2011 Northwest Tandem Rally

We are pretty blessed in the Northwest to have several tandem bike manufacturers and a kick-ass community of tandem riders. Nick and I don’t get to ride with other tandems very often, but think it is absolutely the bees knees when we do. Last weekend was the second time we attended the Northwest Tandem Rally – a tandem-only event that attracts 250-300 tandem riding teams each year. (Imagine all that tandem geekiness in one place! It’s awesome.)

We drove out to Spokane on Friday afternoon. About 30 miles from our destination, I remembered that I’d brought the wrong bike shoes. You know, the ones with the cleats that match my Speedplay pedals, not my SPD pedals. Argh! Thank goodness for REI. $25 later, I had a new set of SPD cleats and was ready to roll.

With that SNAFU behind us, we headed to the Elk – a neat  little neighborhood pub – for a pint before dinner.

The next morning was the start of the Tour de France, and we didn’t have to miss a minute of it thanks to our college dorm TV. Pretty soon, a crowd of other tandem riders and race enthusiasts were gathered to watch the action.

The highlight of the event for me, is always the mass rollout on Saturday morning. All of the tandems gather together and head out on the first day’s ride in one big group. Looking at the people and bikes, you start to get a pretty good measure of each team’s relationship. It would make a fascinating anthropological study for sure.

This year, we were near the front of the pack as the mass of bikes started off, which was probably a good thing, since the route was quite hilly to start. Compared to the average tandem team, Nick and I are good climbers. Being near the front gave us room to power up the hills without encumbrance.

Then it was rolling wheat fields and nearly car-free backroads for the next few days. Riding bliss!

If you’re ever in the area and want to go riding, here are links to the routes that were available to us. You can’t go wrong with any of them!

Fish Lake Trail (21 miles)
Medical Lake Airway Heights (35 miles)
Fish Lake Short Ride (36 miles)
Cheney via Medical Lake (54 miles)
Cheney via Fish Lake Trail (56 miles)
Plaza Loop Ride (74 miles) <– Best wheat fields and rolling hills
Cheney & Williams Lake (84 miles) <– Includes a beautiful loop around a wildlife preserve!
Waverly Long Ride (92 miles) <– Only for the masochists in the group

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Centennial Trail that goes from Spokane all the way to Idaho and beyond. We rode quite a bit of it on Monday and had a wonderful time.

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