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.
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).