Monday, June 7, 2010

The Attack of the Long Bikes

Normal (i.e., non-cycling) people usually have a cool reaction when they see a tandem bicycle -- also known as "a bicycle built for two" of "Daisy, Daisy" fame. It's usually something like, "Ah, look Myrtle. Ain't they cute?"

And then they see that there's 50 of these long two-headed bicycles, and it's kind of like that scene in The Birds, when the crows are all over the schoolhouse playground ... sitting ... watching ... waiting for their moment to strike.

Suddenly all of those long bicycles ain't so cute any more, eh, Myrtle?

Okay, sorry. We're always cute. We just can't help it. Maybe it's our outfits, with both the captain and stoker wearing matching jerseys, shorts, helmets, shoes, gloves, and socks. Or maybe it's the little bell or the horn -- which we usually ring or toot to tell you to stay out of our way -- or how most of us (although certainly not all of us) smile and wave and are just so gosh-darned mid-western Americana friendly to everybody. Most tandem riders are the kinds of folks that say "Jeepers" and love to show pictures of the grandkids.

In a lot of ways, tandem riders are the ultimate cycling Freds. We're out there to noodle around the countryside, see the sights, eat a home-cooked muffin at the country store, and sometimes just stop and sit under a nice shady elm tree. Other times we're deadly serious, such as when we're bombing down a hill that it just took us way too long to climb, or barreling along in a tandem paceline on a flat road at 28 mph. We are a mystery wrapped in an enigma, with a sweat-stained spandex coating outside and a creamy center of gooey goodness inside.

So, anyway, back to the 50 tandem bicycles.

This past weekend, Nashville played host to the Tennessee Tandem Rally, with two-headed beasts converging from points around the country to enjoy our scenic roads and cool temperatures. The scenery was here, but the cool temperature have been in short supply lately. On Saturday's route, we stopped for a huge lunch at Tap Root Farms, and many of the cyclists enjoyed the cool pool.

That's Tom Spear, by the way. He's the one who organized this year's event. Foolishly, he asked me to design Saturday's route, and I put together what I consider a "flat" route. We went over a few lumps heading south, with a short stop at Hatcher Family Dairy, and then climbed Pulltight Hill and Choctaw Road. This put us on a couple of nice, fairly flat roads, before we regrouped at the store in Bethesda.

I then snuck Cool Springs Road in there, just because I love the descent on the other side. Everybody had 50 miles in when they got to Tap Root Farms, where we all ate too much while listening to bluegrass from the Music City Flyboys.

Since the temperatures had by then reached a lovely 90+, RandoGirl and I then headed out on the "post-lunch route" that I had planned. I think that there were maybe half a dozen bikes that did this extra 24-mile loop out to Nolensville and back, but everyone that did it agreed it was quite scenic.

After getting cleaned up, changing clothes, and resting a bit, we all met at the Boxwood Bistro at the Factory in Franklin for dinner and wine. Some people may have had too much wine.

Steve Grizzle was very proud of those sandals.

Sunday morning we had a little 35-mile recovery ride before everybody headed home.

It was fun seeing so many old friends and making new ones, but the best part for me was getting to spend so much time with RandoGirl. As Jeff Bauer likes to say, "Whatever direction a relationship is heading, getting on a tandem is just going to get it there faster." Maybe that's why the best two-headed beasts are usually of a single mind.


  1. Awww! That last paragraph was so sweet! It was worth 80 miles in the heat and humidity.

  2. Randogirl: You are too kind to the "Beast" that Captain's you. He's just buttering you up for the next climbing adventure in unbearable conditions. We would agree though that it was for sure a very scenic route!!! The panorama from the top of those hills was truly awesome. The Glass Longbike.