Tandem Cycling - Midwest Tandem Rally
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09-13-08, 07:44 PM
Hi, My wife & I are relatively new to tandem riding. We have been doing some 18 to 35+ mile rides near our home in North Ga & enjoying it very mush. We plan to sign up for our first rally, the 2009 GeorgiaTR.
I recently viewed the photos from the Midwest TR. It looked like great fun. We may sign up for it in 2009 also.
Did anyone here go to the midwest rally? It looks like very casual riding from the photos. I am sure there are some fast riders & a range of fitness levels. I am a stronger rider than my wife but we average 17 mph over the rolling hills of North Ga. That is just a bit slower than i average on my single for the same corse. In both cases i am really pushing the pace. Hills seem to be the crushing blow & in North Ga you are ether going up or coming down. Most of these rallies seem to be fairly flat. I guess my question is about the speed & pace of the rallies like the Georgia & Midwest. How tuff are they?
09-13-08, 08:43 PM
My wife and I rode MTR in Springfield IL this year. You are correct that people rode all speeds, distances and paces. Although central Illinois is fairly flat there were a few hills along the river that some teams walked and I was glad that we put our 11 -34 cassette on the tandem. From your description of your riding I am sure that you would do fine at MTR in 09. It is a great time meeting and visiting with people, there are workshops and interesting bicycling items in the vendor area. MTR 09 is in Rochester, Minn.
09-13-08, 09:47 PM
Have done many tandem rallies, inluding several MTRs (inluding the first one in Kokomo, IN in 1976).
The rides offer varying distances with an ice cream social usually on Friday.
Bit longer rides all the way up to centuries on the next 2 days.
Folks hauling kidz in trailers, trai-a-bikes to hard core nose to the wheel riders. There is something for all teams, including FUN!
Yup, do it, attend a rally . . . you'll be glad you did!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
09-13-08, 10:23 PM
I guess my question is about the speed & pace of the rallies like the Georgia & Midwest. How tuff are they?
This may help... as this is what you'll find at the larger (50+ teams) tandem rallies:
My unofficial heirarchy of tandem teams:
Elite Teams: Teams who transcend all others in terms of fitness and endurance, most likely genetically gifted and making the most of it with a few other teams that have simply trained hard and long enough -- usually chasing racer boys or riding brevets instead of riding mostly alone or with other tandem teams.
A Teams: Often seen in the company of Elite teams, A Teams are the ones who are always at the front or off the front. Although some are genetically gifted or amortizing racing legs that haven't turned a crank in anger for several years, most of these riders have the discipline and have set aside time for fitness training and regular training rides. Elites will usually hang with the A Teams which can blur the lines between an Elite Team and an A Team.
B Teams: Former A Teams (Elites rarely fall below A Team levels), new teams on their way to A Team status, and all other forms of fast recreational "weekend warriors" who ride their tandems almost every weekend, but who haven't incorporated a more rigorous training program into their weekly schedules. Some B Teams will have one team member who is easily an Elite or A Team rider on a single bike where the other is a C Team or "civilian" cyclist that causes them to temper their performance. A Teams and even Elites will often times “play nice” and hang back with the B Teams at tandem rallies and events, but it’s usually short lived. Invariably, at some point the Elites and A Team will get on the front and start pushing a tempo that is just too brutal for the B Team to sustain where upon the B Team riders will usually allow (or downright encourage) the A Team and Elites to just "go on ahead".
C Teams: Pretty much all of the other teams who are more advanced that "civilian cyclists", but who have no desire to run with the "faster" teams. This includes a wide variety of tandems teams, including those who "could" ride with the A or B Teams but who would rather enjoy their time on the tandem at a more relaxed pace, perhaps even taking time out to smell the roses or to enjoy a cup of coffee at an impromptu or regular ride stop. Yes, you could easily further divide C Teams into C+ and C- or any one of a variety of other classifications; however, I’m fairly confident that the C Team is best looked at as “the big tent” where more than ½ of the tandem teams can find a nice fit without resorting to caveats for recumbents, multiseat triplets, quads, quints, semi-recumbents, trikes, tandems with trail-a-bikes, parent-child teams, seasoned teams, and the like. It’s noteworthy that B Teams will often times ride with the C Teams at tandem rallies and events for a variety of reasons; visiting with friends, a desire to be more social, taking time to see the sights, or just trying to recover from the previous day’s time spent chasing down the A Team. A Teams and Elites will occasionally announce that they intend to “play nice” and ride with the B/C Teams but, more times than not, succumb to the need for speed as they push the tempo beyond the “this ain’t fun” threshold of the B/C Teams. When observed, the latter usually results in someone from the B Team "putting a letter in the file" of the offending A Team(s).
Civilian Cyclists (aka, Civilians): These are folks who ride tandems and bikes on an infrequent basis who feel more at home on bike paths and quiet country roads than they do on more busy throughfares. Absent from most riders are clipless pedals, cycling jerseys & shorts, or other cycling specific equipment that one normally sees on people who characterize themselves as cyclists. Most non-cyclists who become cycling enthusiasts transition though the Civilian Cyclist ranks. I won’t further describe Civilians because they are, as you’d expect, fairly easy to pick-out in the crowd… not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, you’ve got to start somewhere and there’s nothing to say that today’s Civilian tandem team won’t be kickin’ butt with the A Team in 12 months once they “catch the cycling bug”.
09-14-08, 06:32 AM
TG, Thank you for the excellent descriptions & thanks everyone for your responses. I can't think of any group ride that doe's not turn into a race at some point. I can imagine a national event like the MTR would draw a great range of people. It is great to hear that there is a place for every type of rider. I can't wait to do the first rally!
My wife & I have even talked about designing our own jerseys & giving them to each other as our anniversary present. I guess we have the bug!
09-14-08, 09:55 AM
As Nike says.."just do it!". We really enjoy any organized Ride or Rally when it comes to riding our Tandem. Have never done MTR but have done others. We find new places and new faces always invigorating and fun. Almost all rides have from easy to very challenging options and within each you can ride as hard or easy (time permitting) as you want. We just ride to our capabilities or our 'desires of the day' and almost always have others to enjoy the day with. These events are great ways to enjoy your Tandem.
09-14-08, 02:02 PM
In our many decades as tandemistas we have slipped from "A" team to "C" team . . . and still having fun.
09-14-08, 09:54 PM
MTR2008 was typical of most regional tandem rallies. As always, there was a wide range of team skill/fitness/attitude... from low and slow recumbents, complete with sound systems, to hyper-fit couples who finished the long route before the slowest teams completed the short. Rest assured that you will be able to find other teams to ride with. The challenge (don't ask how I know this) is to ride at your own pace and resist the urge to catch the next bike up the road or to stay with the team that rides by just a _bit_ faster than your team's preferred pace.
I am entertained by TG's descriptions. I found, in our first rally (ETR 2008) this year, that it was generally 90% "less paceline oriented" teams. This appears to be the distinction to me. Paceline people have a focus on staying together, even if it takes some work, going generally faster than average, and trading off. The captains tend to be ex-racers, and the stoker are game for the pace.
For example, on the first day, we sort of went out early and stayed with the organizer and chatting some. We were deliberately holding back, but still distanced most of the people that started with us. We decided to just sit up and wait for some people that seemed to be more like what we are used to (fastish group of singles). After a bit of a wait, a group came up with the right characteristics; they turned out to be (mostly) DOGS (NJ tandem club), and we had a great paceline ride to the stop of the day. But we got a little bored at the stop, and decided to roll out. And promptly saw nearly no one all the way back! We even stopped for lunch, and in that hour not a single tandem went by (yes, we were on the route). So we missed the memo somewhere.
The next two days were similar, except we had learned some of the people to ride with, and the group was bigger, so we gravitated toward the front and found the pace group we needed. The next day, we missed the meeting and the start. We hauled at a chase-down pace (25+) until we found some people we knew from the day before, and went with them the rest of the way.
One rally doesn't experience really make, but if ETR is typical, the "start early and wait until the train comes by" approach was easier than the "chase the train down" approach. But the best way is the "mass-start and find your group" way. But we had fun every day, and hope to be able to get down to PA next year.
09-15-08, 09:27 PM
Having ridden at 4-5 MTRs, I've personally found that the strategy that has you seeing the majority of the teams is the most fun. If you're a faster than average team, start at the back and pass through the pack. If you're slower than most, start at the front. This probably doesn't make for optimal traffic flow, but it gets you meeting and seeing almost everyone, which is one of the main attractions of these things to me. I am constantly entertained by quads and quints with entire families riding together, by teams that make the funniest costumes (including home-made biking shorts in outrageous colors/patterns), by charming couples that are willing to share their stories, by inventive tandem accessories, by temas that have the same make/model bike as ours, etc. Yes, it's a time for some good rides that are the result of a lot of thought and planning, but the personal stories you hear are special.
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