Tandem Cycling - Different Riding Efforts
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04-23-10, 05:40 PM
I'm sure this is discussed somewhere, but didn't even know what terms to use to do a search. I like to ride a fair amount harder than my wife, so we rarely ride (separate bikes) together. I don't like to ride as slow as she does, and she doesn't like to ride as fast as I do.
Are we a disaster waiting to happen regarding tandem riding in the future? We tried it once, and although I was sweating bullets and peeling off layers, she (truly, I think) thought she was working just as hard as I was. I don't mind working a little harder, but can such a match work? She likes the concept, and we've talked about it for after both kids are off to college (in two years), and on into retirement.
What input or insight can people offer? Is there hope? What can we do to help it work for us?
04-23-10, 06:51 PM
We are in the same situation and our tandem is our only chance to ride together!
There was a thread that covered the subject a while ago. Although the question was not the same, you will find what you need in the replies :
Here is what I had to say:
My experience is that a tandem can be the missing link to join two different cyclists in one single ride.
It works! But...
As other said, communication is key, as is respect.
By that I mean that, if riding the same bike allows to match tow different effort levels, you still have to compromise on goals and riding style. Even if a member of the team can put in less effort, a hilly ride will still feel like a hilly ride, a fast ride like fast ride, a long ride as long ride, etc.
Sharing the bike allows for a quantitative combination of effort (watts); qualitative discrepancies will still be an issue.
Also, given that the pilot is the more accomplished cyclist, the team's riding style (effort, handling the bike, etc.) will evolve no faster than the stoker's ease to go along with the pilot's agility/temerity/effort type/pedal stroke/cadence.
Communication: with time, some sort of symbiosis develops between the captain and the stoker, until then, the captain should announce his every moves to the stoker. Gear changes, stops, coasting, resume pedalling, sharp turns, etc. Eventually, the stoker will feel most of this through his pedals and so much talking won't be necessary. The captain should also call major bumps and the like since the stoker can't see ahead.
There is no way to guarantee you love tandem riding but there are ways to avoid it being a bad experience.
04-23-10, 07:33 PM
It works great, as long as you're not the kind of guy who would get upset that the stoker is getting a "free ride". You can each ride to your desired intensity level and still ride "TWOgether".
However, you may have to deal with: cadence mismatches (you have to take the lowest cadence) or a chatty stoker when you're suffering. I don't think these are big problems.
04-23-10, 08:20 PM
Actually, you sound like a typical tandem team to me.
Mrs. Grouch and I have ridden tandems together since 1976. During that time we've met literally hundreds of other tandem couples and known a few quite well. The vast, vast majority of tandem teams are made up of couples who are not closely matched physically but who still want to bicycle together.
04-23-10, 09:37 PM
I'm in with the others. Riding is one of my top reasons to ride a tandem. On single bikes I'd never see my stoker, but the tandem is the great equalizer. I enjoy riding as hard as I like, while my stoker rides at whatever level she wants. We are a slower team on a given course than on my single, but our speed on a given ride is more than adequate for me. The joy of riding TWOgether far outweighs my solo riding experience.
04-23-10, 10:43 PM
My wife and I really couldn't ride together without the tandem. Up to our mid-40's we were very athletic, but in our 60's we've slowed down a bit. I'm a stronger rider so I can get whatever sort of workout I want on the tandem: sometimes too good a workout on climbs! If it's a long ride I ask my wife for a constant effort she feels she can sustain for whatever the time/distance. I'm still working on the communication required on tough climbs. I don't believe the stoker has the same perception of difficulty as the captain although she can hear my breathing over our intercom. I need to be more willing to ask her for more effort on tough stretches so I don't run out of HR.
I'm still competitive and grumble (to myself of course) when we get passed by a single on a climb, but I'm "maturing" plus we pass a lot of singles on the downhill
04-24-10, 01:29 AM
... that's why we have one!
Only four months into it, but from the start, we've been riding longer distances than we did together on singles, and of course I get whatever workout I feel like achieving. She too is now putting in more effort, enjoying the bike's speed relative to her on a single and up for riding the tandem as often as we can. Now I'm down to riding a single just two-three times a month when our schedules can't mesh.
Our only regret is that we did not get one sooner. So if you both enjoy riding now, and your lifestyles can accommodate it, maybe you don't need to wait two years to explore the fun?
04-24-10, 07:20 AM
Great posts, and don't put up with 'on your left'. We to, hate getting past going up hill.
04-24-10, 09:30 AM
My wife still says she's not competitive. When asked then why it was that her HR went to 155 chasing that other tandem, she says she's not competitive, it's just that her legs are.
She puts out about 1/2 my watts, but she tries just as hard. I don't know if avoiding "trying just as hard" is possible or not. I know I can't try any harder than she does. It's impossible for me to huck that 350 lb. machine up a hill by myself. So it seems to me that it all balances out. I'm sure it's possible that sometimes that's not true, but that's why it's called a relationship accelerator.
When I started talking about getting a tandem, her first response was, "But I can't keep up with you on a bike!" :lol:
One thing's for sure: the watts you put out heat you - that's what makes you sweat. So putting out fewer watts means that she rides cooler than I and needs to dress warmer. That she's not sweating doesn't mean she's not working. We both use coded HRMs and our HRs are usually close without concious effort. Something about the communication through the pedals. We think our new belt drive makes that even more sensitive.
04-24-10, 08:47 PM
A tandem is a great equalizer!
Been tanderming for 35+ years. My stoker/wife no longer owns a single bike . . . she got rid of it as she prefers riding TWOgether!
Go for it!!!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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