500 pounds of fun

I stepped back into the bike shop for a day of filling in on Sunday. It was like I was back on the horse. It was nice and easy for me. I sold a few bikes, and got some folks thinking about some new rides. When Brian showed up at the shop he had his Engin cycles dual suspension 29er tandem. This bike has a custom tube set with a Ventanna rear linkage. He used part of the day to work on the bike so he could ride it later in the day.


Somewhere during the day, Brian asked if I wanted to go out for a ride with the bike after work. I had a plan to ride anyway, but I jumped at the chance to ride this machine.


We met at Brian’s place and got all suited up for the ride. I of course forgot that Time attacks are the pedal of choice in this part of town and I did not have any of my prefered SPD flavor. Luckily after some rummaging we found some SPD peds for the ride.
Now I have ridden with this guy for five or so years at this point, and our riding styles are a bit different. He is a much more aggressive rider where I like to pick very fine lines. We get to the same place about the same time, but he does it with some force, and I have a bit more style in my off road moves. I did not know how this style would transfer to the riding of the tandem.
If you have ever been on a tandem riding in the stoker position, you know that it is a bit strange, and you get whipped around a little because of frame flex. Take that feeling and multiply the force on the stoker position by 2 or so, and you get the flex feeling that I get out of the back seat on a two seater. That took some getting used to, but we figured it out quickly.


Brian does not live far from the woods, so with a few street crossings where we learned how to ride together, we were on dirt.
Riding in the wissahickon is sort of like choosing which wobbly rock you want to ride on to make your best line, but the line changes everyday. We hit the dirt and had to almost immediately portage over a fallen tree. Not one that we could ride over, like 4 feet in air type of fallen tree. We got back on and realized that we have some of that rhythm going.

Riding in the back almost felt like a video game. I could see things coming along in the trail, and knew they were there, but the sensation I would usually have when I hit them was delayed by like three feet, so my reaction to small logs and drop offs was a bit off.
One tight turn we tried to make at speed caused us to stop with an unceremonius thud. We took that unexpected obstacle as a learning experience and trudged up the next hill. We got this climbing thing down. After a short downhill with some log drops and tight turns we were onto a burmed section of the park that falls about 120 feet in all of 40 feet of trail. The berms on the side are to keep you from just screaming right down the center of this hill, which is sometimes washed out. The new tandem team hit all of the berms, not quite with the style or amplitude of our singular bikes, but we did it never the less.

Forbidden drive was our next stop. We jumped on there because this gave us the best place to practice some of our moves, and scare the locals. If you were lucky enough to see two studs on a dual suspension 29er tandem rolling past your Sunday afternoon fun, you are welcome, that was us!


We rode the tandem to Wisse’s mill road and started our climb. Climbing on the tandem was not that bad. We were not racing or out with our normal fast friends, so that may have made it a bit easier, but we got to the top of the hill to jump back on the trail.
We hit a bit of a snafu here where I thought we were stopping, but el Capitan kept going. I jumped off and ran behind the tandem pushing the seat to the top of the hill just to make sure we did not have to push this thing all the way up there.


From this point, I think we really had our grove. We rode everything through the rest of the park with one minor hill climb walk. I would have walked my singular bike up that thing anyway!
The “demo” trail area of the wiss was a ton of fun because we got to a point that we knew when to pedal and went to coast through the turns.
On the next downhill which is pretty rocky, swoopy and fast, we were both laughing uncontrollably. Brian said I had some nervous laughter, but with no brakes on a rocky downhill and a maniac at the controls, that is an entirely new experience.


Riding the tandem just requires great communication and a little bit of over exaggeration with leaning and turning. I generally try to turn with my hips like you are supposed to, but with the tandem and the whip-like feature of the rear end, you have to lean all the way out.
One tight right turn had me leaning out so far that I was hitting the branches with my face. El Capitan kept calling for more lean. I think he wanted me to destroy the money maker. Instead of more facial lacerations, I threw my hips out and we made the tight down hill turn with some hot speed.
I can not wait for the next ride on this thing. I have not had that much fun on a mountain bike in a while. I think Brian and I would be a great team to keep riding this thing all over the park. If you see 500lbs of fun rolling your way, it is ok…you can laugh, but just get out of the way.

One Response to “500 pounds of fun”
  1. gwadzilla says:

    too bad the 24 Hours of Big Bear has been canceled

    you guys could have raced as a SOLO\DUO combo pack!

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