Tour de Cure promo video

In the first video on this page, you will see me at 4:28 showing off name tages from a previous TDC – I know how to get attention!

Toue de Cure 2011

20th anniversary tour de Cure Logo

Tour de Cure logo

It’s time to ride for Diabetes! Despite the busy schedule with new job, growing family, and tax deadlines looming… I’ve decided to help out the WheelyCool team this year, led by Cap’n Mike Picard, and help them achieve their fundraising goal of $24,000 – it’s ambitious. But I think it can be done if we get enthusiastic and recruit lots of riders. So I’m doing my part to spread the word and raise some money to fight Diabetes!

BIke to Work Day

Our HR department at Monogram Biosciences is one of the best I have worked with. They offered free breakfast to anyone who rode their bikes in to work on Bike to Work Day, and I do love breakfast… So I planned my route, and did my first ever trans-bay bike commute.

<a href=”″>Fremont to Monogram</a><br/><a href=””>Find more Bike Rides in Across The Bay, California</a>

It was pretty tough in some sections, where I had to ride along roads with little to no shoulder, and cross a freeway overpass, but I made it in one piece, and got my breakfast!

2009 Tour de Cure

Getting back in the saddle(s)

After taking last year off from the Tour de Cure, Alicia and I were looking forward to doing it again this year. There’s something about planning for this that always gets me excited. The training, fundraising, team building and comraderie, logistics, exercise, and the feeling of doing something for more than just one reason… it just makes sense. With sixteen month-old Milo now old enough to wear a helmet and ride along in a bike trailer , I thought I could pull him along for the ride. So, we signed ourselves up and planned to both ride our bikes some reasonable distance with a bike trailer… maybe 10-25 miles.

As we got closer to the tour event, it became more and more evident that we weren’t getting enough riding time, training ourselves and also Milo to sit in a trailer! He’d much rather run around than sit still for an hour (or even 2 minutes!). But we were committed to show up for the ride, so we decided to leave him with his grandparents for the weekend, and combine our strength by riding the tandem Double-Take once again, as we did in 2007. Our logic was that both of us only needed to be marginally prepared to be able to ride 50 miles using our tandem effort.

So, I began with “blowing the dust off” of our eighteen-wheel-equivalent of a bike, which was buried somewhat in the garage, behind of all things, other bikes (yes I have a fetish for all things spoked). Once I got it clear and in the open, I stood back and tried to recollect what kinds of adjustments or modifications, if any, we wanted two years ago, which was the last time we had it on the road. I knew that Alicia had wanted a little better seat angle, with more support in the lumbar area. I also remember my shoulder and neck being pretty sore after our 50 mile ride, which I usually don’t have an issue with on my regular road bike. Spy photos show that while my stem choice was cool looking, it was not ideal for a long ride by an amateur. So I swapped out the stem for a more upright position, and also added some lumbar padding in the recumbent seat for Alicia. A little air in the tires, and I was good to go!

The only other thing to do was figure out how to bring the extra-long bike to Napa. Having sold my Forester, i now had to set up the Impreza to carry our bike, which has a much shorter roof rail system than the Forester. Facing the tandem backwards on the Yakima racks was the only way it would fit:

After dropping Milo off with his grandparents for the weekend, we set off for Napa. He loved walking up and running down their steep sloping driveway

The morning of the ride, we woke up to rain showers, and the forecast was that it wouldn’t clear up until the afternoon. So, we wrapped ourselves in as m uch rain gear as we could, knowing full well that bikes and rain don’t mix… but we were committed, rain or shine.

At check-in, it was obvious that the turnout was low, either due to the weather, or the slow economy. There just wasn’t the usual buzz of activity and chaos as I remember. Maybe because everything was hidden under tents to keep dry, but I’d usually never find a spot to lean against a tree like this.

At the start, we met up with Mike, Patricia, Ross, Jane, and Peter – and hit the road! The rain was falling, but only in a Seattle-like drizzle, so it wasn’t too bad. The toughest part was following too close behind another rider, would give you a spray in the face as water gets kicked up from their rear tire.

This was pretty much the story for the first half of the ride, just trying to keep water out of the face, and wondering if I had enough energy to do the entire 50 miles. The rain DID stop after the first 30 minutes of our ride, but the ground was still very wet, so we were still getting wet from the road spray, from each other, and also the passing cars. We had our first mishap while pulling in to the first rest stop. I mis-judged the slope of the driveway we were pulling into and the bike stopped sooner than I had expected. Although I was able to un-clip from my pedals nd put my feet down, it wasn’t enough time for me to straighten the bike and plant my feet, to keep the bike from leaning over. So…. poor Alicia got flopped over on her side, without any warning. Fortunately, her gymnastics and yoga skills allowed her to keep from totally hitting the ground, by doing some splits and contortions. I deserved whatever complaints she muttered at me as this happened, because i was kind of in a daze – it had been so long since I had ridden the bike, with all it’s complexities of handling, shifting, and braking, I had just capzised my crew. Thankfully, there were no injuries to speak of.

The second mishap occurred shortly after we left the first rest stop. in the form of a flat front tire. With the help of the team, it was not a long pit stop, and we got back going quickly.

The other oddity that surfaced once we got going again, was a loud, regular, squeaking sound coming from the bike. I couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from, which was very annoying to me (and I’m sure everyone following us). Normally, if I hear a sound coming from my bike, I can still ride while trying to decipher the cause. but with this tandem, I had no ability to decipher anything other than the road in front of me. Steering this bike requires 110% total concentration. It is all due to the fact that our two ranks are of different gear ratios and phase. Our ability to pedal independently makes the bike twist sideways in a strange non-cyclic pattern. Normally, when a regular bike twists under pedaling load, it is predictable to the rider as power is input. But combined with an additional pedal input from behind, I have no feedback from each of Alicia’s pedal strokes. The result is the bike seems to voluntarily sway to the left three times for every sway to the right 2 times, but never the same pattern. Sometimes, i try to anticipate the pattern and steer against the sway, in an effort to keep the bike in a straight line. This often backfires, as the bike might not sway, so my correction causes the bike to steer. The optimal technique so far is to just let the bike sway back and forth at will, and allow some movement. but on average, we will move forward. Every now and then, a strong correction and turn of the handlebars is needed, but never predicted. It’s an insane philosophy, especially when the road gets narrow, and the bike is meandering all which way, but thus far, it’s the only way to ride this bike. So it requires a lot of my attention, and I had to ignore the squeak.

Because of the wetness, we didn’t bring out the camera until the second rest stop at Sterling Vinyrads, when the roads were finally dry enough to enjoy the ride, and snap a few shots.

One of the great features of this bike is the ability for the stoker to carry a camera and get a rare glimpse of our team from the road.

Here’s Jane and Ross, enjoying the dry road.

Peter “Gunn”, making it look easy:

Mike, Peter, and Patricia : our mini Peloton.

We started an impromptu paceline with a random rider (behind Peter)

Here are some movies that Alicia took.

There’s always a headwind somewhere in Napa valley, and we found it around mile 42. It was an east-west wind, and we hit it head on. It was tough, but short enough to have forgotten about soon afterwards, especially because we hit the last leg of the ride, a 4 mile stretch with a superb tailwind. I think we were in our top gear headed home, and it felt great. I was totally pooped, so it was a total free ride home.

We pulled it in to the cheers of cowbells and teammates, Paul, Stephanie, and Jon,
who had already finished the 25 mile route (and sipping sodas? where’s the Cytomax!).

Here’s Paul, Mike, Stephanie, Patricia, John, and Christal at the finish.

It was a great ending to a ride that always reminds me of how valuable it is to have friends to ride with, share stories, and push each other to do more than we would have on our own.

I raised over $2,200 in my campaign, thanks to my sponsors, and more importantly, the Wheely Cool Velo Club raised a team total of over $9,400 – that’s no small change! We really appreciate the support of our sponsors, and glad for the opportunity to ride in the fight against Diabetes.

Cyclocross test ride

Resolutions can be contagious when it comes to cycle-blogging, but with the aid of an iPhone, I can’t help but try to put in my 2 cents while trying to utilize some new technology.
Having mostly completed the build of a Soma Double-Cross frame into a cyclocross bike, I have been dying to test ride for months, but time just isn’t always on my side these days. Today, however, was an exception, and the weather was begging me to come out and play.
The bike currently has no handlebar tape because I haven’t been able to commit to the brake cable routing yet. The road standard is to set the right brake to the rear, and the left to the front. Cyclocross setups are vice versa, which is supposed to facilitate dismounts and allow rear wheel skids while only holding the left brake and top tube. I figure the first couple of rides I can try this technique out, and see if I like it, or crash from squeezing the wrong brake too hard. Until then, there’s no point in taping the bars yet.
I took the bike out to Don Edwards park in Newark, which was my target training area for building the cross bike, with it’s wide gravel trails and rolling hills and view of the bay, it’s probably the best cycling Fremont has to offer, as long as your bike can handle it. I’ve ridden my road bike on these trails several times, and always felt guilty for cutting up the tires on the gravel and getting dust everywhere. Skinny road tires don’t do well on gravel, but slightly fatter, knobby, cross tires do just right.
This route map very conveniently recorded using the iPhone’s built in GPS feature, I just click “Start” and “Stop” and everything else gets uploaded. COOL!

The website also allows non-GPS users to manually enter ride information, which is still handy.

The bike handled the gravel trails wonderfully, and it was exactly what I had in mind. It was the perfect blend of road positioning, familiar gearing, and nimble response with the ability to handle some loose dirt, which has interested me about cyclocross enough to build a bike around it. I look forward to getting to know these trails better, going out on the levees, and perhaps practicing a few hurdles with the bike, once I get more confidence.

Photos conveniently also taken by the iPhone and uploaded to this blog via Shozu. Who knew a phone could do so much work?

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Just when I thought that I was out

Tales from the mountain warriors
By Peter T. “Gunn”

I thought I was done torturing myself after the Death Ride. Well, what’s one more ride? After all, this was my first Diablo Challenge. And, after logging all those miles training for the Death Ride, I knew this would be my best chance of posting a decent time for the Challenge. All the training leading up to the race had gone according to plan. Hill intervals with the Wheely Coolers, weekend hilll climbs, and the trial run up Mt. Diablo all helped me prepare physically and mentally. Not only was this training important in developing a solid physical baseline, it also helped me come to the unfortunate realization that finishing the Challenge in under 1 hour was a pipe dream. Not only is that 1 hour mark an impossibility this year, it will never happen for me.

Believe it or not, that realization was actually a big stress relief. I accepted that fact, and now, by doing this race, I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. I now thought that my self-timed trial run at 1hr10min was pretty good, and could only get better come race day. Approaching the big event in good spirits was huge! All I had to do now was taper off, and talk about race strategy with the guys. That’s what a smart rider would do anyway.

The week prior to the race, I had taken time off from work, and dove into long overdue house projects for four straight days. Come Friday, I was dying to get out and ride. I figured I could get away with an “easy” mountain bike ride on Friday, and a light road spin on Saturday to keep the legs loose. This is why racers have coaches who can lay the smack down.

Even though I still felt good, once the race started, I could tell it was going to be a struggle. After only one third of the way up the mountain, my legs were complaining. By the halfway point, I couldn’t even keep my heart rate in my target high intensity/race zone. The best I could hope for now was that my legs don’t give out completely and start cramping. If I did anything right, I knew I was well hydrated. I drank tons of water starting the day before, I drank a full bottle pre-race, and I had electrolytes in my race bottle. I didn’t have my “A” game. Now I started to think, what if I finished slower than my practice run? STOP! No negative thoughts! That was it. Can’t cry about it now, so I just had to focus on turning those cranks. (Ugh, didn’t I have enough of this with the DR?) I focused on picking good lines. When faster riders passed me, I studied their form. It reminded me to keep smooth, efficient pedal strokes, and to minimize energy sapping body movements.
Before I knew it, streaks of liquid squirted from bottles marked the pavement beneath me. That was the sign for the home stretch! The sign to dig deep and finish strong. Every grueling pedal stroke seemed to take forever, but I pedal until I hear the beep of the timer logging my official time. No regrets.
Overall, I was very happy with my results. I still finished with a respectable time. And it was a blast sharing this day with Don, Gary, and Willis.

My stats:

Finish time: 1:10:16
Avg. HR: 190 bpm (91% of max)
Time in zone: 11 minutes
Calories: 1018

Getting Engaged Makes You Faster

Tales from the mountain warriors
By Don L.

Really, it actually seems to. I propose, she accepts, and here I am with a cool 5 minutes off my time from last year. And I have a feeling that Willis set his PR the year he and Alicia got engaged, although I maybe I should check my facts. It also doesn’t hurt that my engagement gift from Elaine was a new bike with a spiffy light wheel set that I rode up the mountain today. That and because Elaine can ride a bike faster than I can, quality time and fast training rides can be efficiently multi-tasked together.

This was my first race on my new bike, a LeMond with the new Triomphe frame. It’s a pretty big change from my old Klein. Different position, different drivetrain. It certainly took some time getting used to the altered position – it immediately made a noticeable difference on flat ground, but on long hills it wasn’t clear it was a huge improvement, so I wasn’t sure how this race would turn out. The new compact frame causes me to use less of my quadriceps and more of my hamstring and gluts, and even after a month and 400 miles on it I feel like I still am making an adjustment. My LeMond is spec’d with a compact double crank set with slightly taller gears compared to the bike it replaced. I find I can’t spin as comfortably and I need to stand up more frequently. In the shallower slopes low on the mountain the bigger gears worked well for me, but I was suffering in the steep switchbacks near the top. I didn’t notice the race photographer at the end because I’m looking at the ground after crossing the finish line, pretty much completely cooked. Afterwards, I mostly just stood at the table outside the Jamba Juice truck drinking my berry workout smoothie, which was pretty refreshing in the sun this year.

Some things went really well this year, other things not. Last night’s pre-race meal I think wasn’t so great. I ate a huge bowl of ramen noodles from Santa Ramen, the local Japanese restaurant. Great for carbs and protein, but I think it had far too much sodium in it which didn’t help my hydration levels, and I felt less hydrated than I should have been. Several times during the race I drank because I actually felt thirsty. Also this year I didn’t get a good position at the start, which seemed more disorganized than last year. I actually stood clipped out for a few seconds after the gun because so many people from the wrong wave were standing at the start line so I lost some time there. This year I also opted not to eat during the ride, and that was fine, but I also drank more water than in years past and had to take water from the support staff costing me a couple of seconds. In all though, I was pretty happy with my race time even though I was the Wheely Cool lanterne rouge this year – I was able to extend my streak at Diablo now to 3 consecutive faster times. I may have to hit the weight room this winter to continue to speed up.

I will be watching closely to see if marital status affects other Wheely Cool people’s ride times. Maybe it will be the next generation replacement for doping. It may well be impossible to test for.

Race by numbers:

Finish time: 1:19:57
Avg. HR: 180 bpm
Time in zone: 0 minutes (!)
Calories: 1243

View more of Don’s photos on flickr here.

Bike Vandalism

Got a little lazy this weekend and left my fixie at the Catrain station. This morning, I found the top tube bashed in by what looks like a crowbar in two places. Somehow this also ruined the headset bearings. This fixie is out of commission. Karma police will get you, evil person with crowbar…

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Peter’s Death Ride 2007

-By Peter T. “Gunn”
Back in February 2007, Paige, Herb, and I foolishly agreed to participate in this year’s Tour of the California Alps, a.k.a. the Death Ride. Who we blame for planting the seed in our heads is still up in the air. The Death Ride is one of the most popular, physically challenging cycling events in the West, and the course this year covered 129 miles with 15,000+ feet of climbing.

Check out the course map and ride profiles here:
The ride took place on Saturday, July 14th. We were also joined by another friend, Mark, (who even more foolishly agreed to participate about 2 weeks before the ride!) and Herb’s family, who came along for moral support and camping fun. The plan was to car camp at a nearby campsite so that we could sleep in a little bit and still get to the Turtle Rock starting point at a decent time. I don’t know if you consider a 4:15 a.m. wake-up sleeping in, but our campsite neighbor woke at 3:30 a.m. so that he could hit the road by 4:30 a.m.! Our start time was 5:15 a.m.
Everything went according to plan. We arrived Thursday afternoon to relax at the campsite with the intention of acclimating to the altitude. We set up camp, Herb cooked a great dinner, and we even enjoyed some S’mores over an open fire. Even though Thursday was a relaxing day, I was really starting to stress about the ride. It was extremely dry and hot, and there were no signs that the heat would let up. The last thing I needed was leg cramps on Saturday to cut my ride short!
Friday was a complete leisure day. The main goal was to conserve as much energy as possible, yet stay loose for Saturday. We decided to put in a light 1-hour ride. At this point, I had not ridden since the previous weekend. Once again, I started to feel a bit scared. Did I take too much time off? What if my legs feel like jelly? Luckily, our little ride helped ease the nerves. Not only did the legs feel fresh, I wasn’t gasping for air in the higher altitude. And, the temperature out in the open was nothing like the searing heat we felt at the campsite. That was a relief!
Friday evening was all about prep. I could feel the anticipation building up, not only in myself, but also in all of the Death Riders around us. After an early dinner, we checked our gear, our energy foods, our bikes. Tires were inflated, chains were lubed, brake levers squeezed. What does squeezing the brakes do? I don’t know, but the bike check isn’t complete until you squeeze the levers. We each ran through our morning routines in our heads. If we step through it enough times in our heads, we can move like an efficient machine, even if we’re groggy. I know I didn’t want to let my fellow riders down by lagging in morning. Now if I can only get enough sleep…
Saturday. D-Day. We were up at 4:15 on the spot. Of course, I hardly slept at all. I had long ago accepted the fact that I’d be sleep deprived for this ride. We parked by 5:00, and by 5:15 a.m., my heart rate monitor and computer were reset and recording the data for the day. I clipped into my pedal with my right foot, and began my first pedal stroke to the Death Ride.
With the whole day ahead of us, I was just hoping for the best. Tons of people were starting early, probably in anticipation of high temperatures later in the day. Not knowing what to really expect, I just kept reminding myself that we’ll be fine. We trained for almost 4 months! My first long ride of the year was back in March, from SF to San Jose for the Handmade Bike Show. Over 1,500 miles (and ~100,000 feet climbed) later, here I am, just hoping to add a few more miles. I know I’ve trained enough, I just have to believe it.
Usually, the hardest part in the beginning of a long ride is keeping a steady pace, but I think we planned really well, and we stuck together. Don’t focus on the people passing you. Stick with the game plan! My personal game plan was to stay hydrated. Drink! Drink! Drink! I literally pounded that thought into my head. As the sun rose, and as we gained elevation, the beautiful scenery started to come to life. It became obvious why so many people love to do this ride. So far, so good. No labored breathing, keeping a steady pace, I was feeling great! Unfortunately, Paige was not feeling so great, and it looked like it was going to be a rough day for her.
By the third pass, things were really starting to get interesting. Paige was feeling so awful, she had to ride at a much slower pace, thinking she may even have to turn around at any point. Reluctantly, we split up, and wished each other well. We were only 1/3 into our ride, and now I’m struggling to stay positive. I can’t help but to look at my mileage, thinking how much riding and climbing remains. The 3rd and 4th passes go up and over Ebbett’s Pass and back, which is arguably the toughest climb of the ride. Herb and I remind each other to keep our heart rates down, and we keep chugging along. The sun is now out, and the exposed roads are really heating up. My muscles are complaining a bit, but I can only keep pedaling. Of course, I went into this with the full intention of climbing all five passes and finishing the entire ride. But the climbs are soooo long, and it’s now incredibly hot. Now I’m feeling the total opposite of great. Instead of drinking to be hydrated, it feels like I’m drinking to stay alive. Every part of my body seems to hurt. But then, this is where the training comes in. I tell myself that I’ve done this before. It hurts, but I can push a little harder. I’m drinking right (more or less), I’m eating right (more or less), I won’t cramp (I hope). Think short term goals. It’s just a little farther. Rest at the next flat, rest at the top, rest on the long descents. It hurts no matter what, so I might as well keep pedaling. I play these mind games over and over, and now it’s just a test of how long I can do that. Well, I did do it long enough to conquer Ebbett’s, and now I really wanted to quit.
Luckily, the lunch stop was next, and we had a slightly longer stop with a bit more of a substantial meal. We also ran into Mark, who incredibly, was still a few minutes ahead of us. All the while, he had thought he was behind us! Fearing that we might miss the next cutoff time, we didn’t allow ourselves to stay too long at the rest stop. I still had doubts about finishing the 5th pass. The next 20 miles was more or less flat by Death Ride standards, but we hit it pretty fast. Luckily, I had both Herb and Mark to draft off, because from this point on, we had nothing but heat, and strong headwinds. I felt a bit re-energized after eating, and felt good about being able to keep a pretty fast pace, but that feeling didn’t last long.
About 10 miles into this “flat” stretch, we approached the gates of Hell, and I had a snowball’s chance of surviving. It was easily 100 degrees, and we were on a long exposed straightaway road headed back through Markleeville. The flat stretch turned into a slight climb, and riders started dropping like flies. People found what little shade they could, just to cool down for a second. Every fiber in me wanted to quit. But what other choice did I have? If I stopped, I’d still be just as hot. I just kept telling myself the human body is capable of enduring a lot more than you may think. Just take a sip of water, and take it one pedal stroke at a time. My perseverance paid off with more gusty headwinds just as we approached the next rest stop.
After a nice hose down and a brief break at the rest stop, we moved on. I still wanted to quit. The next 7 miles is straight up hill with gusty headwinds, and we’ll be passing our campsite. I can just stop off and end it there. Well, either way, I have to pedal up the hill, even if I do decide to quit. The headwind riding uphill was brutal, but it was slowly getting cooler as we worked our way up the hill. I slowly got my groove back, drafted whenever I could, and chugged up the hill. I even started passing people again. The farther up the hill I got, the more encouragement I felt creeping back into my feeble mind. Then we got a really nice surprise. As we passed the entrance to the campsite, there was Herb’s family patiently waiting for us to cheer us on! Go! Go! Go!
Finally, this was it! We made it to the last rest stop with plenty of time to spare. With about 10 more miles and 1000 ft. to the top of Carson’s Pass, the 5th and final pass, I said screw it! I’m making it up there if I have to crawl! Of course, after that, there’s still 20 miles back to our starting point to complete the ride, but I can’t think about that now. First priority is hauling my butt up to the top of Carson’s Pass. Mark’s knee was bothering him, so he decided to rest a bit longer, and head up on his own. We’d see him back at the finish. Herb and I took off, and Herb set an awesome pace. As we passed people, we picked up more riders, and before we knew it, we were pace lining up Hwy 88. As the hill got steeper, one of the stronger guys in back pulled to the front, and took over. None of us said a word, none of us made any hand signals, we just understood. Watch for cars, pass riders safely, keep a slow and steady pace up that hill. Before I knew it, there was more cheering, “Great Job! Just 1/2 more mile around the corner! You got it!” We finally made it to the top! It was a great feeling. Plus, they rewarded us with ice cream and popsicles (best frickin’ Missile Pop ever!) and the coveted “5 Pass Pin”.
Now I figure I’ve made it this far, I might as well truly complete the ride by finishing the last 20 miles with Herb. We stop off at the campsite to see if Paige returned. It turns out she still completed 4 passes! As bad as she felt, she still completed ~90 miles with ~10,000 ft. of climbing! Herb and I head off to finish the ride. And it only took us 13 hours and 40 minutes.

2007 Tour de Cure

Sunday, May 6 2007 was the setting for Wheely Cool Velo Club to participate in our annual charity event: the Napa Tour de Cure, benefiting the American Diabetes Association. We had over 20 riders on our team, and raised over $15,000 in pledges. What a great team!
Our team was split among riders doing different routes from 25, 50, and 100 miles. The weather was fantastic, and everyone finished successfully and without incident, despite the windy conditions, and many riders pushing the limits of their abilities. As team captain, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Out of the five consecutive years I have participated in this event, this team was one of the most dynamic, enthusiastic, and energetic teams I have had the pleasure of captaining. We had the benefit of an entire family (more like a clan!) participating together, brothers, sisters, children, in-laws. We had a young couple riding with us who first met at the Tour de Cure two years ago. And even a good friend who flew all the way out from Chicago to join us. We had a guy riding the 50 miles on a fixed gear bicycle this year again. And yes, we even had a newlywed couple riding a unique tandem bicycle. If you ever wanted to make a bike ride a memorable one, all these aspects are a good start.

This was by far one of the bigger projects I have tackled in awhile, bringing together a fundraising team, doing my own fundraising, and rebuilding a bicycle built for two. But there’s something about the Tour de Cure that brings it out in me. Knowing that it is all for the well-being and health of so many people affected by Diabetes. over 21 million people in American alone, it is easy to make the time for that. Plus, as my wife has come to learn, there’s always going to be something on my plate. She understands and respects that so much , in fact, that she agreed to ride the 50 miles with me on the back of a tandem. A tandem, which as far as she knew at the time, could not even roll out of the garage.

By deciding to bring the tandem back to life after 15 years of being dormant and neglected, I took on a huge undertaking. Putting a bike together properly is a task unto itself, but the fact that it was a tandem, and custom, made it exponentially harder. It really seemed like a battle at times, trying to locate obsolete parts in bins at a recycling center, or dealing with grouchy bike shop clerks who could care less about my special needs, or wiping chain grease off my hands for the tenth time in 5 days, it really took some drive. I am eternally thankful to my wife, Alicia, for encouraging me through this project and supporting my efforts, even though it meant many late nights in a garage.

All the while, there had to be some bike riding and fundraising going on, for both of us.

With the support of my friends and family, I raised over $2800 in donations towards fighting Diabetes. It is their generosity, kindness, and encouragement which pushes me to channel my energy into all of this, and I thank them all for making it happen. Once again earning the distinction of “Champion for Diabetes”, I was told this entitled me the opportunity to hang out with cycling legend Greg LeMond after the ride. I was very excited about this, because it was many years ago as a teen that I saw Greg on TV racing in the Tour de France, which gave me a deeper inspiration for cycling. He was the first American to win the Tour de France, and he did it with panache. Now years later, he’s the honorary chairperson for the Tour de Cure. In anticipation of meeting him, I had brought a copy of his book and some snapshots I had taken of him racing in San Francisco to sign.

The day before – We stayed at the Gaia Hotel in Napa – California’s first eco-friendly hotel. The high-pressure toilets were highly water-saving, but very loud and scary. Every flush uses about half the water as a normal toilet, but the whoosh is so explosive and startling, you might need to go again.

The logic of staying the night before made sense, because we’d get to sleep in a little longer as opposed to driving all he way up from home. However, the sense slowly melted away as we realized we got to the starting point about 30 minutes later than we had hoped. I blame the crazy flush toilets, and the fact that the tandem takes awhile to take down from the rack.

Here we are, the morning of the ride, on the Double-Take. A one-of-a kind, back-to-back tandem.

Unfortunately, our late timing would have a cascading effect on other events of the day. Several other Wheely Coolers had arrived much earlier than us, some starting earlier for the 100 mile route, and some just normal, punctual people. So we missed the opportunity to ride with much of the club. We also missed the opportunity to ride along with greg LeMond, who did ride the 50 mile route, but started about 30 minutes before us. Doh! We found out later that Stephanie actually was on time, and got to start the ride with him.

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We did get to ride with Don, Elaine, Rajsh, and Jeff. So it was a good sized group for the long haul.

Ready to roll. A quick photo, in case we come back in several pieces… You never know with custom prototypes.

Here we are on the road. Don almost got us all in the frame. This kind of picture takes a foolhardy swing out into the lane while riding one handed, and I give props to Don for the attempt.

One of the things the bike is great for is casual conversation. Usually, on-bike communications are difficult unless riding side-by-side. But with the Double-Take, you get 100% face time.

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Another benefit of the backwards-stoker is the ability to take photos of oncoming riders. Here’s Elaine, Don, and Jeff caught in a terrible paceline. Unfortunately, our camera is of poor quality and the picture suffers greatly.

Here’s the view most riders get after being passed by us. Comments abounded, from “That’s different” to “Sick!!”. Alicia had a lot of explaining to do back there.

Looks pretty normal from the front, eh? That’s why we call it the Double-Take!

The ride went very well, and the 50 miles ticked off before we knew it. The only mechanical issues were a chain derailment after going over a bump, and another one from shifting during frame flex. I have determined that the steel frame is too flexible for such a long frame, and combined with long shift cables, makes for sometimes unpredictable shifting performance. Once I was aware of this, I could actively compensate my shift patterns, along with a hint of voodoo, to keep the chain on. So my hands only got greasy a few times. So I’d say mechanically y work was a success. The drivetrain, gearing, braking, and seat modifcations were all just right to get us through the route and have an enjoyable ride.

The only thing out of our control was the strong gusty winds blasting through the valley all day. We’d feel a nice tailwind one minute, and then a strong headwind the next. Luckily, with the power of two, we prevailed the course without a hitch.

Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the Wheely Cool riders. I also found out that Greg LeMond had to leave the event early due to a family emergency. So I missed my chance to meet him.

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May and Bill Moy in front of the Double-Take. maybe next year we’ll let them ride it.

Ross and Jane – Her first 50 miler is now in the bag.
Elaine and Don first met at Tour de Cure two years ago.

Jumbo Jeff is the fixie rider from SF. Brakes are optional

Paul, Christal, Paul, Jill, Stephanie, and Willis, patiently waiting for the 100 milers to arrive.

And there they are! After 100 miles and finishing into a killer headwind, Peter, Michelle, Paige, Patricia (so fast she’s riding out of the frame) and Mike (already out of frame) finished in smiles and good cheer. I apologize for the poor quality photo, I blame the camera!

And here’s a bigger group shot:
Willis,, Alicia, Rajsh, Peter, Paige, Patricia, Paul, Mike, Jill, Paul, Stephanie, Christal, Catherine, Stephanie

The real advantage of the Double-Take is our SUV-like ability to carry items. You can bet your signed copy of An Inconvenient Truth that we’ll be doing runs to Traders Joe’s with this bike. Double Take does double duty in the fight against global warming.

So I’d call it a success. The ability for us to independently coast was the major improvement to this design, as were removing dependence on the slotted-fixed chain tensioners in favor of spring tensioners. These two design elements depend on each other to work, but greatly simplify the tandem cycling experience.

The only thing I could improve now is the frame itself. It could be about 50% stiffer and have all eccentric bottom bracket shells to adjust chain tension and allow the option for synchronized pedaling. But that’s another project, possibly for another person. As long as we can ride together, and turn some heads, that would be Wheely Cool.

Thanks David and Eva for their time and assistance. And Ming for miscellaneous parts and tools. Most importantly, I thank my sponsors for their support of this cause, and finally thanks to Alicia for trusting me to make it happen and joining me for the ride of my life.

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Wheely Cool Velo Club rides in the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association. Click here to view our team page and sponsor us.