Al Ruesink’s Tandem Numbers

Al Ruesink is a long-time BBC member. Indeed, he was one of the riders on the very first Ride Across Indiana, camping out on Dave Tanner’s parents’ farm near Danville, Illinois, before biking across the state along a more northerly route. Are there any others still in the club besides Al and Dave?

Al is also known around town for the unique tandem he and his wife Kathy ride. It might be called a “semi-recumbent”: The captain rides in an ordinary upright position behind while the stoker sits low in front with legs extended forward. Maybe you’ve seen them!

Recently Al got to reminiscing about that tandem. What follows are some of his recollections. Like some other cyclists I know he really keeps track of numbers. (Unlike me, who only vaguely knows when and what repairs have been made, how many miles on my current tires, etc.)

In Al’s own words,

We ordered the bike in March, 1984, and picked it up at the Indy airport on Sept. 22 that year.  The 2.8 miles today make a total mileage of 59,303.0 miles.  And I took a bit of time today to break that down into 5-year totals, which are: 16,332.8, 14,695.0, 8,672.6, 6,881.0, 7,216.4, and 5,505.2.  The last total is 4 months short and alas I won’t be able to catch up to the usual standard.   We have recorded 10 rides of 100 miles or longer, but none recently.  The purchase price was $2355 and to that I have added some $3,629.66 for replacements and repairs–tires, tubes, hubs, rims, bearings, headsets, and so forth.  That total would have been much higher had I not done almost all of the repairs myself so there have been essentially no labor costs.  If you have done the math, you see that the average cost per mile is just slightly above 10 cents.  It is fair to assume that we have averaged 13 mph while riding, which gives us a healthful recreational cost of about $1.30/hour.

I wonder if you are still reading; the numbers may well have glazed your eyes.  Let me wake you up with brief accounts of our three major accidents.   The first was on a solo trip that Kathy and I were doing in ’85.  While riding along the waterfront in Madison, IN, I hit a very diagonal railroad track that threw the front of the bike sideways, depositing both of us on the pavement.   Kathy got a good case of knee and hip road-rash but we patched up ourselves and the bike and pedaled on to the east along the Ohio.  Three days later we had our longest ride ever, some 111 miles, as we did the last portion of the ride home with the wind at our back.  Our second accident happened almost in slo-mo as we were riding east in a group along Third Street out toward Smith Road.   Someone stopped in front of us quickly and unexpectedly.  As we bumped their tire from the rear with our front pedal assembly, they rolled forward and lifted our front wheel off the street.  Unable to steer, we slowly toppled over and someone coming right behind us rode over our horizontal rear wheel and pretzeled it.  I pushed the bike home holding the rear  wheel off the ground.  The last accident was perhaps the most spectacular of all.  We had ridden north on Kinser Pike and continued across route 37 onto Bottom Road.   There is a great hill there to scoot down, with a bridge and then a turn to the right at the bottom.  Usually we are going about 18 mph when we straighten out there.  And that is where our front tire blew.   And I mean BLEW!!  I kept us upright on just the rim for a few yards, but then we were down.   Both of us got road-rash from this one.   I hitched back into town to get the car to haul our bike home.  No chance to boot up the tire and fix it.  On each side of the 20-inch front tire, there was a 13-inch long blow-out hole!   Since then I have tried not to use tires for quite so long.