Tag Archives: NWTR
Jul 7, 2014

NW Tandem Rally 2014

s2-nwtr-pendletonHeat, headwinds and hills, that’s the mini-version of this report on the  NW Tandem Rally (NWTR) in Pendleton on the 4th of July weekend. It was our first big weekend of riding this summer and though we weren’t in the best condition, we had a lot of fun.

We left Seattle for central Oregon on Friday the 4th. About a hundred tandems had arrived a day earlier and so were able to participate in the 4th of July Parade in Pendleton that morning. They were all decked out. Plus, since they were tandems, the crowd loved them. They won a trophy for best community group. You can see a photo in this Oregonian article. I think that’s a first for the rally! We got in about 2 and set up camp behind the Pendleton Roundup stadium. Sheila was in on a meeting of rally organizers who have finally codified NWTR as an official entity. They will now serve to guide groups who want to do the rally in the future and make sure every event is well-planned. Nobody has taken that role in the rally’s first 25 years and last year the local person who was organizing it, failed to actually produce a rally. We don’t want that to happen again.

Camping-at-PBRFriday night there was time for lots of socializing at the BBQ in a nearby park. Met new and old friends, heard fantastic stories from the road (“You rode self-supported from Canada to Guatemala?”) and hob-nobbed with the group. When we went back to the tent we discovered there was an additional treat in store for us. The Professional Bull Riders were putting on a show in Happy Canyon, an auxiliary venue on the ground. Lots of yelling into a microphone, loud, LOUD, music, cheering and bull-riders. It went on until the fireworks started at 10. It was too much for us, so we just put in our ear plugs, donned our eye-shades and went to sleep. I guess we’re just party-poopers.

BullsSaturday morning we had a mass start for the nearly 200 cycles. We headed up into the hills and out towards Athena. There was lots of climbing to get up there and then we had steady rolling hills all day. The downs were never quite long enough to get up back up the other side. The landscape was mostly bare ground or stubbled cropland. After lunch at the 30 mile mark, we decided to trim some miles off the route and head back. It was so hot it reminded us of our cross-country trek, except we were not in condition for this riding. Eight miles from lunch we discovered one of our problems was a slow leak in the front tire. I couldn’t pump it up enough to get us to the next rest area, so we had to change the tube. No shade to be found. Just us, hot asphalt, and lots of empty fields. The house in this picture was just about as tired as we were when we left the last rest stop. The last 14 miles after the final rest stop were excruciatingly long. A friend said her bike thermometer clocked in at 110 degrees. I know it was over 90 in the city, so it could well have been that high on the pavement. The headwinds cooled us some, but made the climbs that much harder. We ended up doing 62 miles and 2800′ of elevation gain.

tired-houseWe finally got down off the plateau and in to the showers. What blessed relief! Sheila went off to another NWTR board meeting while I scavenged our dinner. The only Thai restaurant in town was closed for the weekend and the catering was all meat-centric (“Get over it.”), but we found a friend in the local Safeway. They had vegan cheese and deli slices. For Saturday, I bough the toppings for a pizza, took them to a local parlor (Big John’s Home Town Pizza) and they built us a beautiful pie. We shared it after the board meeting. Later we met up with Amanda and Rob from our tandem club who were also camping. We gave them their first lesson in playing pinochle and had lots of laughs swapping stories. They already knew bridge, which helped them in some ways and really confused them in others. The PBR was done with their shows the the nighttime was much more enjoyable.

We debated whether to leave Sunday afternoon or camp a third night. We were very sore and very tired after Saturday’s ride. A lot of people were bemoaning the heat and hills. We decided to ride the short route and leave early. It turns out that being in our cross-country tent helped signal our bodies to waken at 5:30. It seemed natural to hop up, dress, break camp, and pack up before breakfast.buggy-arm

Sunday the course was a straight out-and-back. The long distance was set to be around 63 miles to the Bar M dude ranch. We’d been there the last time we rode here and knew it would be just fine to turn around at the rest stop half-way up the hill. There were more flat stretches than Saturday, but plenty of the big rollers, too. When we got to the rest stop, we discovered that my arms were a mass of dead bugs. Nothing like biking through swarms of gnats when you are covered in sweat and sunscreen! On the return we had 4 miles of steady down followed by another 8 miles of hills, heat, and headwinds. We were glad to be returning before 11 because the temperatures were surely lower than they’d be later. We totaled 38 miles that day, making an even 100 for the weekend.

We arrived back at the Convention Center and celebrated with showers and peach cobbler. By 12:20 we were on the road home. It seemed like we beat much of the holiday weekend traffic, only slowing for about 20 miles on the east side of the pass. It was a great weekend, but ever-so-nice to be back home.

Jul 9, 2011

Our Mountain States Adventure

Here’s the summary…

July 1-4 we took part in the Northwest Tandem Rally. This year it was in Spokane. We rode 63 miles the first day, 47 the second and 24 the third. Most of the miles were southwest toward Cheney. Lots of friends, more than 300 tandems, and blessed sunshine! Overnighted with my friend Mike from South Salem High.

July 5-7 we rode the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes across the Idaho panhandle. Mike took us to Harrison on Lake CdA to start. We rode 50 miles on the 5th (saw lots of moose) and slept in Wallace. On the 6th we rode 66 miles (28 on gravel forest roads) in a round trip over Lookout Pass to the Trail of the Hiawatha and back. The Hiawatha is an old rail trail (The Milwaukee Line) which snakes up the west side of the mountains. There are 9 tunnels and 8 sky-high trestles. The tunnel through the pass is 1.7 miles long, 40 degrees cold, and dark as night on the seafloor. It was great fun, but we were glad to be back in Wallace at day’s end. On the 7th we returned to Harrison and tacked on some extra miles to total 67. Total biking miles for six days: 316.

From July 8-9 we were in Missoula without our bike, visiting our friend Bonnie and the Garden of 1000 Buddhas. It is a gorgeous site dedicated to peace in the Montana hills. On the 10th we drove back to Seattle, tired but full of wonderful memories.

And here are the details. (more…)

Jul 2, 2009

S2 Cycle to Victoria for NWTR

Click to see image enlargedThe Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR) was held in Victoria this year so Sheila and I decided it would be fun to ride to it. We plotted out a course via Bainbridge Island, Port Hadlock, and Port Angeles. We planned on taking two days of easy riding then catching a ferry to Victoria. To the left is how we looked loaded with gear.

Day One – 41 miles: It was sunny and hot as we teamed up with a couple singles, David and Emily, who were starting a trip to the Bay Area. It was fun to ride with someone through the rolling hills of Bainbridge and the peninsula. We left them in Port Ludlow. Click to see image enlarged

Three miles from our hotel we were going up a hill when both of my quadriceps cramped solid. I couldn’t bend either leg. I fell off the pedals and stood panting and crying over the handlebars. A motorist stopped and helped Sheila get the bike out from under me. They had to manually bend my legs to break the spasms. After walking a bit we rode the rest of the way to Port Hadlock. Sheila powered us up the last hills. I was worthless.

Click to see image enlargedFortunately, our friend from Port Townsend, Robin Sharan, was coming to see us. She is a body worker so in addition to food, she brought us Kangen water and a massage table. I drank almost a gallon of water. She worked my body for more than 90 minutes. Then she gave Sheila a massage too! It was a great help. You can visit her healing retreat center in Port Townsend, The Annapurna Inn.

Day 2 – 57 miles: We got up very early because I was worried about making the ferry at 12:45. We were rolling by 6, but since we were only averaging 12 mph, that seemed reasonable. Again the day promised heat, but was cool enough for jackets starting out. Our first 24 miles were mostly on the wide shoulder of 101. By the time we got to Sequim (pronounced Skwim) it was warm.

Click to see image enlargedA gentleman in Sequim told us the Olympic Discovery Trail was finished and paved all the way to Port Angeles. Getting off 101 sounded great, so we found the trail. It was indeed wonderful. We saw bald eagles roosting on tall trees. The trail was mostly separated from traffic. It wound through lovely farmland and across long wooden trestles. One trestle had a ramp built for wheelchairs, not bikes and especially not long bikes. That was a minor problem. The rest was pretty nice.

We got in to PA by 11. We opted to take an earlier, faster ferry to Victoria arriving by 1 or so. Then we rode the scenic bike route out to Victoria. It was very nice, except for the 14% grade that snuck in for two blocks!

We checked in to our B&B, which turned out to charge for breakfast, then rode the bus to downtown for dinner. Ate at the Rebar, wonderful veggie food. When we got back we met our neighbors, Cheryl and Mike from Klameth Falls.

Click to see image enlargedDay 3 – 31 miles: We registered for the rally and got our new “kits”. Then we got into a group riding out to Buchart Gardens. Another hot day. We opted to NOT tour the gardens. Sheila’s foot doesn’t handle lots of walking well and my legs were still incredibly sore from the cramps. We sat and visited at the entrance with other teams and met Helen and Nancy (left). Nancy is blind and a paralympic athlete. The four of us rode back to the University of Victoria together. A lot of the route was hard-packed, gravel. We had to use our GPS to finish the course, but it was a good ride, all-in-all.

Click to see image enlargedThat evening we ate at a Thai restaurant then visited our friends, Sean and Heather. Sean designed the ETC logo when they lived in Seattle and rode their tandem from here to DC in 2001. They now have a 2 year old named Felix. They’ve been living in BC for 4 or 5 years now. Heather made a wonderful strawberry pie for dessert. Then it was back home on the bus!

Day 4 – 57 miles: We rode north from U Vic today. We actually retraced much of the riding we did to Buchart Gardens. After the ETC club photo we had a mass start with about 350 tandems circling the campus before heading onto the streets. It took a long time for it all to get stretched out. The first rest stop had a model airplane landing strip. Modelers were showing off their planes, but didn’t have many in the air. It was too bad. I would have liked to have seen more flying.

From there we rode up to Sydney and wound around the edge of the island’s tip. We were happy to spend the day riding with Eric and Arden as we don’t get to do that as much as we’d like in Seattle. The route was a nice blend of flats and hills, but again wasn’t marked as well as I expect for a rally. It was very pretty, though.

Click to see image enlargedWhen we returned  to the UVic campus we were met by lawns covered in bunny rabbits everywhere! The abundance and variety really tickled Sheila. They were quite cute, in all shapes, sizes and colors. The photo (by Barb & Randall Angell) only shows a dozen of them. There are also deer everywhere. Since it’s an island there are no predators to thin out the populations.

We finished around 2. After we cleaned up, Sheila went to the organizer’s meeting to help plan the next couple of years’ rallies. We caught a bus downtown to an all-veggie Chinese restaurant for dinner. We still were back in time for the NWTR post-banquet festivities. We heard a good speaker from a BC cancer research organization which was the beneficiary of the rally. Then we watched a unicyclist demonstrate some Click to see image enlargedextreme uni skills. He had a video showing him cycling along the edge of a cliff at Yosemite and hopping from boulder to boulder on his unicycle along a mountain ridge. He was pretty amazing. It’s worth taking a look on YouTube for “Kris Holm” to see some of his incredible footage or just visit his website at www.krisholm.com

Click to see image enlargedDay 5 – 50 miles: Today we rode with Gwen and Chris from Grass Valley, CA. The routes went mostly to the west. We had a loop around Lake Prospect which was very challenging. It was very twisty and alternated between steep inclines and descents. You couldn’t get momentum to help you up. We switched back and forth between 100% effort to 0% effort. It seemed endless and really sapped our legs. Much of the first half of the ride was climbs and descents. The last half was almost entirely along the Galloping Goose trail. It had been 9 years since we’d ridden it. It is still a green wonder of hard-packed gravel. It was very restful.

Click to see image enlargedWe’d stopped at a red light as we got into town and were waiting when a single shot past us and across the street…right in front of a police car. We motioned at the officer to go get her, but he was really powerless because the trail was protected from cars with posts. When his light was green he did drive her direction. Later we saw him ticketing her at the next road crossing. Chris said when they lived in Olympia they discovered both cyclists and police behavior improved when officers started enforcing traffic laws with bikes. Not only did bikes start obeying the laws more, but police started standing up for bikes in run-ins with cars protecting the bike’s right to the road. Makes sense to me.

We were pooping out by this time. Gwen and Chris were staying at a place in downtown and had actually met us at U Vic after riding 10 miles along the scenic ride we’d taken the first day in town. We opted to take a short cut home as the route bent towards downtown. We said our goodbyes and rolled home. We visited in the back yard of the B&B with the two other tandem couples staying there. It had been a very pleasant day.

Click to see image enlargedDay 6 – 9 miles: Fully loaded again, we rode straight downtown to catch the ferry. We stopped to take pictures of a neat fence at an elementary school. While we were in line for customs at the Victoria Clipper, Helen led in Nancy. Nancy was taking the Clipper home, but not Helen. We agreed to shepherd Nancy around. The side benefit was that we got priority boarding and nice seats on the boat. We learned more about Nancy’s athletic endeavors. She used to work for the government but has finally had to retire as her ears are starting to give out, too. Now she spends a lot of her time traveling and giving inspirational talks. She’s also led a Triathlon camp for blind athletes and their guides. Her website is www.nancyspeaks.com. We were happy to be home in our condo by early afternoon.

Mar 11, 2009

2009 Overview

Click to see image enlargedThis season we decided we would try some self-supported touring. This is in keeping with our desire to not fly as much in order to lower our carbon footprint. We scoped out two major trips to aim at: riding to Victoria for the NW Tandem Rally and doing a tour of the Oregon Coast.

We needed something to get our season started. We have friends who have ridden for years with Cheryl Marek in her spring training program, HELP. We decided to give it a go. So, most every Saturday from March 14 until June 13 we were out on the road with a couple dozen other moderately insane cyclists.

I say moderately insane because the rides started at 8 AM and this winter was bitterly cold. We even had snow on one ride in April! We did almost 500 miles with the group, though and got into pretty good condition.

Click to see image enlargedWe also worked in a weekend ride to Port Townsend with Evergreen Tandem Club. Jim and Jeannie led the trip. The weather was wonderful and we had our gear sagged one direction.

We rode to Victoria for the rally. You can see the full story of riding to Victoria for the tandem rally here. The short version is that we took two days to ride from Seattle to Port Hadlock to Port Townsend. Then we ferried over to the island and spent three days riding at the rally. Then we took the Clipper back to Seattle. We had lots of good rides, one painful experience, and met many new friends.

Click to see image enlargedIn August we were ready for our big ride in Oregon (full story). We got my brother Ray to help us move our car so all we could start in Lincoln City. One day we rode to Yachats, visiting lots of sights along the way. The next day we rode to Reedsport with more touristy stuff during the day. Then we crossed the Coast Range on a logging road in a 97 mile ride to Eugene. That was very challenging and included one of the most amazing coincidences known to man.

Click to see image enlargedFrom Eugene we drove to Crater Lake. We unpacked all the panniers. Suddenly lighter, we spent one day riding the rim drive. The scenery was beyond spectacular and the weather was absolutely perfect.

At that point we had 1600 miles for the season. Who knows when it will end?

Jul 4, 2005

2005 NWTR

Northwest Tandem Rally 2005 in Bend, Oregon, Fourth of July weekend

Evergreen Tandem Club members at Northwest Tandem Rally... that's us in the bottom front left

Saturday of the Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR) began with a club photo of Evergreen Tandem Club members in attendance. Then 450 bikes departed Summit High School in Bend, Oregon. What a sight! We cruised with the crowd for quite a while. Rode with various friends from ETC through the rolling hills.
We opted to take the long route to Smith Rocks and an excellent choice it was. The roads were fast and the view at the rest stop was fantastic. Visited with friends from around the country before heading back for Bend.
On the way back we caught up to Steve and Denise. They’ve been working hard all season on speed and man, it shows! We used to be able to drop them fairly easily. Not today. They kicked it up when we caught them, and we could barely hang with them for 20 miles.
Ended the day with 71 miles at a 17.6 average. It felt like the roads were all downhill. How’d they do that?

That's us on the left riding with Jim & Jeannie, Jay & Sara, etc.Sunday we rode day two of NWTR with Jim and Jeannie and Mike and Carol from ETC. Jay and Sara rode with us until the first rest stop. Again, it was a fast-paced group for the first section of riding. We relaxed a bit on the second portion during which time Mike and Carol had 2 flats and Jim’s saddle needed adjustment once. The mountains were all out, though. You could see Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Jefferson, and even Mt. Hood! The smell of the high desert sage was wonderful.
Spent quite a bit of time at the rest stop just lazing around and visiting. Sheila and I stretched out our legs on the homeward stretch ending with 61 miles at 17+ mph again.

Spencer in front of Mt. BachelorMonday we did the optional ride for hardcore climbers. We called it RAMBOD (Ride Around Mount Bachelor in One Day). They called it the Cascade Lakes Loop. We went up Century Drive 20 miles to Bachelor Ski area. Then we looped down through some of the prettiest territory in the state. There were lots of little lakes and mountain pastures framed by the bulk of South Sister. We’d brought lots of extra water in our pannier, but had run out by the time we got to Devils Lake. A friendly couple from Wisconsin headed to Crater Lake refilled our bottles from their supply.
We continued cruising along at 25-35 mph through a long descent through the forest. It was grand. We eventually turned toward Sunriver, our next water stop.
From there it was another 11 mile climb up to Century Drive. A butterfly paced us for about 3 miles of the climb, apparently attracted by the bright colors of our jerseys. Or maybe she was just making fun of our speed. The climb took us another hour and a half in the hot, afternoon sun. We were more than ready for the payback – 18 miles down, down, down to Bend. We completed our 100 miles in almost exactly 8 hours clock time! We averaged 15.3, a very respectable rate for a ride with 6,000 feet of elevation gain.

Thursday, July 14: Today was our last big training ride before RAMROD. We followed the cue sheet for a 120 mile ride from Marymoor Park to Snoqualmie Pass and back with about 5525’ of elevation gain. As it turned out it was only 116 miles. We managed to complete the ride with a 16 mph average, about 9 hours clock time, with 7:15 saddle time. We’re feeling strong and ready for RAMROD. We’re hoping that taking this next week completely off (sitting a meditation retreat) won’t be an issue. We do plan to do at least one easy 50 mile ride between when we return and RAMROD, two weeks from today. The switchbacks up to Denny Creek were awesome. The road was smooth with little traffic and lots of shade. Too bad we had such strong headwinds pedaling back down the pass.

Mar 23, 2004

2004 Overview

Sheila & Spencer at the Grand Canyon

This is us at the Grand Canyon on last fall’s GABA tour. As always you can click the image to see it larger.

This year is off to a great start. We’ve been out on the tandem more often in the early months of the year (200+ miles before our spring trip to Tucson), partly due to better weather (thank you Global Warming). We feel strong as we’ve been taking spinning classes and lifting weights over the winter months. We just returned from spending Spring vacation in Tucson with friends we met on last fall’s Grand Canyon to Mexico tour.

We organized the Northwest Tandem Rally in Lacey, WA Memorial Day weekend. That took a lot of time that might otherwise have been devoted to riding.

Our plans for the season have been massively impacted by our decision to sell our house. Take time to read all about our self- contained tour around the Big Island of Hawaii.

We’ve done fewer organized rides this year than ever. We did the Camano Climb and the Rhody Tour. Also the Mountain Lakes Challenge and RAPSODY Ride Around Puget Sound.

Jan 23, 2003

S2 Cycling Team 2003 Trips

This photo was taken by Spencer’s brother Chris at the Northwest Tandem Rally. The rally route went right by Chris’ house on Bailey Hill Road in Eugene, Oregon.

This is the first year that we’ve actually gotten out on our tandem in the winter. In the first two weeks of the year we actually did two rides totalling more than 55 miles. Not a lot but for January in Seattle, not bad. In February we only rode once (36 miles). In March we headed to Arizona and put on 172 miles. So we feel like we got off to the best start ever. At the end of the season our total mileage is at an all-time high of 3,586. You can read all about our training season here.

Below are the major trips we have completed this year. Each is linked to our photo journals about the trip.

  • March: We  flew to Phoenix to visit friends and get in some informal riding in the sunshine. Click here to read all about it and see photos.
  • July 12: We completed our 4th STP. Read all about it here.
  • July 13-19: Immediately following the STP rode the week-long Tour-BC.
  • Sept. 27-Oct. 4: GABA: Grand Canyon to Mexico Bicycle Tour
Jul 14, 2001

2001 STP

In 2001 we rode a lot of back-to-back days on the weekends including rides in Richland, Vancouver, Millersylvania, Camano Island, all over, really. We did 123 miles at the Pendleton version of the NWTR even though Sheila was sick the first day.

We were more ready for our STP experience this year than last year mostly because we knew what to expect. We trained steadily in the spring, helped by a drought which made for very few rainy day rides. One big difference in our prep was that we didn’t do a century prior to the STP. But since we did Tour de Blast (85 miles) and the Triple Trident (81 miles) back to back, we figured we were ready.

We left our house in the early morning and quickly were joined by 3 singles (Mark, Mike and Dodd) who rode a similar pace. The 5 of us took turns pulling our paceline from Kent almost to Centralia. We averaged 17.5 for the day and had no unscheduled stops. Between Yelm and Centralia Mike began dropping behind. His two friends eventually dropped away from us to stay with him. They had been good partners, but we had further to go that day.

We ended our day at St. Mary’s Center, mile 123. We’d stayed there in 2000. We arrived early enough in the afternoon (just after 2) that we got our choice of rooms. Sheila said it would be nice to sleep together and the organizers gave us the only double which had its own shower! Heavenly! We had a large dinner and went to sleep early.

It was a good thing we slept well because at 4:30 we were woken by the kitchen crew preparing breakfast on the other side of our wall. This was the drawback to the double. Since we couldn’t sleep, we were first in line for breakfast and were out of there by 5:20. It was cool, but now we were just focused on getting to Portland. We flew. There were no crowds anywhere, not surprisingly. When we got to Hwy 30 our speed rose to a steady 20-21 mph with gust of 24-25. We ended the day at 10:40. We were 3 hours earlier than our luggage! Our two-day average was 17.7! We spent a lot of time strolling around the finish area and taking pictures of every tandem we saw cross the line.

That evening we had a big BBQ at Andrew’s, with Mom, Dad, John, Cindy, Emmy and all of John’s kids there. It was quite a party. We think next time we need to get a line of tandems going. That would really be great!

Jul 8, 2000

S2Cycle does 2000 miles in year 2000

Click to enlargeAfter our first season on our used tandem we knew we loved the sport and would like to set the goal of riding the STP (Seattle to Portland) this year. The 200-mile, two-day ride requires a good bit of training, so we decided to trade in our used tandem for a new one built-to-fit. In January we purchased a beautiful chameleon-colored Rodriguez Toucan later dubbed “SweatHard” (shown to the left at the STP finishline).

Given the weather in the northwest we knew we needed a serious plan to get out and train adequately. We attended the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike Expo in mid-February and picked up brochures for all the organized rides. The next weekend we took out our calendars, the brochures and our bike books as well as the club’s suggested training schedule. We proceeded to map out every weekend from March through the event July 8-9. We signed up for every organized ride we could, figuring that having paid for the ride would get us out no matter the weather and that the variety of terrains would keep it interesting. And we were right.

We took SweatHard out for a few short rides on the Burke Gilman (BG) Trail to make sure everything fit properly. The first organized ride of the season was the McClinchy Mile on St. Patrick’s Day week-end. Outfitted in all new rain gear, including booties, this was the first time Sheila intentionally chose to ride in bad weather. We both found the 25 mile ride challenging, especially riding into the hard rain and wind the last few miles.

Click to enlargeThe next day we did a self-directed 35 mile ride on the BG Trail which is flat. The training season continued like that with rides every Saturday and Sunday, progressively adding more miles most weekends. It was really fun to travel around for the rides. Our plan took us to Eastern Washington a couple of times, down to Vancouver, Washington, over to the Kitsap Peninsula more than once and around several islands. One of the most notable rides was the Camano Climb, in early May, a 50 mile island perimeter ride with a 4500’ elevation gain. Needless to say, it was extremely hilly. One hill was so steep (dry road, and straight with no cross traffic) that we actually hit a maximum speed of 52.7 mph! It was scary but fun. Another particularly notable ride was the Tour De Blast, a 64 mile ride UP Mt. Saint Helens. It was a rainy day and toward the end it started snowing because we’d climbed so high. They actually turned us around before we got to the top!

We used heart-rate monitors to track how we were doing. We found that Spencer, as Captain in the front, tended to always work too hard and therefore Sheila couldn’t work hard enough to get into her heart-rate training zone, falling into Spencer’s shadow. So the challenge was for Spencer to let up and Sheila to build strength, making us a stronger team.

Click to enlargeWe love riding the tandem. It’s a great feeling to do something so physical together. Sheila’s role as Stoker included making sure we ate and drank frequently enough and that we always did some yoga stretches when we stopped for toilet breaks (which was often).

We rode our first century (100 mile ride) at the end of June, choosing a flat route and a sunny day. It took us nearly 7 hours, averaging 15 mph. We felt ready for our big ride. But first there was the NW Tandem Rally over the Fourth of July weekend on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s very cool to ride with hundreds of other tandems. According to our training plan we took it light that weekend, skipping the ride up to Hurricane Ridge.

Click to enlargeJuly 8th…the big weekend arrived. We got up at 4:30 and headed out our door at 5 a.m. We arranged logistics so we didn’t have to go to the crowded UW starting point. We joined the ride in- progress at the 1.5 mile mark. It was exhilarating to be riding with so many others (7,000 riders all together). Getting an early start meant no lines at the rest areas. Based on advice from veterans, we’d decided to make our first day the longer one. Most two-day riders stop at 100 miles, and yes, some do ride it in one day. We rode on to our overnight destination of St. Mary’s Conference Center in Toledo at 123 miles (our longest single ride). Except for intense headwinds for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, it was good biking weather, dry and cool. The next day, after a big pancake breakfast, we headed out by 8 a.m. with our friends Rick & Carol (who’d unfortunately suffered a flat in the gym overnight).

Click to enlargeThe thing about riding a tandem in an event like this is that all the “half-bikes” like to draft on us. That’s OK, except they rarely take a turn relieving us in the front. Toward the last half of the second day (after the Longview Bridge) we had a tandem come up on us who asked if we’d like relief leading the pack that was drafting on us. We were, of course, delighted.

We ended up riding with Pat & Mike the rest of the way in, taking turns leading. It was great fun. We lost the drafters because we were pushing each other faster then they could keep up, hitting 20-23 mph, which we couldn’t do alone. Our average speed over the two-day ride was 16.2 mph for 203 miles. Our actually riding time was 12:33. It was a sunny day and we really felt like we’d accomplished something when we crossed under a finish line banner and were handed finisher patches. We didn’t hang out much for the festival at the park. We were eager to find our car (driven down to Portland by our friend Earle) and head over to Spencer’s sister Emily’s house for a hot shower, change of clothes and a hot meal.

Click to enlargeSummer being what it was with a meditation retreat and Camp UKANDU, etc, we didn’t get out much after the STP. But we knew we wanted to break 2000 miles for the year 2000 and we were close. So we planned a mini- vacation and took SweatHard up on the Victoria Clipper to Canada for a few days. It was gorgeous weather. We rode from downtown Victoria out to Butchart Gardens and to our B& B. The next day we took the Galloping Goose Trail out to Sooke Harbor. This trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail and is built on abandoned rail beds and trestles. Not all of it is paved but we were able to ride the tight-packed gravel most places. We hit our 2000 mile mark for the year 2000 while on this scenic trail.

We had so much fun that we immediately started talking about what we might do next season. We planned to train for the STP again. Only in 2001 we wanted to continue riding and do both RSVP and RAW in preparation for a weeklong trip touring the fall colors in New England.

May 30, 1999

1999: Our first year of tandeming

Click to enlargeIn 1999 Sheila and I became the proud owners of a Davidson, custom built for its previous owners, and made with high quality components. We got it at an auction, so paid only about half of what it cost. It was dubbed “The Schoolbus”, shown left.

We spent quite a bit of time on it, once we got it set up to fit us. We toured the daffodil country, the tulip fields, and a couple of the islands in our neighborhood. But, by far the most fun was when we went to the annual Northwest Tandem Rally.

Held in Corvallis on Memorial Day weekend, the event boasted more than 325 tandems. We all began the first day’s ride with a mass start in downtown Corvallis. It took 45 minutes for the group to snake through downtown and the OSU campus. Then, we opted for the shorter, 36 mile course. That included one incredible hill climb that resulted in a top speed of 37 mph coming down the backside.

We saw all kinds of riders ranging from teens to couples in their 70s. One family rode a triple with a trailer attached for their smallest children. Everyone had a smile and a story to tell of the wonders of tandeming. We were hooked on the sport before the end of the first day.

The second day found us on a 57 mile course with its steepest hills reserved for the last five miles! What an unpleasant surprise! The good news was that we not only charged up all of the hills, but we weren’t sore from the previous day’s exertions.

Click to enlarge1999 was pre-digital camera so we don’t have a lot of photos of our first year. Thought you’d enjoy seeing this great snow tandem Spencer built on our back deck. This photo won first place in the Bike Expo photo competition on behalf of ETC.