While we didn't get the 8 Freight for the express purpose of carting Harry to gymnastics, that's what I'm doing for most of my long-bike miles. Twice or three times a week we head out to the gym. I get hot and sweaty on the way, he gets hot and sweaty while I cool down, then I get hot and sweaty for a second time while he cools down. Most of the time it's really easy and we zoom, but occasionally it feels like really hard work. He's not getting any smaller, obviously, and sooner or later his growth will outpace my legs' ability to get stronger.
Since hauling Harry round the Welland Wonder 50km last September, I've been turning over the idea of a tandem. I was cautious though, because I knew nothing about tandems, they're not cheap, and I didn't want to end up with a lemon or something that was too large or too small. What nudged me over the edge was one of the other gymnastics-Dads. He occasionally brings his son on tandem, and a few weeks ago we had a bit of a chat which ended with me sitting Harry on the back of his bike. At the end of the conversation I was armed with a name - Dawes Discovery Twin. A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Harry's feet weren't quite reaching the full extent of the pedals, so I wasn't in any rush but a few days later there I was browsing eBay late at night. There aren't a terrific number of tandems up for auction and they fall into distinct categories. There are the vintage frames people have found in the back of their Grandad's garage, there are much loved tourers that have done thousands of miles, and there are the virtually unused machines that were bought because it seemed like a good idea but it didn't work out that way. Nearly every one had to be collected so the pool of potential bidders was small. Prices were not outrageous. Looked like the chances of getting a decent machine were actually pretty good. I followed a couple of auctions in far-flung parts of the kingdom to get a bit of a measure of things. Going for half list price at around £500, Discovery Twins were well within my bike-spend comfort-zone.
Two days later, one came up for sale in Dudley.
And went over my budget. *Sob*
Another Discovery Twin came up for sale the next day. It was miles away, in the little Dorset town of Wimborne. Where Natalie's mother lives.
I won the auction - no way I wasn't going to win that - and seller Rob pedalled round to my mother-in-law's and stashed it in her garage.
That was over a fortnight ago and I was finally able to bring it home this morning. The bike's in terrific order - it's a 2006 model I think, but has clearly only done a handful of miles. It's gone far enough for the gear cables to have stretched a bit, but not enough to noticably wear tyres or brakes. I had to tighten the mudguard stays, but otherwise it's in near-perfect nick.
I was right about Harry not being big enough - he'll need to grow another 3 or 4 inches. Unfortunately, Natalie had walked him to school and he'd be expecting me to collect him on the tandem. So while I was right, I had to be wrong. By swapping the stock seatpost for the one on Daniel's old mountain bike, I was able to drop the back seat sufficiently to avoid an emergency session on the rack.
It only took a few yards to get the hang of synchronised pedalling, so I've entered us for this year's Welland Wonder 50km. He can help push.