instead of the triplet with our friend Lisa.  Given STR was being held in Venice, Florida, making it the furthest we’ve ever travelled for a Southern Tandem Rally, not having Lisa along was both a good thing and a bad thing.  It was a good thing because the logistics would have been a bit complicated, but it was a bad thing because we do enjoy riding with Lisa and the dead-flat roads around Venice, Florida, would have been a place where the triplet would have ‘owned the road’ unconstrained by elevation changes.

However, even with the somewhat simplified logistics, we had a lot on our plate we needed to attend to before we headed off on Thursday for the 550-mile drive:

  • At the top of the list were some pressing family matters that were weighing heavily on Debbie’s mind and that could require us to either cancel or cut our trip to Venice, Florida, short.
  • We had a massive hurricane heading into the Gulf that was expected to wreak havoc along the Gulf Coast and then move through other parts of Florida and Georgia which could also cause a change in plans.
  • Our “tandem hauler” was having more suspension issues and needed to go into the shop for repairs before the trip and, fingers crossed, those repairs and the replacement of a sensor that I had on order would enable us to have a reliable vehicle for the trip.
  • Our tandem still had an unresolved issue that was either something serious or simply an annoying nit.
  • And there were half a dozen other balls in the air as well.

It suffices to say, we had a very busy few days ahead of us before making the long drive.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I was still working!  Anyway, by the end of day Wednesday, we were still planning on making the drive down to Venice, Florida for the Southern Tandem Rally; this assumed: (1) Debbie’s family had a some issues under control and there wasn’t anything else Debbie could do to help, (2) Interstate I-75 through Georgia was still open following Hurricane Michael’s passing, and (3) Venice, Florida remained unaffected by the hurricane.


I had a sleepless night, as I always do before any trip: why is that?  I finally gave up attempting to sleep around 5:00am and came down to work on my weekly journal and access at the damage from Hurricane Michael as well as the plunge in markets on Wednesday.

After confirming there weren’t any major obstacles to making our trip, we began our 550-mile / 8-hour drive down to Venice, Florida around 11:00am and it was an uneventful drive, for the most part.

We made a short stop for lunch at a Subway in Unadilla, Georgia, where there was some visible wind damage, mostly to signage. We saw a lot of wind damage around Cordelle, Georgia, and multiple caravans of utility and Emergency Response Team vehicles headed north on I-75.  The electronic message boards warned of I-10 begin closed West of Tallahassee, Florida, but the rest of the drive didn’t suggest there had been devastating damage just 150 to 200 miles away.

We arrived at Hotel Venezia around 7:00pm, checked-in and then visited a bit with other guests at the hotel bar where a social hour was in full swing. We didn’t stay too long noting it had been a tough day for Debbie as she was monitoring the situation with her family back home and it was not good news; a family member passed later that night.

Sadly, on a night when we were both in need of some rest, our room was next door to a couple from a wedding party who came “home” at 11:30pm pretty much drunk out of their minds. The room walls were paper-thin and allowed just about every noise above a whisper to pass into our room. We called the front desk and alerted them to the problem and even the hotel staff was unable to get them to quiet down. The loud voices and outbursts went on until 1:00am, and began again around 3:00am.  It was not the restful sleep we both needed.


Following our fitful night, we go ourselves up around 7:20am which didn’t give us a lot of time to get breakfast and be ready to ride by the 8:15am rider’s meeting. However, we did our best and made it to the ride start on time.  However, before heading out we let the hotel staff know we’d need to change rooms if the same couple would be spending the night in the room next to us on Friday. They said no problem; we’d sort it out after we returned from our ride.

We headed out on the 50-mile route well-back in the pack and quickly found ourselves with three strong teams: Paul M. & Jennifer K. from New York, Peter & Karin D. from New Jersey and Michael & Nancy G. from Florida.  However, as we headed north on a 6-mile multi-use path cruising along at 22 mph we realized we’d eventually have to fall off the pace of the three couples we were riding with who were clearly stronger cyclists than we are. Moreover, we knew we had friends not too far behind so we fell off from the faster group and eventually fell-in with our friends to finish up the 50-mile route.  Our group of seven included long-time friends & GTR co-directors Roger S. & Eve K from Georgia, Reg & Michelle U from Florida, Earle & Laura R. from Florida, Walt & Kathy C. from Texas, Jeff & Judy C. from Illinois and Thompson & Susan M. from Florida (photo below by Steve K., using Eve K’s camera).

It was a good day on the bike for us, but we do struggle with the dead flat riding vs. our rolling hills back at home: somehow, we find the rolling terrain to be more enjoyable and less fatiguing.

Back at the hotel we checked in with the staff who began working on the room swap while we grabbed showers and then headed to the hotel bar for lunch.  The prime rib wrap and Caesar salad was perfect!  If only we had a view of the Gulf!  Perhaps we’ll be able to swing that for dinner.

After lunch we were given our new room keys and moved our belongings to the much more remote room with just one common wall to another room: it immediately felt more relaxing as soon as we entered the room.  Debbie stayed behind to relax while I headed out to the pool to get some sun and work on the journals.

Around 4:30pm we headed off to find Fins at Sharky’s a restaurant and bar adjacent to the South Venice Pier and on the Gulf so we could get in some coastline therapy.  Fins was perfect!  We didn’t get to sit at the bar, but our server at the 2nd floor outdoor lounge was awesome and right on top of things.  We enjoyed our cocktails with a wonderful view of the Gulf and ended up having a very light but elegant dinner from their appetizer menu: Oysters Rockefeller and a small serving of hand cut Waygu beef seared at our table on a Hot Stone.


It was a much-needed, very relaxing and luxurious afternoon topped-off with a lovely sunset.  And, well, the market came back a bit, so that was good news too!

We headed back to the hotel after our sunset and joined the rest of the rally goers for the ice cream social before heading on to bed. Thankfully it was a quiet night for us. Even still, we both didn’t sleep as well as we’d hoped.


We got ourselves up a little after 7:00am and headed down to breakfast, noting we’d need to leave the hotel around 8:15am for the short drive to today’s ride start… at Sharky’s.

I did a little investigating on the tandem before the ride and finally found what I believe was the source of the creaking: the lockring on the cassette. It appeared to be a hairline crack so I swapped it out with another lockring from a spare cassette and sure enough, the creaking noise was gone on Saturday’s ride!

We started out the ride (photo at left by Eve K) thinking we’d be doing the 60-mile route, but about mid-ride decided to join the other 6 or 7 teams in our group from Friday and do the 42-mile route instead: it was the right call for several reasons.

We really enjoyed being out with several other teams for the past two day’s rides, as opposed to getting out too fast too early and finding ourselves riding alone at large rallies.  It would have been the perfect rally for the triplet, had our friend Lisa been able to attend. Alas, that was not the case.  But, still… it has been a really nice event.  And Saturday’s ride through the Canopy Drive and along the coast was delightful, the sag stop was at just the right place and the lunch back at Sharky’s may have been one of the top-five we’ve ever had at a rally: it was very simple with burgers, pulled-pork, salads and soft drinks.

As mentioned, the 42-mile ride was the right call as we weren’t so worn out by the dead-flat riding and hot sun and, well, one of the two rails on my saddle failed just after we took the turn at the 42/62-mile route splitting point.  After a quick check I decided I could ride the final 7 miles with the broken saddle by sitting on the nose. But, I’d have to stop at a local bike shop and buy a new saddle for Sunday’s ride, that was for sure.

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the hotel bar after making a stop at the local bike shop so I could pick up a new saddle to replace the one that broke on the ride.  After getting cleaned up and replacing the broken saddle we parked ourselves at the hotel bar to relax and watch college football until it was time to get ready for the Saturday night banquet.  We ended up sharing a table with Art & Deborah T., from Wisconsin whom we’d met at the hotel bar on Friday night and Venice Florida locals Randy & Nancy Hurley.  Sadly, I’m drawing a blank on the other couple whom we met at our table, but we had a great time and hopefully I didn’t run my mouth too much as I seemed to be in a very chatty mood.


Given that Debbie really needed to get home as early as possible on Sunday as she needed to check in with family on the final arrangements for her family member’s viewing on Monday and funeral on Tuesday.  With that in mind, we opted to ride the short, 21-mile route vs. the 31-mile route that most of our friends would be riding.

We had a great start to the ride, spending the majority of our time riding and chatting with long-time friends Greg & Angela K. from Florida.  In fact, we were so engrossed in our discussions that the the turn-off point for the 31-mile riders caught us by surprise.  Sadly, we never really finished our conversation, so we’ll have to catch up with them somewhere else in the not too distant future to do that.

Anyway, now that we were clearly on the 21-mile route we sprinted ahead to make quick work of the ride and found ourselves riding with Paul, Jennifer, Peter & Karin again, just as we had on Friday.  We stayed with them for several miles but Debbie finally said “enough, it’s time to back off” and we parted company about 1/3 of the way through the ride.  We finished up the ride by ourselves and were back at the hotel just before 10:00am.  We had ourselves cleaned-up, packed and on the road by 10:30am for the 8-hour return drive to Atlanta.

The drive home was almost uneventful, if you can ever call driving along side Floridian’s uneventful: I swear, they’re some of the worst interstate drivers we’ve ever encountered. Regardless, we lost a good 30 minutes sitting in a traffic jam about 3-miles south of the I-75 / Florida tollway interchange were apparently a couple of drivers got together.  However, once clear of that it was relatively smooth sailing. We did our best to stay connected to the NFL games via local radio stations and finally arrived back in our neck of the woods around 6:40pm, stopping at Loco Willy’s to have some dinner before heading home.

It was a good trip, and in some respects, a much-needed distraction for Debbie. We’ll have a couple very busy and emotionally draining days at home with Debbie’s family member’s viewing on Monday and funeral on Tuesday before meeting with our financial advisors on Wednesday and then heading to Daytona Beach, Florida early on Thursday morning on our Harley for the fall motorcycle rally through Sunday.

Posted in Tandem Rallies | 5 Comments

The Loco’s Loop: Our Tandem Club of Georgia September Ride

Note: We’re still waiting on the official ride report to be posted at the ‘PEACHES’ WordPress site, as it should have some missing names and both pre-ride and lunch time group photos that I’ll poach and add to this report.

This past Saturday Debbie and I hosted the monthly Tandem Club of Georgia group ride.

Unlike a lot of the monthly club rides that venture out into more rural areas, we took a chance and plotted a more suburban route so we could have lunch at Loco Willy’s.  I did my best to plan a route that would hopefully having us riding the opposite direction of morning traffic on the major roads, or at least on roads where cyclists are ever-present road users.All told, we had five couples on hand when we convened the pre-ride meeting at 9:00am; they included Paul & Jody, Rich & Holly, John & Mitzi, Luis & Lilyana. and of course Debbie & yours truly.

After a turn-filled first few miles through one of Marietta’s modest bedroom community communities, we made our way onto the busier roads around Kennesaw National Battlefield Park and then further out into West Cobb County.

We spent the entire ride with John & Mitzi and Luis & Lilyana. on the 36-mile route.  Traffic was a lot heavier than we expected, but the combination of calming lanes, wide shoulders and tolerant drivers gave us a relatively drama-free ride without any close-calls or obnoxious motorists.

We were able to share what I call “The Perfect Road” with our riding companions, one of the few remaining roads that is reminiscent of what West Cobb was like when we first moved there in 1993, i.e.,modest homes on large lots with lovely roads and light traffic.

Paul & Jody opted to ride the shorter, 28-mile loop and reported having a good ride with just one motorist who offered a honk of the horn.  Rich & Holly ended up cutting their ride short and heading home after starting off with a mechanical (tire blow-out) and a navigation error.  To be fair, we used the Ride with GPS tool to create the route maps but the tool would not let me override the use of bike paths or “suggested riding patterns” which created some issues with the GPS maps.  We advised folks to defer to the cue sheets, as I knew those were accurate since they were pretty much hand-built to eliminate the GPS errors.

We had one other couple –Bob & Christi who live a stone’s throw from Loco Willy’s — join us for lunch, noting that Bob recently had a shunt while riding his single bike that left him with his left arm in a sling.  They arrived when Loco’s opened at 11:30am and secured the long table that easily seats 10-12.

Sadly, Rich & Holly headed home early after their issue-shortened ride and our new friends, Luis & Lilyana. also had to leave right after the ride as their son was headed “home” from Georgia State for the weekend to visit.

I think everyone had a good time and enjoyed their meals at Loco’s.  We’ve never been disappointed by the food in our many visits, so we were pretty sure everyone could find something that was to their tastes.  We’ll not repeat this ride in the future given all of the urban encroachment, but I’m glad we did it.  We’ll likely resume our original habit of hosting rides from our home which will keep us off of major roads and give us some other route options further out in West Cobb and East Paulding County.

Posted in Club & Org Notices, Events | Leave a comment

Chris Judd’s S.O.O.R.T.A. Update for September

SOORTA (Self Organized Off Road Tandem Adventure) MTB Tandem Event Update.

Big Bear SOORTA organizers Janet-Shaun Devlin getting big air!

Next up!

ETOR 2018!

Just announced!

ETOR 2019 date and location has been announced!

MTB Tandem rally and meetup list:

Fall 2018

ETOR | Allegrippis Trails at Lake Raystown, PA. | Oct 4th-7th 2018 | http://bit.ly/2EHmzT5
Hosted by: Larry & Brenda Isherwood
Level: Intermediate
ETOR is always a great and well attended event.  This year it goes to Allegrippis Trails at Lake Raystown in PA.  MTB Tandems will be there to rent and demo bikes!

FART Rally | Allegany State Park (NY) | Oct 5th-8th 2018 http://fartmtb.org/FART/Welcome.html
Hosted by: Brian and Karen Managan | 585-754-3908 | frosty_dog@mac.com

SOORTA Santos Prep! | Ocala, FL | Nov 2nd – 4th | Facebook Link
Hosted by: Chris & Monica Judd | clj2289@gmail.com
Level: Easy to Intermediate
Monica and I are going to go to Santos to prep for SOORTA Santos 2019. We’re going to ride the trails west of Ross Prairie, the epic route and some of the vortex. Mostly we’re going to be figuring out the ride routes and pre-riding them well in advance of the actual event. We’d love to have you join us on this trip.

Winter 2019

2019 SOORTA Tucson-MLK Weekend | Tucson, AZ. | January 18th-21st, 2019 | Facebook Link
Hosted by: Mark and Laura Russell
Join us for another great weekend of MTB Tandem riding. January weather in Tucson is routinely outstanding….highs in the upper 60’s/low 70’s, blue skies, and little wind. If your schedule permits, come the week before and enjoy an extended vacation, and bring your road tandem as well! Laura and I would love to show everyone all the great cycling Tucson has to offer.

Spring 2019

SOORTA Santos 2019 | Ocala, Fl. | March 1st-3rd, 2019 | Facebook Link
Hosted by: Chris & Monica Judd | clj2289@gmail.com
Level: Easy to Intermediate
This will be our third SOORTA Santos event. Book your campsite starting on April 3rd for the Santos Campground.  We recommend booking Feb 28 – March 3rd). We will ride at the Santos trail system for all three days, starting with Friday (Friday ride TBD). Saturday’s ride will along the mostly easy Santos Epic route and have good options for 25, 35 and 45 miles rides. MTB Tandems will be there to rent and demo bikes! Call MTB Tandems to reserve a bike to demo!

Summer 2019

SOORTA: Bike the Brek! | Breckenridge, CO | June 30 – July 6 | Facebook Link
Hosted by: Hollansworths, Rudolphs & Judds
2019 “Bike the Brek” will feature 7 days of singletrack routes featuring Summit County’s best trails. Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, Keystone and Silverthorne are home to some of the most acclaimed trail systems in the country — 37 trails in all!

Fall 2019

ETOR 2019 @ Kingdom Trails! | East Burke, Vermont | Sept  12 – 15 | Facebook Link
Hosted by: Larry & Brenda Isherwood
We will ride for four days at Kingdom Trails. They have over 100 miles of well marked trails for all skill levels and it has been voted as the BEST trail system in VT many times and is a mountain bikers must do bucket list trail system! There are many different types of trails from easy to difficult to some with fun features to ride on. They also have a downhill trail system on Burke Mountain that we may ride one day.

Pictures of SOORTA Ascutney!

SOORTA Ascutney event organizers Al and Sandy Smith

Larry and Brenda at SOORTA Ascutney

Abram and Leigh with their handcrafted SOORTA Ascutney t-shirts!



Carl and Ayako at SOORTA Ascutney

The crew  at SOORTA Ascutney

Posted in Events, Off-Road Tandems | Leave a comment

Playing in the Dirt… Finally!

The last time I was out in the woods was mid-April.  Boy, did it feel good to be back on the trails!   Now, if I can only figure out how to get Miss Debbie back out on the Ventana!

Posted in Bloggishnish | 1 Comment

Oh, That’s Right: You Can’t Break & Reconnect 10 Speed Chains

As mentioned, with our far more frequent and longer rides on the tandem we’ve been dealing with more mechanical issues as well.  Some of them make sense… clipless pedal cleats can and do wear out and tandem bicycles are renowned for being plagued with creaks and squeaks from various sources.

However, it wasn’t until today when we had yet-another drive chain link come apart that the light bulb went on: the chains we’ve been using can’t be rejoined using rivets and a chain tool!  Sure enough, the timing chain was coming apart because I extended a drive chain into a sync chain  by reinstalling a rivet using a chain tool instead of using a second KMC “missing link.”  The rivet eventually pulled loose from the side plate and the chain came apart.  My on-the-road repair was to once again press the rivet back into the side plate so we could limp home where I had spare “missing links” to do a more permanent repair.

It was last week when we had an over-shifting problem that caused a drive chain to become twisted.  Again, the on-road repair was to remove the twisted link and then rejoin the chain using a chain tool and the original rivet.  Sure enough, the rivet most likely came loose today when we were climbing a hill out of the saddle as the bike suddenly developed a chain skip over the next two miles. However, while climbing the next hill the chain finally let go and departed from the bike. As before, I mended the chain but used a ‘missing link’ this time, having had the foresight to put a spare link in my saddle bag’s repair kit.

Once we were back home from our ride, both the sync and drive chains were replaced with fresh, new KMC 10-speed chains using only the ‘missing links’ to join the chain ends.  Yup, gone are the days when I could whip out my chain tool and press rivets in and out of the chain at will without running the risk of the chain coming back apart.  I guess this is progress??

Posted in Technology & Equip. | 6 Comments

Calfee at Tandem Cycleworks in Denver & The Midwest Tandem Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan for Tandem Demo Rides

We just received a note from Jason at Calfee Design wherein he wanted to let us know they’ll be on hand at the 2018 Midwest Tandem Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 31 August through 3 September with several tandems that will be available for demo rides.

On their way to Grand Rapids, they’ll be stopping over at Tandem Cycleworks in Denver Colorado, on Tuesday, 28 August, and will be offering demo rides from 1:00pm to 7:00pm as well.  Or, it could be from 12:00pm (on Tandem Cyclework’s Evite) to 7:00pm or 4:00pm to 7:00pm (on Tandem Cyclework’s Website).    I’d suggest that if you’re interested in attending you give the store a call to confirm: (303) 715-9690

The bike’s on hand will include Tetra road tandem models as follows:

  • Small/Small Di2
  • Medium/Small ETAP
  • Medium/Small Di2 (For Sale)
  • Large/Small Di2

They’ll also have a Medium/Small full-suspension off road model on hand as well as what Jason describes as a “Special Bike” that is worth a look.

Posted in Events, Tandem Rallies, Technology & Equip. | Leave a comment

Making Old Cycling Shoes New Again…

Just over 8 years ago I finally reached a point where the Sidi Dominator 5 cycling shoes I wore on the tandem needed to be replaced.  While the uppers were in fine shape, the molded-in lug soles had worn-down to where they were no longer protecting the cleats / keeping the cleats from damaging floors.

The “New” sole for my “dead” Sidi Dominators

I successfully salvaged those shoes by shaving the old lugs off the soles of the shoes and attached a new set of lugs using sheet metal screws and adhesives that have allowed those shoes to remain in service to this day.  These are what I still refer to as my Frankenshoes.

Again, they’re still in service but are due for another lug replacement.  On the bright side, I’ll just need to unscrew and pull off the old ones and then bond and screw in the new ones. Well, and I’ll also need to replace the instep closure straps as one broke when I was just cleaning the shoes and the other one looks to be ready to break.

But, at about the same time I created the Frankenshoes I also bought a new / used pair of Sidi Dominator 6 cycling shoes.  They were a little large but I was able to wear a thicker sock and make them work as the next size down was simply too small.  Regardless, now with 8 years of use their lugs had also worn down to the point where they needed to be replaced. Thankfully, the Dominator 6 have the Sidi Sole Replacement System (SRS) so it was really an easy process to get those updated this past week.  I just had to find the right SRS sole replacement kit and then remove the 24 screws that held the 8 lugs (4 per shoe) to the bottom of the shoes and install the new lugs with the new screws that come with the kit.


Yeah, new shoes!  Well, not exactly as they have some other wear and tear that I’ve not figured out how to address, i.e., the fabric on the rear heel cuff has worn through to the padding.  But, I’ll come up with something.

I figure with four pair of Sidi cycling shoes — 2 pair of MTB shoes for the tandem, one pair of MTB shoes for off-road riding and one pair of road shoes for riding my single road bikes — I really have all the cycling shoes I’ll ever need.  It’s only the lugs on the MTB shoes that we use on the tandem that wear out.  The other shoes just need to have an occasional bath in a mixture of warm water and vinegar to keep them from getting funky, and then a touch of mink oil on the leathers to keep them from breaking down.  Debbie’s in nearly the same boat with her two pair of rose colored Sidi MTB shoes for road riding and a black pair of Sidi Dominators for off-road.

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100 Miles On The Tandem During the Week: A Milestone

20180810_105937During the past week we successfully logged 100 miles on four 25-mile rides from the house on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday.  We had some minor issues to address after some of the rides, but on Friday’s ride the tandem performed flawlessly and we had a very strong ride to boot!  It’s worthwhile to note we’ve never ridden 100 miles in-week from the house on the tandem in the 20 years we’ve been riding tandems!  Now, that’s not to say Debbie nor I haven’t exceeded that milestone once we factor in in-week riding on our single road and/or off-road bikes, but never together on the tandem during the course of a week: this is what we’re loving about retirement!!

I think I covered some of the earlier in-week ride issues in my prior update, so what’s new? On Thursday’s ride I switched-out the wheels and tires on the Calfee tandem for the heavier-duty set we use on our Precision triplet to see how the larger tires might feel in terms of soaking up bumps, rolling resistance, etc.  We normally ride on conventional wheels built around a set of 32° Velocity Deep-V rims on White Industry Daisy hubs and 25mm Vredestein Fortezza tires.  The triplet’s wheelset is built around a set of 48° Dyad rims and White Industry Daisy hubs with 28mm Schwalbe Ultremo tires.

We’d already decided to stretch our ride from 25 miles to 32 or 33 miles, so this would be a good test of the different tires and wheels. It was a really good ride and the tandem actually felt like it rolled along quite nicely, except when we hit the steeper hills.  The heavier weight of the more robust wheelset just seemed to require a bit more energy once the roads got above a 3% grade.  Debbie was very pleased with how the tandem felt on the larger volume tires as well.  On Thursday’s ride we’ll switch back to the 25mm tires and lighter weight rims to verify our impressions.  However, at this point I could see using the heavier duty wheelset for our daily rides or rides on less than ideal roads and reserving the lighter wheelset for the rides with a lot of climbing, e.g., 3 Gap in Dahlonega, etc.  More to follow.

Sadly, my shifting woes continued on Friday as the bike over-shifted about 6 miles from home, throwing the chain off the big chain ring and into the crank arms. Usually it’s just an annoyance that requires us to get off the bike and reset the chain.  However, this time we were pedaling with a bit more enthusiasm and one of the chain links ended up getting twisted as it was pulled into the crank arms.  This only became apparent when we saddled up and resumed our ride, only to have the chain to skipping and chattering for the rest of our ride home: ugg!  This is something that’s been driving me nuts since, as the chief mechanic, I’ve not been able to figure out how to keep the chain from over-shifting while not rubbing on the front derailleur cage in high gear.

After nursing the tandem back to the house and having lunch I set about working on my shifting issues. I decided to remove the crank arms so I could off-set the rear drive-side crank vis-a-vis re-positioning the Phil Wood eccentric to improve the chain line a bit: that’s one of the nice things about our old square taper Phil Wood hubs.  Since I had the cranks off the bike, I decided to see if I couldn’t polish-out the 10-years of wear and tear on the polished aluminum crank arms.

I opted to do a mild polishing just to tidy-up the minor scratches on the rear right-side drive crank from both recent chain over-shifts and those of years gone by. All of the crank arms seem to have collected other nicks as well as some minor corrosion spots from power drinks.  I could have probably gotten slightly better results by using a more-aggressive compound with the buffing wheel; however, this won’t be the last time I need to buff-up the crank arms so  I decided to temper my efforts with that in mind. No, there are no plans for a new tandem in our future; this one continues to meet and exceed our need and expectations as do our old-school daVinci cranks with square tapers on Phil Wood bottom brackets.

With the cranks cleaned up and reinstalled I repaired the drive chain and readjusted the front derailleur in such a way that will hopefully give me a good chain line without the chain rubbing on the derailleur cage, but without the chain over shifting into the crank arm.  I’ve got a full set of new KMC X10 chains coming from Jenson USA just in case I continue to have issues with these somewhat older chains that are nearing the end of their useful life.  Sadly, chains like tires have gotten too expensive and rarely go on sale so I no longer hoard them the way I used to.  $36/chain is about as good a deal as I could find on our preferred ti-nitrate coated (aka, Gold) chains since 2011, about on par for most “good” quality chains these days.

As we look forward to attending what will be our first Georgia Tandem Club ride of the year (yeah, I know… we had such high hopes for attending them all: best laid plans) on Saturday, we were reminded that we signed-on as hosts for the September club ride.  So, after lunch I headed out on the motorcycle to survey route details.  I decided we’d begin and end the ride at our local hang-out, Loco Willy’s, and needed to go and ride some of the roads through the surrounding neighborhoods to find a tandem-friendly route out of the mixed residential / business area where Loco’s is located.  I probably rode and re-rode most of the quiet neighborhood roads 3-4 times before figuring out which provided the best terrain for cyclists both early and late in a ride of some 35 miles or so.

We’ll wait until we meet up with some of the other tandem teams at the August tandem club ride on the 18th before finalizing our plans, but I think we’re pretty close to having the date, time and routes all figured out after my survey.  We’ll probably try to ride the longer route on Saturday, 25 August at the same time we’d be riding it on Saturday the 8th of September just so we’re not surprised by any unexpected traffic or other issues.  Of course, the trick will be getting at least a couple of riders back to Loco’s when it opens at 11:30AM so we can secure the big table, as college football will be in full swing by the 8th.

About the only other thing of note this week was resurrecting a few of the head and tail lights for our bicycles.  I’d always made a point of having an illuminated tail light on the bikes when we rode during the day, but the rechargeable Duracell batteries that powered one of our tail lights had finally given-up after about 8 years of use and re-use. The second tail light’s lithium-ion battery had also given-up.  So, I finally bought some new rechargeable batteries and have all of the DiNotte tail light pieces gathered back up so I can put the light back on the tandem.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that another Li-ion powered DiNotte head light and our super-bright 2004 era Lights in Motion L-Ion headlight’s battery was still able to take a full charge after years of dormancy.

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Getting Into The Swing Of Things

After spending most of July on the road after my 30 June retirement, we’re now at home for the entire month of August.

This has finally given us the opportunity to get out on the tandem during the week and it’s been great!  While I’d like to say we’re getting out every day, we do get derailed by rain and this week I made the mistake of wearing some shorts that probably don’t fit tightly enough and without anti-chafing cream.  So, yeah… after 50 miles of chafing I’m “sitting out” the ride for today to give my “tweener region” a chance to recover.  I know, TMI (too much information).  Hey, if you’re reading this stuff on this site, you’re a cycling junkie, so you know what I’m talking about here.

Having put about 150 miles on the tandem thus far in August, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Calfee voiced a few minor complaints.  I guess we must have knocked loose all of the hardened dust and grime that was keeping the eccentric and front axle from creaking over the past several months!

Seriously though, we live in the piedmont area south of the Appalachian mountain range so our riding terrain is anything but flat. That means we’re usually climbing or descending, rarely riding on dead-flat roads for any length of time.  There are also a few moderate rises along our route and during Monday’s ride the bottom bracket and front axle were doing a lot of complaining.

Back at home, it took all of 2 minutes to find my 4mm hex driver so I could loosen and then re-torque the daVinci eccentric.  The front axle, that took a little longer to address.  The end cap on the axle that’s supposed to come off once four grub screws are loosened no longer comes off. So, the axle with that cap and the bearing attached get popped-out from the opposite side using a hex driver and bolt threaded into the end cap.  With the bearings exposed, I lifted off the seals and added some waterproof grease, then did a re-assembly of the axles.  With the front wheel in the forks I used the skewer to compress the end caps and then tightened the grub screws, on the off-chance that they may have actually found a different place to seat.  Meh, who knows.  But, on Tuesday’s ride, both the eccentric and front axle were quiet: Mission Accomplished.

On Tuesday’s ride we also had a couple minor issues.  The first was a clicking sound coming from Debbie’s right shoe and Speedplay Frog pedal / cleat interface: that would have to wait until we finished the ride.

An example of what happened; this is NOT our chain!

The second was the timing chain parting company with the chain wheels.  In regard to the timing chain coming off, this was a deja vu moment. Regular readers may recall that this 1st happened to us back in March.  This was not going to be something I could deal with at home.  No, the trick was finding that pesky link and pin and then pressing the pin back into the side plate with my Crank Bros. multi-tool that thankfully has a chain tool.  It took a minute to find the bad link, but once found it only took a moment to press it back in.


Back at home after our ride, the chain was fixed by removing the problematic link and replacing it with a spare 9 speed re-usable link.  These are the fantastic little links they typically provide with SRAM, KMC and other chains that allow you to attach the chain to your bicycle vs. pressing in a one-time-use-only pin.  Fingers crossed, I don’t have any other weak links!

As for the clicking sound coming from Debbie’s right shoe, cleat and pedal… I went ahead and put new Frog cleats on her shoes.  Upon inspection, it does look like she has a similar issue to me where I roll my foot away from the bike when riding and that tends to wear hard on the inside cleat flange.  Just to be on the safe side, I also re-lubricated all four of the Frog pedals on the tandem with my speedy lube gun.  I’m guessing this will take care of the pedal noise, at least for a while.  I’m thinking it may be time to overhaul those pedals as I can’t even remember when I did that last: they’re now sporting 35k miles since bought new back in 2007.

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Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show… Now A Memory

Interesting story in Bicycle Portland on the demise of the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show:


“Our hope is to remake the show with an eye toward the future.”
— Dave Levy, Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association president

Organizers of the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show have called off their marquee event — for the first time since it began 11 years ago.

In a message to vendors, fans, and sponsors, Dave Levy, president of Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association, the nonprofit trade association behind the event, wrote, “It is with a heavy heart we have decided to cancel the show… 2018 has been the year we have seen the lowest level of interest in the OHBS, the number of builders who have chosen to sign up is so low the OBCA board feels we cannot put on a show we can be proud of, and allow the builders to present well.” Levy said the organization will refund vendor fees that have already been paid.

Last year when the event was held in a warehouse just north of the St. Johns Bridge, over two dozen vendors shared their creations with an appreciative crowd. But excitement about the event has tapered in recent years as the local framebuilding scene has cooled considerably since its heyday in the mid-to-late 2000s.

We reached out to a few vendors who’ve displayed at the OHBS for several years to hear what they think.

Joshua Liberles of HiFi Components said the 2017 show continued a trend of low attendance numbers — from both the public and the industry. “With the time and expense involved in putting together a booth, a builder (or wheel company) needs to be confident that the turnout will merit the work and money put in. There’s something of a catch-22 at play, too: over the last several years, some of the bigger local builders have stopped taking part in events like this, and they are certainly a draw for attendees.”

Portland-based bike builder Joseph Ahearne of Ahearne Cycles said the OHBS was his favorite show because it was easiest for him to attend. But he understands why the number of builders might have dwindled. “I think it’s harder than ever to make money as a bike builder and Portland is getting more expensive as a place to live, and as a place to find affordable shop space,” he shared with us via email this morning. “At some point the numbers don’t pan out. It’s never been easy, but now, the bike industry is changing, going more online, making it even more difficult for those of us who work with lower quantities and higher prices. Everything in the industry is going in the other direction.”

Ahearne also thinks this cancellation might illustrate larger trends in our ever-changing city.

“There’s a shift in the community, what felt for a long time like a big Portland family has changed,” he wrote. “It’s like all the kids grew up and left for college or something, and now Portland wants to be like other big cities, despite some of us with our nostalgia for the cheaper, grittier days. Newer members to the community don’t seem to want the old edgy Portland so much as a cleaner, more upscale living and shopping experience. Which is pushing a lot of people out.” Ahearne has also noted a significant decrease in the number of local builders.

Dwan Shepard, owner of Eugene-based Co-Motion Cycles, thinks the show has never really found the “magic formula” it needs for sustained success. Last year’s venue was “cool,” he shared, but it’s out-of-the-way location might have kept many people away. “The show is full of lovely, interesting, kind and lovely people. Most I’m sure would come year after year if the show could generate good attendance in a hall that people could find, with plenty of fun and interesting reasons for them to make an appearance.”

Shepard estimated last year’s show drew only about 200 people. Our report on the first OHBS in 2007 included an estimate of over 1,800 attendees.

The OBCA says they hope to “Remake the show with an eye toward the future.”

For builders like Ahearne, Co-Motion, and others who still have strong businesses, the value of a gathering like this is still apparent. “It may not be the most glamorous or visible bike show in the country,” Ahearne said, “But I think it’s important to get these people together sometimes to remind us that we are, in fact, a small community. The nature of the business is isolation, and there’s a lot of struggle involved, and to put ourselves in front of the public and to talk with them, and to have some time to meet and hang out with other builders is important, validating, inspiring. And cool bikes are still cool to look at, even when everything else around us is changing.”

UPDATE, 8/7: The OBCA has announced a new event coming August 18th: A Framebuilder’s Goodbye to Velo Cult. There are 15 amazing builders already lined up!

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