July 22nd, Day 34: Mauston, WI to Fond du Lac, WI: 97 miles, 1658 ft. ascent

I am incredibly indebted to my great friend, John Rigg, for indirectly finding both of my tandem pilots.

James used to work with John, who introduced him to me 4 years ago to pilot Genevieve on a 100 km charity night ride around London. I had not seen James since then as he has been up in Edinburgh pursuing his PhD in Machine Learning. However, when I mentioned the [email protected] concept to John he immediately suggested James as a candidate pilot. Although James was keen to take the front seat, he could only do half the ride. But he instantly solved the other half of the problem by proposing that his close friend Alastair Heggie take the first half of the journey. I had never met Alastair and he had never ridden a tandem, but as most of the group will testify, he is, like James, a strong and safe rider (and a reasonably quick learner).

Without James and Alastair I would not have been able to undertake this ride. Not only have they been strong and safe pilots for Genevieve, but they have also both worked tirelessly on the other support tasks necessary to make the ride work for me. The almost endless list of chores includes: maintaining Genevieve, taking poll position in the queue for the hotel's only washer/drier after a day cycling in the rain, posting the blog, taking silly photos, following the navigation instructions - and the list goes on.

Sadly I have to report that Owers blotted his copy book today. For some reason he felt it was within his remit to compose childish doggerel concerning the effect of badly maintained road shoulders on his rear end. While one might commend him for this initiative in principle, it sadly failed in the execution in two important regards:
- the verse barely rhymed, certainly didn't scan and was entirely inappropriate for publication in this discerning journal for discerning readers
- the task took up such a disturbingly large proportion of Owers' brain cycles that he made the most elementary of schoolboy navigation errors and inexcusably added a couple of miles to a day that was already A Long Ride.

But fortunately for Owers he got a chance to redeem himself when our back tyre gave up the ghost after 2,500 miles of thumping over pretty ropy road surfaces with the full weight of yours truly perched immediately above the rear wheel.

Chris poses proudly with his now paper thin ex rear tyre (RIP)

Unsurprisingly we punctured about 20 miles from our destination, but we were fortunately carrying a folding spare outer and several new inners, so within a pretty impressive 10 minutes James got us back on the road (Note to Heggie: this was without the help of Speedy Mike).

And for good measure, James did then really put his foot down, so we completed the 97 miles in a very tidy 17.1 mph.