Tandem Cycling - Quitting
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12-19-03, 07:27 PM
After my last crash on my single, my husband is trying to steer me away from riding my single bike as much and concentrating on riding on the tandem. We just started riding a tandem and have only been on it 3 times before my crash. Granted, I'm not the best rider in the world but none of my 4 or 5 crashes in the last 5 years have been my fault, I don't think. One time my clipless pedal wouldn't release, another time I hit a lip to a driveway wrong and this last crash, I'm not sure what happen but I flipped over my handbars and cracked some ribs. This is the most serious I have ever been hurt, usually it's just been road rash. I love my husband dearly and know he is just looking out for my well being but I'm afraid if I don't get to ride my single like I want I will loose all my freedom. It might just be for the time being that since I am hurt so badly my husband thinks the next time it might even be even more serious a crash. I'm not getting any younger (52), but I still think I should be able to do what I want. My husband says there is a lot less chance of us going down on the tandem and he is probably right considering he has been riding the same length of time as me and has never gone down. Before the crash, on Saturdays we would ride together and then on Sunday he would go on a group ride and I would ride my single where I wanted. Should I give in to him and just give up on riding like I want? :(
I don't think you should give up your single - riding is about freedom, no point in riding if you have to give that up. One thing you should do is concentrate on you riding skills - you say none of the crashes were your fault, but based on the circumstances you gave, they were all your fault. Lessons to be learned for the examples you gave in order:
1 The clipless "wouldn't release " - clipless don't release, the rider disengages them.
2 Learn what angle and speed to approach curbs and driveways.
3 Bikes don't crash themselves.
The only way you'll get better is by riding more - and accepting and learning from your mistakes.
12-19-03, 11:51 PM
I agree that you should not give up your single riding of the road bike. You obviously enjoy the freedom of the road on it. If you have had trouble with the release of the clips on your peddles you should analyse why it happened. Perhaps you are riding with shoes that have too soft a sole. I know that in my case, my toring shoes are too flexible for my Time pedals. Maybe you need pedals with adjustable tension for release. I think you have by nature learned the lesson of the lip on the driveway. Those sort of things you don't have to be told twice. I have been riding many many years and still find a good road bike a thrill and it still gives me a sense of freedom.
12-20-03, 03:53 AM
After my last crash on my single, my husband is trying to steer me away from riding my single bike as much and concentrating on riding on the tandem. ... Should I give in to him and just give up on riding like I want? :(
Absolutely not; well, not if you like riding your personal bike. Don't get me wrong, I love riding our tandem with Debbie more than anything else in the world. But, I wouldn't and couldn't imagine not riding a personal bike now and again and neither could Debbie who basically started out riding as an adult on our first tandem. Her personal bike riding started a year or two after that.
Now, since I'm not a marriage counsellor, I'll beg off giving too much advice because what you've got in a relationship issue; not a cycling issue.
Bottom Line: There are two types of cyclists: the ones who have gone down and the ones who haven't gone down but will -- if they ride enough.
Cycling carries with it some risks associated with accidents. Some riders are "lucky" and avoid accidents or falls for many years. Others may have bad luck or stumble now and again coming up the learning curve. If he is truly concerned about your bike handling skills -- and if you think he might be right (i.e., if you have some self-doubt about your skills) -- ask him to help you find a riding coach who will work with you to improve your skills and/or take an Effective Cycling Course.
Just my .02.
Couple quick notes:
I have been told a few times that as SPD cleats wear out, they become harder and harder to twist out of the pedal to release. If you were using old SPD cleats when you couldn't get out, there is a good chance your problem was caused by deficient equipment.
One road bike crash a year over a five year period is excessive unless you are pursuing an intensive racing program. You should do whatever you think you need to do to improve your riding skills. I suggest riding with a pack and picking the best role models to emulate. You are not looking for the fastest riders. You are looking for the smoothest rider, with perfect position in the pack, predictable gradual movements, and high cadence. This person never seems to work as hard as others, and only gets dropped after stronger riders have already been dropped.
No matter how much it hurts, you have to analyze what happened. Your goal is to avoid repetition. That's why you say:
1. Why couldn't I get my cleat out of the pedal? Reduce pedal release tension, open up insufficient space around pedal with lug sole MTB/touring shoes, replace worn cleats, etc.
2 Why did I fall? Always approach obstacles that could divert the front wheel on a course that is as near as possible to perpendicular. Unload the front wheel by shifting your weight back or jumping both wheels over the obstacle.
3. Why did I flip over my handlebars? Figure it out.
The other reason to ride with a pack is that hopefully somebody else will be challenged by a difficulty that you have not yet encountered, and you will be able to find out how to handle the problem by observation before you actually have to deal with the problem yourself.
You might think you are losing your freedom on a tandem, and for you, you might be right. Don't think for a second, though, that stoker is not a skilled and valued position. All you have to do is to lean out of the vertical plane of the frame and watch the tandem turn that way as well, to discover that a poor job of stoking can be painful for the whole team and others around them. I know stokers who would tell you that the teamwork and the freedom (yup, that's the word they use) to put their heads down and make serious power without worrying about all the management issues that are the responsibility of the captain (steer, brake, shift, don't shift, faster, slower, chase that break that is going to stay away, or wait for the pack to chase down the break that will not stay away, make the others hurt going uphill, make the others hurt going downhill, sprint for the sign now or later, etc.) is invigorating.
May I suggest that you find the best tandem captain around (ask other stokers who have shopped around!) and ask him for a ride. Talk first about what kind of ride (flat, hilly, curvy, straight, fast, slow, hard, easy, competitive, cooperative, etc.) you want and what kind of shape you are in. It's about the teamwork. A broader range of experiences with captains might put you in a better position to know what you should ask for.
12-20-03, 07:32 PM
Yes, obey your husband. He knows what is best for you even though you may not like it. The man is the head of the marriage.......... But.... the woman is the neck and can turn the head any way she wants, so maybe you should just do whatever makes you happy and tell him to find another tandem partner.
12-28-03, 09:52 AM
My wife and I tandem cycle. I have also crashed. I thought I would be as good as anyone to help you out.
My best buddy is a woman 83 years old and still biking 10K a year. She rides in the Senior Olympics - Silver Nationally and Gold in my state. You are a youngster.
The crash you had with clipless pedals does not count. Get rid of the pedals. They will cause a crash with even the most experienced rider sooner or later. I had a chain lock on me in the wrong position. Down I went. No way out. Really strong riders have blown out their knees when a chain locks. Clip pedals are more forgiving. Certainly rather than giving up the sport, go with bare pedals.
Catching an edge can send anyone down. Sometimes if you catch and edge, instead of fighting it, your go with it. It all depends. Having good vision and being alert is also needed. Knowledge of how to handle the situation can improve your chances of getting through it without a crash. You should work through the crash again with an expert (a BMX expert is more tuned in on how to shift your weight in order to control you bike). Knowledge of how to tuck and roll can help reduce injuries when it happens.
The going over the handlebars needs further explanation. Here is a way that I nearly went over the handlebars:
I came out of the seat on a rough road. The used the front brake suddenly because a truck stopped in front of me. The quick grabbing of the front brake sent my body leaning forward pushing may hand harder on the front brake. I was now leaning too far over the handle bars and my rear wheel left the ground. I was wobbling out of control.
Most people that experience this and determine they went over the handlebars because the front brake stopped the wheel and flipped the bike. What actual cause this near crash was that I did not brace my arms to keep my body from moving forward when I stopped quickly. If this sounds like your situation, never come out of the seat except for climbing slowly. Always lock your arms when applying the brakes.
Tandeming is great! My wife loves to enjoy the scenery while I do all the stressful stuff. The golden rule of tandeming is; the rider on the back cannot make a mistake. The driver causes any error or problem. Some drivers want to blame the rider in the back for problems (starting, turning, balancing). That is the type of person that blames their spouse when they hit their tumb with a hammer. It just cannot be.
Since your husband seems to be a very solid rider and/or much luckier than you, you might find tandem riding lots of fun. Cycling is always dangerous. There are things that no one can control. In the end, you have to weigh the fun, health, and safety of cycling against your other interests.
One word about tandems that many may not realize:
Two riders on hills and only rim brakes will sooner or later blow their tires off their bike because of heating. You need more than two rim brakes if you have hills where you live. Cautious riders that go slow down steep hills are at greater risk than the hotdogs that bomb every hill they see. Use drum brakes or now disc brakes to supplement your rim brakes.
12-28-03, 07:21 PM
Well I went back out and wanted to know exactly what I hit and am glad I did. I was really concerned about the large speed bump on the left and never even saw smaller one--what a stupid place to put one! But I should have been paying more attention. My pedals are Candy SL and I came out of them as soon as I went down. When the whole thing happened it was so fast it didn't have time to scare me so I am ready to climb back on a bike as soon as the ribs are healed (hopefully in a couple more weeks). My husband is an excellent bike rider and I'm sure as soon as we get more time under our belt getting use to the tandem (we have only ridden a tandem 3 times) that I will get more confortable with it. We have discussed what I will need in terms of what he has to do NOT to scare me, coasting on down hill, not going to fast, things like that. We also have a drag brake which will help on the downhill parts. I'm a scared person by nature, I scare myself when I ride, so I think he will try his best to keep me happy. He still wants me to ride the tandem more then the single but I have told him I still want to ride my single, I don't really think he will have an issue with it once we start riding again. My husband is still bragging to everyone that we will be back out on the tandem soon and I don't want to disappoint him, I am looking forward to it. Being homebound is getting old real fast--thanks for all the advise. Will keep you posted when we are back on the tandem.
01-02-04, 11:35 AM
Thanks for the picture! That does look like a nasty bump to hit when you are not expecting it. I know of two people that lost control when hitting small pieces of 2 x 4 lumber when not expecting it.
Let's all hope that you have already had your share of bad luck and now you can cycle for the rest of your life worry free.
The rider on the back of a tandem has every right to ask the driver of a tandem to slow down. I listen closely to any complaint my stoker has so that I can keep her happy. A strong rider can get their thrills by going fast on the uphills (very hard on a tandem and for me in general). I go faster on the downhills than I feel comfortable with when I am off the bike. When you are bombing down the hill thinking about pedaling the next uphill in front of you, it does not seem so dangerous. That same kind of problem exists for the captain and the stoker. The stoker has more time to worry than the captain does.
Best Wishes and Happy New Year!
01-03-04, 09:24 PM
I got my wife started riding on a tandem and weened her from the tandem first to a hard-tail mountain bike just to cruise around on the streets and then to a road bike. She did have issues stopping, clipping out and such but I just encouraged her to keep trying.
What eventually worked was I found a 3 mile loop that was pretty quiet and she goes out and rides it by herself for like 17-20 miles every Sunday morning. After a few months of that she became a whole different rider. Her skills are getting much better and her speed has gone up a ton!
The benifit of riding a single, when you do ride the tandem you both are stronger from riding the singles so riding the tandem becomes a pleasure!
We are taking the tandem out tomorrow! Wewhoo First tandem ride of the new year!!!
01-06-04, 07:49 AM
Litespeed - glad to see you are back in the saddle based on your other threads... I just wanted to add a side note about clipless. Have you tried the mountain bike clipless (they are not just for the knobby tire crowd, you know :D )?
I find that they are so much easier to get in and out of than road versions - plus you get the added bonus of being able to walk "normally" off the bike because the cleat. Find a set that has a large platform which will help with feet comfort on longer rides. My hubby/captain still prefers the road clipless for himself, but there is no rule that you have to match pedals (just shirts :p ).
01-06-04, 07:22 PM
The clipless pedals I have on my single and the tandem are Candy SL. They are a mountain bike pedal with a small platform which I really like. My husband even put the Candy's on the captain pedals just so the bike would look good. He rides on Coombe pedals on his single, so he has to make the transition from his pedals to the tandem plus the different shifting on the tandem when he rides--he does a good job, just takes a minute to think about what he is doing on what bike. I will let you know how Saturday goes. :)
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