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2007

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24 Dec - It's Time For My Annual Tandem Owners Survey Well, given that I had all of my shopping done and it's been too cold to ride so far this morning, I've gone ahead and created this year's annual tandem owners survey. The annual survey is your chance to anonymously share and compare information about your tandem team, your tandem riding experience, and tandem riding habits with other tandem enthusiasts in a way that allows you to start seeing results as they come in real time from your fellow tandem enthusiasts.

Without further fanfare,

1. Here is the link to PART I Of year's survey
Click here for Graphed results

2. Here is the link to PART II Of year's survey
Click here for Graphed results

Why a Part II? Well, for a variety of reasons including feedback from the first, but mostly because I found myself pondering a few other things as I created the initial 10 questions that I thought folks might find also interesting.

So, you'll find Part II peels back the onion a little bit further on several different tandem-specific and non-tandem specific topics that get into the heads of survey respondents a bit more deeply than past surveys. It also does the unthinkable in that the last question looks at personal income something that is often times hinted at in tandem marketing materials and articles but that I've never attempted to quantify.

11 Dec - Speaking of Recumbent Tandems. Jeff Corcoran wrote to let us know that, having been beseached with many questions about their Rans Screamer recumbent tandem, he's created an informational Website: http://www.TandemRide.com

10 Dec - '08 Tandem Rally Information Now Being Posted. As incredible as it seems, another year has come and gone. It's almost 2008 and the hosts behind next year's rallies are already getting their plans and Websites in order. TheTandem Club UK folks are way out in front as always and have a robust calendar of major events up already. Our own Website's "Events" page is also filling up with Rally dates and locations. It all promises to be another great season of tandeming with old friends and new so be sure to start working on your plans to attend at least one of the great rallies that's offered in your region next year.

Here are some of the earlier in the year events to consider:

Rice Valley Tandem Rally - Feb 10 at Gridley, CA. This is an annual tour of the lush valley flatlands west and south of Gridley, California. featuring a 62 mile route that goes to Grey Lodge, a 100 mile option that adds a loop north of Gridley to Richvale, as well as a 40 mile loop around the Sutter Buttes.
 
Sebring Tandem Weekend - Apr 5-6 at Sebring, FL. All rides start and end at the historic Kenilworth Lodge in Sebring. Routes are well-marked and excellent maps are provided. More details and onlne registration at active.com beginning in mid-January.
Alabama Tandem Weekend has yet provide all of the details; however, it was announced at STR '07 that the ATW would visit Anniston, Alabama in '08. Those additional details are expected soon.
 
Southwest Tandem Rally, Apr 25-27, at Tulsa, OK: the former "Oil Capital of the World". According to the organizers, Tulsa has washed the grease off its hands, put on its Sunday clothes and now takes pride in its many museums and cultural activities as well as its close ties to the high-tech and aviation industries.
 
Georgia Tandem Rally - May 16-18, Albany, GA. The 10th annual GTR promises to provide flat, fast riding that is intended to offer folks from the deep South an event close to home given that STR '08 will be held in northern Kentucky. Registration opens Jan 28th.
COWs Spring Gathering - May 16-18, Ellison Bay, WI, right in the heart of Wisconsin's Door County, which features some of the most scenic roads in the region.
 
MATES '08 (ETR's Homepage) - June 12-15, Flemington, NJ. This year MATES will be exploring central western New Jersey in and around the Flemington area.  The routes are a combination of rolling farmlands and the longer rides venture up into the hills of Warren and Somerset Counties.  This event will be 'capped' at 40 couples so sign-up early to secure your spot.
 
Others are listed on our Events. page.

 

25 Nov - Aussie Duo Take On Hell-on-Wheels Fund Raiser - Aussie's Jim Plant and his wife Rhonda Foreman logged 800km on their off-road tandem on Oct 12 ­ 21 as they rode to raised funds for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service. You can read the entire article HERE. Jim and Rhonda are also 'roadies' and the week before their fund raising tour they warmed up on their road tandem during the 100km Wilson HTM Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle challenge.

24 Nov - Retrospective on Jane Tomlinson - Regular readers of the Bulletin Board will recall seeing several entries over the past years regarding Jane Tomlinson, a woman from the UK who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 6 months to live back in 2000. Over the next seven years Jane went on to raise over $4 million dollars (USD) for charities while running marathons and riding transnational and a US transcontinental cycling events. You can read the entire article from Shane Stokes at CyclingNews website by clicking HERE.

23 Nov - Retrospective on Jane Tomlinson - Couple celebrates 50 years of marriage and cycling by heading down under for a three-month cycling tour of Australia. Anthony and Thelma Brazier recently celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary, a relationship that began when they both joined the Verulam Cycling Club to pursue their passions for cycling something they continue to enjoy. You can read the entire article and see a photo of Anthony & Thelma HERE.

22 Nov - Tandem Folks In The News: Sarah & Kirby Johnson - Sarah Johnson was recently recognized by the US Postal Service for 25 years of service. Among her hobbies, Sarah noted that she and her husband Kirby enjoy riding their tandem bicycle near Spring Valley, MN.g they continue to enjoy. You can read the entire article and see a photo of Anthony & Thelma HERE.

New Feature: Geek-Speak

Given that I spend an inordinate amount of time posting to both the Tandem@Hobbes listserver and the tandem sub-forum at BikeForums.net, I thought I'd start to provide a periodic compendium of links to some of what I believe are the more interesting or informative postings.

Santana Tandems & Bottom Brackets: Why Santana remains committed to Octalink bottom brackets and compatibility with FSA Mega Exo cranksets based on some correspondence with the fine folks at Santana Inc. (LINK)

Survey Update on 145mm Spaced Low-Spoke Count Wheelsets: Last winter I conducted my annual survey and included a few questions on the low-spoke-count wheelsets that have become more popular on performance tandems. As I was going through the process of selecting a similar set of 'go-fast' wheels for a new tandem that's presently being fabricated for us by the wonderful folks at Calfee Designs, I thought I'd see what current users had to say. (LINK)

Are Carbon Components Lighter than Alloys? Sometimes the marketing buzz can cloud real facts and in atleast one area ­ seatposts ­ actual weights of a number of different brands and models might surprise a few folks. (LINK)

Brake Modulation: What is it and why is it important? An often times over and mis-used term, brake modulation is actually a pretty important thing to understand by teams who like to push their tandems to the ragged edge of the performance envelope. (LINK)

Aggressive descents and cornering? Speaking of pushing the limits of your tandem, some time back I wrote a rather lengthy post regarding some of the fine points of bike handling when tacking high-speed twisty descents. (LINK)


21 Nov - 2nd Annual Bilenky Urban Cyclocross Race - The Philadelphia Weekly ran a story about east-coast tandem fabricator extraordinaire Stephen Bilenky as a run-up to the 2nd Annual Bilenky Urban Cyclocross Race on Dec. 9. It's a romp around a junk yard next to Bilenky's workshop and while there aren't any trophies or prizes, all who participate are treated to a "kegger", live musics, barbecue, a bonfire and "general merriment with others who share a love of bicycle culture." you can read the Philly Weekly article HERE and you can learn more about the race and see photos from last year's event a THIS LINK.

20 Nov - Tandem Team Makes Great Showing & Pulls Others Into Top 10 at El Tour de Tuscon - The first place tandem team of Chris DeMarchi & Gil Correa became Rob Alvarez' new best friends near the finish line of this year's El Tour de Tuscon. As reported in the local news, "Tucson native Rob Alvarez made his way onto the final stretch of Congress Street nearing the last turn toward the El Tour de Tucson finish line, he was tailing tandem Chris DeMarchi and Gil Correa, using the duo to pull him through the finish line among the top 10. "(Alvarez) yelled at us as we were coming down toward the end, that if we pushed it as hard as possible, he was going to throw us 50 bucks or take us out for a nice dinner after this was over. So we said all right," DeMarchi said." You can read the article in its entirety HERE.

20 Nov - Peace Pedalers Still Going Strong On Tandem Expedition - A film that chronicles the transglobal Peace Pedaler tour was screened in San Francisco on Nov 22. From their web site, Peace Pedalers started in 2002 with two full-time riders, Jamie Bianchini and Garryck Hampton, who began riding thier own tandem-single mountain bikes called "Tangles" through 18 countries in Asia and Oceania. We each rode in the front seats and picked up hundreds of "guest riders" from dozens of countries who rode on the back seats from a few minutes to a few weeks. It was an epic adventure indeed. Since then, Garryck has become a Part-Time Peace Pedaler after a nasty mountain bike crash in Malaysia. He now works full time with the Forest Service in North America and will join us on various sections of the rest of the expedition. So with only Jamie as a full-time Peace Pedaler, we decided to share the amazing experiences of Peace Pedaling with people like YOU and we have now created the "Part Time Peace Pedaler Program". This program allows people to rent or borrow aBlack Sheep bikes--two tandem-single "Tangle". Again, you can learn more about Peace Pedalers at their Website.

07 Nov - Revisit MTR 2007 Through The Camera Lens - Randy & Barb Angell wrote to let us know that they have posted their 2007 MTR Photo Album on line which apparently has a very large number of photos for you to enjoy. As noted in their letter to us, the perennial Labor Day event was well organized by Wisconsin's "Couples on Wheel" tandem club and drew some 889 riders to the scenic and mostly flat back roads of Appleton, WI. As evident from the many smiles in the Angell's photo collection, the MTR was full of fun and camaraderie. You can get to their album by clicking on this LINK.

07 Nov - Second Summer Tours Releases 2008 Schedule - Rob Templin of Second Summer Tours wrote to let us know that their 2008 tour schedule is out and their events are starting to fill-up. If you know of any interested folks that might be looking for a break from winter weather, and want to get in some early-season warm-weather miles, they may be interested in Rob's Southern California Holiday Tour 2007 (December) ... or one of his two Maui Triple Challenge Tours in January/ February. We're told that Rob has some really nice folks lined up for the tours along with some very interesting guest riders. Visit their site by clicking on this LINK

07 Nov - Tandem Teams in the News: Team Parker, Tallahassee, FL ­ A very heart-warming story is told in an article written about Al & Heidi Parking by Amanda Nalley of the Tallahassee Chronicle that you can read HERE.

06 Sep - What To Take A Trip Through Cycling & Tandem History? - I was reading through a number of very old publications dealing with bicycle history, technology, construction, and repair and in doing so, I was once again reminded that with bicycles almost everything old is new again. I have also come to believe that the discussions we have today regarding bicycles and tandems are also not all that different than the ones enthusiasts would have had over 100 years ago and, with that in mind, I've culled a a few snippits from some of these old manuscripts to read and ponder that you can find here:

Introduction: The Modern Bicycle and its Accessories, The Commercial Advertiser Assn., 1898
* An 1898 version of today's "Buyers Guide"
Preface: Bicycle Repairing, By S.D.V. Burr, 1896
* The value of a quality bicycle and of good mechanics
Introduction: Modern Cycles - A Practical Handbook.... By A.J. Wallis-Tayler, C.E., 1897
* The safety bicycle as a practical, beneficial, and more easily managed machine
Bicycles For Two or More Riders: Modern Cycles - A Practical Handbook.... By A.J. Wallis-Tayler, C.E., 1897
* A comprehensive overview of the state of the art of tandems, circa 1897
Tandems & Multicycles: The Modern Bicycle and its Accessories, The Commercial Advertiser Assn., 1898
* A brief history and overview of tandems as might be seen in today's Bicycling Magazine, less all of the details.
B uilding Tandem Safeties: Cycle Building and Repairing, Edited by Paul N. Hasluck, 1900
*A detailed description of how to build a tandem, circa 1900. Just how much as really changed?

04 Aug - ariZona Tandems to Cease Manufacturing in December '07 - Sorry to say that we received an Email from Bob last week with some unfortunately news regarding the future of ariZona Tandems. More specifically: "Due to my continuing health issues we will cease all manufacture activity by December 31. 2007. All warranty support and repair work will continue as normal. We appreciate the support you have given us,..... Please feel free to contact me about on going work or any other questions. We will continue investigating new approaches and designs. We are presently testing a compact drive system with no crossover drive (third chainring added to the stoker's crank with synchronizing chain running on the right to the captain's chainring). No great invention, but neat way to use single bike components without modifications (except adding the 3rd chainring)." Similar information is now posted at their Website

03 Aug - Southern Tandem Rally @ Chattanooga, TN: Sept 21-23 -As a reminder, the 2007 Southern Tandem Rally will be held on September 21 - 23 at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Please note registration will come to a close on August 24, 2007. The STR Website has also been updated with more detailed information regarding the scheduled events and route descriptions, noting that there will be a variety of ride options available. You can find contact information as well as additional details about Chattanooga, the event, and links to the downloadable registration form at the STR Website. You can also download a flyer for the event HERE

15 Jul - Tandems Across the Bay Provides Opportunities For The Sight Impaired - Aaron Reichler wrote to let us know that he and his wife , Lee, have co-founded a San Francisco-based tandem cycling club geared towards the blind and visually impaired called Tandems Across the Bay. From the Lions Center for the Blind in Oakland and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired websites come a few additional details: The club has several volunteers with tandems, and rides on weekends and holidays, from The Fishermen's Wharf Area. The easy going rides are usually across the Golden Gate Bridge and return to San Francisco via Ferry. There is usually a picnic after the ride. To schedule a ride or just ask questions contact club founders Aaron or Lee at 415.398.4341 or tandemsacrossthebay@gmail.com. They're presently working on a Web site but in the interim can be contacted via their Email address.

12 Jul - Black Bear Bicycle Bash September 7 - 9 @ Townsend, TN - Matt Alexander of the Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend, TN, wrote to let us know that his hotel will be holding the 4th Black Bear Bicycle Bash on September 7 - 9. The event is expected to once again attract a wide range of riders, from beginners and families to avid racers. There will be scheduled road and mountain bike ride, games, prizes, and demonstrations of equipment and accessories. Matt has teamed up with Tim and Sharon Patterson, directors of the Tennessee Tandem Rally, to create another exciting cycling weekend experience that offers some of the same great riding that draw rave reviews from tandem teams who attend the annual TTR event each June. For complete information, see the PRESS RELEASE Or to register visit their Website.

10 Jul - Mt Airy Bicycles (Maryland) To Host 17th Annual TanDemo/BentEvent on Sunday, October 7th - Bob Friedman on behalf of Larry & Linda Black wrote to let us know that Mt Airy / College Park Bicycles will be holding their 17th Annual TandDem/Bent Event on October 7th at their Mt Airy shop. Bob's note included the following information: Join PPTC's WABITS on a variety of rides from the family-friendly 8 to the more challenging 38 miles. Rides start at 10:00AM, After the ride enjoy a bicycle show of tandems, recumbents and singles, plus other interesting 2-wheeled modes of transportation. New-to, or wannabe tandem, trike, or recumbent people get first-hand tips from the seasoned couples. After the rides find out more about the club over a healthy lunch, courtesy of Larry and Linda Black, tandemming since the days of the 10 speed in the 70' s. You can skip breakfast, come out and ride - we'll have the juice, java, bagels and fresh pastries ready Got old gear? Swap with fellow clubfolk - no fees, no registering. Maybe even score a great tandem. There will be a bunch of tandems, recumbents, trikes, and other toys to try out in the afternoon. More information can be found at their Website: www.bike123.com

10 Jun - RALLY PHOTOS! Coming on the heels of some of the first major rallies of 2007, the various photo galleries from these events are now popping up on the Web. So, if you've attended one of these events and are dying to see photos of yourselves so you see how you look in spandex when you're not posing in the mirror, or if you know how you look in spandex and want to make yourself feel better by seeing how other teams look in spandex, have at it. Of course, if you've never attended a tandem rally you may want to avoid these galleries as you may become smitten with the notion that the folks in these photos are REALLY having a lot of fun.

 

16 Jun - The Joy of Tandems... As some regular readers are aware, I've stepped back from my long-time favorite tandem list and spend most of my time info-taining folks on the tandem sub-forum at BikeForums.net. I'm reluctant to pimp BF too much as it does seem to be a "for-profit" enterprise and I prefer to simply piss-away my valuable time (as I'm doing right now) by pontificating for theraputic reasons. Anyway, now and again I'll run across a question that just inspires me to drift into creative writing mode and when that happens I sometimes decide to republish my wit and wisdom here. Today was just such an occasion when the question that appears below came up and not only inspired a direct response, but also made me realize that the sex and the tandems have a lot in common. So, here now for your weekend reading pleasure are my twisted views on The Joys of Tandems.

Q. What does it feel like riding a tandem bike I mean having two people controlling the bike.

The enthusiast's perspective: It's analogous to moving up from a two-seat roadster to a four seat sports convertible: longer wheelbase, higher gross weight, usually with a bigger engine and backseat passengers = twice as much fun. Or, if you prefer, moving up from a 600c sportbike to a 1300cc GT / Sport Touring motorcycle: again, longer wheelbase, more weight, and a bigger powerplant to even things out + someone to share the experience with.

Once you become used to riding a tandem, it all becomes second nature, although jumping back on a single bike after a prolonged period of time doing tandem-only can find you pulling unintentionally wheelies when you power-up and skidding the rear wheel with the nearly useless rear brake on your single bike. For folks who ride aggressively, if you happen to buy a tandem with conservative geometry and have been riding your single bike exclusively for a while you may find that your tandem doesn't want to "turn" as smartly diving into curves at higher speeds once you get back on it... as one friend recently discovered and related.

The contrarian's perspective: Yeah, my wife talked me into one and it was awful. They handle like trucks, you end up doing all the work while they complain and when you finally get to the top of a hill and can actually get some benefit from all that dead weight on the descent you discover that you've unintentionally fitted your tandem with a "nag-brake" who keeps telling you to slow down. No thanks. Do yourself a favor and use the money to buy yourself a better bike and tell your wife to hit the health club if she wants to get in shape. As for quality time, why do you think I took up cycling in the first place... so I could get some quality "alone" time.

-------------------

Bonus Feature for First Timers: The Joy of Tandems...

Let me state right up front that before having any discussion about first time tandeming we talk about protection: you really want to make sure you have helmets and know how to properly put on and fit helmets before engaging in tandeming. While accidents aren't usually serious, some can leave legacies that last a lifetime.

OK, movin' on...

First time tandeming can be a bit awkward for many couples. "Almost every couple will feel nervous about it and it's really common for stokers to find it more unsettling and uncomfortable the first time they try it. Being in a good relationship will go along way towards making the stoker happy and comfortable their first time out, but it won't eliminate the anxiety (whether or not they will admit it). IMHO, tandeming is much better when both people are relaxed and can trust each other. So, talk to your riding partner about their feelings and if you're not sure there's enough trust or confidence there then you can either wait a bit and work on developing that trust or press ahead but go easy the first time."

Now, in a perfect world all couples would be able to get sound advise and instruction on proper tandem technique before trying themselves, perhaps even having some first hand experience with a more experience tandem surrogate, if you will, who could demonstrate how a good tandem partner should perform their respective duties during the ride. This way, once the couple saddles up for the first time, it really isn't their first time and much of the awkwardness is eliminated.

Now, it's fair to say that not all couples will really enjoy tandeming, either first time or at all... ever. This is where communication, openness and a good relationship become essential. It's been said many times and it's true: hoping onto a tandem will accelerate the course of a relationship faster than a jetpack and that can be good or it can be. While many experienced couples who ride tandems will relate that tandeming is a "deeply moving emotional experience in which two people bond in a profound and lasting way", it's simply not true for everyone. "Don't get me wrong-- this does happen, but only if you were in a satisfying, close relationship" before you started tandeming. "Tandeming doesn't create anything that wasn't already there. It won't solve any communication problems, and it won't make you fall in love with anyone (or make them fall in love with you). If you are tempted take up tandems in order to improve a faltering relationship, STOP. It won't help, and could make things worse."

Well, there you go... that's the real inside track on first time tandems. There is obviously a lot more that we can discuss about good tandeming vs. bad tandeming and how tandeming can improve and become more varied once a couple decides they're ready for something other than the same old loop or club ride routine. So, look for future installments dealing with:

- Taking it to the next level: rough and tumble tandeming.
- Adding Tandem Toys to your routine: Do Heart Rate Monitors & Computers help or simpy distract?
- Group Tandeming: Tandeming with other couples, tandem clubs, tandem rallies, and swapping stokers.
- Off-Road Tandeming: Getting back to nature and doing it in the woods.
- Same sex tandeming: Why it's cool to watch a couple gals riding a tandem but seeing two guys doing it gives us the hee-bee-gee-bees.

------------------------

Quoted material and other passages were lifted from various sources and "tweaked" a bit. I've got an imagination and can write, but sometimes others can provide better words that more richly convey the sentiment and, YES, the parallels between tandeming and sex are rather profound. I believe it has something to do with both partners sitting on very sensitive erogenous zones while engaged in a rigorous, synchronized physical activity where all types of hormones get fired up. Thus, things like riding out of phase, riding on a semi- or fully recumbent bike rob much of the sensuality of the tandeming experience... as does having a partner who simply can't keep up. Hmmm... I think I need to go find my wife: a feel a little afternoon delight coming on.

 

01 Jun - Got A Little Captain In You? "The Captain" makes a surprise appearance during the professional portrait session at the Tennessee Tandem Rally.... (Photo courtesy of Tracey & Cathy Trumbull)

09 May - Southwest Tandem Rally 2008, April in Tulsa OK - Lyndsey & Dennis Morris wrote to let us know that the 2008 Southwest Tandem Rally XVIII will be held in Tulsa, OK April 25, 26 and 27, 2008.  Their website is a work in progress at this time but it is up and running at THIS URL. Anyone who has some specific questions can send an Email to the organizers at this address: SWTR2008@cox.net 

05 May - SHORE TO SHORE-A Father And Son Journey Across America - David Winyard wrote to let us know that he has recently published a book that may be of interest to tandem enthusiasts, particularly those who intend to ride with their younger children. From his Storefront Website, "As a young man, David Winyard rode his bicycle from Oregon to Delaware with Wandering Wheels, an Indiana-based cycling organization. The experience was so fulfilling that he repeated the trip a few years later on a tandem bicycle with his wife, Traci. In 2002, after years of preparation, Winyard set out on the same bike to share the cross-country-cycling experience with his oldest child, David Charles, then fourteen. In 39 days, they traveled from Virginia Beach to Ventura, California. But at age 45, Winyard found the trip to be a much greater challenge than expected. Returning home in their van, the family resumed home schooling and work, Winyard reflecting on their experiences. The result, SHORE TO SHORE-A Father And Son Journey Across America, describes their adventure, including the surprising lessons learned before, during, and after their trip."

03 May - Putting The Spin On Burley's Evolution - While I was always appreciative of Burley's place in the tandem community, my facination with their business plight was heightened as they tried to evolve from a best-value producer to go head-to-head in the high-end equipment arena but with seemingly margin-less prices at the beginning of the new century. This growth in the tandem line paralleled similar expansions into the upright single bike market and the recumbent market which, again, seemed to be incredibly ambitious given the co-op structure that Burley operated under. The entire thing reminded me of an MBA student's first business plan where the one constraint they failed to include was adequate margins and cash reserves. Anyway, what still bothers me a bit to this day were some personal emails that I exchanged with certain members of Burley's management team following a very unusual, pre-emptive posting to bikeforums.net in July which attempted to put down rumors about Burley's pending sale. While the open posting was, in and of itself, clearly a damage control piece subsequent off-list discussions were far more specific and most if not all of the responses lacked any credibility. As the events unfolded over the next 90 days, just about everything that had been offered as a response was proven to have been misleading which was not all that unexpected given that my sources were ultimately on-target as was my general understanding of their business issues. So, other than being disappointed Burley's PR department's failure to appreciate why "no comment" if often the right response when pressed for difficult answers, why am I bringing this up again? Well, despite the fact that the vast majority of the employees at Burley were let-go, several key members of management remain and I continue to see quotes showing up in various business articles that can be described as further "damage control" that attempt to shift accountability away from the leadership that hastened Burley's departure from the tandem market and, instead, ascribe the failure to "the system" at Burley. Frankly, you could apply that rationale to every business failure, Congress, Presidential Administrations, and the US Labor movement and pretty must dismiss the entire concept of leadership accountability for all their respective failures: ask a entrepreneur how that model would work in their businesses? Anyway, the most recent article that came to my attention from a retrospective piece from the University of Oregon's Oregon Quarterly that continues to provide top cover for Alumns who were former employees and leaders at Burley. Rather than putting any more of my own "spin" on the Burley story, let me hope that at some point a knowledgeable insider finally writes an accurate account with the assistance of other former employees and an objective 3rd party business editor who can parse the facts from the spin and tell the REAL story. In the mean time, here's a number of links to various articles in chronological order that cover the slide, the spin, and the damage control that followed nearly two years of forewarning from the local Register Guard in a number of articles:

Jul '06 - The shortsighted bikeforums.net pre-emptive posting by a Burley employee and member of management that attempted to squell the leaks from within Burley regarding financial problems nearing critical mass, dissolution of the co-op, and interested observers comments that merely stated what was already obvious. Unless your audience is comprised of sycophants and clueless well wishers, this is tantamount to throwing gasoline on a match.

Aug '06 - Imagine my surprise.... "Eugene co-op shifts gears. The maker of bicycles and bike trailers incorporates. Published: Saturday, August 5, 2006. In a final attempt to save its Eugene bicycle manufacturing business, Burley Design recently ended its 28-year run as a worker-owned cooperative and joined the rank and file of corporate America." (Note: The RG will let you access the article about twice before defaulting to a registration page. Use www.bugmenot.com to find a user ID and password if needed).

Sep '06 - The coup de grace, just as most of us industry watchers had expected.... "Businessman seeks to put brakes on Burley's decline Published: Saturday, September 9, 2006 The saga of Eugene bicycle manufacturer Burley Design took a fast and sudden turn on Friday. Local businessman Michael Coughlin said he has purchased the assets of the financially troubled company. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. All of Burley's 104 workers were laid off on Friday: Sixty-five will return to their jobs on Monday under new ownership, and 39 positions have been eliminated, Coughlin said.

19 Feb - Prarrie State Tandem Rally Set For June 15 - 17 @ Springfield, IL -As a young man, David Winyard rode his bicycle from Oregon to Delaware with Wandering Wheels, an Indiana-based cycling organization. The experience was so fulfilling that he repeated the trip a few years later on a tandem bicycle with his wife, Traci.

In 2002, after years of preparation, Winyard set out on the same bike to share the cross-country-cycling experience with his oldest child, David Charles, then fourteen. In 39 days, they traveled from Virginia Beach to Ventura, California. But at age 45, Winyard found the trip to be a much greater challenge than expected.

Returning home in their van, the family resumed home schooling and work, Winyard reflecting on their experiences. The result, SHORE TO SHORE-A Father And Son Journey Across America, describes their adventure, including the surprising lessons learned before, during, and after their trip.

19 Feb - Prarrie State Tandem Rally Set For June 15 - 17 @ Springfield, IL - The 2007 edition of the Prairie State Tandem Rally will be held in Springfield, Illinois on June 15 - 17. The Prarrie State Tandem Rally is home rally for the Chicago Area Tandem Enthusiasts (CATS). You can find more information at their Website.

17 Feb - Southern Tandem Rally @ Chattanooga, TN: Sept 21-23 -Registration is now open for the 2007 Southern Tandem Rally which will be held on September 21 - 23 at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Called the Scenic City, Chattanooga sits in a bend of the Tennessee River between Lookout and Signal Mountains and features the $120 million Waterfront Plan, the world famous Tennessee Aquarium, and various other exciting attractions, restuarants, and hotels. The Chattanoogan Hotel, located in downtown Chattanooga close to restaurants, shopping, and attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium, will be "Rally Central" for the three-day event. Lodging costs are included in the cost of the rally and room reservations will be made by the STR organizing committee after receiving your paid rally registration form. You can find more information and links to the downloadable registration form at the STR Website. For those who'd rather cut to the chase, here is a direct link to the registration form. Full details are available at the STR Web site.

17 Feb - Comparing Tandem Rallies - Someone on one of the discussion forums I frequent asked how a Southern Tandem Rally might compare to something like the Tennessee Tandem Rally. I decided to take that cue as an opportunity to provide something of an answer as well as a recap of the past Southern Tandem Rallies that we have attended.

The problem with comparing the major regional tandem rallies like STR, ETR, MTR, NWTR, and SWTR is that -- unlike the Tennessee Tandem Rally and Georgia Tandem Rally where they are organized by the same people each year -- a rally like the Southern Tandem Rally (STR) moves from one host couple or group and location to another each year. This change in hosts and locales tends to shift the demographic make-up of the teams who attend, the "flavor" of the event, and also provides for widely different terrain and scenery. The major difference in cost is related to location, "extras" like jerseys, and the type of facility, e.g., the closer to a major city you get the higher the lodging costs and the Conference Center / Resort facilities are more expensive but highly desirable because everything happens in one enclosed, contiguous space.

That said, STR and TTR will differ primarily in numbers as twice as many teams are traditionally at STR events, Chattanooga is a major city wheresas Alcoa is a small community, the Chattanoogan Hotel is an upscale Conference Center and Resort vs. the Holiday Inn Express being, well, a Holiday Inn Express, and of course the terrain is quite different. In other words, they're just very different events with two constants: great people and an opportunity to ride with a large number of tandem teams where you can most likely find several other teams to ride with at your level. With respect to cost, STR'07 is being hosted in the Chattanoogan Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the accommodations are a major cost driver. Although, being in the "big city" also means there will be opportunities for "short route" riders to take in attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium with the rally. However, unlike most "big" cities, Chattanooga is a smaller big city that allows cyclists to quickly escape to excellent riding in the valleys or over the mountains that surround the Tennessee River Valley.

For what it's worth, and to add some context, here's a recap of the 8 STRs that we've attended. Assuming you're house-bound and bored enough to read it all you'll see that there is definitely a "template" that these events follow. For your viewing pleasure, you'll also find a few of the rally entries linked to a some other folk's photo albums from those events.

STR '98 was in Selma, Alabama with about 93 teams attending. It was hosted out of a nice motel with a hospitality room as rally central and featured fairly flat to rolling terrain with a just a few moderate climbs. Breakfast was a continental / biscuit buffet type served in the hospitality suite and Saturday's lunch was sandwiches served outside in a state park. The banquet was a BBQ type buffet meal held in a National Guard armory on folding tables and chairs and the entertainment was a local ghost story teller noting that this was Halloween. Cost for the event + hotel for two nights was about $340, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and a pair of commemorative polo shirts, many of which ran large and didn't fit.

STR '99 was in Greensboro, NC, near the airport. Can't tell you much about it as we missed that one other than it was plagued by rain.

STR '00 was held at Callaway Gardens near Pine Mountain, Georgia. The event was hosted out of the Callaway Gardens Conference Center & Resort with all activities taking place on premises, including a full hot buffet breakfast in the resort dining room. Lunch was a cold-cut buffet in a local town resturant and the Saturday night banquet was fabulous buffet back at the resort's grand ballroom. Entertainment was a Halloween costume contest. There were about 120 teams and the terrain offered both challenging long routes over Pine Mountain's ridges as well as shorter foothill routes for those looking for less climbing. Cost for the event included two-nights lodging and was about $430, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and a pair of commemorative polo shirts, again many of which ran large and didn't fit.

STR '01 was held in Clemson, SC, at a Ramada Inn & Conference Center. The indoor pool area was essentially where we gathered for social activities as well as the banquet buffet. Again, attendance was probably on the order of 90 - 100 and the terrain was rolling to moderately hilly with a bit of rain on Saturday and Sunday was a complete wash-out. Breakfast was served in a banquet room at the Ramada Inn and a sandwich type lunch was served at a nice patio at a Clemson University facility of some type. I'm sorry to say, but I can't recall what the entertainment was after the banquet. Combined cost of the event + hotel lodging for two nights was about $330, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and included a pair of commemorative pull-over tops of some type.

STR '02 was held in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi at Casino Magic & Resort. There were a couple "Holiday Inn" like hotels on the property where we stayed and the banquet was held at the golf course clubhouse elsewhere on the property. I seem to recall that breakfast was served at the Casino dining room that was also a short walk from the hotels. Lunch was served at a pavilion in a park near the host's home in Diamondhead, MS. Entertainment for Saturday night's banquet was provided by a very colorful, local historian who spoke on the history of Bay St. Louis. There were probably 120 or so folks at the event and the riding was mostly flat. Cost for the event was about $415 for registration + two nights lodging, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and included a pair of commemorative jerseys. [PHOTO GALLERY]

STR '03 was held in Tallahassee, FL, at a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel. There were something like 133 teams at this event -- the largest STR turn-out ever as I recall -- and the riding was flat with some rolling and moderately hilly terrain... far more hilly than many of us expected to find in North Florida, which was a pleasant surprise. Breakfast was the hotel's normal continental service in the lobby area and lunch was a sandwich affair served in a state park. The banquet was held in the Seminole Club at the Florida State University Center and it was incredibly elegant buffet-style affair, highlighted by a circus troupe for entertainment. Cost for the event was about $425 for registration + two nights lodging, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and included a pair of commemorative jerseys. [PHOTO GALLERY]

STR '04 was held in Concord (North Charlotte), North Carolina just down the street from the Lowe's Motor Speedway. It was hosted out of two hotels that sat next to each other with a hospitality suite serving in the Hampton Inn serving as rally central. Turn out was around 100 and the riding was moderately rolling to hilly and featured an opportunity for the rally participants to ride their tandems on the high banks of Lowe's Motor Speedway. Breakfast was the hotel's standard continental service with a lunch buffet served from a renovated barn at a very nice city park facility. The Saturday banquet was a very nice buffet served at the Lowe's Motor Speedway Club with a ventrilloquest providing the entertainment. Cost for the event + two nights lodging was about $390, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and included a pair of commemorative long-sleeve Tshirts. [PHOTO GALLERY]

STR '05 was held in Kingsport, TN, at a brand-new Marriott Conference Center & Resort. Attendance was around 100 or so, with the majority of the activities taking place in one of the large conventional halls. The hall was more or less like a big high school gymnasium without the fold out bleachers and served as the hospitality room, bike storage facility, continental breakfast buffet facility as well as the banquet room. The terrain was rolling to hilly, with several moderately challenging opportunities for the teams that wanted to ride the longest routes. Saturday's lunch was served at a small civic center in a neat little historic town with lots of interesting stores to explore. Entertainment following the Saturday evening buffet was a blue grass band. Cost for the event + two nights lodging was about $430, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and included a pair of base layer, long sleeve tops (which we use all winter long, thank-you very much). [PHOTO GALLERY]

STR '06 was held in Sanford, North Carolina, and was structured to be a "best value" rally by the organizers by hosting it in a lower-cost area that still featured some of the better riding routes frequented by the folks in nearby Raleigh. The event was hosted out of a local Hampton Inn with overflow accommodations just a short distance away at a Holiday Inn Express. There were 91 folks registered for the event and the terrain was interesting in that Sanford sits on a plateau, making for fast and easy riding when leaving town and a far more laborious return. However, aside from that, the organizers developed routes that supporting the needs of beginner and intermediate teams as well as more challenging and longer routes for the more advanced teams. Breakfast was "as provided" by the hotels to all their guests with a very nice, lite Mediterranean lunch fare served under a covered pavilion in a beautifully wooded state park. The Saturday banquet was held at the Sanford Civic Center's Auditorium with a blue grass band and square dancing for entertainment. Cost for the event + two nights lodging was about $325, with snacks & soft drinks provided in the hospitality suite, and a pair of very nice commemorative polo shirts. Although not included in the price of the event, there were optional rally jerseys that could be pre-ordered for ~$50 each and we saw quite a few of those. [PHOTO GALLERY]

You'll notice that I did not "rate" or compare the rallies to one-another. The reason for that is, it's too hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison, as every couple that attends a rally will have different priorities for what makes the event good or bad. Thankfully, we've never been to a really bad rally. That's not to say that there haven't been rallies with bad weather which is obviously beyond the control of the organizers. We've also had lunches that weren't as good or in locations that weren't as nice as others, and there have certainly been banquets where the food or facilities were far nicer than others. The constant with rallies is, however, the people which are always the best.

Tandem couples come from a wide range of backgrounds, income levels, and experience and many teams have known each other for many years. Therefore, you will definitely find "cliques" at rallies who pretty much hang together on and of the tandems. However, these cliques didn't form over night or have any hard and fast "rules" for membership other than enjoying each other's company. Therefore, for first timers, the trick is trying not to be wallflowers, getting in there and mingling to find other couples that have similar interests, backgrounds, or just interesting stories to share.

No guarantees, but in general it's hard to have a bad time at a rally if you're goal is to meet other people who share your interest in tandeming.

10 Feb - Alabama Tandem Weekend, April 13-15 @ Enterprise, AL - The 2007 Alabama Tandem Weekend returns Enterprise, Alabama; a city where Old South charm combines with New South vitality to make Enterprise a wonderful place to live, learn, work and make a living (and ride tandems).  Enterprise is a community of growth and progress, friendly people, a forward thinking government and a pleasant climate. Enterprise has a diverse blend of industrial, agricultural and military history. Find more information at their Website.

07 Feb - Tandem Travel & Tour Page Updates - We've made some changes to our Tandem "Travel & Tours" pages.

TandemToursIreland.com is now IrishTandemTours.com
Tandem Tours Ireland has changed their Web site's URL to irishtandemtours.com. As a reminder, Tandem Tours Ireland is operated by the McQuaid family -- legends in Irish cycling -- and a sister company of Celtic Trails. The McQuaid's have put all their experience and knowledge gained in the years of running successful cycling holidays in the west of Ireland with Celtic Trails into coming up with several very special tandem cycling holidays that appeal to both beginner and experienced tandem riders alike. They also have a spectacular photo gallery on their Web site that, in and of itself, is reason enough to surf over to their site next time you find yourself with a few moments to spare.
 
Autun-Morvan Tours by Vélo TransAtlantique
For those who are considering a trip to France, we have added a link to Marc de Rochefort's "Autun-Morvan Tours by Vélo TransAtlantique". Marc is also Co-Motion Cycles' European distributor but, more importantly, calls Autun -- located in the heart of France's Burgundy region -- home. Rather than paraphrasing the heck out of their Web site let me suggest you also include it on your list of places to visit after checking your local weather on the Web.

02 Feb - Eastern Tandem Rally Off Road Tandem Rally, Quaker Bridge, Pine Barrens, NJ. March 9-11: Hosted by Malcolm Boyd & Judy Allison and sponsored by the Eastern Tandem Rally organization, this is a three-day off road tandem adventure riding the single track at sandy Pine Barren. Malcolm also noted that this event was first held back in 1989 for several years before going on a 12-year hiatus. They are now looking to rebuild interest in the event and welcome all off-road tandem enthusiasts to join them for what will actually be the fourth (or is it the fifth?) ETRORTR. Email Malcolm Boyd and Judy Allison or keep an eye on the ETR Website for more information.

20 Jan - Branford Bike Is Rising From The Ashes! Grand Re-Opening...February 1st, 2007: From their Website, "Branford Bike is rising from the ashes! The new owner, Rodd Wagner of Seattle, Washington is proud to announce that both the retail store and web based mail order sales divisions of Branford Bike are moving to Seattle and will reopen for business on February 1st, 2007. The previous owner, Tim Brockett of Emigrant, Montana, is working closely with Rodd to assure a smooth transition. Several Branford Bike employees including Lisa, Anne and Lance will continue to serve customers via the Branford Bike web site. Our new retail store and warehouse will be located at 2404 10th Ave. E. in downtown Seattle, Washington, 98102. Stop by for a visit or place your order online on or after February 1st, 2007."

20 Jan - Ya Snooze, ya loose - Tandem Rallies Filling Up Quickly Based on a check of the Tennessee and Georgia Tandem Rally website registration listings, I must note that BOTH have seen INCREDIBLY fast sign-ups this year. In the case of GTR, 80% who have signed up are past event attendees with a similar percentage of TTR registrants also being prior year attendees. These folks have a leg-up on most other would-be TTR and GTR attendees in that they receive pre-notification Emails advising when registration will open and links to the registration form download sites as a courtesy by the organizers. Moreover, I suspect several new teams who signed-up for these events are acquaintances of other previous rally attendees who have, in turn, been alerted to the registration dates so that they too will be assured a space.

The unfortunate downside is that, these two exceptional events must impose upper limits on registrations due to seating capacity at their Saturday banquet facilities and many potential new-comers looking to have their first rally experience at one of these get shut out before they even realize registration had opened.

If you fall into that category, don't be disheartened. Instead, you may want to consider adopting a few strategies to ensure that you can get a taste of the rally experience sooner rather than later, as I truly believe getting involved in the rallies greatly enhances a couple's appreciation and enthusiasm for the tandeming lifestyle:

1. As mentioned in another thread, consider subscribing to the Tandem Club of America (TCA) so that you'll receive the Doubletalk newsletter that lists the dates, places, and contact information for all of the major upcoming rallies. Most of this information is also available on the Internet at TCA's Website as well as my own, thetandemlink.com; however, receiving that big paper newsletter in the mail serves as a great reminder that it's time to check and see what rallies have been added and when registration will open.

2. Put a 'rally registration reminder' on your calendars for November or December, as most of the following year's event organizers will begin to finalize locations, dates, hotel information, stand up their Websites, and pass that information to TCA and folks like me during December to update the event calendars.

3. Decide early which rallies you'd like to attend and send an Email to the organizers to find out when registration will open and if there will be any limits on the number of attendees. The REALLY BIG events (100's of attendees) like the Midwest (MTR), Eastern (ETR), and Northwest (NWTR) tandem rallies don't usually impose any limits; however, Southwest (SWTR), GTR, TTR, and even the Southern (STR) tandem rallies do.

A note on cost: Different rallies use different pricing plans. There are no-frills club events that have no or nominal fees and some, like TTR & GTR, with a basic rally event fee of around $160 per couple, (+/- 10%) that usually include lunch & dinner on Saturday, with all other meals on your own. Hotel costs (~$85 - 100 night with tax added) usually cover a continental breakfast. So, for one of these events where you spend only two nights you can see that your basic cost would be on the order of $330 - $360. There are other events -- like most ETRs, STR '02 at Callaway Gardens the upcoming STR '07 in Chattanooga -- that package the lodging, meals, and event costs into a single "fee" that appears to make it far more expensive than other rallies. There still others like MTR and NWTR that have used "ala carte" pricing to allow teams to pick and choose how many of the available event activities or offerings they are interested in, e.g., pass on T-shirts and the banquet. Also, if you see what seems to be a very pricey event check to see if you are also going to be receiving a pair of rally jerseys as a premium, polo shirts vs. T-shirts. Price can also be affected if the event is being hosted out of a high-end resort or conference center vs. a Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Frankly, the Resort and Conference Center events while more expensive, are really neat in that all of the rally activities and meals are usually held on-site and eliminate the use of your car for the entire weekend.

4. Get your vacation calendars updated so that you'll be able to arrive for the first day of the event -- often times a Friday -- and all the way through to the end which is sometimes a Monday when the events cover a holiday weekend, e.g., NWTR on Memorial Day or the 4th of July Weekend and MTR on Labor Day weekend. You'll also want to clear away any needed travel days if the event is beyond a 1/2 days drive. You really don't want to have your first tandem rally experienced diminished by travel-lag, unexpected traffic, or the need to leave early causing you to miss out on any of the activities. I would note that a Sunday post-ride lunch with new friends is often the icing on the cake for these events as that's when many of the follow-on rally plans are discussed.

5. Get the registration form and releases filled out and ready to mail along with your registration fees so that you can pop it in the mail one - two days before the date that registration opens. This will ensure it will be one of the first to arrive, guaranteeing your spot for the event.

6. As soon as hotel information is available, figure out if you're responsible for your own reservations and, if so, get your rooms reserved as early as possible. There are often times limited numbers of room blocks for an event at the host hotel -- which is where you really want to be -- and then secondary blocks of rooms available at nearby hotels to cover the balance of attendees.

Now, if you had your heart set on one of the events that has been filled there are a couple things you can do. The first is to establish if the event has a waiting list. Often times, events will have cancellations or may even have some "pad" in their limits that will afford folks who didn't make the initial cut to move from the waiting list onto the confirmed list. The second is to immediately set your sights on the next most attractive rally event that you can attend. In other words, if you missed the boat for TTR and GTR, consider the Mid-Atlanta Tandems Enthusiasts (MATES) event in North Carolina, SWTR in Lagrange, Texas, ETR in Delroy, Ohio, or the Southern Tandem Rally in Chattanooga, following the guidelines I've already provided.

Bottom Line: Get to a rally sooner rather than later as it really could open up an entirely new perspective on what the tandem lifestyle really has to offer. After all, there's a reason these events have filled up in just under a week or two and that so many of the folks who are attending have done so year-after-year-after-year.

 

10 Jan - '07 Tandem Rally Information Now Being Posted. As incredible as it seems, another year has come and gone. It's now 2007 and the hosts behind next year's rallies are already getting their plans and Websites in order. TheTandem Club UK Folks are way out in front as always and have a robust calendar of major events up already. Our own Website's "Events" page is also filling up with Rally dates and locations. It all promises to be another great season of tandeming with old friends and new so be sure to start working on your plans to attend at least one of the great rallies that's offered in your region next year.

Here are some of the more recent announcements

Eastern Tandem Rally Off Road Tandem Rally, Quaker Bridge, Pine Barrens, NJ. March 9-11: Hosted by Malcolm Boyd & Judy Allison and sponsored by the Eastern Tandem Rally organization, this will be a three-day off road adventure, riding sandy Pine Barren single track for tandems. Email Malcolm Boyd and Judy Allison or keep an eye on the ETR Website for more information.

Georgia Tandem Rally At LaGrange, GA, May 18 - 20: From the GTR Website, the 9th Georgia Tandem Rally takes us to a new city, LaGrange. Located in west-central Georgia, LaGrange is noted for its fine cycling and for its close proximity to Callaway Gardens and West Point Lake. We'll have rides to suit everyone's needs. From rolling hills to mountain climbs, you will be able to select the ride that fits your cycling abilities. Full information is available at the Georgia Tandem Rally Website

Tennessee Tandem Rally, Alcoa, TN on June 1 - 3: Hosts Tim & Sharon Patterson welcome you to be one of 50 tandem teams for the 5th annual Tennessee Tandem Rally at Alcoa Tennessee on June 1 - 3, 2007. For those who have not yet experienced it, the Tennessee Tandem Rally's reputation for outstanding rides and breath taking scenery has made it a perennial rally favorite for many of the teams. Add to that an outstanding host facility, a well-stocked hospitality suite, and exceptional Saturday lunch and dinner events and you have all the makings for a great tandeming experience. You can find more information and links to the downloadable registration form at the TTR Website. **Please note: Event registration will be limited to paid registrations received from the first 50 teams or 100 registrants, which ever occurs first.

MATES 2007 at Henderson, NC, June 15 - 17: Team Vilardo invite you to the furtherst reaches of the Mid-Atlantic States for the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Tandem Enthusiasts Rally in Henderson, North Carolina. For more information visit the ETR Website or contact Team Vilardo.


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