Friday, July 2, 2010

More Questions Answered: Take 2

Here are some answers to questions that have been asked in comments on a few of our previous posts:

Is there a learning curve in riding a tandem recumbent? Do you have to coordinate with each other when shifting? I know when shifting my road bike I have to let up on the pedals to allow the derailleur to shift.

First of all, the recumbent position is a little different than the upright bike, but it didn't take us long at all to adjust from our upright style. Then, there are different things to think about when riding a tandem. Starting is probably the part that is the most different. We both sit on the seats with our feet on the ground, and then Jenny puts both her feet on the pedals (and clips in). Then Brett puts one foot on a pedal with the crank arm just about straight up. We check traffic and such, then one of us says, “Ready?” The other person responds, “Setty!” and then we push together as we say “Go-ey!”

As for the shifting, Brett doesn't coordinate much with Jenny on that. We have had long discussions about preferred cadences and how hard we like to push, and what might be the most efficient ways to climb to the top of hills and such, but only once in a while does Brett have to say anything before shifting. It's mostly subconscious now, but Brett thinks he does ease up just a tiny bit as he's shifting.
Jenny can hear the click of the shifter most of the time, and she probably eases up a tiny bit, too. She can often tell when Brett's about to shift, because by now she's very used to his timing.

I am curious about Brett's job with a bicycle delivery service. What is that?

Pedal People is a cooperative business that hauls things by bicycle. We have trailers of different sizes that can haul hundreds of pounds at a time. The main income source is hauling away trash, recycling, and compost for both individuals and businesses, but there are other things that people are willing to hire us for: delivering food from farm shares, moving the contents of a home, delivering lunches from a local deli, deliveries and pick-ups of cloth diapers, etc. Brett has been a member since the end of January this year, and loves the work!

Jenny, what do you do when you are working?

Jenny has been taking college classes, working towards getting a BA degree. She's not sure yet what it will be in, but probably psychology. That has taken up a large amount of her time for the past few semesters. When she is not studying, she takes care of kids a few days a week for two different families in town. She also cleans houses part time (she has her own house cleaning business) and substitute teaches at a preschool when it fits into her schedule. Plus, we own a second property that we rent, so that takes time to manage, too.

Do you have a break down your budget for the trip? How much you are spending each day, etc. for those of who might someday plan a long trip like this. Sounds like you are doing it very frugally.

We are also curious how much we've spent so far, and how much we'll spend total. We made some estimates before we left, but we're probably exceeding them a bit because we're spending more on food and accommodations than we anticipated. We are trying to do it frugally, but we also want to make sure we enjoy this trip, as it might be a once in a life time experience. We feel like we're doing really well so far, and we'd be happy to share a break-down of our expenses at the end of our trip, when we take the time to figure them out.

How do you feel about your fitness levels as you go?

We feel like we are getting stronger! We are probably building up different muscles than we usually use. The beauty of a tandem like this is that we often don't feel like we're huffing and puffing much to achieve a decent speed together. We're certainly still tired at the end of the day, but we've been feeling good on the bike.

What do mulberries taste like?

We think that mulberries taste a little like blackberries, but they are a bit sweeter. We definitely hope you all get a chance to try mulberries at some point. There is a tree within walking distance of our house, so if you come visit next summer, we can pick some with you! If you are in Florida, Jenny's parents have some mulberry trees growing (and for sale) at their nursery.

Have the bugs been bad?

The mosquitoes, especially, have been terrible some evenings and mornings. When they are so bad, it is all we can do to set up the tent and dive inside. While we are biking, the bugs haven't been a problem. We have had no problems with black flies yet, and the mosquitoes can't get us while we are on the bike because we go too fast! The only bug that is sometimes annoying while we are biking is the deer fly. They swarm around our heads when we are pedaling up the hills in the shade, and they sometimes try to keep up with us on the flats and downhills. Deer flies are fast! They hardly ever bite us though.

How's Brett's knee?

Both of Brett's knees are doing okay, though they both get just a little sore and tired most days. He says they “talk” to him, telling him to back off a little, or stretch more, or sometimes to take ibuprofen. He's only taken ibuprofen a couple of times the whole trip, and the knees aren't getting worse at all. They must be getting stronger, and the stretching has really helped keep things lined up okay. He still wears the brace on his left knee, the one that bothered him so much the first week, but it's hard to say if that's even still needed.


  1. Haha! It is me! Reading your great blog at 2:15 am!

  2. I love the Q&A posts. Other people often ask questions that then get me curious, too.
    Still hot here. I'm headed down for a dip.
    Love, Mom

  3. Hi Brett and Jenny, I know, riding a standard bicycle, that if the foot is not properly placed, it can wreek havoc with other parts of the leg, IE the knees, and even hips. Perhaps it is a setting of your foot in proper position on the pedal. Ask a Bike tech at a store.