Boo has outgrown the Kiddie Cranks that we used to make it possible for her to ride our 1980’s Dawes Double Galaxy, unfortunately she hasn’t grown enough to sit on the back. She and I have been working hard on servicing the tandem after our chain problems but the tandem’s age has made it difficult to fix the brakes the way I wanted to for the hills we will be facing on our LEJOG ride. So we came to the decision that it was time to invest in a tandem designed for a short stoker with room for growth into her early teens (mid teens if she doesn’t grow too fast).
After a lot of research I selected the Dawes Galaxy Twin as it is designed for touring and comes with a rear disc brake which will give us additional support on the downhills. It is also at least 10lbs lighter than the Double Galaxy so should make us more efficient cyclists on the hills.
On Saturday Boo and I drove to Harrogate to visit Spa Cycles where they had a 2013 model Galaxy Twin available for us to test. It was the perfect size and we spent some time talking to the friendly, helpful staff. They were interested in our LEJOG plans, which Boo was happy to tell them about, and had useful advice on how best to protect the tandem when transporting it. They suggested we return once we’ve ridden 100 miles to re-tension the cables but a 300 mile round trip seems a little excessive (especially as we will easily reach the 100 mile mark before the week is out) so we will probably turn to John Atkins Cycles in Leamington as they helped us with servicing our Double Galaxy and are noticeably nearer home. However I am sure we will soon revisit Spa Cycles.
Boo was really excited with our purchase and insisted on helping to put it on the roof.
As we were leaving another tandem rider drove up and shared his local knowledge of the Lockerbie stretch of our ride so I shall review our route over the next week. We needed something to eat before heading home and conveniently found a pub near the Specialized Concept Store. They had a sale on and we found a paid of cycling shoes for Boo. These are her first pair of bike shoes (until now she has been using trainers or football shoes) that come with the option of fitting cleats to use with clipless pedals. This is especially exciting to Boo as the pedals on the tandem have the option of being clipless so it looks as if I need to acquire some cleats for her and clipless pedals for her bike.
On Sunday morning we left home early to join the Stratford CC Club Run leaving the Box Brownie Café at 9 (the café provided me with a delicious coffee pick me up and Boo would recommend the brownies to everyone). The planned 50 mile ride seemed a good opportunity for us to test ride the Galaxy Twin as well as introducing Boo to the delights of a Club Run. She was happy to chat to any of the cyclists willing to listen about our adventures and was unfazed by being the only female on the Club Run this week.
The new tandem was a delight to ride and Boo really enjoyed riding in a group and demonstrating the group ride signals she has learned. We have not yet moved our bike computer from the old to the new tandem so do not know what our average speed was for this ride, but we did manage to move from being at the back of the group on an uphill section to being in the front (and testing our brakes) on the descent, to the surprise of the rest of the group. The only problem we had with the tandem was the saddle on the tandem. I found my new saddle comfortable but Boo was less happy with hers, despite the suspension it offered. I think we can swap it out for now with a smaller saddle designed for a child and then change it back as she grows.
The lighter tandem has given Boo even more confidence with helping me load and unload it on the roof, which I think is a good thing, but I will definitely follow up on the Spa Cycles recommendations for protecting the paintwork.
The staff at Spa Cycles showed Boo how she could use the rear disc brake (which she controls from the back seat so we might need to have a discussion about appropriate use) to stabilise the tandem so that she can be ‘in charge’ of it. To say that she is proud of her ability to hold the tandem would be an understatement.
Overall we are delighted with our new steed and, once we have completed the settling in period and service we will feel more ready for the ride ahead.
So there is just one thing left to do…
..name our new steed.
The Racing Green colour has inspired the name Green Arrow but we will be taking votes on a final name over on our Facebook page so please join the vote there, or follow this blog for our decision.