Tandemic times

The organizing idea around here is the wondrous perfection of the bicycle as machine, how its basic principles of geometry and mechanics and efficiency make it endlessly fascinating.

For immediate purposes, if you can stipulate the truth of this then the next bit must naturally follow: If a bicycle is X, a tandem is, by necessity, at least Xx2 or maybe it’s X2or perhaps instead I mean X+1. Point being if bicycle is good, then tandem is good and then some.

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I find in the meanwhile since the Hugo Black project, of lessons learned preparation and patience pay in virtues both expected and unforeseen – similar truths attain to the tandem with the tantalizing possibility of more. This something more is in the machine itself as well as the reach of the experience it offers, a patch of ineffable possibility transcending the already exceptional travel through time and space offered by bicycles featuring a single saddle.

In part, I project. The ride in June pedaling with my son was terrific and positive and inextricably linked to this Santana tandem.

In greater degree, I think, I now see the expanding possibility because of how little familiar I am with the Santana and how meaningful it may prove to Change that.

I have never once torn the Santana down, never replaced the cables, never repacked the grease in the hubs or the bottom brackets (all four of these had sealed bearings and were service-free in theory), never switched out the brake pads, and never put on a new chain.

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I’ve owned this second-hand, meticulously maintained tandem for 20 years. It’s such a rock-solid reliable harmony of frame and components that I pedaled it over thousands of miles with four different stokers on the back saddle with nary a problem more serious than a flat tire. It’s a testament to Santana’s bulletproof design and component specs and the over-engineered substitute cranks and brakes and bottom brackets and expensive, handsome two-tone paint job the previous owner put on the rig. Phil Wood. Top-of-the-line power brakes, lighter *and* stronger chainrings and cranks. The wheels are laced up with four-cross 48s.

I kept the Santana running. Cleaned the chain and cassette, fine-tuned the derailleurs over the long pull of cable from the bar ends all the way back and looping around the rear dropout. I wrenched around on the caliper brakes as well as the drum brake.

I put new tape on the bars an added a bell.

It’s going to be something to strip this down to the bones and understand intimately its workings. I’ll get to know the Choctawhatchee Chariot in all its details. If I do it right, it’s going to ride so much better.