Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jeff and Michelle at

Check out the tandem adventures of Jeff and Michelle at their interesting and informative website. Don't miss his handlebar camera mount!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post Ike Ride

This past Saturday saw our first look at Fulshear and the surrounding area after the hurricane. Gas is becoming more available in Houston by the day so none of us were too worried about burning the fuel for the 60 mile round trip ride to Fulshear. Frankly, I did not know what to expect. I packed an extra tube in addition the the two tubes I ordinarily carry. I was fully prepared to find roads blocked by trees and littered with other hazards. I needn't have worried.

While many trees, including some really huge ones, were down, none of them were blocking the roads. Most of the fallen trees had already been cut up and were awaiting pick up and disposal. We saw several burning brush piles in the fields we passed. This is apparently a quicker disposal method than waiting for pick up. On the whole though, the roads were just as they've always been: smooth, quiet and free of debris. Not a single flat in the group for the whole ride.

My stoker was glad to get back on the road.

Our pack consisted of me and Liz on the Seavo, Danny, Ken, George, Jim and Wayne. We rode the "neighborhood" route. 38 miles in all.

Most of the large trees that succumbed to the storm were hollow at their core, like these above. This must be some disease process and, no doubt, contributed to their demise.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The New Back to Back

Hurricane Ike has made me count my blessings lately. I and my family and friends have come through the storm without any injury or significant inconvenience. We don't have power yet, but the gas lines are getting a little shorter and the weather has been unseasonably cool. I've slept with the windows open every night. The other bright spot on the horizon is my new back to back tandem.

I'm buying Bill Cook's back to back prototype racing bike. It wasn't actually for sale, but Danny gave him a ring and asked if he would be interested in letting it go. Bill is one of the founders of Barcroft Cycles and has designed and built some really elegant, fast and comfortable bikes. Bill's tandem racing partner, Chris Burkhardt, designed the Barcroft Columbia tandem. It seems that Bill and Chris Burkhardt were planning on building a new tandem anyway and decided that this might a good time to get the project started. So, I am the happy and excited buyer of Bill's one of a kind, prototype back to back. Bill's getting it repainted for me and doing some other tweaking and I can't wait till it arrives. I'm also delighted by the fact that my stoker is just as excited as I am about our new arrival.

The bike sits significantly lower than the Flevo and should be easier to mount and dismount. That's going to add to the confidence factor of my stoker. My healing right leg will like it too. The bike is also shorter and lighter than the Flevo. Twenty pounds lighter. That will make for easier starts, especially on uphills. Since the bike is lower, I expect it to be faster than the Flevo. In addition, as Bill says, "Low bikes look cool."

That's Bill in the yellow wind breaker in the stoker seat. The bike rides on 20" wheels.

Here's the bike in the foreground with Ray Brick's carbon back to back right along side.

I'm not sure how much shorter this bike is than the Flevo, but I always have the Flevo trailor if I need it. Like the Flevo, this amazing bike comes apart for transport if necessary.
By the way, my friend David had told me what a pleasure it was to do business with Bill. Now I have first hand experience and I couldn't agree more. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll be in the market for a Barcroft Columbia.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

No Ride Today - Closed for Ike

I'm writing this morning from Conroe, 50 miles north of Houston. We are sheltering at a friends house. There is no power here. We have a generator so we have coffee, radio and some lights. I'm typing on a laptop running on batteries. When we came here Wednesday it was on the assumption that moving this far north would afford a little protection, but that was a vain hope. Just outside the patio I can see a huge oak tree that came down during the night. It landed on and crushed our neighbor's garage and three cars. It could have been alot worse. The radio is telling us that the Houston water supply may be contaminated and that water should be boiled. Fortunately, I have alot of bottled water laid back.

My daughters remained in Houston and they have texted me that they are fine.

With any luck we'll be back on the road in Fulshear next weekend. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A New Back to Back

I can't think of adding another bike to my stable without thinking of my friend David who has so many bikes he has to warehouse them. Right now I have two tandems, the Seavo and the Flevo, and I ride them almost exclusively. For me, the Seavo is probably the perfect conventional recumbent tandem. It's sturdy, relatively easy to transport, comfortable, stable and fast. The Flevo introduced me to the world of back to back tandeming and I haven't looked back (pun intended). It's a speed machine compared to the Seavo and certainly draws smiles and comments wherever we ride it. It does have some things characteristics I'd like to improve on, however.

First, it's heavy. At almost 70 pounds, it can be tricky to start uphill. A lighter bike would be a better climber and easier to start. Second, it's long. At 13 feet, it won't fit on any rack. My transport choices are either to break it down every time I ride it or trailer it as I have been doing the last few months, thanks to David. Part of that 13 feet is due to the sliding cranks that can move to fit the size of the captain and stoker. That's a convenient feature, but beyond the cranks there usually a good 2-3 feet of unused boom. So, I like to have back to back that's shorter. That means a design that adjusts for the rider by moving the seats, not the cranks. Here's an example:

I'm working on closing a deal on a new back to back that will solve these problems. If I find the right bike, I might put the Flevo on the market to pay for it. More this week when the deal is done.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Paul's New Tandem

I've been following the construction of Paul's new semi-recumbent tandem for a few months now. He bought the one of a kind frame on ebay and then went to work. He ordered some of the parts and fabricated others. This past weekend I convinced him to bring it out to Fulshear for a demo ride. The first surprise was when he pulled up in his car with no bike rack. I thought maybe he had forgotten the bike or had decided just to come out and watch the ride. In fact, he had tucked the whole bike in his trunk. That has to be a first for a tandem and a two door!

I met Paul and Cyndy when they rode the Tour D' Houston earlier this year. They had rented and EZ Tandem but had no way to get it to and from the ride. I was recovering from my broken femur. I could drive and hobble around, but I wasn't riding yet so I volunteered the Tahoe and Draftmaster to transport them. They completed the ride, but Paul wasn't crazy about the EZ Tandem. Later he tried out my Seavo. Eventually he settled on the semi-recumbent configuration. After looking at the Bilenky and the Harmony tandems he decided to build his own. This is the result.

Ken, David, Wayne and Marty joined us for the ride.