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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-02-05, 10:29 AM   #1
cedo
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Tandem Consciousness

Galen's post about his pleasureful first tandem group ride recalls some persuings I've been having on tandems vs single bikes. Warning -- sweeping generalizations to follow.
I have noticed that tandem riders tend to have more consiousness about bicycles and riding than the average single bike rider, particularly on group rides. Perhaps it is because tandem cycling is already a "team effort." But in a group of single riders out for a club ride, you will often see more than one person weaving, riding too far left, being much less aware of automobile traffic approaching from behind, less likely to point out potholes, and other common riding courtesies. But in addition, when we ride our tandem around other single bikes, they tend to discuss other topics, but not the ride itself. In other words, it becomes a physical activity/social event where politics and movies are discussed. But the things experienced on the ride--an unsual barn, a newborn calf--typically go unremarked.
I am speculating, but I believe that the different behaviors are rooted in the basic assumptions about riding. Because tandeming requires more planning (ready, set, go!) and more on-going dicussion about riding (shifiting, braking), tandemistas generally think more about the actual experience of riding a bike. And because it already such a shared experience, the discussions are often about biking or what is enjoyed during the ride itself as opposed to external matters.
My prejudices are showing -- clearly I prefer it when people display more consciousness about the activity that they are engaging in. Which is one more reason why I enjoy tandeming.
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Old 05-02-05, 11:49 AM   #2
Steve Katzman
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I think, in general, tandem cyclists have more years of cycling experience than single bike riders. Most tandemists start out riding singles for a while before deciding to move on to tandeming. Therefore, I think more tandem riders are more focused on what they are doing. On a typical mix of single riders on a club ride, you will usually find a sizeable portion of the group have been involved in serious riding for less than two or three years. Not as likely with a group of tandem cyclists.

To add another generalization to your observations, I notice that many single bike riders are ill prepared for the typical mechanical breakdowns that eventually happen on the road. While most carry a spare tube and a mini pump, and maybe tire levers, I've been shocked to find that many do not. Many single riders do not know how to adjust anything on their bikes and many cannot even repair their own flats.

Most tandem teams that I have ridden with carry, multi-type tools, extra spokes, tires, several tubes, patch kits, tire boots, more efficient pumps, spare cables, chain repair links, chain tools and sometimes even spoke wrenches. I almost forgot to mention the most important item that is carried - the know-how to use the above items. I suspect that the added road saavy that comes with extra years of experience, prompts tandemists to be more self sufficient.

While most events such as centuries and charity rides, centered on single road bikes, have SAG wagons with mechanics available. Many tandem rallys do not have this, and probably for good reason. Most tandem riders prepare better, keep up with preventive maintenance, and usually are resourceful enough to get their bikes back on the road without SAG help.

It goes without saying that there are many exceptions to this observation. YMMV
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Old 05-02-05, 12:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Steve Katzman
To add another generalization to your observations, I notice that many single bike riders are ill prepared for the typical mechanical breakdowns that eventually happen on the road. While most carry a spare tube and a mini pump, and maybe tire levers, I've been shocked to find that many do not. Many single riders do not know how to adjust anything on their bikes and many cannot even repair their own flats.

Most tandem teams that I have ridden with carry, multi-type tools, extra spokes, tires, several tubes, patch kits, tire boots, more efficient pumps, spare cables, chain repair links, chain tools and sometimes even spoke wrenches. I almost forgot to mention the most important item that is carried - the know-how to use the above items. I suspect that the added road saavy that comes with extra years of experience, prompts tandemists to be more self sufficient.
Also.... when tandeming, the person you would most likely call to come to fetch you should your bike break down is already on the bike with you........
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Old 05-03-05, 03:47 AM   #4
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Maybe the singles are single? I was always chatting up the women in the group I rode with, but now that I'm married, it's a different story. My wife and I are more likely to discuss some of the beautiful old houses we see on a ride, or the ducks in the creek, or passing dogs. Or the toilet someone left at the cricket field.
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Old 05-05-05, 01:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Expatriate
Maybe the singles are single? I was always chatting up the women in the group I rode with, but now that I'm married, it's a different story. My wife and I are more likely to discuss some of the beautiful old houses we see on a ride, or the ducks in the creek, or passing dogs. Or the toilet someone left at the cricket field.
If my riding partner starts remarking about the sights to be seen on the ride, he's not working hard enough. Well thats on our training rides, but when we go out with the solos, we have plenty of time to look around while waiting for the group to regather.

I ride offroad and I find that the real fanatics are the fit ones that are involved in their sport, and have made a considerable investment in their bike. Quite frankly-they bore me. They can spot a pair of cheap titec riser bars at 50 yards, purely by the angle they make. They can spot that the frame is a 17" as opposed to the previous years 171/2" purely by the type of gusset under the downtube.
Problem is, as I say, they are boring, but as we have what can only be termed a "Top rated" Tandem, they seem to attach themselves to us. All we get is "Why do you have Mavic Full Downhill rims on an XC bike, when you can get away with the Freeride version?" or "Don't you realise that the 2004 Shimano Widget is 25 grammes lighter than your 2005 one?". They are very knowledgable but why do they always make me feel that I have wasted time amd money in upgrading my tandem and I have done it all wrong.?
Give me riders that are just out to enjoy their riding anyday. All I want to do is get out on the hills and ride with the usual banter that goes on within our group of riders.
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Old 05-05-05, 03:28 PM   #6
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Stappy, I agree that there are some weenies out there. The stoker of a Cannondale picked up our tandem and remarked on how much heavier it was than theirs. They're a nice retired couple, so I didn't go to the trouble of pointing out that our fork (You've seen it) weighs a bit more than their rigid fork, or that maybe our discs weigh more than their canti's. Never mind the rack on the back with all the tools, lunch, and a spare chain. I learned quickly to ignore the rude people.
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