The title of this article is probably as confusing as a New York Times headline. Sorry: Bob and Rose (aka “Thunder” and “Lightning”) have adapted to a new sport – riding an electric-assisted tandem bicycle. We chose the nom de guerres from Thomas Edison’s quote that “Thunder is impressive and Thunder is good, but it is Lightning that does the work.” Bob is the Captain, so people hear him thunder “On your LEFT, Sir” (or Ma’am). Rose is the Stoker, who does the work of propelling us. Some Villagers see us and shout with little originality “She’s not pedaling!” They don’t know that Rose is doing most of the power pedaling.
Each of us has ridden over 150K miles since we gave up distance running twenty years ago. We ran repeats of the Army 10-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon. We were half-fast runners, finishing races in twice the time as the African speedsters. Our knees and hips endured painful beatings, so we turned to bicycling. Gabe and Diana Mirkin introduced us to the joys of tandem riding during a roadside medical exam. Gabe prophesized our marriage would fail if we couldn’t ride a tandem. Five tandems later, we’re still married. Recently, the Mirkin’s introduced us to electric bikes. We scoffed when Gabe proclaimed better work-outs due to higher cadences.
After some time, we saw the E-Tandem (hence “E-T”) that Bob Thompson, the PANTHERS Tandem Club President, built by converting an old tandem. We decided to give it a go. We converted a fifteen-year-old titanium tandem that we crashed on December 6, 2010, our “Day of Infamy” when a Villager right-hooked us. We repaired that bike, hung it in the garage, and eventually gave it to Bob Thompson to resurrect the phoenix with an E-T rebuild.
We have flown E-T over 4,500 miles. E-T is heavy at 58 pounds riding weight. E-T has a strong motor with six assist levels and a throttle. We have 60 speeds with the 10-speed cassette. We prefer using zero assist, applying the throttle as needed. The electric motor gives us advantages starting, on inclines, in wind, and getting out of the way. We ride 25 miles per day. We are safety-conscious, wearing bright traffic-green jerseys and helmets. We have 1,500 lumen flashing head-tail lights as well as Go-Pro cameras front-rear, plus a 130-decibel air horn to alert cross traffic. We hope that you see us! We also teach bike safety with our LCI friends. Join us at The Enrichment Academy or, schedule a class for your community group. BTW, Dr. Mirkin was right.