|Our steed of choice|
“Now the only thing to do is ride it like you stole it.” Words of wisdom told to us after we had done a practice ride on the tandem. Nicola and I took the practice ride to see who would be where the next day for Iceman Cometh Challenge Bicycle Race (roughly a 33 mile race) . Which was good because we figured out I cannot ride on the back. Like couldn’t even get on. It was a pretty easy decision after that. I would pilot and she would be the stoker. I wasn’t nervous until someone started talking about how fast you can get going downhill. It’s one thing to give myself a traumatic brain injury, it’s another to give someone else one.
|Where are you?!?|
The morning of the rae it was somewhat taxing trying to find where the guy had parked the bike, it didn’t help with our time budget that I made us stop and get coffee. We changed and contemplated what gear we thought would be vital and what we wouldn’t want once we started riding. After a few rounds of deliberations and a quick pose for a picture we headed to the start. “When we get there I’m going to need to pee, and raise this seat- otherwise my legs might start cramping.” We were in Wave 18 and
pulled up right as 17 was taking off. “Oh Shit!” Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us jump the fence to start and made us go all the way around to the back. Luckily we could just yell, “Tandem! Tandem! Coming through!” People seemed to part pretty quickly, no matter that it was two girls. We got there with a few moments to catch our breath, some final encouraging words and last minute thoughts and then we were off. It’s about 3 miles on the road until you hit the double track and oh man did we fly, we passed quite a few people as well as tandems. We hit the double track and stayed on course. The riding isn’t like anything in Colorado. Instead of long sustainable climbs it was short ascents and quick descents with not a lot of technical features but plenty of sand to make you think you were at the beach (unfortunately we were in Michigan and nowhere near the sun). The first climb we hit was certainly a learning curve as it also contained a sand pit. Forgetting that someone was on back- I failed to call anything out and instead road up until about half way when we lost all momentum and the sand had made us do a stand still and we petered over. “Oh crap! Sorry I didn’t say anything.” Nicola didn’t seem to mind, as it was pretty slow going. We picked up the bike and ran to the top only to get passed by 4 tandems in the process of mounting back on. That was our only real crash and we escaped somewhat gracefully. We got better at hill climbs (I would remember to tell Nicola what was happening, at least for the most part).
|The only selfie I will ever take.|
They changed the course since Nicola dominated the singlespeed category so neither of us were prepared for the amount of single track it had. We traversed the corners and tight spaces pretty well, considering we were on a tandem. Only once did I manage to almost run myself over when I put a foot down and lost my balance and began to go over the bars when we started descending and (in the most coordinated moment of my life!!) was able to run straddling the bike, and still pedaling with one foot until I could get my other foot reattached.
The bike was so burly and handled really well. It wasn’t till after the race that I apologized to Nicola for having my butt in her face when we were descending and I was off the saddle. She told me no need, as she had been off the saddle too. I couldn’t even tell. We forced our way through mud puddles, which was easier than our attempts at riding around the puddles. It had enough power that I could let go of the handlebars and it felt like it was pulling us through the areas. I didn’t mention this to Nicola until after we had crossed the finish.
We kept leapfrogging a couple on a tandem, they asked, “Do you girls like to party, because we do!” (I think anyone who rides a tandem likes to party, or at least isn’t adverse to it.) I suggested we link up and make a party bus. I don’t think they thought I was serious because they just laughed. We did notice that all the other tandems had either a boy/girl or a boy/boy and were all riding 3×10, which gave them the granny gear to get up those hills. We had a 2×10, which meant 1.) We had to really work for those hill and 2.) we got really good at hopping off and hopping back on.
Nicola was the best stoker ever, I don’t know if I would race a tandem with anyone else (well maybe Wayne or Sully, but I’d have to be in the back). Nicola works as a service technician in a shop so if there was a mechanical I knew I wouldn’t be on my own to watch YouTube videos or try to call Sully. She even reminded me to drink. It’s definitely a race that I want to go back to. It’s awe-inspiring to stand at the finish line and see people of all kinds on all levels of mountain bikes finishing. We finished just outside of the top 10, but four finishers ahead of us were all within about 4 minutes of our time. We initially talked about breaking top 10, but certainly weren’t disappointed with our first tandem race.
One of my friends has done the race in previous years and at Thanksgiving we tried to convince Barb and Wayne that they should race it on a tandem. I think it might have worked.
|With the Winner’s Cup!|