A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our tandem, you can read the item here. Since then my husband has spent some time fiddling and tweaking the set-up. Yesterday he decided it was time for another outing so he quickly replaced the pedals (a necessary item!) and off we went.
When we bought the tandem it came with mud-guards and carry racks on both front and back. These he had removed but now he replaced the front carrier so that he could take a small box of tools with us in case of need. Since the route we planned was in a slightly different direction from our usual cycling routes, using some lanes with which we are not very familiar, we also had a local map in case we got lost – back lanes are notorious for having no signposts – in a drawstring back-pack which I carried.
Shortly after leaving home we had to stop at traffic lights on the main road that runs past our house to negotiate the road-works where some new housing is being built (always a problem as I hate feeling that I am holding up the traffic!) before turning down our first lane. This lane is well-known to us, we call it Strawberry Farm Lane, which is not its real name but there used to be a pick-your-own strawberry farm at the top, alas no longer there. Here, rolling down the hill, we overtook some joggers. This reminded us how noisy the brakes are, (something else that needs attention) but at least the joggers heard us coming and called out that it was better than a bell! A short stretch along another main road out of our town and we were on yet another familiar lane, this time uphill.
At the crossroads at the top we saw signs for a ‘Cycling Event’ and worried about getting swept up in it! However we saw no other cyclists at this point and have no idea what the event was – perhaps a time trial for a local club. Straight over the crossroads, down the lane opposite and along to the next crossroads, over another main road and we were onto unfamiliar territory. A short distance along this lane my husband decided that the gear lever for the back chain ring was slipping and he had been having trouble engaging the gears. The tandem has two sets of gears, three on the front ring and five on the back making a possible 15 in all. We pulled over. Out with the tools while he tightened up the lever.
We had only just got going again when we were stopped by a van asking for directions, their satnav had taken them to the lane but could not identify the isolated property they were looking for, so off with my back-pack and out with the map! The property was marked and they had passed it. A short while later we had to pull over so that they could overtake us as they returned down the narrow track.
After another mile or so, having turned onto yet another unfamiliar lane, my husband decided the other gear lever was also slipping so it was out with the tools again. After that we had a long slow drag up a steep hill, which we managed since neither of us wanted to admit defeat. This lane brought us back onto yet another of the main roads through our village (small town) so all was plain sailing as we were to follow this one home. It is galling, however, when two people on one bike get overtaken by a solo cyclist! To be fair we were out for enjoyment and only travelling at cruising speed whilst the over-taking cyclist was going at race-pace. Passing through the centre of our town we passed another group of cyclists going in the opposite direction, all waved and bid us ‘good morning’.
Once back home a check on the map showed us that we had done about 10 miles in roughly an hour (including stops) so we hadn’t actually been breaking any speed records! We also reflected that it had been a good job we had decided to take tools and the map.
Now my husband has taken the bike to bits yet again and has taken the front forks to a paint merchant to match the paint so that he can touch up some of the paint chips (see photo above). If he can find a source of replacement Decals (below) he may repaint the whole frame. Either way it looks as if it will be some time before we go out on the tandem again.