Tandem Sunday

On Sunday we went out for our first tandem club ride this year. Bad weather prevented rides in January and February, then along came Lockdown! Now that this has greatly eased it was decided we could safely meet as long as we took care.

The plan had been to stagger the start so that we were not in a big bunch, however as only 5 tandems signed up for the ride it was deemed safe enough to ride along together, reasonably spread out.

We met at Audlem, near Newcastle under Lyme. Our criteria for a meeting place is that it has to be a car park where we can stop all day, preferably free of charge, there must not be a height barrier as some members transport their tandems in a van, and there should be public toilets available as some members travel a long way to our meets. Under the current circumstances we knew that facilities were likely to be an issue as they would probably be closed and this may have been a factor to put off some of the members from joining us. We opted to transport our tandem with our motorhome, thus having our own on board facilities!

Lunch is usually a cafe stop, though in the summer some of our rides are bring-your-own picnic rides and this was the chosen option for this outing, safety being a prime concern.

Canal Lifting Bridge

Canal Lifting Bridge

The ride was a repeat of one last summer. We rode out along a variety of country lanes and over the Shropshire Union Canal. When we arrived at the spot where the road crosses the canal we found that the bridge was about to be operated and thought we were in for a long wait to let a barge through but they kindly waited for us to cross first and then we stopped anyway to watch the bridge lifted and the barge pass.

Picnic at Beeston

Picnic at Beeston

Our picnic lunch stop was at Beeston Castle, where there are table and benches set out for visitors to use. Many of us were also thankful that the visitors facilities were also open. We then continued our round trip back to Audlem, taking in another stop for an ice-cream just outside Audlem at Overwater Marina.

Tandems at Overwater Marina

Tandems at Overwater Marina

The ride was just short of 42 miles, the longest ride we have done this year. The weather was kind to us; a bit overcast at times with a chilly breeze but some long sunny spells when it was quite warm. In all a lovely day out on the tandem and good to catch up with other tandem-riding friends after a six-month break!

August Tandem Ride

What a busy weekend I had. On Saturday I finished my mini pond (see my last post) and on Sunday it was our monthly ride out with the local branch of the Tandem Club.

You may remember that when I wrote about our last outing with the club only a couple of weeks ago (here) we used the new tandem that my husband built. We had a few slight mechanical problems on the ride and the terrain was rather hilly around Ludlow in Shropshire so I did complain that it wasn’t the most enjoyable ride I had ever been on. This time the ride started at Audlem in Cheshire, about 15 or so miles from home. We took our trusty Longstaff tandem for this ride and, being Cheshire, the terrain was somewhat flatter, very gently undulating with only a few steeper climbs and on this bike my view of the scenery is not quite so restricted from my back seat.

In addition hubby has since bought and fitted an ‘Add-e’; a device that adds a small electric motor to a bicycle. This is an alteration he has been considering for some time and after the Ludlow ride he decided that he would bite the bullet despite the rather costly price tag! The tandem is quite heavy so going uphill can be a problem and a strain on his poor old knees. Normally people choose to buy a purpose built electric bike or adapt an existing bike by buying a new back wheel with the motor already fitted. These alternatives make the bikes very heavy and so people end up using the electric assist most of the time. The ‘Add-e’, by contrast, can be fitted simply and easily to any bike without the need to change anything and does not make any significant weight increase. The small motor  is fitted to the bottom bracket and works by engaging with the back wheel when turned on and peddling, disengaging when turned off of you stop peddling. The battery is also quite small and light and fits into a specially designed holder that looks just like a drinks bottle holder.  As we like our tandem the way it is, Longstaff tandems often being considered the Rolls Royce of tandems, we didn’t want to change anything so this device seemed ideal, especially considering it was required only to give us the occasional boost. The device can also be removed at any time returning the bike once more to its ‘original’ condition.

The club ride was our first proper ride out with the extra assist of the ‘Add-e’, although we had done a 18 mile ride on the Friday just to try it out. It worked very well and helped ensure we did not get left behind this time – although I doubt we would have done anyway as the pace of the ride was a bit more in our comfort zone and, as I said, the terrain was not so hilly.

Picnic lunch at Beeston Castle

Our ride took us in a big loop with a lunch stop at Beeston Castle, where I remember going with my grandmother to pick bilberries in my childhood (Beeston not being far from Wilmslow where I was born).  It has rather changed now. In the old days you could freely scramble about among the scrub land. (Somewhere I have an old photo I meant to look out!) Now it is owned by English Heritage and access is more restricted. It is also a lot less like scrub land than I remember, although perhaps we were at a different part of the site, we didn’t actually go up to the castle at the top of the hill. We all took a picnic on this occasion and picnic tables were available to use, so we were very lucky with the weather – the forecast had been rather worrying right up until the last minute. In fact we had wonderful day, warm and fine but not to hot.

Our ride continued on another loop back to Audlem with an additional stop at Overwater Marina for tea (and cake for those who wanted it). In all the ride was about 40 miles and there were 5 tandems out, one other of which was a purpose built electric bike. A couple of punctures had to be dealt with and one or two other minor problems – but not us this time thankfully. All in all a good day out. Next month’s ride is in our own neck of the woods and we are organising it.



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