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  1. #1
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    shenandoah 100 on rigid fork

    Okay. I thought it would be a great idea to try my Waltworks tandem fork (amazing fork!) on the SM100. Last year my teammate and I bailed after 62 miles because of the conditions which lead to no brakes and a ruined rotor. The year before that the WB100 for broke (pressed fit bottom near axle broke and came apart and we went down hard 27 miles)..the year before that we finished in 12 hrs)

    This year I prayed for better conditions......well we did not get poured on but the trails were terrible after the first dissent. On the first decent we took off and was not caught however the other rocky wet technical downhills was a different case. After this first descent I really that we would be in under 12 hrs!

    Last year we experienced similar problems on the muddy and rocky technical downhills but this year was worse on the rigid fork. The descents and singletrack were worse than my teammate has ever seen them in his 11 years of doing the race. 400 or so riders on these sloppy trails made them much worse.

    I am not sure how many tandem teams have experienced wet muddy technical descents. The rear slides around the front goes in that direction which cause the front to move that way off the trail. The front slides and makes the rear slide as well. Trying to stay in the deep grove in places was difficult and preventing from hitting boulders was challenging. Much of the off camber sections were scary since the tandem would slide down more easily. That combine with the rigid fork make for a very stressful ride. Have others experienced that?

    I had forgotten how rocky the down hill were. The rigid fork worked great around here but we learned we needed to run the tires at 55 to 60 PSI to prevent pinch flats. We were excited because the rocky sections were fine locally. The SM100 proved to be much different. I could not keep the rubber down and in control. It would bounce causing the stoker to wobble more making it even more difficult to stay on the trail and not hit bigger rock boulders. . The wet rocks then added an extra challenge with the tires at 60 psi. Not only did the rigid and tire pressure contribute to bouncing it also seam to allow the front end to wash out more causing at least 3-4 or our falls.

    We ended up walking much of the descents for the first time ever! We did find that we could ride it alone (one would walked/jogged as the other rode) Without the weight on the back it made a difference. My stoker has amazing balance and skills but it was not his fault.

    We had two major mechanicals. We had a flat that we repaired and found a little later that the sidewall was split at the bead. Luckily they had a tire at the aid station it was only a 25-30 min delay. Down the last descent of Shenandoah mountain the trail start looking a little better so we pick up some speed on to cash hard because the front end washed out on a straight part of the downhill. What????? The front derailleur cable got messed up so we fixed it in the dark and was back in business in 15 min only to get to aid station #6- 15 min after the cut off. We could have cried. Only 12 miles (mainly gravel and paved) with a smaller mountain (much smaller) and a wider less technical descent into the finish. We were allowed to take the road back to the finish and completed the SM92 not 100

    Much frustration! If I ever do it again it will be in a non race situation where we can make the decision based on the condition of the trails. The trails will be much better also because they will be fresh. But it will only be on a suspension fork. I am not crazy about the WB loop since I can not get it to not bob on the road/gravel when climbing. I may decide to sell and get a different fork. It is a great trail fork however if you are in a race with a lot of gravel / road and want to stand it can zap power and energy.

    The rigid fork does have a place and we plan to race it on the right trails and maybe do some gravel grinders. If you want a rigid fork that is tandem rated then Walt at Waltworks is your Man! It is a burley 15mm thru axle!

    I plan to post a few videos of us screaming past riders on the gravel roads. My legs were great the entire time but my upper body and feet still hurt 2 days out. shenandoah 100 on rigid fork-photo-tandem-fork.jpg

  2. #2
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    Sounds like you guys needed some seriously bigger, knobbier tires for that course.
    Way to stick with it!

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  3. #3
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    had a maxxis ardent 2.4 but maybe need bigger and knobbier. The first year we did it on a tandem and second until the fork came apart the suspension really helped on the rock stuff. We actually flew passed many single riders through the rough stuff with confidence. The rigid fork just blew my confidence. It may have been we went slower making things more difficult and causing more wiggle which is never good!

  4. #4
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    I need to proof read better before I post..sorry to the English teachers out there

  5. #5
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    There is a nice shot of you in Bruce Buckley's photos on page 3 of 6 about halfway through.
    We'll be out there together next year on the newest addition to our stable.
    (This year was his 4th and my first...after 3 years helping at CP 3.)

  6. #6
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    Were you the dudes in the tuxedo jerseys? It sounds like you need to run tubeless. 60 PSI is insanely high and the tire will not grip under pressure. I was running 25 psi and got beat up pretty bad, most of the the guys I was with run 15psi.

  7. #7
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    I only saw one tandem team out there this year - did you see a second one? I remember the tux jerseys from last year and maybe the year before as well.

    Agree about tubeless being the way to go but I think the PSI will vary with the tire choice too - at 105 lbs I ran 19 PSI on tubeless knobby nicks.

  8. #8
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    I'm not qualified to question but can't IMAGINE WHY one would try this on a non-suspension fork with 55+ PSI in the tires. I couldn't make it around my little practice loop near home with a set up like that???

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eischman View Post
    Not only did the rigid and tire pressure contribute to bouncing it also seam to allow the front end to wash out more causing at least 3-4 or our falls.
    Suspension absorbs some of the stuff that will allow a tire to keep traction. Rigid, the whole bike is reacting to the bumps instead of the front fork (and, on non-Fandangos, the rear tire/arm). Moreso given the tire pressures (tire also can't deform to absorb bumps at such pressures, losing even more traction). Instead of a suspension fork sucking up the impact, the impact is transferred straight through to the bike and the riders (noticeably your stoker). Pretty much to be expected on a full rigid tandem, given the conditions you describe the trails being in.

    Quote Originally Posted by eischman View Post
    Down the last descent of Shenandoah mountain the trail start looking a little better so we pick up some speed on to cash hard because the front end washed out on a straight part of the downhill. What?????
    My experience on the tandem, the front will wash out very quickly in certain situations, almost all of them revolve around the trail being slippery. Whereas you can unweight the front of a single bike to a large extent, it's virtually impossible to do the same on a tandem.

    Even a relatively straight section can present smaller obstacles that will have an effect on the bike, possibly alarmingly so. If you hit something small, but enough to deflect the front wheel, I can totally see where the front tire would step slightly sideways. Given speed, greasy conditions, and the general high center of gravity nature of a tandem, the riders are acting as a long and high lever, with the fulcrum way down at the bottom of the wheels. This may also have been a result of the rigid fork, depending on what the bump was, what it did to the bike, etc.

    Braver men than I for setting out on such an adventure. And you both made it back in one piece. And you learned a lot.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ev2ride View Post
    There is a nice shot of you in Bruce Buckley's photos on page 3 of 6 about halfway through.
    We'll be out there together next year on the newest addition to our stable.
    (This year was his 4th and my first...after 3 years helping at CP 3.)

    Any Link to the pics??? Also would love to see the Video.

    Was my first year doing the race although I am familiar with the trails there I dont know how you all did it, but made it to AS#6 with the mechancials is still an acomplishment on a tandem! In fact after the race I wasnt real happy with my time but after looking at the number of DNFs was just glad I finished before Dark.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  11. #11
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    Yes we were in the tux jerseys. Okayfine explained it well! We had only ridden the rigid 3 or 4 times locally and liked the way it handled on the local trails. We did get 2 pinch flats hitting a couple rocks/roots and I noticed the tires did not handle well in the corners- seamed to compress a lot (hard to explain) Yes we raced the first Ellsworth tandem and finished in 12 hrs. Next year on my new Fandando we were bombing down the second decent (real technical part even passed 4-6 single riders) and the White brothers 100 fell apart. (the bottom where it presses into the lower came apart) Last year the brake pads were destroyed after 60 mile and we did not carry a spare. This year we were prepared with extra pads. If we did not split the tire and pull out the front der cable we would have still made the cut off. Missed it by 10min.

    Okay I am not a smart man Okayfine...I do plan to race the rigid on some gravel grinders and local races. The efficiency and weight (still almost 4lbs) is nice. I plan to sell my almost new WB Loop tandem fork and have a set of tandem brakes (I will post once I get them in the classified add section) Plan to get a suspension for with a manual lockout. The Loop is a smart shock but does not fully lockout which works great on single track but on the longer rides with gravel I like a lockout

  12. #12
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    file is too big to post but I can send it to you. Yes I understand the frustration on the time. Even the fastest racers were slower and those faster racers tore the trail up! Ever heard you should not ride wet trails? Well there is a reason....but the race must go on!

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