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Tandem Talk May 2020

It’s been I don’t know how many years, but here I am writing Tandem Talk once more, now remind me, how does that go again?


I’m sure we’re all getting a bit tired of hearing about this and social distancing, but the good news is that we seem to have turned a corner and are seeing some of the restrictions on movement and gatherings relaxed. The bad news is that social distancing remains a key component of the response in WA and it’s impossible to comply with that directive on a tandem. So sadly, no tandem riding for the immediate future, but the committee is monitoring events and… one day.

Coffee and Cake Catch-up @ Rayment Park 23 May 2020

In the absence of a cycling event, a dozen or so members turned up at Rayment Park on the 23rd of May for a coffee, cake and a chat. It was fun and yup, we did talk a little about that damn virus but mostly just caught up on everyone’s news and enjoyed the fabbo weather.

Story Time

In the absence of much tandem-related news, we need a story. I’ll start. It’s not a cycling story I’m afraid, but a rowing story because as you may know, I’m into that now. Anyway, it was early last year and I was preparing for some events later in the year.

We were lining up to do some course work on the Canning River. Course work is interval training, 1000m efforts up and down the river. I was in a double – a boat for two – and it was the first time doing course work for me and in the stroke seat to boot so I was a bit nervous. My crew mate Mark had brought his stroke coach along – it’s the equivalent of a Garmin on a bike – and in addition to tracking the phases of the moon, it records the stroke rate in strokes per minute. As I was sitting in the stroke seat I had the stroke coach which sat in a bracket near my feet. They’re complicated little units with a million functions but only two buttons. Mark had explained how to operate it but I wasn’t getting it so eventually I just said, “ok” – I reckoned I could wing it.

Eventually it was our turn and we brought the boat up to the line and were waiting for “GO!” With seconds to go, I realised that I hadn’t pushed the reset button on the stroke coach, so all in a tizz I reached out and tried to push the button with one finger. Unfortunately for me, the button is on the bottom of the unit so the result was that it slid upwards out of the bracket. straight over the side of the boat and into the water. I just had time to think “CRAP!” and then it was “GO” and off we went.

So there I was, racing away down the course with Mark’s $600 stroke coach sinking to the bottom, and there he was sitting behind me. He didn’t say anything but I was sure that I could feel his eyes burning laser holes in my back. We’d gone a few strokes when I realised that the gizmo hadn’t sunk, it has a safety cord which Mark had attached to the boat so it was still with us only dragging along in the water at the end of a 2 foot cord.

On that particular day, we were instructed to keep the stroke rate at 20 strokes per minute. At about the 100m point, Mark asked me “what are we rating?” Amazingly, he hadn’t noticed my clumsy shenanigans. What did I tell him? “Spot on 20”, I said. Eventually we got to the finish and stopped rowing. I quietly reached forward and pulled the stroke coach our of the water and re-seated it in the bracket. I don’t think Mark noticed that either, at least he has never said anything. So in the end, it was all fine, and who knows, maybe we were rating 20, after all, who can dispute it?

Committee News

The WATCAC committee continues to meet, all that administration stuff and managing the fleet doesn’t pay attention to viruses and lockdowns. Our meetings are via video conference now with thanks to David for organising and setting them up. The meetings are 6:30 for 7:00 because it takes us half an hour to all get into the same on-line meeting room at the same time. It’s really quite funny in a bash-head-against-wall way. We’ve tried hard to make it David’s fault, or Jen’s, but I think the truth is that your committee in general is more comfortable on a bike than a laptop. So yep, lots of routine committee stuff going on, but there was one highlight, Rob Loughman who was already on the committee, has put his hand up to fill the position of Deputy Chairperson. Good on you Rob, I’m sure that he will bring a lot of energy and new ideas to the table.