You might want to brush up on the lyrics of that old favorite “Bicycle Built for Two.”
Almost 400 tandem cyclists will ride the back roads during this weekend’s Northwest Tandem Rally in Pendleton, dubbed “Bulls, Barrels, Bikes and Brews.”
Among the first cyclists to hit town were Sam and Norah Macey of Victoria, British Columbia. The tanned couple set up a camp trailer Wednesday on the lawn north of the Round-Up Arena. Their tandem bike, a Burley Rumba, sat parked on the grass.
The couple looks forward to exploring some new territory on their bicycle for three days, starting Friday. They have ridden tandem for five years now. Riding on one bike keeps them in the same zip code, explained Norah.
“We’re both one percenters,” she said. “Only one percent are as fast as him and only one percent are as slow as me. Since we don’t want to be 35 miles apart, this is a way to stay together.”
Norah admitted she at first disliked being the stoker, the person in back. There were control issues, she said, but finally she relaxed and let Sam, the captain, worry about steering and braking.
“As the stoker,” she said, “all you have to do is pedal and drink coffee.”
To that end, she installed a cup holder on one of her handlebars. The holder joins other accessories such as bike computer, pannier racks, pump, rear view mirrors for each of them and bells.
Sam described the differences between tandem and one-seated bicycles.
“They are quite different,” he said. “Tandems are surprisingly stable and faster downhill and on the level. The downside is going uphill where weight and inertia work against you.”
The wheel bearings on tandems are heavier duty and the bikes have two chains – a timing chain and a normal drive chain. He said the bikes are geared lower because of the extra power required to climb hills. The wheels contain more spokes than single bikes and feature an extra internal brake.
Many tandems are custom built. Be on the lookout this week, Sam said, for a bicycle custom built for four, ridden by Canadian friends – two parents and their children. There are also triplet tandems, designed for three riders.
The 26-year-old bike rally hasn’t been hosted by Pendleton since 2001, according to organizers Chuck Wood and Pat Kennedy – the same two men who organized the ride 13 years ago.
For the 2014 ride, Pendleton on Wheels cyclist Rob Beck had worked to convince the rest of the bicycle club to host the rally, but members expected to be fatigued from putting on the Century Ride of the Centuries only weeks before. They gave their blessing to Beck, though, if he would take charge.
Beck and Kennedy teamed up to pitch the Northwest Tandem Rally’s board in 2012 to let Pendleton host the 2014 rally. Last year, Beck died of cancer. Kennedy and Wood, a POW member who took on organizational duties, give Beck the credit for attracting the rally to Pendleton.
“This is more or less Rob’s tandem rally,” Kennedy said. “For Rob, it was labor of love.”
Motorists will need to use caution this weekend as the riders get out on the roads.
Wood said some of the cyclists will participate in Pendleton’s Fourth of July Parade on Friday while others pedal up Cabbage Hill to the Dead Man Pass rest area. On Friday, they will have three options – the longest is a 75-mile ride to Adams, Weston and back to Pendleton via Holdman Road and Highway 37. On Sunday, the cyclists will head out on a 61.5-mile ride to Bar M Ranch or do an out and back along Cayuse Road.
Cyclists will have a police escort as they start en masse from Stillman Park on Saturday and the Pendleton Convention Center on Sunday at 8 a.m.
Riders will partake in other events including a powwow at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino and Professional Bull Riders action at the Happy Canyon arena.
Sam and Norah will display plenty of Canadian flair while riding Northeast Oregon roads this weekend, their shirts bearing the Canadian red and white and tiny Canadian flags sticking from their helmets. Norah plans to stay plenty relaxed as they ride – she has conquered her control issues.
“He’s learning to react to my shrieks,” she said.
Contact Kathy Aney at email@example.com or call 541-966-0810.