Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's a ride without a ferry?

Last night's Tuesday Night ride was a mixed bag of everything Tuesday Night rides can be - a few flattish spots, some fast rollers, a couple kicker little hills to stretch the legs and strain the lungs, and of course everyone taking their shot at escaping off the front - to no avail. Oh, and one nice little ferry ride.

We, John and I, brought out Stealth, our first time this year. With all the above route features it should have been the perfect Stealth evening - one a tandem should rocket away with - should have.

Stealth, as she was christened almost the moment we first test road her and knew as insane as it was to buy an all carbon 27lb Calfee tandem, loves to go fast and much to the contrary of common perception, Stealth can climb. I mean think about it, we have to guys who are pretty good climbers on their own now teamed on the equivalent of 13.5lb bikes each - why shouldn't Stealth fly up a hill?

From the parking lot at Tualatin Park (weekly start point at 6PM) things were starting to signal Stealth was going to be argumentative - we dropped a chain twice. The group rolled out, gorgeous evening, chatting, socially reconnecting as usual; in the back John and I were grinding through gears as the chain jumped and skipped under a fraction of the pressure; in the big ring we were fine - all else was a mess. And maybe that's the point of this blog - maintenance - the better the machine, the more ya need to care for it.

When the route loped through the gentle rollers along Mountain Road and we could sit in the big ring we powered along at 45+ mph without a hitch, giving the few that could hang in our draft a rocketing little ride down to the Canby ferry. The ferry is generally a regroup as we all pile on and everyone resumes the socializing, or catches their breath, downs a GU and get's ready for more speed.

Up out of the ferry is a short steep climb, easily 12% - we coaxed Stealth up. A few miles later we held our breath as we headed for South End Road from the south, an initially sharp climb in the 8-11% range. We geared down with trepidation and hit the incline - perfect - shift - ut oh! - grind, clank - crap! Dropped. It was the beginning. We did get going again, over the top, back into the big ring and except for the steep climb up Sunset, sweet-talked Stealth back to the park.

Wednesday morning - into River City Bikes - maintinance. By the end of the day Stealth was back to being a rocket - with new chain rings, drive chain, cassette, and a healthy dose of cable care and ajustment. Tandems take a lot of torque, especially under the race and climbing load we pile on Stealth, and need more regular attention. Lesson learned - I've mapped out a regular maintinence schedule for the bike and posted it on the wall in the bike room.

If you're interested here's the Oregon City South End route MAP

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