Thursday, May 11, 2017

Shakedown Cruise

If you have been reading our story for any time, you know that I early on named our tandem the "Silver Queen" and likened her to a grand old steam ship. Like a ship, I refer to the bike as "her" or "she" and while this may seem odd to someone who does not ride, it's probably not unlike the pet names that many give to their favorite automobiles.

She's home!
I have a great affection for her; I was despondent when Roger found the crack in her frame and I've thought of her rehabilitation as somewhat parallel to my own healing efforts. The hairline crack in her rear triangle and the stable fracture in my pelvis felt like mirrored wounds. When we learned that Seven would be able to repair and even improve the geometry and structure of the broken part I rejoiced that we would not have to replace her. Maybe I was too caught up in it, but it felt a bit like we needed to give her a chance to heal, just like I needed to heal.

It is with great joy and some trepidation, therefore, that I can now announce that the Silver Queen is home!  About two weeks ago, Roger got a call from Mel, the fellow up in New Jersey that he had found while we were on the road. Mel specializes in tandems; Roger thought it would make sense to have him build up the bike once the back triangle was rebuilt. Seven Cycles shipped him the frame, and he had it ready to go in a day or two.

Meanwhile, the Redlands Classic bike race was coming to town, and since we host a team and enjoy going out to watch the races, Roger was fretting about the likelihood that the bike would be delivered while we were away.  Sure enough, UPS informed him that it was coming "between noon and 4 pm on Thursday the 4th."  He was concerned enough that he even contemplated missing the race that day, but the prospect of missing the finish atop Oak Glen proved too enticing! In the end, he worked out with UPS to have it delivered without signature - which was a little bit scary since it's a pretty pricey package to have sitting on the porch while we're away.
Roger's puzzle pieces

Once it arrived, he began the process of putting it together. But wait - you say! Didn't Mel put the bike together already?  Yes, of course he did. But then he had to disassemble the frame using the couplers, and pack it all up, and that's the job of putting it together that Roger had to do. And of course, like any good assembly story, this one involves some missing pieces, and a bent or broken part, and so poor Roger, though he toiled into the evening darkness, could not finish the job.

I'm not kidding about the bent part. The large chain ring was apparently damaged in transit, and it had a bad wobble to it. In addition, Roger had ordered a fancy seat post for me that is supposed to help smooth out the ride for the stoker. One of the very small parts needed to fasten the saddle onto the fittings was missing. Despite this disappointing turn of events, Roger persisted. Rather like on our tour, he made repairs and substitutions - using our old chain ring and my seat post - so that the bike was ready to ride on Sunday.

I was very nervous about going out on it, I will confess.  This is the "trepidation" part. While I was happy to have the tandem back, I was worried about being back on it. The bicycle race on Sunday travels a loop around the neighborhoods in the hills below Sunset Drive. It's not a flat course, by any means, and while you can get around the route on a bike, you have to be mindful of the racers and caravan autos and motorbikes. I don't really like being on the road like that, but Roger really wanted to take the tandem, so despite my misgivings, we headed out on the course to watch our boys make the loop. The weather was threatening - freakishly so for May in this part of the state - and there were thundershowers and even hail predicted for the afternoon.
Roger waiting for me - we are thrilled with our team kits!

We watched the race develop and cheered our guys on through several laps, and finally decided, not quite early enough, to head back to house to change clothes and then go downtown for the finish. On the way down from Sunset, we were hammered as the storm broke. It was freezing cold - it did in fact hail in parts of town though thankfully not on us - and of course we were not dressed for it. We had a rain jacket, but no leg covers or inner layers so by the time we arrived home, we were drenched and shivering. I took comfort in two facts: in anticipation of the rain, we'd not worn our brand-new shoes, and - unlike the professional cyclists in the race - we did not have to stay out in that weather!

Our team controlling the race.  TJ, the winner, is 5th, in the yellow jersey.
We wiped off the bike, took a warming soak in the hot tub, and then headed out in the car to cheer our team on to a win. Even with the rain, it was a thrilling race, and our guys looked strong and shepherded their yellow jersey onto the winner's podium.

And so our first ride out on the new and improved Silver Queen was a success, even if the ride was shorter than we had planned.


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