Tandems Are (An Investment) For Lovers

February 23, 2015

Amy and our “Green Machine” Paketa V2 tandem.

We can’t ride in a group without being asked about our bright green Paketa tandem. And, eventually the question comes… How much does it cost? …Yep, it’s not cheap. But, I always like to point out that a tandem is ONLY expensive, if you wind up not using it a lot.

If you had a road tandem that was LIGHT and FAST and FUN – would you ride it more? If you had a tandem that was made from magnesium and gave your stoker the MOST comfortable ride possible from a racy road tandem – would your stoker look forward to riding it more with you? If you spent the same amount of money on a tandem that you would have spent on two – similarly spec’d road bikes – AND you spent more time riding on the tandem TOGETHER… Wouldn’t that be worth investing in?

Now, I realize that not everybody is tandem material. I work at a bike shop, and customers (usually guys) will often eyeball an expensive road tandem and ask me what they’re all about. I’d suggest that, among other things, a nice tandem was the perfect way to get to spend more uninterrupted time with your sweetie. For me, riding the tandem with Amy is the equivalent of a rolling date night. (A date night where I still get to RIDE BIKES!)

Now, more than once I’ve heard guys state that the reason they go ride their bikes is to GET AWAY from their significant others! Those guys are absolutely correct in stating that a tandem is a waste of money for them.

But, if you’re a person that loves to bicycle. And you have a loved one that you wish would come ride with you – and be able to keep up with you NO MATTER WHAT. And enable you to carry on a conversation during the ride… Then a tandem could be a good investment in your future.

The tandem has become the ONLY way that I get Amy to ride with me. This is a woman who was a non-rider when I met her, and I was seriously worried that we’d never go on a third date since she was so overwhelmed by my NEED to ride bicycles. But over the years she has turned into a (tandem) cycling adventurer.

A tandem has enabled her (and as a result ME) to mountain bike, to ride multiple century rides in a weekend, ride in Europe, to race at Downieville, to complete 100 mile mountain bike races, race criteriums, compete at the Singlespeed World Championships, ride in a velodrome, and figure out how to get a tandem on the chairlift at our downhill mountain bike park… So long as I keep my promise not to kill US, and to make it fun, then we’ll look for a tandem that’s suitable for the task.

Amy and I recently celebrated 11 years since our first date. We’re not married (tandems are divorce machines, don’t you know?), but we do own and ride several road and off-road tandem bikes together. When a nosy someone asks Amy why, after all this time, she doesn’t have a ring on her finger, I wince a little. But, I always like to hear her reply… “Well, instead of a ring – I have more than one very nice tandem bicycle that was custom built specifically for me so that JUST THE TWO OF US can ride together. That’s more of a commitment than than a piece of jewelry – and it’s a heck of a lot more useful than a diamond ring.”

I could not agree more.

So how much should YOU spend on your next tandem? That really just depends on how much you intend to ride it. And how much you like the person you’re going to be riding it with. Whatever you decide – I PROMISE not to tell.

Henry (& Amy) – Bend, OR


Bulls, Barrels, Bikes, and Brews!

July 21, 2014


Pendleton, OR is known for two things: woolen mills and riding bulls.  This past 4th of July weekend, it was also the host city for the Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR).  Here are the top five reasons this tandem rally was extra awesome:

1.  This was the first year we have ridden our bright green Paketa at the tandem rally!  It proved to be the perfect machine for the “Cabbage Hill Climb” on day one (only attempted by a small percentage of attendees because, as you know, tandems can’t go uphill.  Not!)

2. Our rally was entitled “Bulls, Barrels, Bikes, and Brews.”  Don’t always pair those first two words with the last two, right?  Unless you get to camp on the grounds of the Pendleton Round Up!  Yep, we had the PBR series (that’s Professional Bull Riding to y’all) just next door for our first two nights.  It was loud and obnoxious and wonderful!  Much like the all girl punk band we found playing downtown on Saturday night.  Who’d have thunk?

3. Because the first day of the rally was the Fourth of July, a holiday near and dear to the residents of this small town, they included us in their annual parade.  The NWTR got spot #21 which was, luckily, right behind the horse manure clean-up crew!  Approximately 200 tandems draped their bikes and their bodies in red, white, and blue and cruised through downtown Pendleton.  The kind spectators (which included every resident of the city) encouraged us with smiles, cheers, and waves.  Henry and I both later admitted that we teared up at least once and had the time of our lives.



4. I don’t mean to imply that the Pendleton Tandem Rally was perfect.  For one thing, it was HOT.  But the organizers know this about their little piece of paradise, and so they devised the “perfect” ride for our last day.  After following a small road along a beautiful river through rolling hills, we arrived at a private ranch for lunch.  And folks, this ranch had a POOL (volunteers kindly shuttled our towels and suits for us).  Aaaaaaaahhhh!  We headed back to our camp refreshed and exhilarated.

5. Despite all of these memorable events, the NWTR is really all about friends.  Year after year we greet old pals, watch doubles turn into triples (she’s finally old enough to ride with us!) and triples back into doubles (she’s gone off to college!), and meet amazing people from all over the country.  But two of our favorite tandem riders have accompanied us to the last three tandem rallies, and their presence makes it extra fun.  Here is a picture of Mark, Melanie, and their sweet dog Dizzy (he’s in the canopied basket on the back) riding through lovely Pendleton, OR.  Ain’t life grand?

Amy Mitchell & Henry Abel
Bend, Oregon




Oregon Triple Crown – 117 miles and as many smiles…

June 16, 2014


2014 Oregon Gran Fondo Photo by Kenji Sugahara

2014 Oregon Gran Fondo Photo by Kenji Sugahara

In Oregon we have a fun series known as the Oregon Triple Crown. It’s a series of three Gran Fondos over the course of the summer. 2013 was the first year of the Triple Crown and there were only six riders that completed it. These are big rides on lovely roads, but what makes it tricky is that the third Fondo in the series is a really tough gravel road Fondo known as the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic. It’s 73 miles long and 10,000 feet of climbing over some lovely terrain – and while some folks have done it on a standard road bike, the winner is usually on a 29er hard tail mountain bike. Last year we completed the Gravel Epic on our touring tandem, but it was the only event in the series that we attempted. Our goal this year is to be the first tandem to complete all three events in the 2014 Oregon Triple Crown.

So, on Sunday June 1st we tackled the first, and longest of the events. The long loop of the Oregon Gran Fondo is 117 miles of heavily forested and seldom driven paved roads west of Cottage Grove, Oregon. There were several tandems in attendance this year, but only two of us set out on the longest of the three loops. Our Paketa tandem is set up with a 50/34 compact crankset and 12-28 rear cassette and gave us every gear we needed to click off the miles. The pavement ranged from asphalt perfection to some pretty rough forest service roads. Paved, but not maintained in a very long time. Despite the variety in pavement we stuck with our 23c tires and were once again pleasantly surprised with how well our Paketa with its Spinergy TX2 wheels took the buzz and edge out of the worst sections of pavement.

The food stops were plentiful and while this was a race for some, we took full advantage of each opportunity to stretch our legs and dine at every rest stop smorgasbord! It was the usual cycling fare of Heed, bananas, PB&J, and chips. But each stop had a few special treats ranging from a generator run espresso machine to watermelon and strawberries with Nutella! We were ahead of the other tandem so aside from doing our best up the timed 5 miles that made up the King of the Mountain section, we made sure to take our time and enjoy the ride.

At 117 miles this was our longest one day ride on the tandem together. And the longest ride that Amy had ever done in a day. I’d done this same ride two years ago on a single bike, so was excited to come back and share the experience with my stoker. The miles seemed to click by faster on the Paketa, and I’ll credit the good company as much as the machine.

Our Paketa is day-glo metallic green with matching green-spoked Spinergy wheels. It’s a nine foot long conversation starter! We had a lot of conversations with people about our tandem throughout the day. Example: What’s a Paketa? (A super cool tandem that’s made in Colorado. Paketa means rocket in Russian.) How does the magnesium frame ride? (It’s impressive. Light like alloy, but has the road-buzz-killing quality of a carbon frame.) How does the belt drive work? (Smooth, clean, light, and maintenance free – so long as you set it up right to begin with.) What’s it weigh? (A little under 26.5 pounds with Shimano Ultegra and Lightning cranks).

Rolling across the finish line in Cottage Grove we were greeted by cheers and an impressive lunch put together by the race organizers and their local vendors. This is a fantastic event with enthusiastic volunteers and an eager host city (Cottage Grove, Oregon). If you’re from outside of the state it’s a lush, green ride and a nice intro to our lovely Oregon cycling roads. It’s definitely worth the travel time.

So, the first of our three Triple Crown events is checked off our list. The second/next Fondo in the series is the Tour of the Aufderheide. It’s a pretty straightforward century ride of only 100 miles. ** Yikes! I’m not sure when I started referring to century rides as “only 100 miles”…

We’ll ride the Paketa again for that one. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, but the Gravel Epic might require a tandem with fatter tires. If it’s even a bit wet then those gravel roads will demand something closer to a cyclocross bike or 29er hard tail mountain bike. But, if it’s dry, then we might get adventurous. Meaning we might set our goal to be the first tandem to complete all three events of the Oregon Triple Crown – all using the same Paketa race tandem!

Stay tuned…

Henry & Amy of Bend, Oregon


1st Tandem to Earn the Colorado Triple Crown!

November 8, 2013

Congratulations to Andy & Kami White for becoming the first tandem to earn the Colorado Triple Crown! This accolade required qualifying for and completing three of the four RMCC sanctioned double century series, in one season, within aggressive time cutoffs. These double centuries include some of the very hardest courses in the country, at high altitude, including daunting ascents.
“After aligning ourselves with Paketa a few years ago, we discovered the goals we formulated had to be a step above anything we had thought possible. The performance of the tandem was inspiring and brought the impossible within reach.”

After setting a tandem course record on the 225 mile Death Ride with 16,000 feet of climbing, the next in the series was the Cripple Creek Crippler. The Crippler is arguably the hardest double century in the country, and the least tandem friendly course with nearly 20,000 feet of climbing, very tight time cut offs often at the tops of climbs, and this year finished with 4 hours of rain. Andy and Kami had an amazing day finishing in 18:15 in spite of both the rain and mechanic problems during the final 90 miles. It is likely they will be the only tandem couple to complete this event for a very, very long time!
“The team at Paketa deserves credit as an inexhaustible reservoir of technical experience and support. They helped us upgrading, tweaking and customizing the tandem for the extraordinary technical challenge and brutal conditions of this accomplishment.”

Andy and Kami completed the final course, the Grand Loop, topping over 12,000 feet Trail Ridge Road, in 16:04, the fastest known time of any mixed tandem couple to complete this challenging ride! By completing the Grand Loop, they become the first couple to ever complete the Colorado Triple Crown on a tandem, and set tandem course records on all three courses they completed! This is truly an amazing feat as an unfortunate DNF in the final 15 miles of the easiest event, Denver-to-Aspen, meant they had to complete the series by riding the three most difficult events of the series: Congratulations to both of you!!!
“After riding tandem for 20 years, we spent the last three years training for this level of riding. Developing fitness and mental toughness was such a rich experience. The mental skills we’ve built thru years, often rising before dawn for training, working thru hardships on these events, 2am race starts, weather and fatigue; taught us a lot about each other and serves us as a couple every day. The accomplishment means most to us as a representation of our successful relationship.”



Pinnaclife Racing gets 4 Golds at Masters Nationals on Paketa Tandems

September 13, 2013
Pinnaclife Racing Team scores again with 4 National Championship Gold medalist (Ian, Jason, Dotsie and Fritz), 2 Silver Medalist, 6 Bronze medalists and 4 4th place medalist at Masters Nationals this last week in Bend Oregon.  We are so proud to represent Paketa with such a strong showing again this year!  Thanks again for your support in 2013.  We share this with you!
Below are the 2013 National Champions.  All this on PEKETA Tandems!!!  Amazing!Image

Terry and Dave win Silver medal at Nationals on a Paketa V2r Tandem

September 13, 2013

We are proud of all of our Team Riders after some incredible performances at the Masters Nationals road and TT race this year. Overall Paketa riders brought in more medals than we can count. Well, almost. Congratulations to Dave Walker and Terry Malouf who won the Silver Medal in the mixed tandem 110+ category. That is quite an accomplishment. You guys are awesome, and we are proud to have you as part of the team.




Team Radsport on Paketa Tandems at Masters Nationals

September 13, 2013
Team Radsport cleans up nationals with lot's of medals on Paketa Tandems

Team Radsport cleans up nationals with lot’s of medals on Paketa Tandems

Congratulations to team Radsport of Pinnaclife Racing Team. They scored again with 4 National Championship Gold medals, 2 Silver Medals, 6 Bronze medals and 4 4th place medals at Masters Nationals this year. All of these medals were won on Paketa V2 and V2r Magnesium Tandems.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 901 other followers

%d bloggers like this: