Monday, September 18, 2006

Tandem in the Gatineau Hills

Instructions to add a little spice to your cycling experience:

Step 1: Find someone who you'd like to spend some time with.
Step 2: Get yourself a tandem bike.

You can probably follow the steps in reverse by pulling up on your half-full tandem bike in front of a crowd at a bus stop.

The photos are of two of my friends who rented a tandem on the weekend for a ride through Ottawa and Gatineau. I borrowed one of their "single-person bikes" and went with them on a big loop to Champlain Lookout and to Chelsea, Quebec, the town I mentioned a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful ride through the hills of the Gatineau Park, where the leaves are just starting to change, and cyclists abound.

If you had any doubt, the tandems can have you flying downhill. My friends took some time to get used to it and were cautious at first. After some time going up and down the hills, their comfort level must have gone way up. The bike I borrowed was much more like a racer than my usual bike. It was lighter, firmer and faster, and with brake lever shifters had me constantly adjusting my cadence. On the downhills, I saw them make a few strokes of the pedal, stop pedalling, then pull away from me, as I pushed through the gears attempting to keep up.

Later in the day, my wife and I borrowed the tandem for a spin. I rode it across Ottawa alone to get it to my wife's family home. I kept expecting someone to run up behind me and hop on. We took it for an hour long ride along the street and bike paths. The great thing about these bikes is that both people can be pushing with relaxed effort, while you move at a good clip. It leaves you free to talk and enjoy the ride. And of course there's the advantage that it's excedingly difficult to leave anyone behind. Both of us had a lot of fun, and will definitely figure out how we can try a tandem again.

Towards the end of our ride, in the car dominated suburbs of Ottawa, we pulled up to red light beside a guy on a unicycle. (I couldn't make that up.) "One wheel for each person!" he said.

Darren J 9/18/2006 12:35:00 p.m.


Excellent blog. My girlfriend and I just bought a tandem but haven't tackled the Gats just yet. Did a 5 day camping tour to Cornwall and along the Seaway though. Loved it!!
Thanks Mark. A camping tour on a tandem sounds like loads of fun.
Fun eh ! just make sure you eat the right things if your on a tandom :-P

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