Getting there faster

Tandem cycling a lesson in relationships

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By Stephanie P. Hanover
For Blount Today

Temperatures in the mid-80s and overcast skies provided the perfect backdrop to the second day of the fourth annual
Tennessee Tandem Rally. The acoustic gypsy jazz sounds of the Tennessee Sheiks serenaded the hungry participants while
they enjoyed a catered lunch at the Pearson Springs Pavilion.

With chicken wraps, pasta salad, lemon bars and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies on the menu, it’s no surprise that Tim Badgett noted "the food" as one of his favorite parts of the event. His sentiment was echoed by many who described
the rest stop at Ellejoy Road as a "delight."

Greg Rowe and Charles Woods, co-owners of Cycology Bicycles, provided apple butter sandwiches, peanut butter and Ritz crackers and watermelon for riders on Saturday as they pulled in on their 31st mile.

Tim and Sharon Patterson planned the event for months, along with some help from friends Ken and Vicky Adams and Cathy and Tracy Trumbull. They selected and mapped some of the more beautiful routes across Blount County to include roads through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the mountain communities of Dupont and Dripping Springs and the "Llama Loop" in Friendsville and Louisville.

The routes were selected to provide a true vision of the rural life enjoyed in Blount County and are considered some of the "best Foothills riding in the State."

To take part in the annual event, you have to be quick. The event has gained popularity year after year since the Pattersons began hosting it in 2003. Registration opens and closes in January and is limited to 50 teams or 100 riders.

Cliff and Lisa Davis, of Salem, S.C., were among the participants this year. The discriminating tandem couple took their 10- and 14 year-old daughters, Molly and Anna, on the Adventure Cycling’s Transamerica cycling route in the summer of 2004.
"We ended our trip in Oregon with a little over 4,000 miles" Cliff said.

Lisa and Cliff, both employees of Duke Energy, saved their vacation days in order take 11 weeks over the summer. The notion began with an attempted solo flight out of Seattle by Cliff in 1982.

Lisa and Cliff agreed they wanted to share the experience with their girls. When Anna was asked if she would like to repeat the event, she responded with a simple "no" and a bit of an eye roll.

David and Christen Hunter of Cool Springs returned for their third consecutive year. Christen noted "the great country roads and good company" as the reason for their annual return. They have been riding tandems together for over 12 years. Like many of the attendees, they are active in promoting the joys of tandem riding and will be co-sponsors of the Southern Tandem Rally in Chattanooga on Sept. 21-23.

If you haven’t ridden a bicycle since card spokes and banana seats, it may be surprising to know that a tandem bicycle can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour on a descent such as the Foothills Parkway. David Tally noted wife Jennifer and he were able to maintain travel speeds of "around 30 mph on the flats" for several miles. Because of the weight of a tandem bicycle and two riders, a steep climb or long uphill grade can reduce the speed to a crawling 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Synchronization is the one word that fully supports the old adage, "Wherever your relationship is headed, a tandem will get you there faster." Communication was noted as the most important aspect of successful tandem riding. Most of the riders noted they began tandem riding as a way to "have fun and spend time together."

On a tandem, the front rider is the captain and handles the steering, braking and gear changes. The stoker sits behind the captain and provides the fuel and power for the machine.

Tandem riding requires the equalization of cadence and the flow of pedal strokes.

Today’s tandem is far more than a bicycle made for two. It’s designed to create one highly effective and organized effort of output, and, because of car-like speeds and razor sharp steering, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

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