Sunday, May 21, 2017

"I'm ready for my close-up"

Old friends on the road
Last weekend, the club ride was a remote start down in Temecula that Roger and I have done several times before. It is one of the prettiest rides we do around here - climbing up a mesa above Old Town, and then rolling through a sweet little valley along a road under the oak trees, passing the avocado farms and eventually reaching Fallbrook.
Autumn under the oak trees

That's where we usually stop for a taco, and then the route home can either be taxing or crushing, depending on whether you head left or right at the T intersection!

Your next guacamole may be growing out here!
We've done the longer, more difficult route before, but I didn't feel like my legs were ready for that. So this time we took the shorter trip back to the start, which felt "just right." It was tough, and we were ready for our beer and sandwich, but it didn't kill us. Autumn came along, and other friends from the bike club were with us on the road, so it almost felt like old times.

There was another group of our friends who opted for the longer route, and it was fun to hear them bitching and groaning when they made it back to the rendezvous spot (just as we were heading for home after our lunch.) I was glad we opted for the less difficult route this time out.

We must have been going downhill if the tandem was out front.
It was our first ride on the tandem with the club. All in all, I felt pretty comfortable, except on the descents. I am still very nervous when we go fast - and it's hard for the Silver Queen to descend without going fast! (This wasn't our first shot at coming downhill; we had gone up to Oak Glen earlier in the week with Autumn.  More on that in another post!)

Since this was the Silver Queen's debut, everyone was very interested in her new components. Roger was in his element, explaining how we'd had the back triangle re-engineered to provide a better touring experience. Here's a little run-down on the work she had done:
New brakes, wider fork

The brakes were changed to V brakes (I think that's the right term) to allow room for a fender to be installed.  This was one of the most troublesome retrofits that Roger attempted for our tour, and he eventually got tired of tangling with them and pulled them off the back wheels.  I definitely suffered the consequences of not having fenders when we hit rain. I was just soaked, while Roger managed to stay relatively dry up front (where the fenders remained.)

Beefy wheels and 32 c tires
You can probably also see the 48 spoke wheel and big ol' beefy 32 c tires. The front fork was replaced to make room for the larger tires.

My fancy seat post shock absorber
 I did not know this change was coming, but Roger selected a "Thud Buster" seat post thingy for my saddle that is supposed to help smooth out the bumps for the stoker. I'm not sure I can tell yet if it's working, but then, the road felt pretty good Saturday so maybe there's something to it. Seat shock is a particular problem for the tandem stoker, because you can't always see the road from the back of the bike. It's easy enough for most cyclists to rise slightly off the saddle if the road is rough, or when you hit something (provided you see it in time.) But we stokers are completely at the mercy of our captains. If Roger hits a hole, it can really be a shock!

Enhanced cluster
The rear cluster is expanded. I can't quote the stats, but we now have an even lower gear than we had before, with the largest gear on the rear being larger than the smallest on the front. This allows us to creep along, advancing forward less than the circumference of the wheel with one turn of the cranks.You don't make a lot of progress in such a low gear, but with the bike loaded up, it is mighty handy to have one when you hit a very steep grade.

Larger disk brake
We swapped our teeny tiny disk brake for a size that would probably actually stop the bike. It's still under my control, and I am getting used to the increased "grab" that it provides if I use it.

The change that got the most attention was the belt drive that replaced the linking chain. For some reason, this just really got everyone all hot and bothered. I admit, it's pretty! And it's nice to know that I don't have to worry about getting greasy on the left side of the bike anymore.  But I am not sure what all the fuss is about.

Belt drive linking our cranks

Roger had already made the shift to bar-end shifters while we were on the tour, and he really likes the increased control they provide. So he had them installed again. He's been very pleased with the performance of the bike so far. Shifting is working great, and he says it handles very well with the larger tires.
Bar-end shifters

I think he was initially worried that it would be sluggish or something, but that seems to not be too much of an issue.

In addition to all this cool stuff, the lugs for mounting the racks are beefier, and the good folks at Seven cleaned her up, polished everything and put new decals on. I've even reinstalled my bell!  So the Silver Queen, v. 2.0 is back in action.  Long may she reign!

I think the folks at Seven were having a little fun with us!

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