Monday, June 25, 2012

Sleeping in the Woods

David and I have opted to spend about 5 nights a week camping (leaving 2 nights for comfy beds, warm showers, and possibly sleeping in). This means we need to be able to haul everything we need to live outdoors behind us in our little yellow bike trailer. As far as camping goes, this means ultra-light everything, including chairs, cookware, and bedding. Some of our favorites are our folding chairs (featured to the right) and our adorable cooking set, which has mugs that fit into bowls that fit into a pot that fits into a sink (thanks dad!). Most everything has been accumulated through the years or gifted to us by loving friends and family via an REI registry we set up last year.

So to test out the whole system, we loaded up the trailer last Friday and biked to Bandelier National Monument to camp for the night. Since it's only 15 miles away, Dez drove down to take some pics of our camping set up. And of course, we won't be forgetting David's hammock! Apparently, you can hang it almost anywhere...

Oh, and don't forget to check out Dez's original blog post here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Santandem

So this is it... the bike we'll be spending 250+ hours on for two months straight!

Once we decided on sticking with tandem riding, David immediately got on Craigslist and began shopping for a suitable upgrade to our starter bike. Of course, there wasn't much to choose from in the Los Alamos area, but neither were there many options in Santa Fe or even Albuquerque. After that, Craigslist searches make a big jump to the greater Denver area, where David almost immediately fell in love with the bike we are now affectionately referring to as "The Santandem."

It's a green Santana tandem that weighs a good 5-10 pounds less than our current bike and won't need near as many upgrades to make it road ready. The drop-down handlebars will be nice, as will the drum brakes and the fact that it's a better fit size-wise. It has more spokes and they're tied and soldered -which, according to David is a good thing... heavier-duty construction or something like that.

Our amazing friend Travis who lives in Denver actually went to check out the bike for us and even paid the guy in cash when we decided we wanted it. We're hanging out with him at his parent's cabin this weekend, so we'll be test riding our new bike soon! And I guess we owe Travis some money too, lol.

Monday, June 18, 2012

We've Decided

The Homework

Our friend and fellow cyclist, Joe Wermer, recently lent us a book on tandem riding called "The Tandem Scoop." After reading it himself, David assigned it to me as homework.

I couldn't help but nod in agreement as the author listed a few pointers for both the Captain (person in front) and the Stoker (person in back). A few things we've learned by trial and error, and a few things came naturally. What I mostly appreciated was the validation of some of my greatest fears as a stoker (who the authors refers to as "a captive audience"). The author provided tips for the captain based on those fears, like how stokers feel uncomfortable biking alongside other things, like railings or edges, because they can feel claustrophobic or nearer than they actually are. Essentially, less visual input from ahead can be nerve racking and translate into frequent requests to David to please not bike so close to the railing!
The stoker tips were also insightful, like the fact that David doesn't have time to consult a committee before deciding whether to dodge left or right of a pole, and I need to trust him enough to let him steer and stay soft enough to be able to shift whichever way he decides.

The Discussion

The book also had a lot of great things to say about the benefits of riding tandem. Here are a few it discussed:
  1. Greater Speeds: We weigh more, tear down hills faster, and coast forever. We KILL on rolling hills.
  2. Better Braking: More weight equals better sticking power on the road, and more weight on the back wheel to prevent skidding. Also, there is no risk of over-braking and flying over your own handlebars.
  3. Pleasant Company: Easier to talk with your partner, which supposedly makes for better conversation and "togetherness."
  4. Enjoyable Riding: At least for the Stoker, who is freed up to take in the sights.
  5. More Efficient: A good tandem will be more efficient than separate bikes... physics and whatnot.

After careful deliberation, David asked me what I was thinking. I told him I was overwhelmed by the pros and cons of each, and that I was eager to hear his thoughts because I greatly needed direction. David told me he'd done some research and even prayed about the matter - and that he had complete peace in saying he wanted to ride across the country on a tandem

The Decision

So we're taking the tandem! Most likely not the tandem we currently own, but that's another blog post entirely :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Tandem Conundrum

To tandem or not to tandem?

Shortly after the Century, David mentioned to me that we might want to consider NOT using a tandem bike for our trip... to which I responded, "But what about our blog title?!"

We've spent the weeks since slowly going over the pros and cons of using separate bikes or the tandem. Mostly for my own benefit, I have written out the pros and cons we're considering.

For the Tandem

  1. Chatting with my husband is easier
  2. Aerodynamics isn't an issue for the person in the back, so I don't have to be hunched all the time
  3. We already have a tandem, and although it needs work, fixing it up would be cheaper than having to buy me a road bike
  4. Our blog title is so catchy!
  5. I enjoy being a passenger on the tandem. Although I do most of the work (don't tell David I said that!), I like to be able to stare at the moving ground below us as we pound out a few tough miles, or enjoy the scenery as we go by.
  6. I don't currently have a road bike that we can test riding separately with, so the simplest thing would be to just stick to the original plan
  7.  We go crazy fast downhill

For Separate Bikes

  1. We're still a little unsteady on the tandem at times and I would feel safer on separate bikes
  2. Separate bikes would be quicker in tricky places, like at lights or crossing streets - especially after adding the weight of our panniers and trailer
  3. David is no longer content with our tandem and would like to look into getting something nicer, and since we have long-term plans to get me my own bike, we might as well skip getting a second tandem in favor of something we would buy anyway
  4. I would be able to see where I was going, and not need to strain to look over David's shoulders
  5. On those hot summer days, David might get a little smelly...
  6. We'd be faster up hills

My homework assignment from David is to read a book on tandeming that our friend Joe gave us. David says it has good information and will be a good place to start our decision-making process. Look forward to another post soon on all this soon. With only 7 weeks until our trip, we really need to make a decision soon!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Boot Camp

There is No Finish Line.

We continue our story at the completion of the Century (see previous post).

Pike's Push-Ups
We barely had enough energy to stumble our way home (after platefuls of onion rings and chicken wings) and into bed before I had to be up at 6am for Renew Fitness Boot Camp. My friend Rita puts it on and I haven't missed one yet. It's a week of 3 workouts a day - and although it's not the ideal way to recover from a 104-mile bike ride, I was only hindered by cold sweats and nausea for the first 2 days, lol. 

We did yoga three separate times, and I really believe that made the difference for me. Stretching is incredibly important in taking care of your muscles, and if done right can aid in recovery. Biking is an especially fixed movement, and many bikers and runners would greatly benefit from the added flexibility that Yoga develops. David and I have already talked about getting into a stretching routine both during and after our ride each day.

Usually, running is easy for me...

Our friends, Connor, Kristin, and Megan came to visit the final day of Boot Camp and I talked the girls into going with me to Ojo Caliente, a mineral springs spa, the next day. My absolute favorite form of recovery is a 13 minute sit in the steam room followed by the coldest shower you can stand.The new blood pumping to your tired muscles is like a drug to me :)