Appendix: & 2015 Edit - Last Century Cross USA on a Tandem - CycleBlaze

August 3, 1996

Appendix: & 2015 Edit

Our friend Jill M. baked us a cake!
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Rhona and I rode a modified GT Quatrefoil tandem. It was originally equipped with 700 D hybrid wheels, but had been modified to use 700 C wheels by Allegany Bike Works. A Magura hydraulic brake was installed on the back wheel along with a drumbrake. The front wheel was built by ABW. The rear wheel used Phil Wood hubs and was built by Totally Tandems in Iowa. The bottom brackets were Phil Wood. It appears the clicking sounds we heard late in the trip were caused by worn timing gears, not the bottom brackets. We started the trip with 28 mm Kevlar GTK tires from Performance. Two of the three tires failed prematurely (one after only 300 miles). We purchased three Specialized Armadillo tires in Minot, ND. The rear one lasted until Pittsburgh, PA. The front tire appears to still have a lot of wear left in it. We erred in not starting the trip with new front and rear derailleurs and replaced both of them during the trip. The Grip Shifters worked well. We both used bar ends on the handle bars and had to put additional padding on them to prevent pain. We use clipless pedals from Performance. We started the trip with front low ride panniers, a sleeping bag on a front rack, a captain's handlebar bag, a stoker's handlebar bag, two rear panniers, a tent and two air mattresses on the rear rack. The setup was acceptable except in strong crosswinds. I'm not sure if pulling a single wheeled trailer would have been a better idea while fully loaded. Just before we reached Glacier Park we sent 26 lbs. Of camping gear and clothing home. For the reminder of the trip we only had the handlebar bags, the rear panniers and a gym bag on the rear rack. Dave lost approximately 25 lb. Two weeks after finishing the trip, the captain has regained feeling in all but one toe (at one point six toes were partially numb). A sensation like an electrical charge is still felt when I grip something tightly. If I was planning to make the trip again on this tandem, I would add a flex stem of some kind to absorb the shock caused by the frost heaves on the western roads.

2015 Edit: In spite of the lack of any profound inspirations at the end of the tour, riding the tandem across the United States did have long lasting impacts on us. Our decision to not allow any mean negative words to pass our lips while on the tour resulted in zero "fights", a record any married couple would aspire to. Certainly we learned each of us had reserves of mental (and even physical) toughness that we could depend on during difficult times. We learned America is a kinder and much more gentle place than depicted on the news and most people's first instinct when encountering a touring cyclist is to offer hospitality. Most people like and care about their hometown but caution cyclists to be careful about the next town down the line. In spite of how difficult it was to convince Rhona to start this tour, subsequently, she was just as eager as me to go on other long distance tours (some of which resulted in Crazyguy journals). After this tour there was a bit of a let down, not wanting to enter the middle age decline into dotage. We started to look for the next adventure in our lives and decided to invite two different exchange students (through AFS) to join our family (a year at a time). Kirsten and Maria broadened and enriched our lives in much the same ways as this tour did. This and subsequent tours taught us that the best way to experience a culture and connect with people is on the back of a tandem!

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