For the second year running we finished off the tandem year by riding in the Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade. Cold and wet but oh so fun! This year there were 3 tandems in the parade!
Some of the roads we encountered were not so good; most were fine.
In addition to the accessories for sale in our booth, we had show bikes, rental bikes, and a bike for us to ride. Seven tandems in all, in and on our trusty van.
And then, as they say, for something completely different......our final international tandem tour for the year was to Albania. Yes I know, we hadn't ever really considered Albania as a possible tandem touring destination until we were given the opportunity to go by our friends at TourCO. That's Tour Colombia, formerly TourTK (Turkey), formerly TourBC. We had a chance to jump in on the pilot tour, to take a look at Albania as a possible tandem destination. We already knew that TourCO is great with tandems; we used them for our Tandem TourTK in 2014, a very successful tandem tour in Western Turkey.
Anyway, Albania turned out to be fantastic beyond our expectations. The country was a bit mysterious to us, as it had been so closed off from the world during all the communist years. We found warm and friendly people, a delicious Mediterranean diet, stellar scenery, mostly good roads, excellent route layouts, and really good weather. It is a challenging tour with lots of climbing, but there is much to see, do, and learn. We can recommend this trip without reservation for couples that are up to the challenging climbs of the tour.
Everything about Vietnam was delightful. The food was excellent, the people were warm and friendly, the weather was great, the roads were good and the drivers courteous, our guide was superb, the staff were attentive and helpful, the scenery was stunning, the historical significance was unforgettable. Just an excellent trip. We highly recommend it!
Another big part of each year for us is participating in the Northwest Tandem Rally, as sponsors and riders, and also with our booth at the vendor fair, pictured here. In 2017 the rally was in Seattle, based on the University of Washington campus.
Mallorca is just about perfect for a tandem vacation. First of all, the weather is stellar - cool mornings with vest and arm warmers, changing to just short sleeved jerseys by afternoon. Next, it's a cycling crazy place. Most of the infrastructure accommodates bikes and there are lots of shops and lots of quiet side roads for routing. Further, there are a wide variety of rides, from flat to as challenging as you will find anyplace. Finally, it's inexpensive. So, we spent our days riding and enjoying the scenery and warm weather, usually stopping in a small town square for a leisurely lunch, followed by an afternoon ride and then a trip to the local market to stock up for our dinner we prepared back at our villa, the latter complete with pool, wifi, satellite TV, washing machine, fully equipped kitchen, etc. Hmmmmmmm.........wonder if we should just move there?!
And every year I look forward to working the Co-Motion booth at the annual Seattle Bike Expo.
After Mallorca was a tour across Northern Spain from Bilbao to Barcelona, along the southern edge of the Pyrenees Mountains. The idea here was to assess the suitability of this area for tandem touring, as well as to gauge the tandem capabilities of the tour company we contracted with. This turned out to be one of the most challenging tours we've done. It was hot and there was plenty of climbing. On the other hand, the scenery in this area is beyond compare. Our advice to tandem couples contemplating this: by all means consider it, but be advised it's mountainous and the weather can be very hot the time of year we went (May).
Next we were off to Mallorca with a group of 3 tandem couples, to enjoy a bit of sunshine and warm weather while assessing this Mediterranean island as a possible tandem destination. Answer in one word: Yes!
The Tandem Year in Review - 2017
For us personally and for our business, 2017 was a stellar tandem cycling year, with lots of activity in the shop and with lots of international travel to research and to share in tandem tours. And pretty much all of it was fun. We even managed to sneak in some activities off the bike!
As we look forward to 2018, the tandeming activities on the docket again feature lots of travel and touring; we will spend considerable time back in France, tandem touring in Burgundy and Normandy. Also, we plan to once again be at the NW Tandem Rally, this year in Albany, Oregon, with our vendor fair booth and with tandems to rent.
Throughout 2018 we hope you will let us know how we can help you to either begin or to continue your tandem journey together. Just get in touch to start a conversation: firstname.lastname@example.org
And now, please enjoy a few photos and descriptions from our tandem adventures in 2017:
It's a poor country with a rural, agrarian economy, for the most part.
Part of our ride was along the Adriatic Coast of Albania. They call this their Riviera. We ate well!
It's a very pretty, mountainous country.
Even though busy in our booth, we were able to get out for some rides.
One of the many educational offerings we have for tandem couples is a hands-on class in how to pack their tandem for travel. We do this here in the shop once or twice a year, free of charge to all comers, whether or not they purchased a tandem from us.
And speaking of education, I furthered my own, completing pro mechanic training at UBI in March. I also took their disc brake specialty class in the Fall.
In lieu of attending Interbike, Co-Motion is trying out the concept of an annual "Dealer Camp" to interact with dealers and to pass on information about new models and new technology. We were honored to be invited to the inaugural camp this fall. It was a delightful weekend of riding, factory touring, conversations, and shared meals with Co-Motion staff as well as other dealers from around the country.
The year started off with one of our best experiences ever - a month long trip to Vietnam, taking in Hanoi and Halong Bay, followed by cycling from Hue to the Mekong Delta, via Saigon, and then back to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). We set up a tour for 3 tandems and one single rider, using Pedaltours. They are great! They did an excellent job overall and were very good at handling tandems. We can highly recommend Vietnam as a tandeming destination, and we very much liked Pedaltours. I might mention that their price, for more than 3 weeks, almost all inclusive, was lots lower than another tandem tour we looked into that went (partly via river cruise) for only 9 days.
The pilot Albania cycling tour group, at tour's end in Vlore, Albania. Love the colorful jerseys the organizers had made for us.
The roads are quiet and there is no doubt about the beauty of the area, but you do have to be prepared for lots of climbing in intense heat.
Another annual favorite is our ride to the Skagit County Tulip Festival. Best way to see it is by tandem!
It's been a super tandem year for us, full of miles, fun, adventure, learning, and shared experiences. We now know lots more about great places to travel and tour with a tandem and we can't wait to share that new knowledge with you.
Let us know how we can help you to begin or to continue your shared tandem journey. We wish you Happy New Year and many safe and happy miles in 2018!