Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Irons Couple Rides 1200 Miles in Tandem

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entering North Dakota (photo courtesy of Loren Bach)

by Joan H. Young

Dave Martus and Loren Bach, a couple from Irons, Michigan, have ridden a tandem bicycle from the Pacific Ocean to the Badlands of North Dakota. Their specially built Viewpoint Bicycle allowed Dave to ride upright in the rear, while Loren's front position was recumbent. Following the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route, they began in Anacortes, Washington. From there, they crossed Idaho and Montana, entering North Dakota and ending at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. The trip took them months of planning, and about six weeks on the road.

Climbing the mountain passes was more difficult than they expected, especially Rainy Pass. Dave and Loren had ridden over 800 miles near home, on the tandem bike, in preparation for the trip. "But there's just no place in Michigan to prepare for the mountains," Dave said. "You ride uphill for an entire day at a time." They said it was especially discouraging in the Cascades. "You'd think you were almost to the top and the road would dip down into a small valley. Then you'd have to climb out of that again."

But another day, they rode with a tail wind all day long, covering 90 miles, their best day.

Loren said, "One of the best parts was how good people were to us. Everywhere we went folks asked if there was anything we needed, or if they could help us." She explained that on their last day of riding they were completely out of food, Dave had a shoulder that was really bothering him- not helped by even prescription level pain medication, and they were just too tired to continue. They agreed that if someone offered them a ride, they would take it. A long discussion of their options resulted in the decision to return home.

They made some good friends along the way, as well as some amazing memories.

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typical camp setup (photo courtesy of Loren Bach)

As I chatted with them, Dave's eyes lit up while telling about a chance meeting with the inventor of their unusual bicycle. They saw a vehicle stop, and then realized a man was walking back toward them. He had seen the bike, and wanted to talk with someone who was actually using the design. And yet, the bicycle itself may have contributed to their problems. The frame is heavy for a touring bike, to support the front seat. With panniers, the rig weighed about 80 pounds, a significant amount of weight to move around.

The couple pedaled over 1200 miles.

Despite this accomplishment, it was a bittersweet moment when they stepped off the S.S. Badger last night in Ludington. Their original plan was to ride coast to coast. But, as we all know, sometimes plans have to be changed. Plagued with inflamed tendons and an injured shoulder, the couple reluctantly agreed that they needed to accept what they were able to accomplish, and come home to heal.

"We're going to pick up our dogs, tomorrow," Loren said. "We've really missed them."

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