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Our tandem X-country so far; team age, 127

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Our tandem X-country so far; team age, 127

Old 07-15-21, 03:49 PM
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sapporoguy
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Our tandem X-country so far; team age, 127

Tandem friends:

I wasn't sure we'd make it past the Sierra Nevada, self-supported on our Co-Mo Speedster and both of us in our 60s. But we find ourselves in Kansas, my wife of 42 years and I, on a tour from SF that has gone exceedingly well so far.

So I thought I'd drop a line here and a few pix, in case we can inspire other tandemmers to do the same! Our route is Adventure Cycling Association's Western Express and Transamerica routes (progress map at bottom).

Above: Westcliffe, Colo., heading eastward toward the prairies.
Below, several mountain ranges earlier, arriving in Hite, Utah, at 10 a.m., temperature approaching 100.
Bottom pic:
Marienthal, Kansas, early morning.


Below: our progress after 33 riding days; each segment is one travel day (map via ridewithgps).
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Old 07-15-21, 06:05 PM
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Very inspiring...keep at it and enjoy the sights!
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Old 07-15-21, 07:48 PM
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Are you camping along the way, or is this inn-to-inn, or…?
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Old 07-15-21, 08:20 PM
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Awesome, keep posting!!. Are you blogging or chronologing your trip?
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Old 07-15-21, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by reburns View Post
Are you camping along the way, or is this inn-to-inn, orÖ?
Camping, mostly. Occasionally staying in free lodging offered to cyclists, some noted on the ACA maps. We carry tent, pads, sleeping bags, stove, 2 daysí worth of dry food and buy food at local markets. Weíve stayed in motels a few times.
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Old 07-15-21, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Alcanbrad View Post
Awesome, keep posting!!. Are you blogging or chronologing your trip?
We havenít, but I may start a thread somewhere. We find we donít have a lot of extra time or energy!
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Old 07-16-21, 08:34 AM
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Fabulous!

Thanks for sharing this. My partner and I have talked about doing a small version of this and you are showing that it is possible to go self-supported on a tandem. I better not show her this or she'll want to go tomorrow!

Thanks again. Keep it up!
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Old 07-19-21, 12:21 PM
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Awesome

What an awesome adventure and the best of luck on the rest of your trip!
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Old 07-19-21, 04:42 PM
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Thanks for the update! Stay safe and keep the rubber side down!
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Old 08-24-21, 11:23 AM
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Hoping the OP returns for update, summary, whatever. What a great adventure.
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Old 08-26-21, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
Hoping the OP returns for update, summary, whatever. What a great adventure.
OP here. We did finish, just last week! It was hard work but totally worth it.
Below, our finished legs:

A few pix from our final five states:
Kansas early morning:

Missouri:

In Illinois, waiting for ferry on the Ohio toward Kentucky:

In the hills of Appalachia in Kentucky:

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

Arriving in Yorktown, Virginia:
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Old 08-26-21, 07:36 PM
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That is awesome!
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Old 08-27-21, 04:56 AM
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Astounding ride! We would love to have more stories!
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Old 08-27-21, 08:52 PM
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Brilliant! And, judging by the last picture, it appears you are still friends. Kudos!
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Old 08-31-21, 12:11 AM
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That's great! Congratulations! As I've posted elsewhere, I just picked up a used, coupled Co-Motion for touring both here and abroad. You're awesome inspiration!!! My cross country tandem adventure would be shorter than yours because I'd be starting in Oakland

Thanks for sharing!!!
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Old 08-31-21, 04:10 PM
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We’d love to see your thoughts and learnings from such a fantastic trip! Well done!!!
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Old 09-01-21, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ferengii View Post
We’d love to see your thoughts and learnings from such a fantastic trip! Well done!!!
Thanks! As for thoughts and learning.
A sampling, some not tandem-specific:
-It was fabulous to travel while communicating constantly in real time, pedaling in sync. People seem to assume a couple would be quibbling a good deal of time, but not so for us.
-America is hilly! Dang! The toughest climbs for us were in Appalachia, short but steep and hot/humid. We developed a climbing regimen for the toughest: shift to lowest gear early; take quick breaks every 15 minutes; stoker reports data from GPS to cheer us on (e.g: "900 feet climb left over 2 miles"); slow is good--repeat the matra at low riding speed: "We're hiking, no hurry." We never had to get off and walk.
-People were far friendlier to us cyclists than I expected. Passing drivers were 99.8% considerate/safe: no close calls, surprisingly, and only 4 observed middle fingers from passing drivers.
-The Adventure Cycling Association maps are a goldmine, including the routing (mostly lovely rural roads) and info on camping/lodging.
-There's pretty good infrastructure for cyclists all along the Transamerica route, including city parks that let you camp, churches that put you up, and hostels (see pic below for one example)
-An early-morning start is invaluable, at least for summer travel. We typically got going at 4:30 a.m.: several hours of cool temperatures, much less traffic (on one road nothing passed us for 3 hours), the beauty of the sunrise, being able to call it a day mid-afternoon when it's getting hot, etc.
-Being visible is crucial. We travel with two headlights, one on the dynamo, and two tail lights, one on the dynamo. We use a big ACA safety triangle and have a flag that sticks out about 2 feet to the left with a bright flashing red light at the end. Quite a number of drivers we met after they passed us said they saw us a mile down the road. (see pic below).
-Our division of labor worked out well. As pilot, I just steered and shifted and called out bumps and such. The stoker navigated--Garmin 830 + ACA paper map--and watched her rearview mirror, calling out traffic as it approached
-The chains sure do wear out fast! (Yes, I should have known.) By Kansas, less than 2,000 miles, both our rear and timing chains were beyond worn. I had to replace chain, cassette, middle/low chainrings to get back to normal. I swapped the timing chain/rings for a Gates belt drive.
-It was fun! Even more fun than we expected!

Leaving "Al's Place" bike hostel, 2nd floor of the old jailhouse in Farmington, MO., early morning:

Trying to be visible:
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Old 09-01-21, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
My cross country tandem adventure would be shorter than yours because I'd be starting in Oakland
True, that will save you miles! We carved our own route until the Sierra foothills, joining the ACA route at Cook's Station on Route 88. So instead of the ferry to Vallejo and through Davis/Sacramento, we went: GG Bridge, Richmond Bridge, Antioch Bridge to Brannan Island park overnight, Rancho Seco park overnight, then to Cook's Station overnight. Brannan has biker-hiker campsites and is in the lovely Delta region; Rancho Seco has tent camping by a lake; Cook's Station bar/grill lets you camp on their deck. There are some busy roads but some quiet rural roads even just east of Richmond. (see below)
In the hills east of Richmond:

Delta levee road from Brannan Island, early morning:

Heading toward Sierra foothills:
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Old 09-01-21, 01:27 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to share your post-ride thoughts and lessons learned! All are helpful and useful for anyone planning a long trip.

The chain wear surprised me! Our Rohloff tandem came with Gates belts, and we have over 28,000 miles on the original set. They’ve been no problem, and have required no maintenance. It just never occurred to me that chains would wear so quickly. We travel with a backup set just in case.

We have GPS units for both the captain and stoker, but the stoker does most of the navigating. Navigation directions are usually the only “quibbling” we tend to have. Maybe I (captain) shouldn’t use the maps screen on my GPS computer.

I’m really glad that your final comment was that it was fun - and more so than you expected!
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Old 09-01-21, 01:41 PM
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Looks like a fantastic adventure! Well done.

Thanks for the nice tips and observations, too.
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Old 09-01-21, 09:04 PM
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Very inspiring ride you two! Thanks for all the information, while we may never do this, it is on my list!
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Old 09-02-21, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Magnum PI View Post
Very inspiring ride you two! Thanks for all the information, while we may never do this, it is on my list!
You should!
We started out with several 3-day self-supported trips. Then two 2-week tours. Then this.
The shorter trips confirmed we could do it and liked it, and they helped us settle on gear and develop some routines. In the end, it didn't feel like much of a jump to two months' riding from two weeks.
Meanwhile, an update: We're now team age 128 (64/64).
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Old 09-03-21, 03:50 PM
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please keep posting pictures and stories about the different sections of your trek!
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Old 09-20-21, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Magnum PI View Post
please keep posting pictures and stories about the different sections of your trek!
Will do.
Meanwhile, check our each of our 61 riding days on Instagram: karenstevetandem
I didn't figure out Instagram until we were done, so I went back and recreated it, with the route map for each day and a few pix.
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Old 10-06-21, 06:05 PM
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Got it thanks! I'll check your trek on Instagram!
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