It was decided that it was high time that myself and my good friend Thomas take my tandem out for a ride on the heath, we thought it would be great to film it after seeing Seths & Phil's MTB Tandem Adventure on YouTube, so armed with a few cameras and another friend in the form of Ian from the Dorset Rough Riders to help with the filming we convened at my house to discuss the plan.
Now the reason I got the tandem in the first place was to get my wife riding with me more, Diane was apprehensive about the idea well before I finally found a MTB tandem thinking she would be terrified, I blindly thought that things would be very different but this is one instance where I should have listened to my wife, as it turned out that one whimpering ride was enough for her, if only I did that before I upgraded the brakes/wheels/drivetrain/cockpit components and suspension fork, I even tried to get her to ride as captain and I would be the stoker, well we traveled about 5 feet and stopped as she could not get it to go in a straight line, tandems do feel different with the steering but with the handlebars swinging left to right at a speed so fast it became a blur it was clear this wasn't working either, so I got back on the front and Diane reluctantly climbed back on to whimper her way back to the house, I must say that the whimpering was unnecessary as I was taking it very easy but its easy to say that when its not you hanging onto the back of a bike with no brakes, a handlebar that doesn't move, pedals seemingly with a mind of there own, and a view of not a lot apart from the back of the rider in front.
So after watching Seths vid, see here as its ace youtu.be/MH9zTVJJ_Yw Tom and I said lets get the tandem out sometime, but we will wait till after our trip to Moab, just in case, you know, something silly happens, hmm, we must have sensed something, so we get ready to ride for the first time down the lane from the house to the heath, Toms on the back and I'm steering, well it was a wobbly start, and I had a bit of the left right lefts going just like Diane had with me, turns out if the person at the back doesn't pedal at least as hard as the pilot the person at the front doing all the work can suddenly have more to deal with than just everything else, plus to add a touch of jeopardy we also had two Hungarian Vizsla dogs to contend with, they are proper trail dogs and know not to get in the way but none the less when you don't even know where you are steering it added to the challenge early on.
Steering now sorted we cracked on riding and soon enough we were at our first challenge, tackled on a normal bike its hardly anything, a gravel track down a slope that divides before coming back together and then onto a bend with a short bank to ride over, so after riding to the top we set off plunging down the hill before turning onto the gravel track, its at that point I realise that even with 203mm rotors all round stopping suddenly becomes an impossibility, slowing yes, stopping no, thoughts of my first bike, some hunk of junk shopper type, with brake pads with bits of leather in the rubber to I assume dry the chrome rims when they got wet sprung to mind, but this time I'm threading a tandem down a track with Tom along for the ride, its at that point the whimpering returned, although it was more of nervous laughter with a dash of panic about it, but we made it down and stopped to reset for another shot laughing uncontrollably at the sketchiness of it all, but this time I asked Tom if he wanted to pilot and I jumped on the back, well I have to say I think he did better than me piloting, although that might be to do with my pillion skills, or at least thats what I'm telling myself.
So we had both ridden the tandem at this point and thats when the suggestion that Ian have a go on the back came up, in hindsight we should have ridden for a few more miles and had Ian get the feel before plunging down the narrow track but we were buzzing and wanted Ian to have a laugh as well, so off we go once more, this time I'm up front and Ian is on the back, up the hill we go once again, we turn at the top and start the ride down to the narrow track, no whimpers this time, Ian seems to be relaxed and trusting of my biking skills, this is when things then go very wrong and very quickly, heading down the track it splits and rejoins, I was planning to ride the path to the right as we had done before but it wasn't turning tight enough and it was looking that we would be riding right over a grassy clump with a more abrupt drop after it, so seeing as stopping in time was out of the question I thought we will just have to roll with it and so bars held tightly I hoped for the best..... I managed to hold the handlebars straight as we rode off the grassy clump however the forks and front wheel had other ideas, a very sharp squeak can be heard in the video as the fork steerer slipped on the handlebar stem, turns out tight isn't tight enough when it comes to a bike with double the weight on it, so with the front wheel at 90deg to the handlebars this was only going to end one way and down we came with a thump, poor Ian let out a very large groan as he hit the deck, this is when you have one of those massive pangs of guilt, I did this I thought, poor Ian on the ground and clutching his chest clearly in a lot of pain, I don't think that if Ian ever thought about how he would be leaving this world it would have been on the back of a tandem on Canford Heath, and me being someone that doesn't like messing up other peoples plans was relived to see that although very sore he would live to ride again, just this time in charge and on a bike made for one.
Check out the video below and don't forget to comment, you can do so here and on YouTube.