We caught up with Victoria Beach and Mike Hoyle and learn about the tandem bike that nearly didn’t happen at all.
The Daccordi tandems are handmade in Tuscany and the Euride team had a couple on order for the vision impaired squad they had built for the Nationals but it got tight.
‘They got lost is Singapore and it ended up that they weren’t going to get here in time. We still had bike but they weren’t these ones.
It ended up that Phil from Norwood Parade Cycles who is the only person in Australia who can import Daccordis helped out. They arrived on the day of the time trial so we were over in Echuca. We had the time trail, the bikes arrived in Adelaide, Phil drove to the airport, picked them up, assembled this bike in like four hours. My mum drove it overnight to get to us at 9pm. We put Kieran and Dave on it and they won the gold medal in the tandem. They beat a tandem that has never been beaten on Australia soil before. We love this bike’.
The Euride Mercedes Benz Tandem Project
The Euride Mercedes Benz Tandem Project has been running for about 2 years and is the only team with 10 visually impaired riders, many of whom have never been on a bike before. They are put through competency training, graduate to advanced training, and then road race training. Now they are all very competent, ferocious racers.
The team has a rigorous vetting process since many people hear about the team and contact them wanting to get involved. The process is best explained by Victoria, ‘we’re not a social outreach team, we’re not a nice bunch of people to ride with. We’re a hard core racing team. Our pilots are all riders in their own right and they need to be training. They can’t be babysitting. We’ve all got jobs, we can’t do both’.
‘We have a lot of athletes approach us – we put them through a trial, give them a couple of goes and then we have to make a blunt appraisal. Some of them, if they’re not in enough physical condition – too heavy, not fit enough – I can’t do that to my pilots because you burn pilots out. If they are getting crushed every ride they filter out of the program. And the only reason this program works is because I have a network of 18 pilots who get these guys out on the road 2-3 times a week. That’s why we’re so successful – we’re the only ones who run it the way we do.’
It is a mammoth task to organise the team – Victoria has a master plan but there’s so much more to consider – the individual stokers and pilots, their sizes, where they are based and the bikes themselves. Some bikes are too tall for the pilots with many of the female pilot requiring use of the smaller front end bikes. With 25 people, pairing them up properly and keeping the team on track is a big job.
They did the Norton Summit on a tandem with some high performance stokers – that’s 160kms including Checkers – 5.5 hours in the hills ‘we don’t muck around’ adds Mike.
Considering that the stokers are visually impaired we were interested to learn how they handle cornering. ‘Firstly you put one leg down so they know there’s a corner coming up and if they are a bit timid I’ll call out ‘hard corner coming’, says Mike
‘I’ve had stokers cry on me cause I’m cornering too hard and they’ve gotten scared. It’s a hard thing to do. If you close your eyes it’s really disorienting and actually feels like you’re going backwards or the wrong way round.’
With riders with a B1 or B2 classification they can barely see shadows so it can be confusing when you can’t re-orientate with sight but apparently they just get used to it. When doing laps, after a while it can cause you to think you’re going the wrong way.
You can read about Kieren Modra, a World Record holder in the 4km pursuit.
The Alpine Classic – Tandem Style
Victoria and Mike have done the Alpine Classic on the bike pictures and achieved a time of 7hrs 38 mins over 200kms. ‘We could have gone faster but we were scared’, jokes Mike. Downhill the tandems can go faster than a single but uphill, because you are both pedalling at a slightly different time you lose a bit of power.
‘When we started off people were calling out things like ‘well done’ and ‘keep it up’ but about 5 hours late they were all ‘how are you doing it’, adds Victoria.
Learn more about Norwood Parade Cycles http://www.norwoodparadecycles.com.au/
Learn more about Euride Mercedes Benz Tandem Project http://euridemercedesbenzadelaideracing.com/category/tandem-project/athlete-profiles/
Learn more about Daccordi Tandem bikes http://www.daccordicicli.com/eng/prodotti_carbonio.html