Sunday, August 9, 2009

Must be Fall

It's almost become a tradition at the RandoCave (also known as my garage). Every fall, a bouncing new baby bicycle comes.

In this way, the RandoCave is kind of like living with Mrs. Cebulski, my kindergarten teacher at Saints Peter and Paul in Decatur, GA. They had 13 kids, each just over a year apart in age.

No wonder she was so mean.

Of course, there are differences. Bicycles move out of the RandoCave every so often, either being sold to friends or loaned to family members. My brother, John, currently has my old Masi, on which I did many of my brevets. A friend at work bought my the old hybrid that I used for commuting when we lived in Florida.

I love my bicycles, but probably not as much as Mrs. Cebulski loved her kids. I'm pretty sure that she never sold any of them, at least.

Anyway, here's the most recent addition to the RandoCave.

No, not the pretty girl on the right. That's RandoGirl. I mean the bike that we're holding, our new Co-Motion Speedster. It's pretty, too, of course ... probably because the color matches RandoGirl's hair. Or it's kind of close.

We've been considering getting a new tandem for a while now. It kind of bubbled to the surface back in April when we rode my Green Acres permanent with Alan Gosart. We had a great ride, but realized then just how much our Santana Arriva SE tandem did not quite fit us. RandoGirl often hits her knees on the handlebars, and I am almost as cramped up front.

So we started looking around. All of our tandem-riding friends in Nashville rave about Tandems, Limited, in Birmingham, AL, and we decided that we would go there and get their opinions on what we needed. We finally had a Saturday open up this past weekend, so we quickly set up a visit.

I was pretty sure that we would need something custom-built for us. We left the house just after 6 am for the three-hour drive, and brought our Santana along for comparison ... and on the off-chance that we could go by Little River Canyon "on the way" back. (If your curious, I put quotes around "on the way" because Little River Canyon would actually be about an hour out of the way, but I had enjoyed going thru it so much on Heart of the South that I wanted RandoGirl to see it. Unfortunately, we ran out of time. Maybe another weekend.)

Jack and Susan Goertz run Tandems, Limited, out of the basement of their home in a quiet neighborhood south of Birmingham. We talked for a long time about what we liked and disliked about the Santana, how we liked to ride, and what we planned to do in the future. Since we wanted a tandem for brevets, loaded touring, and fast evening club rides, they immediately started thinking about a Co-Motion. We worked over the ills of caliper brakes versus disk brakes, how big a bail-out gear we might need, and whether we would be better off with the comfort of a carbon front fork -- although we could not mount front panniers on them -- or stick with steel.

After measuring the Santana, Jack quickly copied the setup onto a Co-Motion that he had built up in the shop that week. Carol and I went around the block once, and Jack tweaked a few things. Then we went for a longer trip in the neighborhood, over a few steep climbs and fast descents, and Jack tweaked a few more things.

And, although we had not expected this at all, RandoGirl and I found that we really liked the feel of this bike. It just felt ... well, right. It was not quite the same as riding a single, but it was much more sure and responsive than the Santana had been. Whereas the Santana had always felt solid, this bike felt like you could almost bunny-hop a curb on it. And RandoGirl was loving the amount of room that she had on the back.

We took the bike back out one more time for a longer stretch outside of the neighborhood, and were able to really open it up. The day was quickly getting hot, but moving fast on this bike we felt great.

So, when we got back to the shop, all talk about ordering a custom-geometry tandem was over. I said that I liked the newer models because they had the Ultegra STI rear derailleur, instead of the XTR that this one had, and Jack said he would change it now at no charge. Carol said she would also like a compression seat post, and Jack pointed out that the one on the Santana would fit perfectly. Just after noon, we were loading up the bike and rolling out, having paid about half of the amount that we had anticipated when we were looking at custom bikes.

We haven't ridden the bike for any kind of distance, yet. We may take it out on the track Tuesday night, or could wait and do a longer ride on Sunday. We hope to do either a 200K or 300K the last weekend of this month. We need to get everything right before late October, when we plan to take a week off and ride the Natchez Trace from Nashville down to Natchez, staying at hotels and living out of panniers.

Before then, though, I have to take care of a major problem. The RandoCave is only so big, and a tandem takes up a lot of room. Two tandems take up too much room.

Looks like one of the kids is about to get kicked out of the house.


  1. Footnote:
    No part of the decision to buy this bike was based on whether the color matched (or almost matched my hair). We carefully wrote out our goals (more comfort for both of us and easier shifting being the main ones) and pretty much stuck to them in making the decision.
    Any hair/bike color match was purely incidental.

    Another note: as much as we love all of our cycle children, next year we will try bike birth control.

  2. Bike birth control doesn't require abstinence.