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I want to say thank you in particular to Peter Berra, but to all of the crew at Bike Friday. I had been interested in riding the STP (Seattle to Portland bike ride) on tandem for a long time but I saw my friends struggling with racks and finding cars with enough space to take the tandems along.
My requirements were to not have to spend any money on racks and I wanted something that would allow my wife, son, and daughter to ride without having to buy extra parts to get a custom fit. Then while searching bikeforums.net someone mentioned Bike Friday.
One of my friends did the STP on a Bike Friday a few years ago. I figured now is the time to do it. Our Bike Friday Family Tandem arrived in mid-April thanks to Peter who expedited the order. My daughter and I stayed up late that night working to put it together. It took me a while to figure things out since the video online was slightly different from the instructions that were sent with the tandem. It turns out that the printed instructions were correct.
Along the way I got help from people on the Yak and from Bike Friday support. The plan was to start training for the STP with my 13 year-old daughter. However, the maiden trip on the tandem was with my wife. We rode a nice flat 12 mile route in Skagit valley during the Tulip Festival.
We then rode the tandem to a nice lunch in La Conner - we didn't have to worry about parking! I then started training with my daughter. Our first ride was just around the neighborhood getting familiar with to how to ride. I even did a short half-block ride with my son. So everyone in our family has been on the tandem.
On one training ride we were late getting back for my daughter's friend's birthday party so we stepped on it. I put it in the smallest cog and cranked up the internal hub. We were zooming along at around 17 mph or so. I thought I started to get pretty tired when a guy in a blue jersey rode by on a single shouting, "Thanks for the ride!" I didn't realize until he was 15 yards in front that he'd been drafting off of us. A little later, another rider passed us and he had a big grin on his face. I felt my daughter push harder on the pedals so I pushed it up a little - but I was getting a little tired.
Then we saw two tandems ahead of us and we caught up to them, passed them, started to run out of energy, and they passed us. Finally, one of our friends on a tandem caught up to us and we made it back to our car. My daughter then told me the guy who grinned at us was drafting off of us too. As I drove, I asked my daughter if she had fun. She said, "Yes!" I asked her why and she said she liked passing people.
I started to learn more about my daughter as we rode - more than I ever would have if we didn't ride tandem. Since then my daughter and I have done the SWAN Century, we've ridden up Crystal Mountain, and have gone on rides around Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.
Our biggest ride to-date, is the Cascade Bike Club STP. We had over 40 riders in our group and we rode to support the International Justice Mission. We rode about 200 miles over two days on the Family Tandem.
We got a lot of tandem related comments like, "Your dad's not peddling hard enough" and Bike Friday comments like, "Hey! That's a Bike Friday! Where'd you get that?" On the second day, the rear chain broke. I was able to fix it with one link short so I'll be ordering a new chain soon. I guess we had been really pushing the tandem, passing people left and right and getting passed by an equal number of other people. But we finished the STP on the Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler!
At this point I believe we have logged over 500 miles. We are really enjoying our Family Tandem. I like the fact that I can shift while stopped and that I can easily assemble and disassemble the tandem in 15min. or so.
I also like the wide range of rider accommodation. I would probably opt for a smaller small cog to go just a little faster. For those of you considering it - I highly recommend it.