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  1. #1
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    I have ridden my new 05' Cannondale road tandem a total of 3 times now.

    First time: 26 miles with my GF (120lbs) who is a first time cyclist this year with about 450 miles thus far on the road.

    Second time: 40 miles with my GF over some decent hilly terrain.

    Third time: 26 miles with a fellow cyclist friend of mine (180lbs) on a club ride.

    My GF generally only averages 12.5 to 14 mph on a given road ride on our singles. And, she's generally good for up to 30 miles or so without being too uncomfortable and starting to not enjoy being on the bike. I have ridden off and on for 16yrs on and off road and average anywhere from 16 to 21 mph given the distance, terrain, and solo vs. drafting with the club rides. My buddy cyclist has ridden on road for 3yrs and can now ride 16 to 20 average mph also. He's about 5'10". I'm 5'7" and my GF is 5'2" tall.

    I was starting to get used to riding with my GF and we were having fun. I also had fun overall last night riding with my buddy cyclist on the club ride.

    Here are some things I'm noticing however ... what are your thoughts for a first time tandem cyclist?

    1. I'm working HARD on every single ride ... even when I attempt to take it down a notch. Basically, I'm keeping my HR between 75 and 100% thus far when riding. My perception is that I'm doing 60 to 80% of the work regardless of who my stoker may be. When I do drop it down a notch and try and keep my HR around 75%, our speed drastically drops ... regardless of flat or incline.

    2. Both of my stokers mention, as first time stokers, that it is difficult for them to determine just how much effort they are expending being on the back of the tandem.

    3. Believe it or not ... there are male cyclists who can TALK YOUR HEAD OFF when they are a stoker. I'm dying up front keeping all the weight in check with a HR at 95% ... and here is my buddy cyclist talking 90mph. Hahahahaha. I can barely respond ... if at all most of the time.

    4. It actually isn't that much more difficult to go from a standstill to pedaling with a 120lb stoker vs. a 180lb stoker ... to my surprise and delight! Sure, it was noticeable, but not all that much harder. Even stopping wasn't a huge surprise .. but it was a notch more difficult. However ... when a 120 person leans and doesn't pay attention ... I have MUCH more ability to correct the bikes immediate reaction than I do when my 180lb stoker leans!!!!! I found that out last night ... soon after he was apologizing left and right ... cause we drifted "quickly" toward the oncoming lane while 2 cars were coming our way!

    5. I expected my ride with my cycling male friend to be faster overall last night given our individual normal speeds on singles. I thought, after getting the initial hang of it ... we'd pick it up to an AVG of 20 or so. However, we had 19.1 at the 8 mile mark and I was staying in the RED zone, so I had to take it down a notch and we ended up with a 18.2 avg over a 26 mile route with rolling hills and some inclines. I know there is nothing wrong with 18.2 on a first ride with a new stoker that weighs more than me. I just assumed that it would be a higher overall average.

    Anyway ... just wanted to throw out some things I've noticed being a first time tandem rider/captain. Overall, both of my stokers have been good and have quickly picked up the things I've told them ... from reading all the Tandem Link info on how to ride a tandem as a team. Both stokers have mentioned how much they enjoyed riding as stokers on the tandem also ... which is what it is "all about" in my opinion! And, believe me, I always try and keep my stokers happy!! The stoker is NEVER wrong, etc. etc. etc.

    I'm enjoying the rides ... I really am. However, it is a LOT OF WORK compared to my single. If I ride my single with the same overall HR stats ... I'd be faster than when I'm on the tandem with either of my current stokers. This may all be normal ... especially given riding the tandem is VERY new to all of us.

    Thoughts?

    P.S. I highly recommend to any new tandem owners ... to talk to Mel at Tandems East to be CERTAIN you have everything you need to be sure your "fit" and your stoker's "fit" to the bike is good. I did this and now my stokers and I are much more comfy. Plus, the brakes should be working much better as soon as I get the extra attachment (i.e. disks).
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
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    92' Trek 5200
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  2. #2
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    I'm also new to tandems but not to cycling. I do note that I work hard on every ride, but I like that. My stoker is an acomplished marathoner with bad knees so this is her outlet now. I'm 175# and very strong on the bike; she's 120# and not in my league. BUt we work it out. If you're new to this, I wonder if some of your exertion is due to captain-specific handling requiremnents, not just power output. I got a C'dale brochure with mine that talks about just that: a captain can be hard-worked just keeping the bike in a straight line as it were. In closing, I ain't riding with no dudes.... 120 miles this week with teh gitrlfriend (insert levity here). May sell the c40.....

  3. #3
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I thought it was just us. We have noticed the same thing. My wife can't understand why I'm 100% whooped after a 25 miler and she feels great. If I don't keep the pressure on, we slow to a crawl. I've theorized that it is from the added stress of 'handling' the bike and concentrating on trying to keep the stoker happy. I didn't realize how much work there is to captaining a tandem. With my daughter aboard I don't get the same whooped feeling (we don't go as far either) but I reason that's because she's only 60 lbs soaking wet with lead socks AND I don't call shifts, bumps - nothing. No thinking involved.

    My next step is to find someone in our area and ride as stoker so I can experience what it's like to ride that position. Might help me get heads up on what they are thinking back there.

    Would love to hear what others opinions are short of installing an electric prod in the stokers seat.
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  4. #4
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Let me chime in here and then I am sure the experts will help out too...

    I always get a good workout on the tandem. For one reason, I just don't like to ride slow! Even when I tell myself and my stoker, we are going easy, eventually I will pick up the pace at least for a little while. However, my gurlfriend who has been my steady stoker for about 9 months says she gets a workout too. She is not as tired as if she had riden her single, but tired none the less. On a single, she can do 35 miles of rolling terrain at about 12-13 MPH with a stop or two thrown in.

    One reason I think the captain may get more of a workout especially with an experienced captain/new stoker combo is that the captain may be pulling the stoker's pedals a lot. New riders many times have a very slow natural cadence (look at people riding beach bikes on the boardwalk). Even if you are pedalling at 85 RPM, that is fast to them, so the captain ends up supplying more than their share of the power.

    Also, when climbing, if it is a good hill, once you get down to you first gear, the hill is not really any easier! I have a hill I ride all the time on the way home. Sometimes, If there are no complaints from the back seat, I will take this hill in a 42/26 (middle/big) and we can climb it. If she is not paying attention, she will not notice that I did not shift into the granny. Other times, we will get half way up and she will start kvetching and I shift into the granny and maybe 3rd on the cassette - 30/21. Other times if we are both beat, I will climb it in the 30/26. It all feels the same to me! Once the bike slows to match the gear, its hard to keep it all going up hill.

    We don't have a super low gear. On steep, steep stuff seated climbing is hard! We have gotten a lot better at standing, so I try to stand as much as possible to keep up the pace and for butt relief.

    At first, I thought is was a lot of work steering and braking and balancing. But now, I am much more relaxed and just go with the flow. I think this just comes with time on the bike.

    Our average speed on hilly terrain is about 16-17 MPH.

  5. #5
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    My experience with my Santana, bought in '81, has been with my wife, a female club rider, my daughter and my son.

    My wife makes me work hard. I find that if I decide to stop pedaling without telling her I don't get any reaction to the pedals. The friend from the club will rip my feet off if I don't let her know I'm gonna stop pedaling and we have had some very fast rides without me working as hard as with my wife. My daughter, a young teen at the time, let me pull her and I worked hard. With my son, about 11 or 12 at the time, I felt like I had a small engine on the back of the bike. A very good power to weight ration with him and we could stand on the hills with no problem. I didn't have to work as hard with him and we did centuries with no problem.

    I've only recently pulled the tandem out of mothballs and have been riding with my wife. I still work hard with her. My granddaughter is coming of age to ride and I'll be putting the child stoker unit back on for her very soon. I'll have to wait and see if she pushes her own weight!

    If you're working hard on the hills and the stoker can jabber away then he/she isn't working as hard as you.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I ride offroad and all the times, averages, speed heart rates do not apply to the rest of you, but the actual riding does. I have a regular pilot, even though I own the Tandem, I pay the bills and I maintain the damn thing.
    Point is
    Pilot age 41, weight 180lbs, height 6'2" Fit, max Hr =185 but this can be exceeded
    Stoker age 58, weight 150lbs Height 5'6", Still fit but not as strong as the pilot, max hr of 165 and this is exceeded

    Stuart gets the fun seat because he can control the bike (Stronger shoulders) and the Tandem is better balanced with him up front. I have become an accomplished stoker but you do not just sit there and pedal. A stoker still has to think and work whilst riding.

    Downhill- on or offroad is not a problem, and the only complaint is that Stuart gets a sore back from me thumping him if he is not going fast enough. On the flat, and that includes the slight rises that occur on any flat run is no problem as once the Tandem has momentum , just turning the pedalswith a little bit of power will lose any solo that tries to stay with you, without the HR getting any higher than 80%.

    Uphills we are slow, or at least we think we are. Most of our riding is done offroad, with 1mile long rutted paths at 8 to 10% gradient. Some hills are shorter and the basket one is 650 ft climb in 1000yds with a steep bit just at the end. It is steep. We think we are slow because we cannot stay with the fit Solos. We start at the bottom of the hill in granny, and just come down on gearing and down and down and when we run out of gears we slow down. Or we used to. Now we still start in granny, but take our HR down by 5 to normal. We keep up a good pace but being down just a bit on HR means that where the hill steepens, we have the energy to put in a little more effort so we do not have to change down, when we are over the steep bit we find that our cadence will rise, and we can change up a gear to get the cadence down. We get over the steep bit by keeping the momentum up. If we just put in the same power on the pedals for the steep bit- we slow down and lose momentum.

    On the heart rate, we try to keep at 80% of our max but obviously as the hill progresses, we get higher, normally around 90% but towards the end we will be hitting 100" and even getting 110% on occasions for that last bit.

    This has not come overnight, we have been riding together for 4 years, so know each other fairly well, but more importantly- we are both caring riders. We do think of each other, and our main topics of conversation is "hows the HR going, hows the legs, and lets stop cos I want to stretch my legs."

    I have another co-rider that is a night mare to ride on the Tandem with. He is competitive and puts in more power than I want to do. We did a ride recently, only 35 miles off road and he bonked after 10 miles. He had put in so much effort, as I am a lot older and he has to carry me because he is younger and fitter, that he completely ran out of body resources. That last 25 miles with me carrying him was hard work.
    Tandem riding is a TEAM event and the team will not come overnight. It took me and Stuart 3 months before we actually started working with the Tandem, and I include the bike in that team. At three months the Tandem stopped throwing us to the ground for no reason, It actually agreed to change gear when we asked it to, instead of making us go up the steep hils in middle ring, and it also suddenly became easier to ride.

    Only 3 rides so far- sorry but you have a few more miles to go before you stop having problems. Give it 3 months or so and let us know how easy it is to ride then.

  7. #7
    cycle-dog spot DinoShepherd's Avatar
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    First post in the tandem section. I have only ridden tandems a couple times.

    Once around the parking lot and once on the local hammer-dog ride in San Diego (Cyclo-Vets)

    My buddy got a Santana for himself and his GF. 26" with road bars. We decided to take it on a club ride. We were both Cat III racers at the time. Never on a tandem before together and we just KILLED this club ride. I was amazed. We were both going as hard as we usually do, which is to say 100%. But as a couple of tandem novices, we were blown away by how fast we were going compared to the single bikes.

    -Z

  8. #8
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    We found that I was tryng to maintain a much faster pace than my wife wanted to. Our tandem is for easy rides to the beach and coffee shops when we're on pavement. I've learned to slow down and spin a bit more at a slower pace, and we're both much happier. We don't worry ourselves with average speeds.

    Of course, once we're in the dirt, she picks up the pace and we both put in a really good effort. I know she stays in her target HR zone, but I don't bother looking at my monitor, as it's enough work keeping the bike upright and pointed in the right direction. Since we completed our custom build, no one other than my wife has been the stoker (other than around the block), so I have no one to compare her with.

    Suggestions? Talk to your stokers, and find out how they feel. The GF may have no interest in speed, or she may not want to spin as much as you. Mr. Motormouth may not be putting in a decent effort because he won't shut up. Let him know you want a quieter ride, where you can both concentrate on maintaining a fast pace.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mtbcyclist's Avatar
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    I have experienced the same thing. I am a 15 year cyclist veteran and my stoker is a newbie who has never ridden before. We are both new to the tandem and just crossed the 200 mile mark on the new Burly Rivizza. I feel like I work my arse off while she does not. This is mainly on the hills. The flats we do great except for the other day. I have a tendancy to drop the hammer on my after work 25 mile rides at the end of the ride so I can have a storng finish. I did that yesterday and my stoker said "boy you sure are working hard" while I am turning my insides out to generate power. I said "ya wanna help?!?" and we really took off.

    I talk to my stoker a bunch and we have a lot to learn. I ALWAYS ask her how she is doing, and if the pace is to hard. We always talk about pace and goals. Fortuantly we are on the same page since she likes speed and hills as much as I do. I am a natural hill climber and with a totaly newbie it kills the climb. I know with time and mileage this will change and we will be both good climbers as a "team". We are having fun which is the main thing.

    Side note... when I get on my single I feel like a ballet dancer waltzing up the hills. On the tandem I feel like each climb is like driving an overloaded 18 wheeler up the hill.

  10. #10
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbcyclist
    I have experienced the same thing. I am a 15 year cyclist veteran and my stoker is a newbie who has never ridden before. We are both new to the tandem and just crossed the 200 mile mark on the new Burly Rivizza. I feel like I work my arse off while she does not. This is mainly on the hills. The flats we do great except for the other day. I have a tendancy to drop the hammer on my after work 25 mile rides at the end of the ride so I can have a storng finish. I did that yesterday and my stoker said "boy you sure are working hard" while I am turning my insides out to generate power. I said "ya wanna help?!?" and we really took off.

    I talk to my stoker a bunch and we have a lot to learn. I ALWAYS ask her how she is doing, and if the pace is to hard. We always talk about pace and goals. Fortuantly we are on the same page since she likes speed and hills as much as I do. I am a natural hill climber and with a totaly newbie it kills the climb. I know with time and mileage this will change and we will be both good climbers as a "team". We are having fun which is the main thing.

    Side note... when I get on my single I feel like a ballet dancer waltzing up the hills. On the tandem I feel like each climb is like driving an overloaded 18 wheeler up the hill.
    These posts are so funny...and true!

    My stoker and I have maybe a few more miles than you, but still deep in the learning curve. I don't know if she will ever be a climber, but I love to climb and hammer the flats. What is funny is we will be schlepping up a steep hill in the lowest gear...and all of a sudden, the tandem squirts ahead as my pedals get light... this only happens right before the hill crest when she can see the end in sight and wants to get it over with. I say 'where did that come from?...if you did that the whole way up, we could climb one or two gears higher....' she says... 'I don't want to climb in a harder gear....'..

    Now her new thing since getting a single is seeing what is up ahead. She was content to just look to the sides, but now on fast downhills, she wants to see in front and leans to one side. I can feel it when she leans and now instinctively counter-lean to keep the bike on line. She is smooth when she does this. I will be going down the road and feel the bike wanting to move left ever so slightly. So, I just do a little reverse body English to counter her body English.

    You call it a truck, I call it a bus... but it's a fun bus! And we are getting better and smoother all the time.

  11. #11
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    On last night's club ride, I was on my single. When I showed up, only the FAST folks were there ... and I mean the racers ... the normal fast club riders had already left for some reason. Two women ended up riding the one tandem together while 5 of us were on singles. Only 2 of us were NOT racers ... and also the women were not racers. The 2 women are VERY good recreational cyclists ... both of which could most likely out pace me on a bike ... one is very fit, thin, and her 2nd year and is only 25yrs old (we used to work together). The other has been riding since late 80's and is in Cycling shape overall .. in terms of endurance and speed, but does have a bit of heft to her (not trying to be mean ... just factual). These two women on that Trek Tandem were AWESOME.

    On the flats and declines, this tandem FLEW ... easily 24mph to 30mph and MORE on downhills. On the inclines and hills, the single racers got on each side of the tandem, and put a hand on each of the tandem riders and helped get them up the hillls at a much faster pace ... when seated. Other times, the tandem team would stand, but still slow a bit. This was all okay... as the tandem riders expected the help as we (i.e. they) were trying to keep the pace fast.

    After 26 miles with some decently long inclines and some hills ... we had a 21.5 average speed. Now, to those folks who have racing pasts, this may not seem all that fast. However, to the rest of us that is a pretty good clip over 26 miles with inclines and hills. I have to admit, though, that having ONLY the 80 degree temps compared to the 98 degree temps as in the past 6 weeks made a huge difference in my ability to hang on.

    The tandem team worked very well together and evidently have the same cycling candence/spin ... as they both kept a good pace throughout the ride.

    It was one exhilirating ride! Just let me say ... I did NOT need to take any pulls last night!
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    While ours is more like a truck or a bus, we prefer to think of it as an MTB limo. I should point out that my comparison is not totally equal, as our tandem is very much the off-road machine. In traffic and on bike paths, I know I can stop on a 5 cent piece (same size as the US dime ) with the 203mm disc brakes it's got. But I know my wife must worry a bit, which is why she prefers the slower pace on the road. Same with corners - we have very soft and sticky XC tires, but she originally thought the bike would slide out from under us when cornering. Hopefully, her trust in the bike (she has 100% faith in me) and physical strength/endurance will improve along the same curve and we can expand her comfort zone.

  13. #13
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    As I’ve said before, I don’t control the speed as captain, I’m merely along for the ride.

    Our group ride last week had some good hills. On one steep section (next to lowest gear, I believe), my wife was going on about something she read on a message board.

    “How can you talk”, I blurted out.

    “I’ve never done anything like that”, she said thinking I was comparing her behavior to what she read.

    “No, how can you talk right now!” She didn’t say a word until we were over the hill after that


    A couple miles later, we pulled away from a stop sign and 3 guys flew past us shortly after. As we got up to speed, I could see they weren’t going much faster than us.

    “Let’s catch them”, I said.

    “Why?” she asked.

    What kind of silly question is that?? “Because I think we can!”

    We both started working and I could see our gap reducing; we would gain a bit on the flats and down hills, but we carried our momentum up the slight rollers very well.

    With a couple small rollers in sight, I said “We’ve got them!!” We flew past them with a big speed advantage as I got a little adrenaline rush. Great fun!


    FWIW, I’m 5’5”, wife is 5’4”, we’re both around 135lbs (drives my wife crazy!), I’ve got over 50k miles over 17 years, my wife has maybe 20k miles over 13 years. We’ve both done numerous centuries, tours, etc. I average 18-20 solo over 22 hilly miles (driveway to driveway, no warm up). Wife can do 17-18 solo over the same course.

    On the Speedster, we’re generally between 16-18, even over VERY hilly, 35 mile courses. Our best remains last year’s Door County Century, on bike average of 19.4 mph Still haven’t topped 19 before or since, but we’ve got a flat group ride coming up next week

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  14. #14
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    Another hilly group ride last night. We didn't have much "energy" on the tandem, finding it hard to spin even low gears.

    OTOH, we hit a new speed record, 50.0mph and we finished strong after the last hard climb, flying over some rollers.

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  15. #15
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    Another hilly group ride last night. We didn't have much "energy" on the tandem, finding it hard to spin even low gears.

    OTOH, we hit a new speed record, 50.0mph and we finished strong after the last hard climb, flying over some rollers.

    -murray

    Was the 50.0 mph top speed record on a coast? I ask ... curious if your gearing allowed you to pedal to that speed, or had you finished pedaling and allowed the descent to carry you to that speed.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
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    92' Trek 5200
    05' Cannondale Road Tandem

  16. #16
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodcycl
    Was the 50.0 mph top speed record on a coast? I ask ... curious if your gearing allowed you to pedal to that speed, or had you finished pedaling and allowed the descent to carry you to that speed.
    Coasting. With a 54-11, I think our top pedaling speed would be around 35-40.

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    Coasting. With a 54-11, I think our top pedaling speed would be around 35-40.
    Just regeared last week from 48-13 to 50-12 on 700c wheels. (It was embarrassing having to apologize to my stoker when we would spin out before 35mph with the lower gearing.) Spun out the new top gear on Saturday at about 38mph, give or take. I think you would spin up at least into the mid-forties mph with 54-11 -- on 700c wheels. Don't know about 26" wheels.

    There must be gear/cadence charts on the Web somewhere...!

    -Greg

  18. #18
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregm
    Just regeared last week from 48-13 to 50-12 on 700c wheels. (It was embarrassing having to apologize to my stoker when we would spin out before 35mph with the lower gearing.) Spun out the new top gear on Saturday at about 38mph, give or take. I think you would spin up at least into the mid-forties mph with 54-11 -- on 700c wheels. Don't know about 26" wheels.

    There must be gear/cadence charts on the Web somewhere...!

    -Greg
    According to http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/, a 54x11 would go 46.9 at 120 rpms.

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  19. #19
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murrays
    Coasting. With a 54-11, I think our top pedaling speed would be around 35-40.

    -murray
    Topspeed off road for us is 53.8 but this is over fairly smooth grass with just a few dips to take the stomach away and a few rabbit holes to steer round. Daft thing is our highest recorded speed to date on the road is slower at 52.8, but that was with traffic getting in the way. Last week we decided to see what we could get up to on the road, as we had slicks fitted and we got up to 45.8mph. We were still pushing on the pedals to 40mph but not much going in after that. Gearing 24/36/48 and 11/32. Makes it worse is that this is a mountain Tandem with 26" wheels, and yes the computer had been corrected for the tyre difference.. Admittedly we had a run downhill to start, but the 45.8 was recorded on the flat. I do not want to spin that fast for very long ever again.

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    Senior Member bockwho's Avatar
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    I agree with the previous statements I have yet to take any one but my wife out for a 20+ mile ride but after a 40 with my wife I am beat I just got a hrm so I have no clue what my max or what percent Im at.
    max speed has been 41mph down hill laying on the peadles (she has the computer so I dont know what the rpm is)

    avrg speed is around 15 and longest ride is 40 total of 500 miles in the last 3 months.

    Yes I am competive and like to be in the front group also and have to remind myself that Jennifer is new to cycling and I want her to enjoy it most of all


    After the new seat she has no comfort issues but I am still dealing with the correct setup.

    I do want to get a friend of mine onthe back of it and see what it would do. I also want to ride on the back of it for a while to see what it is like

    Reguardless if my stoker is pulling her weight .... I have had several of my best rides b/c of the riding we have done on the tandem... On my single ive had a 40mi at 18mph and and a 26mi at 19mph .. which is a personal best. (and didn't feel like I was kicked in the nuts the day after)
    Last edited by bockwho; 08-18-05 at 09:56 PM.

  21. #21
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bockwho
    I agree with the previous statements I have yet to take any one but my wife out for a 20+ mile ride but after a 40 with my wife I am beat I just got a hrm so I have no clue what my max or what percent Im at. Max speed has been 41mph down hill laying on the peadles (she has the computer so I dont know what the rpm is) avrg speed is around 15 and longest ride is 40 total of 500 miles in the last 3 months.

    Yes I am competive and like to be in the front group also and have to remind myself that Jennifer is new to cycling and I want her to enjoy it most of all. After the new seat she has no comfort issues but I am still dealing with the correct setup.

    I do want to get a friend of mine onthe back of it and see what it would do. I also want to ride on the back of it for a while to see what it is like

    Reguardless if my stoker is pulling her weight .... I have had several of my best rides b/c of the riding we have done on the tandem... On my single ive had a 40mi at 18mph and and a 26mi at 19mph .. which is a personal best. (and didn't feel like I was kicked in the nuts the day after)
    bockwho -- sounds very similar. My longest ride, too, is 40 miles with m GF as stoker. We had fun ... that is for certain, but I was BEAT to death much like yourself. As soon as I got off the bike at the end, I laid on the ground in the grass and poored my extra bottle of water all over myself. Keep in mind, it was 94 with a heat index of 100 that day!

    My normal riding speeds on my single are quite a bit higher also ... on a 25 miler with the club, I average anywhere from 19 to 21.5 typically. On longer rides, we are 18 to 20.

    I'm having a blast on the Tandem. But, I believe I need many more miles and more experience to be able to get it down the road without feeling like I'm pulling 80% of the effort.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodcycl
    We had fun ... that is for certain, but I was BEAT to death much like yourself. As soon as I got off the bike at the end, I laid on the ground in the grass and poored my extra bottle of water all over myself.
    I've been riding the daily commute with my daughter (now almost 11 years old) as stoker for over four and a half years, first with a Piccolo, and now with a proper tandem. We're slower than me riding alone on my single, but riding with her on the tandem feels relatively effortless. She just becomes invisible/undetectable there on the back of the bike, and we ride completely smoothly together. Aside from going a bit slower, I don't experience rides as particularly tiring.

    Recently I started riding for fun with an adult stoker. I found our first test ride of 20-30 minutes to be INCREDIBLY tiring, despite this stoker being quite athletic and very able to push the bike. I think that at least half the fatigue was mental. Instead of being able to pilot the bike as (mentally) effortlessly as walking or breathing, as with my daughter, every stop/turn/shift with this new stoker was a new experiment in communication and coordination. We had fun on this first ride, but I was completely toast in less than half an hour. "Get me off of this bike!"

    I do not attribute this to having a novice stoker, but rather a novice *partnership* -- I too had to learn to ride the tandem all over again, in many respects, with the 2nd stoker.

    Since then, we've done 30-, 40-, and 60-mile rides, each one feeling easier than the last coordination-wise, with speeds increasing each ride over similar terrains.

    Of special note is our experience with standing. When my daughter and I rode the Burley trailer cycle, we found that if either of us stood, it would really throw the other off balance. As a result, we almost never stand when we ride together; just "sit and spin". With my alternate stoker, we experimented with standing for butt breaks and variety. The first time I tried standing on a climb, I found that I was tensing my whole upper body -- death grip on the bars, arms working hard, whole abdomen getting tired. After maybe ten or twenty strokes, I was panting for breath -- not to mention that I was throwing the bike around, flopping left and right, and really putting the stoker off.

    After that ride, I did a bunch of standing practice while riding solo on the tandem. I really focused on loosening my grip on the bars, relaxing my whole upper body, and staying centered up over the middle of the bike to keep it from flopping. Not "holding" it centered by exerting more effort, but just kind of balancing there up over the bars, trying to place my weight carefully and centeredly(?) over each pedal stroke.

    This practice seems to have done the trick, and I have impressed both stokers by being able to stand without flopping them around, and can now stand for a much longer time on a climb and not be out of breath.

    So, for folks who are getting really tired on their tandems, I hope that the situations improves with time. Also, try to analyze your tandem riding style, and see if there is anything you can do to improve technique and coordination, reducing effort and improving efficiency all around. Good luck!

    -Greg

  23. #23
    Cycle for life... woodcycl's Avatar
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    Gregm wrote: So, for folks who are getting really tired on their tandems, I hope that the situations improves with time. Also, try to analyze your tandem riding style, and see if there is anything you can do to improve technique and coordination, reducing effort and improving efficiency all around. Good luck!
    Greg - thanks for the info ... very good info at that! I agree now that you mention it, that my 2nd ride with my GF (even though it was 40 miles with hills compared to our first ride with 26 miles) was a little easier, etc. The corners, downhills, etc. did feel a little less tiring all else being equal.

    I, too, think it is the *partnership* as you describe more than simply a new stoker. I also equate it to my being a *new* tandem captain in general.

    I truly do believe the situations will improve with me and my GF. And, if I continue to ride now and then with a couple of my male friend cyclists, I believe it will become easier and faster with the *team* becoming more in-tune with one another.

    I have only tried standing ONCE ... and it felt WAY too awkward! My GF and I were on a nice long flat section with NO side roads or traffic. I changed gears to 2 more difficult than we were pedaling and I explained to her what I was going to try ... standing. I asked her to simply continue pedaling and to keep things centered, etc. I did my best to stay in the center and not throw the bike in the least. I also attempted to pedal smoothly. But, all in all ... it just felt like the bike was out of control. So, after about 4 seconds, I sat back down.

    I think I'll try allowing my GF/stoker learn to stand FIRST. Then, we'll focus on my standing by myself next. Then, finally ... learning to both stand. However, I am a cyclist who prefers to pedal seated on all but the MOST steap grades (>10%) in general ... other than to just give my sit muscles a break by standing for only a few seconds. So, sitting on the tandem is really more my style anyway. But, it sure would be good technique if and when it is really needed vs. falling over or having to stop on the middle of a tough hill.
    -\Brian
    06' Cannondale Six13 TeamOne
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  24. #24
    Senior Member mtbcyclist's Avatar
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    I too am into the "standing" thing now. Its killing me to sit and spin for 2 hours. I am one to stand a bunch on my single. My stoker who is a newbie does not stand even on her mountian bike unless she has too.

    So I we are going to take the mountian bikes out first and get her used to standing on it, and get the "feeling" of a bike that rocks a bit while standing & pedaling. Then on to the tandem.

    Agree about the partnership issue. Strong parnters make fast efficient rides.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Slightly off topic, but worth telling again:

    My wife and I completed our tandem in time for a 25k charity ride, which I really wanted to do. She woke up sick, and it was the kind of cold weather that makes you miserable with a runny nose. We had to ride into town to the starting point at the beach, as we have no way to transport our tandem. We also hadn't finished fine tuning her position as stoker, and she hadn't really ridden a bike for years prior to this date. Between all of our stops for adjustments, butt breaks, and a flat, we were beat by a guy on a unicycle! She's still a good sport when it comes to telling the story, as we rode 54k that day, which is probably a bit long for a first time out. It also helped to put things into perspective for us. Hope you guys get a laugh out of that.

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