Urban Mountain Biking

Sometimes a good mountain bike ride takes more time than I have to spare.  The main reason is that to get to the fun, challenging trails worth riding, I have to load up the car and drive to the trailhead, whether it is up in Marin or down the Peninsula.  When I only have time for a quick city spin, I usually grab the road bike, and shoot for a 20 mile hilly loop.  There are lots of options with Lake Merced, Golden Gate Park, and the Presidio nearby.  But more often than not for me, that itch to hit the dirt just needs to be scratched. 

Well, rumor has it that there has been lots of work done by local mountain bikers to open up and maintain fun and challenging single-track trails (yes! Single-track!) in city parks and preserves.  Mount Sutro is a great example of such efforts.  Volunteers and neighborhood locals have worked hard to repair and maintain a multi-use trail system suitable for hikers and bikers.

I decided to go and explore these trails for the first time, with the hope of finding a new mountain bike loop that I can do right from my front door.  I found some great resources courtesy of SFMTB and the folks at Soil Saloon, and discovered I could link up Golden Gate Park, Mt. Sutro, Twin Peaks, and Mt. Davidson in one ride with lots of great single-track.  Of course, we are in the city still, and some portaging and curb hopping is unavoidable, but believe me, it’s a small price to pay. You can find a map here, and as you can see, it also makes for a perfect cylcocross ride!

Next Stop, Sutro Tower

City View from Twin Peaks (I think I can see Steve’s house)

Perfect Single Speed Route

Mt. Davidson

Different type of climbing
Next Stop, Mt. Davidson

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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Wheely Cool Year in Review

Before we get too far into the new year, I thought it would be nice to share a glimpse of a Wheely Cool 2008. Looking through these pictures made me think that 2008 wasn’t too shabby after all. These photos just highlight a few rides, but I hope you all look forward to many more in the coming year.

Napa Tour de Cure

Century Riders!

Carnage on Canada Road

The Man has Style

Fun in the backyard

Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Helmet Heads

Tearing it up in Soquel

Open Road to an Ascent Up Mt. Hamilton

Mt. Hamilton Road Warrior

It’s Hailing!  We Ride On!

See you in 2009!

Happy New Year

Well, how about that 2008?  It certainly was… eventful.  Now here we are, a few days into 2009, and I know you haven’t broken your resolutions yet, right?  And like all good Wheely Cool boys and girls, one of those resolutions must include “Ride bikes more this year”.  That should be a given!

One of my resolutions is to help keep the Wheely Cool blog going strong.  I have to hand it to Willis.  Keeping a blog and website going for so long is not so easy!  Even though my writing skills are not much better than an 8th grader, I do ride bikes, and I do try and take pictures on my rides.  And thanks to Willis, I now have the ability to blog.
Now, back to those pesky resolutions.  Oh, yes, “Ride bikes more this year”.  One of my tricks to keeping this resolution and starting the new year off strong is to pick up a winter bike project.  It could be anything from overhauling your drivetrain to repacking and/or replacing all the bearings to upgrading all your steel bolts to titanium bolts.  This year, I decided to go with a bigger project.  What do you do when you have a perfectly good 100mm travel suspension fork sitting around?  You build a bike around it!

I found an oldie but goodie…  an excellent condition 2002 Turner XCE frameset that was specifically designed to handle best with a 100mm suspension fork.  I’ll post build details soon.  With the bike completed, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend New Year’s Day than with a ride on a new bike.

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.

Final mods


Well the deadline has come, and I think the bike is done. I made a simple spring-loaded chain tensioner for the captain, which really helps keep the chain from popping off, vs. the fixed version. This also lined up the chain better, further increasing our chain reliability situation.


I also reconfigured the captain’s freewheel, to make it lighter and simpler. By cutting a piece of large PVC pipe and using as a spacer, I saved a lot of hassle with steel washers and cogs to get everything tightened down onto the freewheel body. Plus being PVC, it was easy to cut on a chop saw to the exact thickness needed. Being the type who saves scrap material, this PVC really came in handy, being the exact diameter needed to fit onto the freewheel body. Karma!


Here’s the second version of the replacement for the captain’s transfer gear. After working on it late last night with David and Ming, I’m afraid to say it’s not going to make it on for the Napa ride. In order to fit a freewheel body low on this thread, we had to shave down the removal threads from the square tapered crank. This makes it very difficult to remove the crank from the bottom bracket axle. I tried rapping on the axle from the top to get the axle out, and ended up loosening the chainrings from the crank body. This cheap Shimano stamped-steel crankset features pressed-in chainrings, which I guess are great for the company, but not so cool for a customizer. Dead part.

Thankfully, my contingency plan of not messing with the existing transfer gear will allow us to ride the bike still as-is. Although it is wobbly, I think the spring chain tensioner will address this issue and allow for the chain to go slack and tight as the freewheel is turned. This can be witnessed when I backpedal the captain’s crank: the chain tensioner moves up and down a bit. So I think I killed two birds with one stone by making this simple gizmo.

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