Pam donated blood yesterday and they told her not to lift weights for a couple of days. Instead, she decided we should take the tandem out for an early morning ride today. In addition to being a great ride, I solved a problem that has been annoying me all summer.
We use a Shimano FlightDeck computer on the front of the tandem. It has a couple of nice features that our standard Cateye’s don’t have. First, it shows you what gear you’re in. See the little circles? There are two rows, one for the nine-speed cassette on the back and one for the triple crankset on the front. For you guys out there that ride singles, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? Can’t you just look between your legs and see what cassette the chain is on?”.
That’s the method I use on my single bikes, but it’s impossible to see the rear cassette from the captain’s position. In my mind, this feature (or an in-line indicator) is necessary equipment on a tandem.
The second feature I find to be invaluable is the “virtual cadence” display. At any speed, the computer will calculate the virtual cadence based on the gear ratio’s you are running at the time. That’s good information to know. I know that we can comfortably spin at up to 95 rpm. If we get above that, Pam needs to shift to a higher gear. At the lower end, you can obviously feel when you need to shift, so it’s not so valuable. Where it really comes in handy, though, is when you’re bombing down a hill. I know you’ve all been bombing down a hill and found yourself in a too-low gear only when you start spinning the pedals to find no resistance. Come on, admit it. You’ve done it, right?
Well, that’s not very fun for the stoker when it happens on a tandem. I use the virtual cadence to make sure I’m not spinning at 120+ rpm’s before we start pedaling down hills.
The problem I’ve had since this spring is the FlightDeck has only worked part of the time. I changed the batteries in both the upper and lower units (it’s wireless), but to no avail. I eventually figured out that it seemed to not work the first time we rode the bike in the morning, then would work fine the rest of the afternoon.
This morning, I finally figured it out, and boy, did I feel dumb. About fifteen miles into our 20 mile ride, I reached down and switched off the lights to save the batteries. Lo and behold, just a few seconds later, the computer started working! No way! It’s the stupid lights interfering with the wireless. That’s why it wouldn’t work for the first ride of the day…we’re commuting on it in the dark and using the lights.
We’ve used a light on the bike for years and never had a problem. This year, however, I added a second one. The Planet Bike light is actually the issue. The other one doesn’t cause the problem, even when it’s on the other side where I kept it all last year. Go figure.
We had a great ride today. Among the notable things today, was the big deer we saw in the distance. It was too far away to tell for sure if it was a buck, but as big as it was, I’m guessing that was the case. The sunrise was also pretty spectacular, but only for a few minutes.
As we left the house, I challenged Pam to finish with an average speed in the upper 16′s. We finished with 16.8 mph for the 20 miles. Here’s the GPS track of that.
Afterwards, I grabbed the Surly and headed for work. I kept working hard, and arrived with 30 miles under my saddle before starting my day. Not a bad start, if I do say so myself.