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May we humor the noob about upgrades?

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May we humor the noob about upgrades?

Old 07-21-12, 07:19 PM
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May we humor the noob about upgrades?

I'm old (63)

I'm fluffy (245 lbs., 6'2)

I/we (Papabiker and Bababiker) recently bought our first new (used) tandem, a Santana Noventa (here) and are really enjoying riding.

The bike weights 44 lbs., and I'm already wondering about upgrading. I have no frame of reference regarding ride characteristics of tandem bikes, but love to ride my carbon road bike for instant response. I don't expect to feel the acceleration responsiveness on a tandem that I do on a road bike, but wonder how much difference 20+ lbs. makes.

We don't race, but enjoy riding as fast as old farts can usually average 15-18 mph on 20 miles, with typical Ozark rollers. I am aware of the advantages of newer technology, but my main focus is on responsiveness. Will a carbon or Ti tandem make a huge difference?
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Old 07-21-12, 08:10 PM
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Want to spend $10,000+? Then get a carbon tandem!
You are 'old' at 63?
Then what are we?
Pilot is 80, stoker is 77 and currently have 34,000+ miles on our carbon fiber tandem.Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 07-21-12, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem
Want to spend $10,000+? Then get a carbon tandem!
You are 'old' at 63?
Pilot is 80, stoker is 77 and currently have 34,000+ miles on our carbon fiber tandem.Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
No disrespect intended. Part of my quandary is whether spending $10k makes sense at our age. Your answer inspires me. Thanks.
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Old 07-21-12, 10:14 PM
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I'm "only" 59, but I'm guessing that at 63 I'll be doing my best to spend our childrens' inheritance! If you have $10K or so, and REALLY love tandeming, I say go for a nice carbon fiber tandem. Of course, it's possible to find a used carbon fiber bike, but it will probably take a while to find the right one, and it will still be a substantial investment.

On the other hand, if you like your Santana, they would be glad to sell you a very nice tandem that is considerably lighter than your current bike and has all-new and modern components and costs roughly half of a carbon-fiber bike. There are several other builders who will also be glad to compete with Santana for your business.

Ask some other tandem riders about their bikes, try to get some test rides, read, learn, and then you can decide to stay on your current bike or spend some more on a nicer bike or spend a lot more on a really nice bike.

Have fun!

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Old 07-22-12, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by papabiker
We don't race, but enjoy riding as fast as old farts can usually average 15-18 mph on 20 miles, with typical Ozark rollers. I am aware of the advantages of newer technology, but my main focus is on responsiveness. Will a carbon or Ti tandem make a huge difference?
Your demographics & riding style description is on par with at least 40% of the couples who attend tandem rallies, so you're in good company with your riding interests.

Would a new, lightweight tandem make a difference? Absolutely. Even a lighter weight set of wheels and tires would make your current tandem "feel" more agile and responsive, as would a composite fork, etc.

As for achieving a 20 pound weight reduction from your current 44 pound bike, that's probably a bit too ambitious as you'd be testing the limits of the wheels that those sub-26 pound tandems rely on to achieve those jaw dropping light weights on Paketa, Calfee and Co-Motion Macchiato tandems.

However, hitting something in the high 20's or low 30's is easily achievable with careful component selection and will yield a tandem that is still robust and handles well... within limits. You didn't share your total team weight, and really don't need to with us. However, you'll want to have a candid discussion with your dealer and/or the tandem builder with regard to how best to design a frame that will deliver the performance you need to have a comfortable, responsive and good-handling tandem, to include wheels that will provide you with thousands of miles of trouble-free service.

Bear in mind, most of these other performance tandems are designed around steering geometry that will be different from what you're presently accustomed to on the Santana. So, doing an extended test ride on at least something like a Co-Motion tandem with a composite fork or one of these other high-end tandems would be pretty important, i.e., at least a 5 mile loop that includes a break so that you can get off, walk around a bit and then be "re-introduced" to the tandem again. Even better if you could do a few miles, ride a different tandem, and then go back to the 'target' bike so that the initial impressions can be replaced by a more objective assessment.

As for from material of choice, as noted there are a LOT of options out there in the high-end tandem market, and high-end tandem acquisitions by folks of AARP age have been perhaps the strongest part of the market for several years now. There are composite offerings from Calfee as well as their bamboo tandems, magnesium-framed Paketa tandems that continue to get great reviews, titanium frames from Seven, Eriksen, and a few others, lightweight aluminum Macchiato & Robusta frames from Co-Motion, and of course your current brand of choice -- Santana -- offers a very nice composite and titanium frame with its Beyond model. All of these frames can be built up to hit a low-30 pound, rideable tandem.

As for the amount of $$ that it takes, you're into the realm of $6k to $9k frame-only cost for new models and if you opt for Di2 shifting you're looking at something in the $12-$15k range for a complete tandem with "complimentary" components & wheels. Couplers add 2.5 lbs and about $2k or more to the price of a tandem, so be sure you really plan to travel by air before swallowing that pill.

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Old 07-22-12, 12:20 PM
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We came back to tandem riding right at two years ago, we had a nice Santana Targa racing tandem that we bought new in 1989 or 1990 and rode it for a few years. Because of a family situation we quit riding and sold the tandem.

We decided to try it again and 2 years ago bought a 1989 Santana Visa from our neighbor. We both completely enjoyed riding tandem again and in a few short months decided to upgrade. After reading the TandemGeeks thorough review of their Calfee tandem build we decided to get a Calfee. We called Calfee and placed our order for the frame and fork and I started ordering components. The end result is a 27 pound tandem that we ride nearly everyday. The difference between the old heavy, slow handling Santana (mind you it is their entry level tandem and it was over 20 years old) and the new Calfee is incredible. There is no way we would want to go back to the old bike. We are both older than you are, I will be 70 in October but feel more like 40.

Ride several new tandems and do much research and if your stoker is in agreement, go for a new lightweight tandem. However go in to it knowing that the really nice ones are expensive.

Wayne
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Old 07-22-12, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
Your demographics & riding style description is on par with at least 40% of the couples who attend tandem rallies, so you're in good company with your riding interests...
Thank you for your thoughtful response. There's a lot to ponder, but you answered my essential question about whether or not riding characteristics would be dramatic. Part of my problem is that there is no tandem dealer with inventory anywhere near here - Springfield, MO - that I'm aware of.

I don't see us traveling by air enough to want the SS couplers, but I predict we will be looking at a high-end build at some point in the future. Perhaps we need to plan a road trip to a destination that offers several demo opportunities.

Does such a place exist???
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Old 07-22-12, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DubT
We came back to tandem riding right at two years ago, we had a nice Santana Targa racing tandem that we bought new in 1989 or 1990 and rode it for a few years. Because of a family situation we quit riding and sold the tandem.

We decided to try it again and 2 years ago bought a 1989 Santana Visa from our neighbor. We both completely enjoyed riding tandem again and in a few short months decided to upgrade. After reading the TandemGeeks thorough review of their Calfee tandem build we decided to get a Calfee. We called Calfee and placed our order for the frame and fork and I started ordering components. The end result is a 27 pound tandem that we ride nearly everyday. The difference between the old heavy, slow handling Santana (mind you it is their entry level tandem and it was over 20 years old) and the new Calfee is incredible. There is no way we would want to go back to the old bike. We are both older than you are, I will be 70 in October but feel more like 40.

Ride several new tandems and do much research and if your stoker is in agreement, go for a new lightweight tandem. However go in to it knowing that the really nice ones are expensive.

Wayne
Thank you, Wayne. Did you have a LBS help with component selection and assembly? I'm by no means a wrench, have a great relationship with a local shop, but there seems to be no one there who deals with tandems much.

Dave
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Old 07-22-12, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by papabiker
?...tandem dealer with inventory anywhere near here - Springfield, MO
There are many LBS that sell tandems but only 3 or 4 major tandem dealers in the country. Precision Tandems is in Kansas City https://www.precisiontandems.com/index.html . I've never been to their location, but one would assume they have inventory you can test ride. Maybe others can offer more details about exactly what they have.
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Old 07-22-12, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by papabiker
Perhaps we need to plan a road trip to a destination that offers several demo opportunities. Does such a place exist???
Precision Tandems, Lawrence, Kansas
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Old 07-22-12, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by papabiker
Thank you, Wayne. Did you have a LBS help with component selection and assembly? I'm by no means a wrench, have a great relationship with a local shop, but there seems to be no one there who deals with tandems much.

Dave
Dave,

I used the build by Mark (the TandemGeek) as a reference as well as the build by Ritterview plus information from this site. I raced for several years and built my own bikes so I can spin a wrench.

I wanted a light bike and choose the components for their weight and hopefully durability. Cost also entered into the picture, as with most projects there is a budget that needs to be adhered to. eBay was a source for many of the components.

Wayne
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Old 07-22-12, 06:26 PM
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I have an older Noventa and while they were at one time top of the line, they can benefit from updating. Low hanging fruit in my opinion: Wheels could save up to a pound or maybe two if you include tires. Cranks and fork could save 1.5 pounds. A cheap effective upgrade is seatposts. Those old Santana seatposts are great but really heavy. These and some others would not give you a new tandem but you might get to the weight area of a new steel tandem at a reasonable cost.

New Carbon tandem is top of the line and if that is in your budget then go for it.

The bike budget is a somewhat personal thing that involves financial ability and persona priorities so that is for you to decide. I will say that while we all enjoy the best , if you are going to have fun on a tandem then you will have fun on any competent tandem.
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Old 07-22-12, 06:58 PM
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One of our mottos: "Whatcha gonna do, wait 'til you get older?"
Another: "A great tandem is an investment in your continued good health".
Or: "Buy the best you can afford."
You choose . . .
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 07-22-12, 09:31 PM
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Being, perhaps, of slightly lesser economic means than some of the responders I would suggest that before you go out and spend all that money put a couple thousand miles on the current bike to see if this is really a long-term passion. I sold (single) bikes for a few years and my guess is that fully 80% of the very expensive bikes we sold ended up hanging in garages after the first couple months. I certainly didn't see them on the road. I see an awful lot of low mileage tandems for sale used.

A couple thousand miles will also give you a good feel for your current bike and a good understanding of what you want to do differently on your dream bike (gearing, tire and rim size, steering, fit, braking, etc.)
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Old 07-23-12, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris
... I would suggest that before you go out and spend all that money put a couple thousand miles on the current bike to see if this is really a long-term passion. I sold (single) bikes for a few years and my guess is that fully 80% of the very expensive bikes we sold ended up hanging in garages after the first couple months. I certainly didn't see them on the road. I see an awful lot of low mileage tandems for sale used.

A couple thousand miles will also give you a good feel for your current bike and a good understanding of what you want to do differently on your dream bike (gearing, tire and rim size, steering, fit, braking, etc.)
Brent
Sage advice...

There are a LOT of lightly used tandems sitting in garages and basements. For us, the key to our long-term love affair with tandems came from jumping in with a local group of tandem enthusiasts who we've ridden with ever since and, through them, being introduced to tandem rallies.

I suspect we would have continued to ride the tandem on our own, but I know that our off-road tandem riding pretty much dropped to zero as the couples whom we rode with moved away several years back and/or don't have as much leisure time. That -- combined with the need to load the tandem in the truck to get to a trail vs. jumping on our road tandem and riding from home -- has left the Ventana hanging in the garage with not more than 100 miles of use in 4-5 years, whereas our road tandems still get 3,500 - 4,000 miles of use each year.

Even our road mileage is down a bit from earlier years as we now spend quite a few weekends riding two up on a motorcycle with an entirely different group of friends. Again, it's the social aspects that really add to the enjoyment that comes from doing something you enjoy with others from widely diverse backgrounds that share the common interest.

So, do make sure that you and yours really have a passion for riding and, if at all possible, search out an event where you might find some other tandem teams, perhaps a tandem club outing (e.g., St. Louis-based Missouri Union of Longbike Enthusiasts MULES or group out of Nashville, TN affilliated with the Harpeth Cycling Club) or rally in the not too distant future if you think you might meeting and riding with other tandem teams.

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Old 07-23-12, 08:28 AM
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We love tandem rallies and go to the ones that we can but have a little different perspective than TandemGeek on group riding. Riding from home allows us to fit in a ride five or six days a week. It is our daily workout and time together. Group and rally riding adds some spice but the main course for us is the daily ride. As my stoker says riding the tandem is what we do.
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Old 07-23-12, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by waynesulak
We love tandem rallies and go to the ones that we can but have a little different perspective than TandemGeek on group riding. Riding from home allows us to fit in a ride five or six days a week. It is our daily workout and time together. Group and rally riding adds some spice but the main course for us is the daily ride. As my stoker says riding the tandem is what we do.
Wayne, my stoker and I had almost this same conversation today. We do like to ride with other people but we have our unique riding style. I think it used to be called fartlik, we will putt along and then we will hammer or at other times cruise. We have some excellent conversations on the tandem that are for just us.

We used to ride with three other couples from the area but they no longer ride. As you said, we leave from our house and take our ride, it is what we do! And we both love it. We just set a personal and overall fastest time on a Strava segment that we ride on a regular basis, it was a blast. We beat the fastest local racer on this segment by 2mph.

Wayne in Illinois
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Old 07-23-12, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by papabiker
Will a carbon or Ti tandem make a huge difference?
Not to dissuade you from cracking the 401K to buy a dream carbon tandem (a nice Calfee is on our shortlist when we feel decide to pull the trigger on a replacement), but our 13-year old steel Co-Motion is only 36 pounds.

You could probably buy used Steel for 1/3 the price of a Calfee or new steel for 2/3 the price.

Just a datapoint to nibble on.
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Old 07-23-12, 10:40 AM
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Thanks again to all for the informative replies. My wife and I are re-living our youth on the Santana. We rode a tandem together in grade school (although we were not married then!) and both ride together a lot on singles. The tandem allows us to really ride together, and she says she loves the tandem experience, so I suspect it will become our primary bike.

In the current heat wave, our main ride time is early AM, daily, just the 2 of us.

We are hooking up with some other area tandem pairs, looking forward to organized rides, even some tandem rallys, and fantasizing about the respective merits of Carbon, Ti, Magnesuim, bamboo.......
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Old 07-23-12, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by waynesulak
Riding from home allows us to fit in a ride five or six days a week. It is our daily workout and time together.
Originally Posted by DubT
Wayne, my stoker and I had almost this same conversation today. As you said, we leave from our house and take our ride, it is what we do! And we both love it.
We aspire to achieve that model at some point in the future... how far in the future is no longer clearly understood given the market and pension-play buy-outs that I'm sure are on the horizon. In fact, we played hookey from work last Monday for our anniversary and had a taste of what a weekday without our respective 8-hour and 12-hour work days stuck in the middle would feel like: it was awesome! We started the day with a wonderful tandem ride, then headed out on the Harley in search of lunch at a lakeside bar, cruised around for awhile, did a little shopping, and then headed home to get cleaned up for dinner. Yeah, I could get used to that...


Originally Posted by diabloridr
Not to dissuade you from cracking the 401K to buy a dream carbon tandem (a nice Calfee is on our shortlist when we feel decide to pull the trigger on a replacement), but our 13-year old steel Co-Motion is only 36 pounds. You could probably buy used Steel for 1/3 the price of a Calfee or new steel for 2/3 the price. Just a datapoint to nibble on.
Also quite true. I can recall weighing a 1997 Co-Motion Speedster at the first Georgia Tandem Rally and it was quite light; about the same 33lbs or so. Nothing fancy, just 8 speed with bar-end shifters, conventional wheelset, etc. We've been able to get our 1998 steel Erickson down to about 32 lbs using Topolino wheels; 33.5 - 34 with conventional 36h wheels. And, yes... there are a lot of really nice second hand tandems out there for not a lot of $$. New tandems depreciate just like everything else; quite rapidly when you take delivery and steadily thereafter.

Looking at the Santana, it already has some pretty nice aftermarket wheels on it and that frame looks pretty massive. In fact, if the saddles are set for your ride heights, it looks like the tandem is almost too big. Big steel frames like that one do present a challenge for gram diets, where the juice ain't usually worth the squeeze.

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Old 07-23-12, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DubT
Wayne, my stoker and I had almost this same conversation today. We do like to ride with other people but we have our unique riding style. I think it used to be called fartlik, we will putt along and then we will hammer or at other times cruise. We have some excellent conversations on the tandem that are for just us.
Beloved stoker and I are perhaps in the middle of the two approaches being discussed.

Schedules during the week mean we each get to ride our singles a couple of times, but usually not together and training solo. Not a bad thing for me as I'm riding after work and it's a good routine for clearing my head as well as structuring my ride to suit my goals.

The tandem gets used for our Saturday "Long" ride - usually 50 to 65 miles. On a flat or rolling loop with moderate temperatures we will go out with a group of singles and fit in well. If there's a lot of climbing or it's going to be hot we know we have to ride the tandem's tempo and trying to to hang with the singles will just trash us so we go out on our own.

Sunday's we're back on our singles riding with a local group for a shorter ride (30-35 mile ride).

We often attend NWTR when it's held someplace that interests us or will allow us to combine it into a trip to visit relatives. As hard as we have to work sometimes on our local rides, it's always surprising to us how well we perform when compared to other teams at the rally. I would guess we are typically in the best 25% fitness wise, perhaps best 10%. Not bad for Grandpa and Grandma.
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Old 07-23-12, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
Looking at the Santana, it already has some pretty nice aftermarket wheels on it and that frame looks pretty massive. In fact, if the saddles are set for your ride heights, it looks like the tandem is almost too big. Big steel frames like that one do present a challenge for gram diets, where the juice ain't usually worth the squeeze.
The pics are from the e-Bay listing, I have moved the captains saddle up several inches, but yes, the frame is an x-large. The juice/squeeze ratio is my biggest issue, but I must say the bike is a pretty nice ride - for a limo.
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Old 07-23-12, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
We aspire to achieve that model at some point in the future... how far in the future is no longer clearly understood given the market and pension-play buy-outs that I'm sure are on the horizon. In fact, we played hookey from work last Monday for our anniversary and had a taste of what a weekday without our respective 8-hour and 12-hour work days stuck in the middle would feel like: it was awesome! We started the day with a wonderful tandem ride, then headed out on the Harley in search of lunch at a lakeside bar, cruised around for awhile, did a little shopping, and then headed home to get cleaned up for dinner. Yeah, I could get used to that...
I am not sure about Wayne in Illinois but this Wayne and his stoker are not retired. I am a CPA that works way too much especially during the best riding months here in Texas, Spring and Fall. July and August see us leaving the house in the dark at 5:45 or so for a quick 16 mile out and back. Did I say I love the modern LED lights? Weekends usually bring one long ride of about 60 miles and a shorter 27 mile ride. It is not unusual for me to go to the office after the 27 mile ride. Some of our rides are also partially in the dark after the time changes in the fall. We are committed to staying in shape and feel guilty if we miss a day other than our official rest day of Friday otherwise know as household chore day.

After giving priority to raising three kids we are enjoying the time we have now to devote to riding together.
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Old 07-23-12, 12:13 PM
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We are retired and have raised 7 kids, so we are very free to ride when the weather permits. Here recently that has been fairly early in the morning. Our typical rides around 30-35 miles. If longer than that, stoker says it is no longer fun and she is ready to go home. However a year ago that distance was 18-20 miles. She is getting more fit all of the time. My goal is to extend our typical ride to 40 miles. At the Midwest tandem ride last year we rode 54 and it was a struggle, she got hot and I started cramping.
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Old 07-23-12, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by waynesulak
After giving priority to raising three kids we are enjoying the time we have now to devote to riding together.
That's awesome. We have a lot of friends who share similar commitments to their riding and it shows when we hit the rallies or other gatherings.

Our kids (33 & 37) have been gone for a while, so no worries there.

I'm headed to work by 6:00am and don't get home until 6:30pm - 7:00pm most weekdays, a few earlier some later. Poor vocational choice; I'm now working on "what's next" to break the cycle so I can move on to something that will carry me for another 15 years.

I used to ride from 4:00am - 5:30am before going to work, but after getting shot in the leg with a .22 one very cold October morning some 8 years ago by a yahoo in a passing car I lost my enthusiasm for it.

Riding with lights on here in the evenings is just a non-starter; we're just far enough outside the city to be semi-rural but not far enough to be out of the crosshairs of distracted, impaired or otherwise dangerous motorists doing 45-55mph on 25-35mph "backroads". So, Debbie gets in some of those 6:00pm - 7:00pm evening rides after work, and we fit in our tandem rides on the weekends, hence the huge attraction of rallies where we get three or four back-to-back days of riding with friends and for distances that we'd probably not mess with given the time requirement of a 60 - 100 mile ride.

Again, mid-week daily morning rides would be a dream for us.
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