Night Ride at Wakefield Park on the Tandem: Fairfax, Virginia
February 3, 2005
After the shakedown ride.
Jason and I took the tandem out for a shakedown ride. He's been helping keep me on track to finish the bike. He helped out with the parts for the back brake. He's been a huge inspiration for getting this thing done. I just had a feeling that he'd really enjoy riding the tandem. With the bike being completed this week, I just had to take it out for a ride... even in these conditions. What conditions are those, you ask? We had pretty good hardpacked snow on all the trails with ice in many spots and we had just short of 2" of fresh, sticky snow fall today and tonight. You can see the snowflakes falling in this photo.
Here's the amazing part.... This was Jason's first time on a tandem. We were wobbly for the first 200 yards, then things settled down. We started getting used to the communication that you have to develop between captain and stoker. I've found over the years that you just need to develop how you communicate with each individual stoker. They're all different. Some things ring true with all of them. Coasting means that we're going to stop pedaling. 1,2,3 Launch is what i used when we first get rolling from a stop. But how I describe the trail and upcoming obstacles is different for them all because different stokers react to what I call out differently. In about 25 minutes on the bike, Jason and I got a good start on that vocabulary. He was very well balanced and got better every minute we were on the bike. We took some tight turns and some bumpy sections and had no problems at all. We did 2 of the three creek crossings on the loop and had no trouble at all. I wanted to keep it short and successful and that was exactly what we did.
After the pre-ride
Julian showed up right on cue for the longer night ride. I honestly hadn't ridden with Julian on the tandem for over 2 1/2 years. He and I have such a history, that I knew we'd ride well together after a little shakedown. He was rock steady from the first pedal stroke. I can't explain the bond that he and I have as captain and stoker other than to say that we've been doing it for so long and have so much built up trust, that even after a long time off, we're both right at home getting on the bike.
About 1/4 mile into the ride, we had our first problem. I didn't get completely lined up for an icy bridge. I had to try and make a turn on a bridge that was impossible to walk across, much less ride. We slipped and tipped and fortunately had a soft landing. After that, the falls that we had were doing some pretty dang technical stuff. We did two really tough creek crossings, where the trail leading into the ravine had big rocks on either side and the line-up for it was not exactly straight. There were plenty of trees around to complicate the crossing. That was the first of many tough obstacles over the course of the 2 1/2 hour ride. For almost all of the ride, we had Jason riding right behind us with the helmet cam on. We'll see how the night video of the tandem ride turns out. There was enough snow to help with the ambient light.
In all, Julian and I fell 4 or 5 times. Each time it was a pretty easy tip over. They always seemed to happen when we were doing something that was pretty sketchy. I can't imagine a better first ride.
After the ride.
Unfortunately, we've got plenty of warm weather in the works over the next week or two. That means one thing.... MUD. This will be the last night ride we do for the next few weeks at least.
Two stokers named J. Jason on the left, Julian on the right.