Dom's Geneva Tandem Trip

Saturday 28 June 2014, Filed in: General

Dom Irvine shares his latest adventure. Watch the video of him maneuvering the tandem through the traffic in Paris and reaching speeds of 60 mph on the descents.

When your first ride as a new tandem team is 117 miles in a shade over 5 hours, the next ride has to be something special. And so at 4pm on a sunny Thursday in mid June along with a couple of half bikes (solo bikes to non-tandem riders) we left my home in Hampshire and headed for Geneva. With a support crew carrying our kit we were able to make good progress to the port of Newhaven despite the half bikes suffering a broken spoke, dented wheel and two punctures.

Even in the height of summer, Dieppe was dark at 4am when we rolled off the ferry. What followed was ideal tandem territory – rolling countryside all the way into Paris. The only thing that slowed progress was the dense rush hour traffic. By 10am we were in the city centre drinking coffee awaiting the arrival of another 8 half bike riders from around the world. We had averaged around 20mph thus far.

The grand departure from the Eiffel Tower was at 14:15. I had thought the tandem might struggle a bit on some of the hills, but we soon established the place we were to take for the rest of the ride – the lead out bike.

By the time we arrived in Montargis, we had been on the road for just over 24 hours and in addition to the Ferry crossing and rests before and in Paris had covered just over 240 miles. It’s a testament to the geometry of the Orbit Lightning we were riding that we were so comfortable. It’s a remarkably stable and comfortable bike - and with speeds on the flat sometimes reaching in excess of 30mph a very very fast bike too.

Our second day was a 160 mile drag to Chalons-sur-Saone. With 2600m of climbing we assumed we would be chasing the half bikes – we were wrong. The tandem ate the hills like they weren’t there – something that would be repeated a day later riding up the Col de la Faucille – a 1350m lump in the Jura mountains. The day was uneventful. The scenery was stunning and the camaraderie in the group delightful.

Day 3 saw 2600 metres of climbing in about 65 miles, preceded by a pan flat 36 miles and a 19 mile descent. We had a blast on the climbs nailing the main climb at about 13mph. We then had over an hour at the top waiting for the half bikes to catch up whilst we drank coffee and gossiped.

What followed was sheer heaven. A fast flowing descent that went on and on. A tandem is so much more stable at speed than half bikes and for much of the descent we were between 50 and 60 mph, flicking the bike through the bends and scraping the pedals around the hairpin bends. Cars were dispatched with consummate ease. It was so exhilarating.

We arrived in Geneva exactly three days after we had left Hampshire with 520 miles done and about 8000m of climbing. It was pure pleasure all the way. Riding with someone else the whole time extended the ability to share the experience, chat and swap stories as well as all the fun of working out how to ride even more effectively as a team was sublime.

Words fail me - I cannot begin to describe how much fun a tandem can be when two people are working well together - it's something special.

Copy and paste the link below to watch the video


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