Doing Moab White Rim Trail on a tandem over a 3 or 4 day period?
I don't know if any of you have done the White Rim Trail on a tandem, but my question is whether a road tandem with *lots* of gears could be used to do this trail after we switch out the wheels and tires to use mountain bike wheels/tires? The Stoker has a shock-absorbing seatpost, but in this scenario the captain would still be using the road style drop bars up front. Gearing is not the problem, and it looks as if we have clearence, etc. to use the mountain bike wheels and tires on it. Would this be do-able for a dirt jeep trail that they say is "introductory" ? With the tire change I suppose it would be similar to a cross bike.
A bit more info if it matters. We have 700cx26 road tires on now, and front and rear disc brakes.
My buddies and I did an organized white rim tour with Western Spirit some years ago, on single mountain bikes. If you stay on the white rim trail itself, you will be sharing it with SUV's. It is pretty benign with a bit of sand here and there. We encountered a group of road tandems pulling trailers with their provisions-which included plenty of water-an absolute must if you are self supported. The name of the game out there is HYDRATE. If you take a tour that gets a bit more adventurous, and does, for example, a descent of the Schafer trail (a seemingly endless rocky descent that left my quads burning-just staying off the saddle)...or a climb up Murphy' Hogback, I couldn't imagine a road bike. We did, however, have one senior gentleman who did the entire ride on a basic hybrid with not-so-wide tires! To my taste, it was the down and back up and onto the rim that was the most interesting and fun, but the climbing would be challenging on any tandem. The afformentioned Hogback, was brutal on a single mountain bike with a 34 tooth cog on the back. Again, if you stay on the rim, no big deal.
I also did the White Rim trail, 96 miles in four days, with a guide/support truck from Rim Tours.
I think the described sand would be a drag to deal with on a tandem, but doable.
As a mountain-bike challenge, it isn't too technical, but I was on a fully suspended bicycle. The technical bits are mostly shorter, up and down hogbacks where the trail can't follow the canyon edge. Therefore, even if the loss of traction due to loose surface meant that I had to just let loose and ride it out, the speed buildup was manageable.
If you do a four-day, there's one outside turn on day three, down one of the hogbacks, where missing it has you tumble down a shale slope. Even the guides walked their bikes.
The big questions in my mind are:
1) Have you and the stoker ridden the tandem on reasonably challenging fire-roads? Depending on season and time since maintenance, the White Rim is about as bad (in short stretches) as fire roads get and still be SUV navigable.
2) Is it acceptable to you to walk the bike up and down some of the hogbacks?
3) What's your support situation? We went in September, but had unseasonably hot weather. Our crew drank >1.5, almost 2 gallons of water per day per person, more than they planned for. The guides were going to have to drive out and get water after making camp on night 3, but fortunately one rider caught his wheel in a gully, flipped, and broke his wrist. So they could fill the waterjugs while doing the hospital trip.
If you consider four days, two people, 2gal, that's 16 gallons of water, so 128 pounds. I've always thought that an unsupported trip would have to be a two-day trip.