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Old 08-19-09, 05:23 AM   #1
jppe
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Near Disaster

I commuted to work today-about 10 miles. The van was in the shop and didn't have any customer visits planned. On the way home I got in my regular Tuesday night ride by going the long way and wound up with 50 miles for the day.

About 15 miles from the house the regular group I ride with came screamingly fast past me. My neighbors were on their tandem and were setting a pace only a tandem can maintain. I was still recovering from the hot 100 miler from the weekend and the legs felt like noodles and I was only able to get my heart rate up to about Zone 3. However, I jumped on the gas and was able to somehow reel in the small group.

Everything was going just super until about 5 miles from the end. The last stretch is along a 4 lane road with a wide shoulder. The tandem was out front and doing 30 mph and I was tucked in nicely and very close to their rear wheel. They hit a rock with the rear tire and apparently got a snake bite. The rear tire went flat pretty quickly.

Because the pilot was very experienced on the tandem, he knew to try and avoid the brakes and avoid a quick stop. However, the rear of the bike quickly starting going out of control. The rear went completely over into the lane of traffic and the pilot had to go the same way to keep the bike from going down. He did a masterful job of slowing it down and keeping the bike upright until they could get it stopped.

It was my first time seeing a tandem with a flat and had no idea they could go uncontrollable to quickly. Pretty scary......

Last edited by jppe; 08-19-09 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 08-19-09, 06:04 AM   #2
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Good thing that you were behind a guy who knew what he was doing. Kudos to him.
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Old 08-19-09, 06:39 AM   #3
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Good thing that you were behind a guy who knew what he was doing. Kudos to him.
Yup. Near disaster is right. I know a guy who was following an inexperienced rider when something like that happened. He eventually went down and broke both elbows.
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Old 08-19-09, 06:53 AM   #4
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I'm happy that you didn't go down behind the tandem. Chain reactions to an event like that are usually what causes crashes on group rides and races.

The back story in the OP's thread is why is his van, with over 500,000 miles, in the shop? jppe, are you attempting a mileage record with the intentions of getting a "free new van" from the manufacture?
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Old 08-19-09, 09:48 AM   #5
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At 30 mph, a crash may have resulted in a hospital trip for all those involved with severe consequences. Consider yourself lucky. Control of a tandem under adverse conditions has a lot to do with the stoker's reaction i.e. stoker steer. Any movement of the stoker requires a correction by the captain slightly changing direction. This happens even under normal operating conditions. Under emergency conditions, stoker steer can be a real problem.
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Old 08-19-09, 10:00 AM   #6
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My respect for experienced tandem pairs, already high, just when up another notch.
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Old 08-19-09, 11:00 AM   #7
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It was my first time seeing a tandem with a flat and had no idea they could go uncontrollable to quickly. Pretty scary......
Any bike going 30 mph and getting a flat can get uncontrollalbe pretty quick. It also tends to kick up your heart rate to the next level. Glad all were safe.
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Old 08-19-09, 11:39 AM   #8
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I have experience of snakebites at over 30mph and rear is not "Too" bad. Front and it is an instant involuntary dismount. Only had that once but once was enough.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:34 PM   #9
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........ Control of a tandem under adverse conditions has a lot to do with the stoker's reaction i.e. stoker steer. ......
We're new to the tandem scene but I'm with Hermes on this one. We now have about 1000 miles on our tandem since Feb-09. When an alarming situation occurs, you suddenly have two people reacting and trying to drive the bike, one with a steering mechanism and one without.

We've had two flats, both on the same ride and due to a rim tape problem on the front wheel. Neither was too exciting. I hope it never gets too exciting.

My stoker has a more upright riding position due to a medical conditon and I'm still trying to get her to tuck in behind me and close her eyes on turns above 15 mph.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:41 PM   #10
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The back story in the OP's thread is why is his van, with over 500,000 miles, in the shop? jppe, are you attempting a mileage record with the intentions of getting a "free new van" from the manufacture?

Just getting a little work done on the AC. The compressor is still chugging right along but the evaporator needed replacing. I checked out the CARS credits but even with the potential $4500 rebate I can't find anything that can haul bikes as nicely as the van does.
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Old 08-21-09, 03:30 PM   #11
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You have had a lot of adversity lately, so better cool it for a bit. Don't want to hear a third scary story from you. Thirty mph is mighty impressive.

You will recall that I replaced my Previa with a Sienna last summer. The Sienna is a great van and pretty good for carrying bikes, but not quite as good as the Previa. The Previa is taller, which make for easier loading. I still carry my bikes upright, but have to put them on a 45 deg angle until I get the saddle past the hatch. I am pulling for you to keep the Previa another 100,000 miles.
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Old 08-21-09, 05:47 PM   #12
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A Tandem has a lot of Kinetic energy at such speeds. My admiration for the Captain of that ship and congratulations that you were not hurt.
I know the feeling if a Tandem goes out of control with about 400# in motion of 20-30 MPH.
Watch out. It can kill you.
But it is soo much fun going fast.
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Old 08-25-09, 01:15 AM   #13
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Yes, if you want to become Really Good on a bike, then get some experience 1) riding the track, and 2) piloting a tandem. I'm not surprised the tandem was driven so skillfully. You learn quite a bit very quickly when you sit on the front of a tandem because you have no choice! The fact that an experienced stoker would trust the pilot at that speed demonstrates the high degree of competence required. In an emergency, the stoker's life is completely in the hands of the pilot; the stoker can do absolutely nothing, but that is exactly the best thing to do.

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