It started in Tuscany...

Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General

It started in Tuscany. We had planned some great routes, using small back roads, which started off ok and ended up rocky and unrideable. Disappointed, we often had to retrace our steps and find less interesting routes. Later that week, in Sienna, we chanced upon a Swiss couple touring on a full suspension BMC (thought they made cars) mountain bike tandem .

It didn’t take too long for the grey matter to get working. Maybe it was time to review my prejudices against 26” wheels, mountain bikes tandems. As BMC no longer made that model, I phoned JD Cycles and John suggested we took a good hard look at Ventana frames. So after reading some convincing internet articles , it was back to John for more expert advice, which led to him putting together a package for us . Fox suspension, XTR gears, Magura Louise Disc Brakes and Chis King hubs, a bit like using an Apple-Mac when you’ve been used to an abacus. After many years riding conventional drop handlebar 700 c road tandems, this was a big step.

The Ventana is a different world. Expecting it to be slow, because of my prejudice against mountain bikes, I discovered it to be six pounds lighter than our road bike and on a good pair of slicks it can fly. Now we can go anywhere and do anything! We are always taking short cuts ,going down tow paths and across farm tracks. Yes you’re right ,if you’re going to get down and dirty , a big pair of boots are needed, but if you’re mixing road and track there are plenty of middle weight tyres to choose from.

Now with 2,500 miles up, we’ve had some brilliant rides. Firstly, Salisbury Plain, (avoiding the Red flags) then long stretches of the Kennet and Avon tow path and anything Wilts and Somerset can throw at us.

Other milestones have included: a part of the Canal du Midi, a week in the Drome, and wonderful mountain roads and tracks. Mad descents made a lot safer, not just because we had dream- brakes, but because the suspension irons out those fast bumpy descents, when things start to get out of control. The Ventana will haul you up, if it gets too hairy. Braking distances are reduced and you pray a little less. The word bump is now superfluous in the vocabulary of the stoker, . Fifty mph is about its limit, which is probably just as well ! Mont Ventoux proved to be the fastest and most exciting descent yet. (If I were 30 years younger, I’d describe it as “awesome” )

To conclude, it’s given us more comfort,, with less neck and shoulder problems and a bigger variety of terrain to ride. Just what was needed, to kick start our passion for riding again.


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