My wife, Anita, and I have been avid tandem riders for over 30 years. In 1984 we traded in our old bike for a new Santana. We got involved with independent tandem touring. Our fully loaded bike included five panniers filled with 70 pounds of luggage. In 1985 we rode across the Canadian prairie to attend my high school reunion in Manitoba. Our adventures have included a number of tours including Netherlands, Denmark, Canadian Maritime Provinces, and many tours in California.
In later years we got involved with Santana tours. We found the rides planned and supported by professionals offer more luxury for the aging riders. With so many riders at these rallies it was always possible to find some one who rode at our speed so we had the added advantage of camaraderie. We even thought about upgrading our 1984 model.Guess we believed this would continue forever but age and health caught up with us sooner than expected and safety concerns caused us to hang it up. So then we were dealing with a form of tandem withdrawal syndrome. This started me thinking about a 4 cycle tandem. I fortunately found that Lightfoot Cycles makes a vehicle in Darby, Montana, reasonable close to our home in Sandpoint. We made a trip to Darby to test ride the cycle and to see the assembly factory. We enjoyed meeting the young couple that operate Lightfoot. It is a small operation where vehicles are put together one at a time. It was reminiscent of Santana 30 years ago. We learned quickly that the 4 cycle is not the same sport and we needed to accept that we were starting on a new adventure. A child on a tricycle knows he cannot compete with his friends on a bicycle. We understood we would never ride with two wheel tandems. We all know the expression “like riding a bicycle”. We learn balance so well it seems like a set of inherited skills. We bank around turns, adjust traversing a steep driveway, or sliding off the road. The 4 wheeler is comfortable to ride but we take any challenge very slowly and with caution. Although the 4 cycle comes with a multiple of gears, it is best ridden in narrow range on gentle terrain. The vehicle is ideal for Sandpoint. Our terrain is gentle, and we have extensive bike paths that accommodate our cycle. Our range for a ride is about 12 miles and Sandpoint has many destinations to accommodate our range. How about transporting? I attached a winch to the hitch on my jeep. Anita turns the crank as I guide the cycle up onto the roof of the jeep.
One highlight adventure came with riding the cycle in the Sandpoint July 4th parade with our Pond Oreille Peddler Club. We carried the club banner at the speed of the marchers while the other riders rode circles around us. The animation was impressive. Pictures appeared on Facebook.
Our cycle gets a lot of attention. It is a novelty as ours is the only one in Sandpoint. People note how much material is involved. For example our gearing includes 6 derailleurs. The captain controls the steering and brakes but the gears and peddling are independent. The usual reaction is that this cycle must be prohibitively expensive. However, if you look at the want ads in DoubleTalk you find our cycle is comparably priced compared to a high quality tandem. Anyone who could afford a new Santana could afford the 4 cycle. While people tend to compare it to a child’s tricycle or a novelty toy, we are grateful to still be peddling!![Visit http://www.lightfootcycles.com/archive/products/duo/ for additional information – Ed.]