Hello fellow tandemmers!
I can now officially say I am a tandemmer! We had a blast.
I picked up my new 05' blue Cannondale Road tandem last Friday. I put my saddle on it and road it around alone in my neighborhood to get used to it. The turning radius was the first thing I noticed being totally different than my single.
Saturday, my Father's wife and I rode it for 5 miles to the YMCA and back. It felt unwieldy for the most part ... I assumed it was just me not being used to a tandem in general. But, it was still fun and I had a huge smile on my face most of time ... with exception of the inclines where I felt inclined (no pun intended) to keep a good cadence & consistent pace going. All in all, it was a good first ride. My stoker just rode with sneakers on top of the look pedals. She hadn't ridden a bicycle in 10yrs, but she has many years experience on singles prior to that.
Last night, my GF and I took the tandem to a local club ride. The ride is rolling hills, a couple short steep hills, 4 or 5 gradual inclines (that get to you!), and about 25 miles. It was 97 to 98 degrees with a heat index of 100 ... not 'too' bad, but definitely HOT for a first ride! My GF has about 450 miles on a 05' Schwinn FastBack. She normally averages 13 to 14 mph on a given 20 to 30 mile ride. I normally average 17.5 to 21.5 (alone vs. club).
Once we got her saddle height figured out, we practiced starting & stopping three times. I read up on all the correct techniques as described on TandemLinks.com. It was much easier to start and stop with my GF ... I am 5' 6" 170lbs and she is 5' 2" 120lbs.
The first thing she noticed is that her handlebars were too low, but the stem was as far up as it would go due to my saddle height. So, we couldn't do anything about it. I am hoping I have some options for getting her handlebars higher? Thoughts?
The stock saddle for her was totally different and was rubbing her the wrong way. The gears were skipping 2 cogs completely ... jumping all the way to the 3 gear above the one I always attempted to move to ... no matter if we were in the small, middle, or large chain ring. It was HOT. So, between all that, I offered to cut the ride short, but she eventualy said she was feeling a little better after we stopped at a stop sign/rr tracks. So, we finished the ride.
After the first 12 to 15 miles, we actually already started getting in a groove ... cornering was much easier at speed. And, low speed maneuvers wasn't all that difficult ... or not as difficult as expected. The only thing that I noticed is that my GF prefer to not spin as much as I do. I generally spin around 90 to 105 and she spins closer to 80 to 95. So, I always took a mental note to keep the cadence closer to 90 or so. Plus, on the downhills, pedaling was kind of difficult for her to keep up with ... even at close to 90. So, we generally coasted on the downhills to keep her more comfortable. We only used the small chainring once on one of the short steep hills, but that was a "just in case" decision on my part.
Half way thru the ride, I asked a single who had stayed near us in the back what his speed and average were. He said we were averaging 18.8 ... I said NO WAY!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. It felt more like 16 to 17 which I would've considered good considering that we were in no way "trying" to do anything other than just ride, get used to it, and enjoy. So, we took it down a notch and in the end averaged around 18.0 to 18.5.
All in all, we really enjoyed the ride. She stated that she enjoyed it more than riding her single and that she could get used to not having to do "anything" other than pedaling! which works for me as I get much more of a workout riding with her on the tandem as opposed to me riding with her on singles.
Any advice for a first time noob on a tandem? Any ideas on getting her handlebars higher? I'm happy to be a member of a tandem team and look forward to more rides.