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21 Aug 2012

5th Annual tandem ride.

Nazca recently started building tandems. And so came the opportunity for me to take part in a tandem ride. Maaike was the lucky, brave and kind one to be my stoker. Together we formed a twosome with almost zero tandem experience.

But let's first go back to 6:25 in the morning. That's when I left home to ride to Nijeveen. A sunday morning has very little traffic, so I choose to ride with head fairing to see how fast I could go at this early time. After a 10km warm-up I shifted to 6th gear and kept it there for most of the time. That meant that before 7 in the morning, my cruising speed was high in the 40-ties. That lead to a 4 minute improvement of my previous record time on this route! 1:01:47, door to door, without scaring anyone.

We drove to Rotterdam with 3 riders and 2 Quetzals. A trouble free drive of about 200km brought us to the start of the ride at Gerold's and Maartje's place. Everyone got a warm welcome with cold lemonade, or tea. The most important person for this ride, my stoker,  arrived about 45 minutes after me. She had to take a few involuntary detours. Luckily I'd already set the rear crank set to the right leg length. So, by stuffing our gear into 1 bag, we where ready to go. Just like the 15 other tandem couples.

Our start was careful, but we quickly managed to synchronize and respond to each other. At 1st, I said everything I did, later on I said less and less, about riding that is. It just sort of worked. The Quetzal was easy to handle and any speed. And in case of a captain's error, I could count on a quick responding 'landing gear' at the back. Our confidence grew. Corners became fun and Maaike started taking pictures.

Halfway we had a stop for shade and pancakes. I ate one with lot's of vegetables. Something healthy and relatively light to digest in this 34 degrees C. weather.

Naturally, the paths we followed weren't perfectly smooth. Oh, yes they where good, perhaps a bit crowded here and there, but with a nice scenery. And  the occasional bump didn't bother us at all. Two 50-559 Big Apples, rear suspension and a wheelbase of 208 centimetres make for a supple ride. Tight corners where difficult during the 1st 20km or so. But tandem riding is something you have to learn, and we learned quickly. The big aero bars gave me the chance to manoeuvre close, almost cozy with others tandems. Which is fun because it makes conversations better.

After 45km some sweat or sun cream got in to my eyes. Marjolein came to the rescue with clean water to flush it out. I only carried lemonade, about 2 litres.

Todays ride was 61km. And when we got back at the start, there was a treat for us, 'raketjes'. (wikipedia) The second treat was a small inflated pool. Big enough to splash the sweat and dust of yourself. I must have looked like a bird washing it's feathers in a small puddle...

Well then, time to say goodbye and thank you to those who made this possible. And after doing so, the group Nazca rode back to the van. There we folded the Quetzals to reduce their length to 'normal' recumbent size. (well what we find normal, normals may vary)

By the time I got home it was 10 in the evening. A can of cola (thanks Monique) was my fuel for the final 42km. Besides a very memorable experience this day also added 145km to my life.

More about the Quetzal can be seen here in this pdf.


  1. sounds lovely. How come Tandems are so rare? it seems like a great way to social and exercise.

  2. There aren't much models available, that's a reason. But now that the Quetzal exist, one model is enough ;-)

    Nearly 5k for a luxury tandem is a fair price. Yet this is a bike you buy for each other. The main reason, I think, for the low number of recumbent tandems is that it's a niche in a niche, aimed at recumbent riding couples.