Sunday, April 8, 2012

First Tandem Ride of the Year

The F-82 Twin Mustang
Been a long time since Mary and I took a tandem out for a ride.  A Beautiful Easter Sunday seemed like a wonderful day for riding a bicycle built for two.  Tandem, of course, means "inline" which makes the photo of the Twin Mustang incorrect for this blog.  the F-82 is a "sociable" not a tandem.  But the Pony+ would be more thrilling to fly than a Cannondale or Fisher bicycle.

This is a true tandem aircraft.  Two engines inline as well as the cockpits.  This bastard was the fastest twin engine piston engine plane in WWII, the single engine Ta 152H was the only conventional aircraft faster.

But Mary and I are not billionaires that can afford to restore and operate high performance piston engined aeroplanes.  Instead we ride tandem bicycles that when purchased cost almost the same as a decent used automobile.

November 11, 2011 was the last ride of our Cannondale RT3000.  We took it to Indianola and back.  December 30, 2011, was our most recent tandem adventure.  On that day Dora was my stoker on the Fisher Gemini.  We went to Anders and Laura Olson's house to watch the Hawkeyes in a bowl game.

We had a destination and purpose to ride today.  Carl Voss emailed me to let us know that a photography session of the Des Moines bicycle community was taking place on SUNDAY.  yES, SUNDAY IS IN CAPS.  The first paragraph from the email from Carl said "Sunday."  It was to take place between 4 and 6 pm.  Just take 10 minutes.  The purpose was for bike Month 2012.  Some sort of online gallery showing everything from triathletes to homeless can collectors.  As Commuters of the Year we were invited.  I figured that this shoot and the Bike Month 2012 Picnic were our last two responsibilities of being CotY.

Our weekend was busy with the Easter holiday.  Saturday had me at church twice for 2 to 3 hour sessions, once in the morning and the other at night.  When leaving that night I was drafted into singing with two friends and a priest with a guitar for the Sunday 7 am Easter Mass.  WTF I thought, should be painless and I wanted to be there about 8 am for what I was assigned to do.  At the 830 am mass I did the readings and distributed Communion.

After Church Mary and I prepared Easter dinner for our family and my sister and mother.  It takes an hour and a half to two hours to slow cook a pork loin on the Weber grill.  I had not eaten since 530 pm on Saturday, sticking to coffee Sunday morning until the Easter meal was ready.  It was a 20 hour fast.

We figured we had plenty of time to eat and exchange pleasantries before kicking our guests out and changing into bike mode.  Patty brought her bike for a ride and left mother and her car here so she could get some miles in and ride home.  She is training for a century ride in June.  We were asked to take the car and Mom back to Patty's.  Throw the tandem on back and roll.

I chose the Cannondale because we had not been on it for quite some time as I already mentioned.  The tires were ok, feeling like 80 psi but if I avoided potholes and rough roads we'd be fine.  I really did not want our dirty commuters in the photo.  And I did not want to scratch my road bike on the Saris bike rack on back of Patty's Honda.

After dropping my mother off we jumped on the tandem.  3 months it had been.  I elected to start the adventure on the other side of the street with the front wheel facing downhill.  Tandems require quite a bit of coordination and communication.  Best to be able to coast while clipping in and not have to worry about playing Frogger on 30th St.

Once on and the movement of feet to click in the tandem accelerated quickly.  we coasted down the hill at 32 mph.  Always like riding something new when you have not been on a certain bike for 4 months.  What was that noise?  Computer was functioning.  Mary said something but I was concentrating on the 90 degree turn onto the Inter Urban Trail.  The brakes were still killer good although the front does squeak loudly when applied with force.  Mary was urging for us to stop.

The culprit of the noise was a leaf stuck on the rear brake apparatus and rubbing against the back tire.  No BFD.  Time to climb the hill.  Silence on the bike, good.

Urbandale Ave is not really our friend.  Mary has been hit by cars twice on this road.  Patty hit a parked car and ruined a wheel here too.  All of this happened after the bike lanes were established.  Today, however, parked cars were my Nemesis.  Cars, more than usual here, were parked in the bike lane.  Yep, family holiday meals and gatherings.  I did get a very good idea for a photo but I need some accomplices. 

We rolled past a car parked underneath the bike lane sign in the bike lane.  I want to take a photo of 4 bikes parked in the avenue next to this car underneath the bike lane sign.  Just take a minute.  Irony, gotta love it, luv!

We turned on 48th and took it to Franklin so we could catch the Waveland Trail at the library.  This was virgin trail for me.  I have never been this far north on the trail.  A few families were riding here.  The day of the Burley Trailer I thought.  Carl's email said that our destination would be on the trail.

This trail is nice until after the cemetery.  Once we crossed University it reverts into a side walk along the golf course.  I thought about what Anders or Dave Hatcher once said nearly 2 decades ago about the thrill of tossing a bike over the fence and climbing over it to ride through it.  I never did this.

After crossing 235 we spotted our target and rolled in back to the garage.  Chris Maharry was outside hiding Easter eggs.  He even offered us some.  We declined, these are for children.  Then he said the photography session was yesterday.  CRAP!  Did I feel stupid.  How could I be so stupid.  Oh well, I got the pride of the fleet and my beautiful wife, the prettiest stoker of the land.  What more did I need?  He suggest that we talk to Carl ect.

The prettiest stoker in all the land!  Unfortunately, with the sun at my back I could not tell that the branches would leave shadows on Mary.  My bad.

We decided to roll further away from home.  The connection to Walnut Creek Trail was downhill.  Mary was curious where Valley Drive went so we took it south where the trail intersects the road.  We discovered Frisbee Park, possibly Des Moines' western most park.

Not only are the roads bad in this part of DSM but the distance from Patty's house to Frisbee Park may frighten some people.  No worries, John was writing about Nero who not only persecuted Christians and cause mayhem.  666 is code for his full name in Greek.  In the Latin translation the number is 616 which also spells out his full name in that language.  Don't believe me?  Read Marx and Engels, On ReligionRevelation was a political statement not a spiritual book.
After a brief rest we returned to the trail.  Everyone was out riding today.  Many families with children and bicycle trailers and people walking dogs.  It is great to see the trails get used but I miss the emptiness of winter.  We got behind an asshole that rung a bell every time he encountered traffic.  Mary and I would say "hello" or "howdy" whenever we passed folks.  No sense in being rude.  If we wanted a fast ride we would have taken a county road.  Innercity paths are not for training.

After reaching Water Works we turned in the opposite direction of the jerk.  I wanted to pass him but it was not safe.  The arboretum was our next destination.  This is the largest collection of crab apple trees in the US and they are in bloom.  And for the first time ever I noticed that this hidden treasure in DSM was teeming with visitors.  We did manage to get the photo below.

 Not the best but it will serve to remind me of a nice 15 miler with Mary on a gorgeous Easter Sunday.  A little practice on the tandem and an opportunity to soak in some rays.

PS  I checked the email when we arrived home.  Carl said Sunday but when I scrolled down, and it was a forwarded email, it said Saturday.  Lesson: read the entire message!

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