Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Evolution of a Cyclist

WARNING: I don't want to piss anyone off again about religious stuff, so if you don't believe in evolution then you may want to go to another site.

This past weekend, out on our new tandem, RandoGirl was telling me her theory about the Evolutionary Stages of a Cyclist. I told her that she should do it as a guest blog -- thus giving her a platform for her opinion and, even more importantly, giving me a day off from writing.

Okay, so I don't write every day. Sue me. And, to be honest, I enjoy writing my blog. Otherwise, why would I do it? Believe me, the ad revenues are flat. I make more money from the sale of RandoBoy Brand Taint Paint (Our Slogan: "For When Your Saddle Is Not Your Friend").

Anyway, I don't want to spoil RandoGirl's column, but I was reminded of our conversation last night at the track. As loyal readers will doubtless recall, a couple of months ago I did the Harpeth River Ride with TNABA athlete Dan Dillon. Since then, the Harpeth Bicycle Club has continued to work with the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes, and every Tuesday night at the Nashville Motorplex we ride for an hour on tandems.

For those that don't know, a tandem is a "bicycle built for two." The rider in front is called the captain, and he steers. The rider in the back is the stoker.

So far, we've been putting the blind athlete on the back, but last night the TNABA folks were talking about swapping seats.

Ha-ha. They were kidding. I think.

You see, the thing is that they've gotten really serious about this. I mean really, really serious.

When we first started, almost all of the TNABA athletes were wearing jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. By the time the River Ride came around, a few had gotten cycling shorts ... probably a good thing, since many of them were doing the 42-mile option or longer.

Unfortunately, this dashed my evil plans to expand the market for RandoBoy Brand Taint Paint (Another Slogan: "Put An End to the Pain in Your End").

Two weeks ago, Mark Montgomery rode on the track with me. As usual, the night before I removed the clip-in pedals from the stoker cranks, putting on flat platform pedals. Well, Mark shows up in shorts, jersey, and SPD-compatible mountain biking shoes. All night, his feet are slipping off the flat pedals.

So, last night I left the regular pedals on. Mark clips in, I get on, and we're off.

We do the first couple of laps just chatting and catching up. But then Mark hears someone coming up behind us, and he lays into the pedals like mad. I, of course, have to respond, so next thing I know we're in the big ring and zipping around the track at 25 mph.

Later that night, we get into a fast paceline of four tandems -- all with blind stokers -- roaring around the track as fast as we can. Everyone is working hard, trying to go faster than the other riders, and gaining major fitness. Afterwards, we're standing around at the side of the track, and we begin to talk about maybe doing a race, or at least a time trial. I told Mark that we had done over 11 miles at just under 18 mph. He was pretty psyched about that.

I wonder if Saris has a PowerTap with a voice read-out for current watts ...


  1. Last night was a blast. I had Tina on the back of my tandem last night when we heard the train coming. She asked me "what is that" and I said "pedal faster, we can catch 'em!" We jumped onto the back of the blind-stoker/tandem paceline for about a lap. She couldn't believe how fast we were going, I think she loved it. She had SPD shoes too, so she was able to clip in, a big difference from the ride a did with her a few weeks ago. Everyone in the club needs a tandem if for nothing more than riding with the blind. It has truly been a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

  2. Well, of all nights to miss! I had to leave just as I arrived at the track, for an emergency C-Section (not for me!). Mike Willman rode my Raleigh tandem with Dwain, and said they had a great night. Dwain is really coming along, and had SPD shoes for the first time last night. I'm jealous. This is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, and I can't wait until next week.

    Kevin Bullock

  3. A couple of reflections about the evolution of TNABA cyclists and their captains:

    (1) I LOVED that all of our stokers are starting to look like cyclists...many thanks to all that have donated including tons of stuff from Gran Fondo.

    (2) As you all know, I'm not a small guy but when riding with my usual (petite) stoker it is pretty easy to move the bike up a few MPH with a few cranks on the pedals. What I QUICKLY realized was that I could not do the same thing with a stoker twice her size. If I said "Hey Dwaine...can you give me a little more" the bike would crank-up and away we would go. It was like...I was not even on the bike. Amazing raw strength!

    Thanks Kevin for letting me ride your was too much fun!

  4. We have come along way.

    I could say it better than each of you have hear on this blog. The times on the bike is amazing. The intensity level has pick up over the last two weeks and our athletes could not be more pleased.

    Over the last 5 months we have grown so much as an orgnization, cycling program, athletes, and Individuals. We have seen 26 different athletes take to the sadle and exsperience the thrill of tandem cycling. In a short time the six core cycling athletes have developed so much. You might think that I am just speaking of strenth and stamina, but there is more. Through the help of our HBC captains we have learn valuable lessions such as self confidence, passion, self decipline, motavation, and above all self-worth. We have learned that the lack of sight does not have to keep us locked up inside the confindments of our confortable and secure homes. Cycling has givin us an opportunity to break down bariers and reach personal goals and find room to create new ones. It is not that we are blind stokers on the back of the tandems, but athletes pushing and sweating as normal like our sighted peers. Proving that sight does not mean loss of ability. "What we lack in vision we make up for in power" is our new modo for our HBC and TNABA vision Bike Program.

    Thank you to all our captains who give their time, energy, and sweat. And thank you to all of those that have given donations to the program to make us look so stylish.

    Ricky Jones
    TNABA Executive Director