Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tool Kits for Tandem Riders

So I am riding the Sunday of this years Hilly Hundred Weekend on my single (my Trek Domane 2.3 - love this bike, as single go) with a friend down from Michigan, when a 4 tandem entourage of HOOTS friends passes us while we are in the first food stop.   I don't think much of it, but about 20 minutes and 5 miles later, I come up on the same group, all pulled over and staring at one of the bikes.

"Hey Jay, do you have spare tandem cable with you?!?" is the refrain from the group.

Like I said, I am on my single, and while I do have spares for single, I don't happen to carry spares for a tandem.  (As a matter of fact my tandems spares kit was back at the start in my van.)

"None of you have a tandem cable with you?" I ask.

"Uh, No" was the group answer.

I am pretty old school and used to the idea that tandem specific parts are going to be hard to find anywhere outside of a large metro-area bike shop.  And I have also been on tours that have taken us hundreds of miles away from large metro areas.  So I have chosen to have us ready for anything.  So here is picture of what that entails. 

You can call this my extreme kit, with spares for all sorts of contingencies you are likely to encounter on a self-supported, long distance tandem tour.  With this kit, and I can do a basic tune-up and cable replacement (front or rear, brake or derailleur) along with a wheel repair (spare spokes are on the frame of the tandem).  I also have spare bolts for cleats, racks and bottle cages, along with spare links for the drive and timing chain.

Drop me an email at if you want the full list, in a reprint of an article I did for Recumbent and Tandem Rider Magazine a few years ago.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DIY ARAI Brake Drum Tool

Just a quick post - a DIY Arai Drum Brake Tool. It is basically a giant pin wrench.  This only works on original, unmodified Arai Drums with the fins.

Your materials are 2 - 3" long 3/8" carriage bolt, nut and washer,  and about a 4 foot long length of 2" x 4" lumber.  Your tools are a  3/8" or 3/4" drill bit and electric drill, and a wrench for the carriage bolts.

On the wide side of the 2x4, drill your first hole (3/8" for bolt axle, 3/4" for QR axle) 5 inches from one  end completely though the 2x4.  This is the axle "pilot" hole, which keeps the tool stable while removing the drum.

Then drill two 3/8"  holes for the "pins", 2 3/4" (center to center) from the axle hole, completely though the 2x4.

Insert the carriage bolts, and make sure the are tight.  You don't want them to wobble in use.  This other reason I use a 2x4 rather than any light lumber.

With the wheel removed from the bike, and all the hardware removed from the drum side (remember the washer order for your bike), slide the carriage bolt pins into the holes in the fin.  Make sure you are not hooking any spokes; you may need to add a washer to the "head"side of the carriage bolt to keep the pins out of the spokes.

I don't have time for an in-use picture; with the wheel against your body and the brake out, you pull the tool from left to right.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Our NWTR (North West Tandem Rally) History

The 2013 Northwest Tandem Rally, originally scheduled for the Fourth of July Weekend, 2013, in Bellingham, WA, has been canceled.  The full details are on the NWTR website at

The local organizing committee was apparently overwhelmed and unable to get things off the ground in time, and a group of prior rally committee members made the call.  The NWTR is run much same way year to has the MTR,  relying on volunteer host committees to bid for and host the rallies, and dependent, to some extent, to prior rallies to provide seed money to keep things running.
Tyler, Linda and I at the NWTR `94

I have some connections with the NWTR, having attended 4 of them (1992-Albany, OR, 1993-Mount Vernon, WA, 1994-Portland, OR, and 1995-Victoria, BC).  I was the NWTR Treasurer in `93, since Mt. Vernon is only about 30 miles south of Bellingham, our home at the time, and I was organizing a small tandem group there.  And has a favor to the 1995 organizer, I emceed their banquet.

For 1993, along with being the NWTR treasurer, I had the interesting experience of having the husband and wife rally chairs reveal and start their marriage separation the weekend of the rally.  I ended up taking over a bunch of stuff at the last minute, including the usual rally crises.   This was made all the more interesting since Linda and I were tandeming with our 9-month-old son Tyler in his Burley trailer.

On the first day, we rolled into one rally food stop that had not been restocked with food as scheduled, but did have a private Expresso truck on site  - after all, this was the Northwest.  There were about 30 teams with us, all looking for some of the promised rally provided snacks at the last sag out, so I walked up the truck, rally checkbook in hand, and asked "How Much for Everything?"  After a little negotiating, I purchased all of their remaining muffins, biscotti and snacks, and we managed to get a little something to the remaining teams.

This was after we learned that our paid-in-advance sag stop at a school in Bellingham (a NWTR jinx?) had never opened, the responsible janitor having decided to call in sick (or well - again, this is the Northwest) - since it was an unusually beautiful day in the Bellingham.  This left every team on the long route looking for water and public restrooms, after having already ridden through Bellingham to the sag.

Finally, that same evening, I was drafted as emcee of the rally banquet when neither chair would stay for the banquet,  I had to do this with our son Tyler, on my back in his kiddie-pack, where he had fallen asleep.  Tyler was still rather colicky at that age, and we never, never woke him up.

The rally ended up well, all things considered, but the committee never got together to celebrate.  I never heard from either of the rally chairs again.  I passed on our seed money to Portland, and then donated the remaining funds to a group in Seattle that worked with visually impaired stokers.

Sorry to hear that Bellingham won't be a host.  With Chuckanut Drive, a scenic route along the San Juan Islands, and just a 10 mile jaunt from the Canadian border through Lynden, WA, home of some very memorable bakeries,  Bellingham is truly a beautiful area to set a rally.  Better luck next time.

Friday, January 18, 2013

TOSRV 2013: Will you join me in Columbus this May?

I am an avid fan of the Tour of the Scioto River Valley, held Mother's Day weekend (May 11-12, 2013 this year) out of Columbus, OH. (  It is a two day, 210 mile ride, now in it's 52nd year. I have just signed up for my 14th time (since 1979) to this event, and I am rider #208 this year.

My first TOSRV in `79
I have ridden it 9 times as a tandem captain, 4 of those with my son Tyler.   The other 5 times were with 4 different guest stokers (1 repeat), all tandem captains, who all let me captain most of the way. A few of those tandem rides were as the pace tandem for a larger group (that is something I would love to do again).

While challenging due to it's early timing, TOSRV is a great base for the Indiana RAIN Ride. I am also working to get 100 Indiana riders (up from 56 in `12) on this event. If possible, it would be fun to ride or start as an Indiana contingent this year.

South of White Lake,  TOSRV `79
Along with wanting some company, I have some other motivation for this appeal.   For a number of reasons, just about every ride in the country is hurting for riders right now.  Besides the economy, it is the demographics; the riding population is aging, and not adding younger riders fast enough. So along with getting existing riders to try TOSRV for the first time,  I am hoping that we can all encourage younger riders to try group distance events.

The ride format is very simple.  On Saturday, you ride 105 miles from downtown Columbus, to the town of Portsmouth (Ohio) on the Ohio River.  The route follows a mix of urban sides streets (leaving Columbus) and rural state highways and county roads.  There are good quality foods stops about every 25 to 30 miles, with a lunch stop half way.  The route then returns along the same route, stopping in the same towns, on Sunday.  Your overnight baggage is carried for you, to your assigned accommodations for sleeping bag space (mostly high school or a gym at a local college).  TOSRV also has a 100 mile option (2x50) that is great way to split the difference - the HALF TOSRV rides the last 50 on Saturday and first 50 on Sunday, on the most fun part of the out and back route. 

The ride has a great history, great volunteers (some food stops have had 4 generations of the same family working them!), and is a part of midwest cycling history. Some of the original participants went on to create the Bikecentennial project, which became the present day Adventure Bicycling.   In the past, bicycle clubs from across the midwest actually chartered buses to get their members to this event. This is the closest thing to the Boston Marathon that cycling has to offer.  
With my son Tyler at the Portsmouth Murals, TOSRV 2008

Online TOSRV registration is open now, and they have a really great looking jersey for this year. If you think you are riding please drop me an email (, or connect to me on Facebook at either Jay.Hardcastle or my Ride So Far page.  I look forward to hearing from you.