Category Archives: Tandems

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Tandem Bicycles at Paris-Brest-Paris 2011

Events like Paris-Brest-Paris are difficult to unbox all at once. Some aspects can be, such as the immediacy of the ride experience and the emotions and physical states experienced.

Felkerino and me, bike inspection

Others take time to absorb and appreciate especially when, for many of us, PBP occupies a small space in between a flurry of other activities and responsibilities. It also happens after an intense period spent building our stamina through longer rides, including a full brevet series and summer training.

Ron and Barb, PA Randonneurs, on their purple Burley
Ron and Barb, PA Randonneurs, ready for the 90-hour start with their purple Burley

Because PBP is yet again peering around the bend– 2015!– I’ve been revisiting my first trip to this great event. Today takes me back to the 90-hour start, which began around 6 p.m. The “special bikes”– such as tandems, recumbents, and velomobiles– launched first.

Back to back recumbent tandem. They took the 84-hour start.
Back to back recumbent tandem. They took the 84-hour start.
Back to back tandem in action. Photo by Felkerino
Back to back tandem in action. Everywhere they went people wanted to take their picture. Photo by Felkerino

This was also true of the 84-hour start, where Felkerino and I were one of only three tandems among the special bikes.

Cannondale tandem. They took the 84-hour start
Cannondale tandem. They took the 84-hour start

This was not the case for the 90-hour group. Dozens of tandems lined up. According to the PBP-2011 results, 42 tandems (84 riders) were part of the PBP field.

Look tandem, returning from bike inspection
LOOK tandem, returning from bike inspection

90-hour start. Tandem

Triplet! Photo by Felkerino
Triplet! Photo by Felkerino

What a sight, all of these diverse bicycles in one place. Big multi-day events like RAGBRAI have their share, but many of them are not tested randonneuring machines, like the ones you see on PBP.

Hey, I know you! John and Cindy ride by on their Co-Motion
Hey, I know you! John and Cindy ride by on their Co-Motion

PBP tandem start

My head spun like crazy, trying to get a look at all the bikes while I dealt with my own nerves and excitement about our upcoming day’s ride. (Unlike the 90-hour riders who started in the early evening, the 84-hour riders did not clip in until 5 a.m. the following day.)

PBP tandem and recumbent
Tandem trike and matching pink caps.
Tandem trike and matching pink caps. Mark & Arabella.

It wasn’t just the riders and tandems from all parts of the world, but the luggage used for the journey. From panniers to Berthoud bags, it covered a wide range of choices.

We saw some builders that were familiar– Co-Motion, Cannondale, Bilenky– but many of the tandems that flew past were not any I had seen before.

PBP start

Another interesting aspect to PBP is that it does not require riders to wear helmets. I’m not saying that for any other reason than it is not something that would happen on a domestic randonneuring event or even most organized rides. It gives the riders a different look than I’m used to seeing.

Bilenky tandem. I believe these are PA Randonneurs, and were honeymooning on PBP.
Patrick and Cecilie from Philadelphia on their Bilenky tandem. I believe they were honeymooning on PBP.
Another shot of the Bilenky, this time from Felkerino's side
Another shot of the Bilenky, this time from Felkerino’s side
PBP tandem
Brouchard tandem at a controle
PBP tandems at the start
Sonya and Colin (left) with a team from VC167 (right)

I hope you enjoyed this PBP 2011 Throwback Thursday, Tandem Style. Yes, I said Throwback Thursday. Oh, and please let me know if you recognize any of the bikes (and/or riders) in the pics.

Co-Motion Tandem Compare and Contrast: Java vs. Speedster

Co-Motion Java

It’s been just over one year and around 5,500 miles since Felkerino and I said goodbye to our Co-Motion Speedster and began riding our Co-Motion Java tandem.

Now that we’ve put both of these tandems through their paces, I wanted to compare the two bikes and revisit the choice we made to replace our Speedster with the Java.

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Coffeeneuring Rewind: Paul and Maureen’s Tandem Ride to a Coffee Shop Without Walls

I wanted to send us into the weekend with some coffeeneuring inspiration so I called upon two coffeeneurs to help. Paul and his wife, Maureen, are doing the Coffeeneuring Challenge in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Their first stop to a Coffee Shop Without Walls looked so inviting I asked Paul if he would write a guest post about it. He agreed and here is a behind-the-scenes look at their first coffeeneuring outing.

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From Middletown to Monterey: Two Days, 255 Miles

Felkerino and I have been making the most of our weekend warrior lifestyle with two straight weekends of bike overnights on our Co-Motion tandem.

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This past weekend we toured with our rando-friends John and Cindy, who also ride a Co-Motion tandem– a 650B Speedster. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Both days included plenty of climbing and stunning views. We are lucky to live so close to such great cycling.

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Felkerino put together a complete summary of our ride here so check it out.

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It was an awesome weekend of bike touring.

Dialing in our New Co-Motion Java Tandem

Earlier this year, Felkerino’s and my new tandem arrived from Co-Motion. Some of you may remember that  a crack developed in the stoker seat tube of our previous tandem, a Co-Motion Speedster, which required either a mend or a replacement frame.

We ultimately chose to replace the frame and, rather than another Co-Motion Speedster tandem, Felkerino and I decided on a Co-Motion Java, which is their 29-er frame.

Co-Motion Java on Whites Ferry

Co-Motion worked out an arrangement with us for the new bike which was primarily financed by the sale of my 1996 Nissan Altima.

That’s right. I sold my car to buy a tandem. Righteous bicycle purchasing!

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Reviving the Lead Sled: our Cannondale Tandem

Due to unforeseen circumstances (to be discussed in another post), our Co-Motion tandem will not be around for a while. In the meantime, Felkerino and I still want to tandem together so we decided to put our original brevet tandem, a Cannondale mountain frame, back into service for some summer rides and any upcoming fall brevets we do. Because of its industrial dark gray hue and bulky aluminum tubing, Felkerino nicknamed it the “lead sled.”

Cannondale tandem, back in service

Felkerino invested some serious time this past week to make the Cannondale rando ready. He put on new tires, transitioned our saddles and handlebars over from the Co-Motion, and measured and remeasured to mimic our Co-Motion measurements as much as possible.

This weekend we took the lead sled out for a 73-mile shakedown ride to see how it- and we- would fare. While it’s quite a switch to go from riding a steel tandem that’s been made especially for you to a stock Large-in-front, Medium-in-back aluminum-frame tandem with 26-inch wheels, our ride went better than I expected.

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Paris-Brest-Paris by Tandem

Have you heard enough about PBP yet? Well, hang on just a minute, because I’ve got one more story to share with you.

Felkerino and I co-wrote a short piece about what it meant for us to complete this past August’s Paris-Brest-Paris by tandem. It was published in the most recent edition of American Randonneur, the quarterly newsletter distributed by Randonneurs USA.

Felkerino and me, with Rob Hawks on PBP 2011 (c) Antoinette Galon

Randonneurs USA members may have already seen the article, but for those who have not, we decided to post it over at one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Randonneur. Click on over and check it out. It will make you immediately want to buy a tandem and start training for PBP. Kidding, though I do hope you like it!

See you on the road, everybody.