I'd ridden part of the same circuit during the annual Elephant Rock Century, a popular road ride that ushers in the cycling season along the Colorado Front Range. And I knew what lay ahead: Wolfensberger Hill, an insidiously steep geological protrusion that regularly cuts down cyclists during the last leg of Elephant Rock.
Like lots of solo cyclists, I'd heard that tandems were clunky and slow; that they sentenced their riders to grueling climbs more strenuous than on regular bikes. I'm not in the habit of dismounting when the steeps get steep, but as we readied ourselves for the unavoidable appointment with the infamous Wolfensberger, I was ready to swallow my pride.
Well, so much for rumors about tandems. The climb was absolutely less of a thigh-burning heart pounder than my past solo efforts. With four legs in synchronized cadence, the two of us put out enough torque to summit that sucker in no time. We swelled with confidence and felt like Lance Armstrong wannabes attacking the French Alps during the Tour de France. After cresting the summit and zipping into the descent, we hit 50 mph so fast it felt like we were shot out of a canon.
The sweet thing about tandeming is the teamwork. In a rare cycling convergence, we enjoyed the ride together that day. My girlfriend was free to look around while I did the busy work. Instead of my incessant ride-ahead-stop-and-wait routine that lets her catch up, we rode as one, pedaling smoothly and in sync. And at a good clip, too.
"I've never ridden this fast, this far," she shouted from a relaxed upright, no-hands position. For my part, down on the drops, I didn't feel like I was putting out extra effortsomething of a concern at first.
"Yep. This is cycling synergy," I called back to her as we effortlessly sailed through the flats at 30 mph. Little by little, the myths I'd heard over the years about tandems had fallen to the wayside about as quickly as some of the solo cyclists we kept dropping.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication