It started to snow while I was driving to Pittsburgh for the Dirty Dozen. I got a little worried:
And a certain girl was scheduled to come spectate the event, but she got a bad case of the sniffles. So I replaced her with an inflatable pink flamingo:
A few weeks ago, previous almost DD winner Sam Morrison told me that he wasn't motivated to train for this year's event. Since I find it hard to care about races without singletrack, I suggested that we do the race on a tandumb. So it was settled. We would try the DD on a tandumb.
A week later, Sam changed his mind. He was going to start training to beat Steevo. A few days after that decision, he changed his mind again. Now we would for sure do it on a tandem. Five minutes after that, Sam talked to Danny Chew on the phone. He was motivated to train again. Alright. I was sure he'd waffle a few more times.
He changed it at least two more times, but three days before the race we made the last call. We would do it on a tandem. We emailed the wizened and creaky Gunnar Shogren and asked to borrow his road tandem. He was happy to lend it to us.
Since Sam can't ride down a paved bike trail without going over the bars, we decided that I'd drive. Neither of us had ever ridden a tandem, I'd only ridden drop bars twice, (the second time I destroyed an entire drive train with my awesome shifting abilities,) I hadn't ridden a geared bike in over a year, and Gunnar sets his brakes up moto style. But I was pretty certain we could score some points on a hill.
"You're going to fail miserably." said Don Powers. What an encouraging guy.
When we got on the bike, we were wobbly as hell. I could hardly control the thing. But I didn't get really nervous until we hit the first hill.
The first hill is one of the easier ones, and we only got about half way up before we started to swerve. We fell off. At that point, I was really scared about the rest of our day. It was super hard to balance the bike and pedal up a hill.
We went back down to the bottom, and agreed to stay in the saddle instead of trying to stand up. That worked much better, and we cleared the hill.
Eventually I got a little better at controlling the tandem. On Logan we decided to go for points. We were crushing it up the hill, but still moving slow for the amount of effort we were putting in. We held on to 6th most of the way up, but dropped back a little and finished the hill in 8th or 9th. Just outside of the points.
After that effort, we were pretty shelled. We took it easy on the next few hills. Tried for points again on Mt. Washington, but we were too dead.
Canton Ave. was next. Since it's the steepest street in the US, it's one of the most feared hills.
We took a line through the rough cobbles in the middle and cruised right up it. With a long wheel base and almost 300 pounds on the wheels, we had no problems with traction.
We were a little more than half way through the ride. By that point at least two dozen people had asked Sam if he enjoyed staring at my ass. I laughed every time. Never got old.
The next few hills were like the rest. Hard, but we made them. Some people weren't so lucky:
Ben Stephens photo
On the flat section to the last hill, we tried to use our combined power to break away from the pack. We went from the back of the herd all the way to the front, but cracked when we hit the hill. We slowly spun up and finished the day.
Next year I might get a real road bike and try to actually race it.
Or I might have to do it on a single speed again. Gunnar did it on a fixed gear this year, in a 45x22, and scored one point. I can't let an old person one up me like that.
In any case, that'll be my last ride on a tandem.