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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 02-13-11, 11:10 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Tandem Slugs Conquer Palm Springs

Sherrill and I drove down early on Friday to Palm Springs arriving in plenty of time to unload, dine and relax in the evening. Agreed to meet Team Specbill and at 6:40 about 1/2 mile past the start line. The temps were warmer than forecast and I was overdressed and not smart enough to shed more clothes before our start.

We set out at 6:45 on the opening 15 mile, 75'/mile climb that found me overheating not 1/2 way up. We told Team Specbill to keep going; we would meet up with them briefly much later in the ride. Palm Springs is noted for being tandem friendly and I would certainly agree, but we needed a bit more of a warm-up, less of a headwind and a captain smart enough to take it easy for 10 miles.

A few other ride notes, comments and observations:

1. Dillon road is uneventful, but there are a few nice downhills. One single rider came up to us at the next rest stop, thanked us, took our picture and e-mailed same to us our on the spot - he said he was behind us for 9 miles mostly at 40 mph. A small percentage of singles either say something or nod, but you would think singles desperate enough to wheel-suck seniors would express gratitude - go figure.

2. The first rest stop is a bit of a mess and right in the middle of the road as previously reported, but in general the rest stops were well set up and stocked with pre-packaged rider fuel. Didn't find the fresh peaches of the Marin Century or the baked goods found at other good-sized rides.

3. Lots of lights in the last 20 miles. Really hit the average speed and caused me to take special care when stopping with my cramping quads. Although I don't know that hydration was the cause this is the last warm weather long ride I'll do without my Camelbak.

4. Saw a goodly number of tandems, but didn't pass any. I'm sticking with the notion that we were not the slowest, but got a jump on all the slower tandems There were certainly some fast tandems.

5. We actually drafted a big guy on a very slight downhill which was a very nice break. Makes me wonder about all the 1/2-bike posts politely chest thumping about fast centuries mostly in a 20-bike paceline.

6. Roads were generally good, but there were a few short, really bad, filling launching stretches. We saw the aftermath of one fall caused by a section of road that had been scarified for repaving with a very sharp 2" edge on one side.

7. We didn't go to the finish area, but stopped directly at our nearby hotel so I can't speak to what they might have had to offer at the finish, but it's fair to mention that Tandem registration was only $90 while most rides these days don't offer a tandem discount.

Our riding time excluding rest stops was 6:20, not bad for us, so I think sub-6 hour is in reach for Centuries like Palm Springs, Borrego Springs and such.

We'll almost certainly do this again; the scenery, terrain, time of year and rest stops do measure up.
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Old 02-13-11, 11:48 PM   #2
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Good work, Rick & Sherrill!! Thanks for the excellent write up

Henry
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Old 02-14-11, 10:56 AM   #3
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wow, We think 15.8 average is great, can't even come close to that in CO, wish we could have come and meet some of the forums crew. Maybe next year
R&J
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Old 02-14-11, 12:38 PM   #4
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Stoker and I did this ride with a few friends on their singles. Unfortunately we all agreed it was the worst century we had participated in. 10,000 riders many of them newbies, poorly organized rest stops, food was peanut M&M's, ChexMix, oranges and bananas, supplemented with warm water. Scenery was interesting, but there was too much traffic to enjoy it. We never figured out how to get a course sheet and the course was not marked although you did not need them as there was continuous string of riders. I have not done the Borrego Springs century but have done the Stage Coach out of Ocotillo. If you are looking for a warm weather winter ride I would recommend a weekend in San Diego and the Stage Coach century.

Fortunately Palm Springs has plenty to offer in the way of fine dining so we did have a very enjoyable weekend
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Old 02-14-11, 04:57 PM   #5
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Great ride guys! I think you two are much better riders than you give yourself credit for being. I wish I could have made it to Palm Springs. It is a fun ride, except that last 20 miles or so. I wish they'd find a better ending for it.
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Old 02-14-11, 05:47 PM   #6
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Chichi, I think your comments put a more realistic spin on my "report". We avoided the crush by sneaking out a few minutes early, but we did see our share of sketchy riding. I didn't mind the traffic on the country roads, but didn't like having to cross four lanes of traffic to make an unexpected left turn. The course sheets were only available (someplace) right at the start so we didn't have one: not a big problem, but arrows on the roads in the beginning would have been much appreciated. Neither Specbill nor I had been on a ride where you couldn't get a course sheet the evening prior. Reststops - I've seen worse, but usually on small rides where expectations are lower. I had almost forgotten about the warm water since the one rest stop where I was really cooked did have cold water, but, absolutely that was atypical of organized rides. I may be aiming a bit low standards-wise since there aren't too many centuries with less than 5000' of climbing, but we're going to try Solvang next months at 5000'+.

I'm trying to figure out how to sell Solvang. Tucson was "almost flat" (sort of). Palm Springs "only had 30'/mile which isn't much for a Century" (almost worked). I think I'll characterize Solvang as a "moderate amount of climbing, but nothing long or steep" Anyone can weigh in on a better approach.
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Old 02-14-11, 08:09 PM   #7
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Solvang is not flat for sure but it's not horribly difficult. That are 6-7 notable climbs. There are a couple bumps heading into Lompoc that will get your attention. They're in the same league or less as the climb into Cambria on the Lighthouse. After Lompoc you'll climb in a series of rollers over Vandenburg and then head down to Orcutt. After you cross the 101 you'll be climbing for the next 30 miles with a couple little descents thrown in there. It's real shallow climbing for the most part just steep enough to make you work. Right at the end of (around mile84-85) it gets steeper, maybe around 5-6% for about a mile. Then you have a nice descent on a bumpy road. Right after you make the left at Zaca Station you start another 3/4 mile 4% climb then a long fun descent into Los Olivos. After you cross HWY154 you have a short steep little climb, maybe 1/2 mile but it'll hurt a bit. Be careful on the descent it's got a couple nasty hairpins that always seem to have dirt and big potholes in bad spots. After the second hairpin to the left you can open it up a bit as it's a pretty straight shot to the finish. That's the best I can do off the top of my head.
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Old 02-14-11, 08:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chichi View Post
Stoker and I did this ride with a few friends on their singles. Unfortunately we all agreed it was the worst century we had participated in. 10,000 riders many of them newbies
We had considered for a fleeting moment doing this century, but when I saw the typical number of riders we knew we wanted no part of it.

At this point in our lives we don't need the hassle of steering around countless clueless riders, no matter how pretty the course is.

Small parties are the best!
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Old 02-14-11, 10:05 PM   #9
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Maybe I am becoming or already am a crumedgeon, who knows. It was our opinion that the Palm Springs Century replaced the Solvang Century as worst century ever! While I have a personal preference for the terrain of the Solvang I found the support to be terribble, I believe I did a rant on this a couple of years ago.
If you are looking for something a little hillier with top notch organization , beg borrow and steal your way to a couple of entries to the SLO Wildflower. I can't say enough good things about this ride.

Last edited by chichi; 02-14-11 at 10:40 PM.
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