Monday, September 28, 2015

Tandem bike my tiny head off

This is a late post. Several months late, just so you know. And at the suggestion of my wife, will be broken up into several posts. You know, just to increase the tension...of a tandem rally report.

Captain of a Tandem's Log, Stardate 52131.2:

My wife and I participated in the 2015 Northwest Tandem Rally. They garnered about 800 people, equating of course to about 400 tandem bikes. Quite impressive, I should say. But there aren't many tandem events out there it seems, and tandem people are pretty dedicated, so I think it's perhaps expected.

We start by shipping our bike to Bellingham Cycle Works. Super dope shop. Run by a dude and his wife and maybe his new baby if they can get it to pick up a wrench every now and then. Guy is living the (my) dream. I highly recommend basing your cycling adventure out of his shop. He seems more than willing to accommodate, but obviously give him a call if you plan to send something his way.

Our bike was packed up in a Co-Motion box. Given that Co-Motion ships wheels separately, it was a tight fit. I think our tandem being a size small might have helped us jam the wheels in there. Still, I was pretty damn nervous about what would get damaged in transit.

We used Bikeflights, which gave us a pretty good rate to and from Bellingham. About $70 for shipping a 70lb package, plus only $1 per $100 of insurance, each way. As I mentioned before, it was shipped to Bellingham Cycle Works and they put it together for us. I almost went with assembling myself, but it was nice to support the local bike shop, and after having to walk from our hotel to the shop to pick the bike up, plus being pretty tired from traveling, I think we made the right choice.

So now we have our bike. Bellingham seems to be a pretty straightforward town to cycle in. There was a self-supported ride around town on Friday, the day we picked it up. We didn't partake in that, but opted instead to just pedal back to our hotel. We had also spent the last week leading up to the trip getting our place ready to sell, so we definitely needed to catch up on sleep. Besides, the bigger mass-start ride would be tomorrow morning.

We did stop briefly at The Hub Community Bike Shop. It's accessed off a pseudo-bike path. Out of the dense foliage appears a large shack-like structure. I am oddly drawn to shacks, so it was only natural that I would want to go inside. My understanding wife didn't mind waiting outside while I ventured inward to purchase a used Specialized Turbo saddle for $5 and snap some photos. Later on in the trip, we'd also receive much advice about cycling up to Vancouver from Bellingham. It would be helpful advice, even if the ride itself would prove challenging.

Comfy saddle in hand, it was back to the hotel. One thing we weren't prepared for was hefting our tandem up to the third floor of the hotel. Fortunately, the hotel itself was in on the rally (though not the official hosting hotel, that one being a Best Western across the street). So they didn't mind us just standing the tandem up on end and wheeling it into the elevator. We eventually got the hang of it. Then the tandem was able to just keep us company in our room. Very handy for prepping for the next day's ride.


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