Brian Managan knew there was an inherent risk in inviting Karen out on his tandem bike early in their relationship because there is a saying about tandems: whichever direction your relationship is going, a tandem will get you there faster. But Brian, who had recently moved back to his hometown of Rochester, New York, had a few things working to his advantage — like the fact that Karen was also an avid cyclist who had a dream of someday crossing the country by bike. (Karen and Brian also discovered they went to the same high school, although she doesn’t remember him. He claims it was because she was interested in his older brother. “I like to think she did well in the long run,” said Brian.)
And ride across the country is exactly what they did to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. Starting in San Francisco, they pedaled their RANS Screamer recumbent tandem with a BOB trailer along the Western Express to Pueblo, Colorado, where they joined the TransAm Trail. On the 10-mile stretch up to Monarch Pass, they had three hours of hard pedaling to take in the view, but on the descent, the Screamer lived up to its name.
“I didn’t know how fast we were going, but I couldn’t figure out why cars weren’t passing us,” said Karen. “I found out we were doing 50 miles an hour and we could take corners faster than the cars.” And pulling a trailer while descending at 50 mph on seven-percent grades? “Rock-solid stable,” said Karen.
They took the BOB out again this past summer to ride the Canada section of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route but opted to pull it with their full-suspension Ventana mountain tandem. “We love tandem touring. It’s not for everyone. But in our case, it works out great.”
The Managans are part of a dedicated group of tandem enthusiasts that gathers every fall at New York’s Allegeny State Park for the Fall Allegeny Rally of Tandems, or FART. This will be year 23. “It’s the oldest, longest-running tandem mountain bike rally that we know of,” said Brian. As this year’s hosts, the Managans promise attendees dirt, beer, food, campfires, night rides, and raucous conversation. “It’s mostly to eat and socialize,” said Karen.
The Managans’ roles as bike ambassadors don’t end after FART weekend. Brian recently started leading tours for Adventure Cycling. “Cycling has been my life since the beginning. It’s my identity,” he said. Four years ago, the Managans furthered their support of Adventure Cycling by becoming Life Members.
“Bicycling needs organizations like Adventure Cycling providing advocacy and education so we can continue to have safe roads and get more people involved. When we realized how long each of us had been a member individually, we probably already paid for a life membership long before we actually did it,” said Karen.
“I’ve been an evangelist of cycling, and more specifically touring, ever since I started doing it myself. I realized at some point that Adventure Cycling’s mission was unlikely to ever change from matching MY mission,” said Brian. “To borrow a phrase from the movie This is Spinal Tap, bicycle touring has turned my life up to 11.”
Story by: April Cypher is Adventure Cycling’s development coordinator. In elementary school, she attempted to ride tandem across town on a single, banana-seat bike. It ended quickly and poorly.
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It takes more than rain to stop this bicycle traveler
“Nothing I did had more impact on my life. If Adventure Cycling wouldn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have had the guts to try something like that.”
“I realized at some point that Adventure Cycling’s mission was unlikely to ever change from matching MY mission.”
“My first bike tour was one of the most valuable things I have done for myself ... I wanted to encourage people, especially women, to go for it!”
“I’m a cyclist, and it seems like the appropriate thing to do, to support an organization that does what I feel is so much good in the cycling community.”