In three weeks, Evan and I plan to ride our tandem from our house to his parents house for Thanksgiving. It’s about 200 miles away. We are going to do it in one shot.
It’s a tradition for him, riding down for the holidays. For the past couple of years I’ve been envious, but this is the first year that I finally feel like I even have a chance of physically doing it in the allotted time frame, without breaking it up into multiple days.
The tandem is key for a long but fast ride like this. That way he’s not constantly waiting for me, and I’m not constantly feeling like I’m chasing him. I’ve gotten a lot stronger and faster over the past few months, but he’ll always be Superman on a bike. This way, we can actually hang out and ride together—literally.
I’m nervous but excited. Nervous because as of right now, the farthest I’ve ridden in one day is 60 or 70 miles. Tomorrow, that will change. Tomorrow, we’re going to ride 100 miles or more on the tandem. We’ll see how that goes. Evan says if you can ride 100 miles, you can ride 200 miles. I find this questionable, but he’s had a lot of experience with rides like this. These second hundred miles will be much less hilly, at least.
I’m excited because I think it’s all doable. It’s not going to be easy, by any means. I know that in those 200 miles I will probably go back and forth between loving it and hating it more times than I can count. It will be painful. The mental battle will be a tough one. I might cry. Scratch that, I know I’ll probably cry at some point. We’ll be riding all night. Half the ride, or more, will be in the dark. But in the end, I know I’ll love it. I’ll even love the parts that I hate. In the end, I’ll have done what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and what I want to do so much more of. Riding bikes long distances, riding bikes to get places, and pushing the limits physically and mentally. I feel excited and alive.
We’ve been working on the bike, working through the kinks. Hopefully components hold out—we’ve been having a lot of trouble finding stuff that’s durable enough for the amount of force two people put on that bike. With each mechanical failure, we learn more. Luckily, Evan is able to fix just about anything, at least enough to get us where we need to go.
We’ve been working on comfort too—saddles, bars, positioning, etc. Tomorrow’s 100-miler will be good for figuring out where we’re at for long-distance riding and many hours in the saddle. After trying out many different seats and still not finding one I could stand to be on all day, I think I might have a winner with the WTB Deva. We have outfitted the tandem with double Jones Loop H-Bars, which offer a variety of hand positions while still allowing us to maintain an upright posture, which means more comfort for all-day rides. Evan has been running the H-Bar on several of his bikes, but this has been my first experience with them. It’s been a very positive one.
Our friend Brendan made some really nice custom frame bags for the three triangles of the tandem. Storage galore! More on that, and the rest of our setup, to come. I could talk for a long time about bike setup. I’ll save it for another post.
We’ve been trying to eat well, drink plenty (more water, less beer), and stretch regularly. We’re going to ride the tandem as much as possible between now and the 24th.
And in exactly three weeks, it’s go time.