Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tandems of the World Unite! Is that Redundant?


My buddy and former coworker, Rob Gorman, promised to write a post about the Northwest Tandem Rally, and so he has. Rob is a wonderful man, and a great trade unionist. I'm proud to call him my brother. He and his wife Karole, yet another wonderful person, ride their tandem, and just last year toured Rob's native Scotland together on their Bike Friday tandem. Rob loves their Bike Friday.

Here is Rob's report on the Evergreen Tandem Club's annual jamboree. You might recall from an earlier post that I met Sheila Hoffman and Spencer Beard at the largest Health Care Rally in the country to date (in Seattle on May 30) with their tandem/billboard for Health Care Reform. They were co-founders with others of the Evergreen Tandem Club.

Here is Rob's report:

Six hundred riders on 300 bikes. That was the approximate number of riders and bikes that rode the Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR) in Victoria, British Columbia over the 4th of July weekend.

My wife, Karole, and our fellow Evergreen Tandem Club (ETC) members and friends, Randall and Barb Angell, rode on Friday July 3rd from our home at Point Roberts, to the Tsawwassan ferry terminal (about 9 miles) on the mainland of Canada and sailed to Swartz bay about 25 miles north of Victoria. We rode to the University of Victoria (UVIC) where we would be spending the next four nights and five days.

The ride went smoothly until I took a wrong turn and we ended up going the wrong way to the University, and of course it went up hill! But we made it to our rooms at the UVIC after a ride of around 35 miles. Any one can stay at the UVIC for very reasonable rates from May to September; one caution: no air conditioning anywhere to be found. Otherwise it was a great location, with decent food and it’s close to the water.
IMG_7820aOn Saturday morning we kicked off the rally at 9am with around 300 tandems taking off from the University and heading out on our various routes. This is a sight to behold, all those bikes hitting the streets. We had three levels short (30’s) medium (50’s) and long (60’s) on both days. We decided on the medium rides, and kept our long ride for the optional ride on Monday.

The rides were well organized with good stops and plenty of food so everyone was well fed and the routes around Victoria were good, though Victoria is surprisingly suburban with lots of traffic. But once out in the countryside it was charming, quiet and a little hilly from time to time. The water views are spectacular, and certainly that alone is worth a visit.

The organizers kept the best till last. On Monday they had organized an optional ride; the ride is called the three ferries ride. The first ferry leaving Brentwood Bay could only take 30 tandems so we got up early at 6:30am and made sure we got on that first ferry which we did with only a handful of other tandems.

The ride took us north on Vancouver Island to Crofton where we caught the ferry to Saltspring Island. The riding was rural and exceptional, the hills were challenging especially in the rain on Saltspring. But we muscled through, catching our final ferry from Fulford Harbor to Swartz Bay for a total of 80 riding miles. Not exactly a brevet, but not a bad day for Karole and me.

So why ride a tandem when you can ride all those beautiful miles on your own? Well, we like to arrive together and chat along the way. I, a single rider from way back, love to ride solo but not that often. Why would I when my wife and I can ride together?

If you are interested in tandems and tandeming check out the Evergreen Tandem Club. Every spring the ETC has a Tandeming 101 class for those that do not have a tandem and are interested to see if it is something that they might be interested in.

Tandeming is not for everyone and on some rides couples disagree (though that never ever happens between Karole and I), but there is nothing that feels as good as arriving together at a destination, working together to make it happen. As someone more articulate than I once said “Wherever you are at in your relationship, a tandem will get you there faster”.

See you on the road.
Rob Gorman

IMG_8171aSeems there is not a thing these tandemizers don't do together, though I still haven't figured exactly out what this anonymous couple is doing together. A jamboree leapfrog game, tandem style?!

And finally, this I filched from the Evergreen Tandem Club's website FAQ about why to ride a tandem:

If you were to ask club members why they like to ride a tandem, you would receive many different answers. The following list is not all inclusive:

  • Riding a tandem is a shared experience, and we enjoy the sense of team work that it affords.
  • Riding a tandem allows two partners of unequal strength to ride together.
  • Tandems have some aerodynamic advantages. While you have the effort of two people, the frontal profile is only that of a single person. So usually, a team's speed on a tandem is slightly faster than their average speed on individual bikes.
  • All of these reasons are in addition to the usual benefits of bicycling -- exercise, fresh air, and just plain fun.

Keep it United,