The Man in the Rear – Tandem Mt. SAC Race report

Two weeks ago, RL and I raced at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic on a tandem bike. What was interesting about this race is we were the only ones in our CAT with a tandem bike. Traditionally Mt SAC has had a class for tandems however since they are now aligning with the other races of the Triple Crown, they did away with the tandem class. Without knowing this, RL purchased a used tandem bike just a few weeks before the race. In total we had a whopping ONE ride to practice which was just a few days prior to the race.

Unsure if we were even allowed to race the tandem, RL and I fired off several emails to the powers that be at Mt SAC. Closer to the race day we received a response that we can however we’ll have to race in our age group. Being that RL registered us, we raced in this group which was Beginners 27-34… bunch of fast-er guys.

At the line-up we were greeted with cheers from both racers and spectators. Many of our friends from the racing circuit cheered us onto the starting line! Man, we were like mountain biking celebrities!!! :). Not wanting to impede the other racers in our CAT, we lined up in the back. Off the bat we knew what our chances were, we didn’t have high expectations on placing. Our goal was NOT to finish last!

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RL and I walking our bike towards the back of the pack.
Below is a video from the Stoker’s POV. You’ll see us doing really well in the first lap. As a matter of fact we passed or kept up with many racers on the flats. Up the first hill wasn’t bad, we made it up with out any problems. Approaching the switchback climbs we started encountering problems within the singletrack. We had a hard time maneuvering through this. On the other side of the switchbacks I got off the bike and ran to the bottom where it flattened. You’ll see me in the video (fast forwarded) running through the trail waiting for RL at the bottom. I’m glad we didn’t ride through here as there were at least three different people that went down. RL however managed to ride through here smoothly.

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Onto the third hill we grinded – Energy level was still good…. At the bottom on the other side, we were cheered on by our families and friends. Shortly after this descent we made our way towards probably the third toughest climb. Fortunately the switchbacks were fire-road wide. Mash, mash, mash – we made it up! All through out the Captain and the Stoker are in constant communication.

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Much of the same for the second lap however fatigue kicked in and we were a lot slower. Even walking up some of the hills were harder second time around :(. Somewhere in between the second lap, as we grinded through, we became more aware of our placement within the race. Our goal was not to be last however, we were seeing less and less racers… only a few passed us on the last climb by the stables. Could we have been that far behind??? Apparently not… RL and I continued to pedal, descended the big (last) downhill section with more confidence than the first lap.

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As we motored through the Finish Line we were greeted by the same cheers that were there at the Start. Shortly after, another racer in our CAT came in. We did it – we were not last!!!. Out of 25, we were the 24th 🙂

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What a great experience. It was my first ever tandem race and it was such a blast!!! I’m hoping they will open this Class next year in the Triple Crown series as we are looking forward to racing it again, with even more training!

Cycle Simplex Tandem Roof Rack-Review

Cycle Simplex Tandem Roof Rack

Model Tested: One Tandem One Regular Bike Roof Rack

Price:
$269.00

As stated on their website:

CycleSimplex Mountain, Road, Recumbent, Tandem and Children’s Bike Racks for the car, van, SUV or truck

The best line of bike racks at the lowest price – our bike racks are perfect for the active cyclist or the weekend enthusiast. These bike carriers are designed to be kind to your bicycle and your wallet.

If you own a tandem bike, then you know that the best way to transport them if you don’t have a truck or a big enough van is by roof rack. I can’t hang my tandem on a trunk mount rack because it would be stick out the sides ready to come in contact with others or even bicyclists riding by.

So I contacted the folks at Cycle Simplex and asked them if I could review their rack. Their roof racks are compatible with my Thule rack as well as Yakima and your factory cross bars. What’s surprising is Cycle Simplex’s claim to fame is a simple J-Hooks.

These J-Hooks are remarkably strong and they are able to hold my tandem and my mountain bike in place. It’s too simple if you ask me…but it works.

Just by looking at the rack, you’ll notice there’s allot of hardware involved. Anyone can assemble this rack with out a problem. The instruction manual was pretty thorough, easy and if I can do it so can you. Make sure you don’t take any short cuts, FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS!

If you haven’t already figured it out,the rack holds onto your bike(s) by grabbing onto the crank arm(s). Then you tie it down with some velcro straps that are included.

If you look at the picture below, these arms that hold your wheels in actually do a great job. Once its been strapped in, the wheel doesn’t wiggle at all. There are different ways to attach these arms to the rack, but I had to do it the way the picture shows based on the situation I had with my bikes. You can attach this arm on the front or like I did, on the back of the wheel.

As I’ve mentioned this is a two bike roof rack. I have my mountain bike right next to my tandem. Not once did they hit handle bars or get caught up in each other. The mountain bike rack sits further back than the tandem.

Also keep in mind, if you’re loading up your bike, put the mountain bike in first, then the tandem. It’s just easier that way…trust me!

This is a rear view of the rack. It’s pretty straight if you ask me. I’ve driven around with my bikes on top for a few months now and I’ve never had an issue of them coming off or undone from the rack.

Here’s the only thing bad that I experienced. The rack tray is so long that if I open up my hatch back, it would hit it. But you have to keep in mind that my car is compact. If I had placed this rack on a non-hatch back/compact vehicle such as a mid-sized sedan or a large SUV, then this problem would have never occurred.

These two photos were taken while I was traveling at 60mph. I was never insecure of the rack and it felt pretty solid. Enough so that I had forgotten that I had my bikes on top.

Strengths: Super strong rack. Never let me down, I’ve used this rack dozens of times and I’ve never been disappointed with it. It’s pretty affordable, a Thule fork mounted tandem rack would have cost as much as $375…and that’s only for one bike. Cycle Simplex, you get two roof racks for only $269. This rack has seen rain, heat and what ever else Southern California can dish out. I am thoroughly happy with this rack.

Weaknesses: I didn’t like how my hatch back would hit the rack, but like I said, you won’t have that problem if you have a sedan or an SUV. I also didn’t like how the arms that hold the wheels and where the J-Hooks attach too would always be sticking up. I wished there was a way I could lower those arms when I’m just driving around.

Recommendations:
On my Swagman bike rack, I am able to lock my bike with the knobs that it came with. I think it would be great if the J-hooks were equipped with locking knobs. That way if you wanted to, you can leave your bike on the rack while you go eat breakfast after a ride.

Summary: The Cycle Simplex Tandem Roof Rack is something I’d definitely recommend. It’s affordable, durable and its easy to use. I’m always looking for ways to save money, and if you’re i in the market for a tandem roof rack and you’re on a budget, you’ll get a high quality rack almost $100 cheaper than the leading brand…and its a top notch rack!

For more information on Cycle Simplex, visit their website or contact them:
CycleSimplex – 703 Head Tide Hill Road – Alna, Me 04535