Join Date: May 2008
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Bikes: Ibis Cousin It converted to a drop bar road cruiser, Comotion Speedster, garage full of half bikes
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Tandem Ride Report - D2R2
Sue and I gave our upgraded Ibis its final exam yesterday at the Franklin Land Trust D2R2 (Deerfield Mass). We opted for the 180K route with a claimed 16,000 feet of climbing (our Garmin said it was a bit less).
The ride was spectacular. Very well organized, great support and great volunteers. The route was impressive. Incredibly scenic. Wonderfully quiet backroads, mostly dirt, many not more than cowpaths. Of our 9 hours and 20 minutes ride time, we spent in excess of 2 1/2 hours riding slower than 10 km/hr. On one 27% dirt pitch we were riding at 5 km/hr (barely faster than people walking their bikes, which was most of them). According to the Garmin we climbed for 65 km in 5 1/2 hours and descended 81 km in 2 1/2 hours. Generally the climbs were much steeper than the descents (which was a good thing). Only 33 km were flat. Most of the big climbs were dirt, and much of that was in the shade due to the tree lined roads/trails. We were able to ride absolutely everything.
The descents were equally impressive, some dirt and some pavement. Many of them went on for 5 or 6 km and flowed very well. The biggest dropped 1200 feet in 6 km. All were very fast. My style was to let the bike run until I absolutely had to brake which meant we were much faster than nearly everyone else on the trails on the downhills. The surface was generally loose gravel, some sand, some hardpack. Most of the gravel downhills were a reasonably wide doubletrack so passing was fairly safe. On one narrow and twisty dirt downhill I had to make three high speed (from 70 kph or so) stops in quick succession and although I could feel the heat radiating off the disc, braking remained solid. The last descent was quite rocky. Sue found the gravel descents quite scary. I was confident that faster was safer for brake heat management and she accepted that but was still nervous. She had no problem with the high speed paved descents.
I've described the bike elsewhere but it's an early 90's Ibis Cousin It MTB tandem. This past spring I put on a Cannondale Fatty Tandem fork with a Shimano CX75 caliper and 200 mm Ice Tech rotor. Wheels are 36 spoke White industries hubs and Ambrosia Mojo 26" rims. Drop bars front and rear. Shimano Ultegra 9 spd with 54/39/26 up front and 11/32 in the back. XT V brake for rear wheel braking with a Travel Agent. Tires are 26x2.1 Ritchey Speedmax at 60 psi. I was concerned about my tire choice but once on the ride I quickly realized it was perfect. We passed a lot of riders changing flat tires but bottoming out was not a risk for us. There wasn't enough flat paved road to worry about the extra rolling resistance and the added traction was welcome on the climbs. We also installed a Specialized Cobl Gobbler on the back just before the ride. For the first few hours Sue didn't think it made a difference but when we finished she realized she felt far better than she should have so it probably helped a great deal.
The bike was awesome. We had to be strategic in choosing when to shift to granny but otherwise shifting was good. The handling was fantastic even on loose surfaces and hitting some good bumps and holes at high speed. The only worry I have is around braking. My 9 spd levers don't take up as much cable as the new 10 speed levers that the caliper is designed for so when the pads aren't perfectly adjusted I don't have as much working travel as I'd like to have. Despite that, our braking was as good as the friend with us on his single with canti's. Heat management was a big worry. At least one single bike yesterday blew out a rear tire by overheating the rim. I mentioned three quick panic stops and though I could feel the heat radiating off it the only lasting effect was changing the colour of our disc from shiny silver to a dull black. It's still true and still works great. I did adjust the pads at three of the rest stops to maximize the working range of the lever. Should have adjusted the v brakes too because by the end they weren't very effective.
I've attached a couple of pictures. No, we weren't riding a triple, the guy in the middle was our half bike riding friend. He was content to wait for us on the climbs and then he'd tuck into the draft for the descents. The two photos of climbs were pretty typical of the course. No pictures of descents because we were both too busy holding on.
ps: approved for publication by the stoker!