More Tandem Rambles

Char and I picked up a Tandem from Morgan about a month ago and we’ve been slowly getting into the swing of the tandem thing. We’ve had some problems with the rack but that mostly took some time to resolve… wrestling a 60 lbs 6’+ long bike onto the roof is bound to take a little getting used to. We’ve also been getting a lot of small evening rides in. Last weekend we had a great ride with Fred-da-Trog and family and this weekend was a bit more challenging a ride, we headed for a ‘solo’ run in Auburn… unfortunately we picked a scorcher of a day to do it.

We suspected it was going to be way too hot for sane people to ride so we brought tons of h2o and other liquid refreshments. We started in the Confluence and rolled up the Clementine climb… it was a warm start but we managed to make the climb in a decent amount of time then took a bit of a break so Fiona could get her lungs back. We nibbled a little then took off down the Connector Trail

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to swap out the front tire and the rear tire can only take a 2.1″ tire so our traction was marginal for much of the Connector… even so it was a blast blazing down the the swoopy goodness which we all know and love as the Connector trail. I haven’t used the GPS in quite some time so I’m not sure how fast I usually get going but I had the tandem going over 17 MPH, oh for that fat front tire I wanted to put on the bike.

About this time Fiona was making this odd noise which Morgan described when he sold be the bike. “Somewhere between a laugh of exhilaration and a whimper of sheer terror“.

Descending into the ravine wasn’t quite so fun though. It’s so steep and that bike has so much mass I just didn’t feel comfortable blazing down that hill. When we crossed the bridge I was already in Little Ring Granny and we started the grind up the hill. I knew it was a tough climb and we’d already climbed more than Fiona climbs on the average day so I was having her take it easy for most of the climb then giving a burst of effort for the steeper sections. It sounded something like this from the bridge “Ok, nice moderate climb… now Turbo!!” … “Just rest for a bit here I’ll do most of the work… umm moderate climb… rest… turbo!!”, repeat. We made it all the way to just before the last little grunt to the bench before we were both toasted, then I pushed the bike up the last 50′ or so and we took a nice little lunch.

By now it was after noon and definitely over 90 degrees outside. We were both pouring sweat and we’d both been worked pretty well but Fiona was awesome “We need to go at least to the end of the Connector Trail.”… Sweeet!

So we worked the little up-downs from the bench to the end of the Connector. “You still Ok, or you want to turn around?” I ask. She’s still feeling Ok, so we pedal a bit further. I’m really surprised at how much we are able to climb, tons of stuff she would normally be walking we are able to work our way over. It’s a little bit frustrating because it’s a lot of work for both of us. Her because she’s riding further and climbing more than ever before. Me, because frankly without a bit of assist she wouldn’t be able to.

I know we aren’t going to ride the entire loop so I take the cooler north side figuring we’ll ride it out and back, staying in the shade most of the time. We get a few more miles down the trail, I was hoping for 20 miles total but we turn around after 9 miles… it’s just getting too hot and both of us are tired. The return trip is a blast, the Foresthill divide trail and the Connector trail going west is just sublime. Fiona’s feet just don’t quite get the rhythm of the pedaling required to spin through the Connector Trail at the speed it deserves. Pedal Fast… Coast, Pedal Fast, Coast… her feet pop off the pedals a couple times, later she admits that she just picked up her feet a couple times. Even so, we made good time on the Connector and before we knew it we were back at the bench.

We took another short break then wound our way back down to the bridge. Using a similar technique to the other side of the ravine we managed to clean the climb even though Fiona’s legs were just about done at this point in the ride.

From the green gate we decided that the Culvert Trail was probably a bit too much for that days ride so we took the singletrack down to Old Foresthill Road then rode down Old Foresthill back to the car.

Overall it was a great ride, we finished up and jumped in the river and just soaked in the cool for a bit. The ride was over 17 miles long and the amount of climbing was somewhere around 3800’… a pretty moderate ride for me but an amazing accomplishment for Fiona. I look forward to lots more rides like this. I also suspect we’re going to be talking with Sherwood about a dualie before too long.