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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 09-09-05, 08:49 AM   #1
acrafton
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Workout for Stoker

Hey - considering a tandem and my wife and I are at different fitness levels and skills. I have more exp and am more into it but she is riding 2-3 times a week and coming along. I want to ride with her but also improve her fitness, etc. On a tandem with her as the stoker will she just 'coast' on my effort or will she be pushing hard, etc. . .any info is appreciated.

Adam
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Old 09-09-05, 09:47 AM   #2
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That will be up to her.... As far as you: be patient and never demand, etc. more than what she is willing to do.
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Old 09-09-05, 11:30 AM   #3
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The good news is you will both get to your destination together without one having to wait for the other.

If you are like me and you want to spend time with your wife/gurlfriend and get a workout and share your cycling interest, than it's all good no mater how much effort the stoker is putting out.

On long & steep climbs I have on occasion requested an increase in effort and it was forthcoming.

But, my stoker says she works harder on her single than on the tandem. I many times work harder on the tandem than on the single...
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Old 09-09-05, 12:14 PM   #4
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She'll get a work out only if she puts anything in it. We've been on rides where I can't pedal another stroke and the wife is ready to go another loop. I finally figured out to back off the pedaling a bit until I can feel she thinks we're going to slow and she'll finally help out. Part of our problem is I have a lot higher cadence too so when we're in high cadence she doesn't really do anything.
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Old 09-09-05, 12:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Doggus
Part of our problem is I have a lot higher cadence too so when we're in high cadence she doesn't really do anything.
I have the same problem. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that seasoned cyclist learn to pedal faster and smoother over time. Newbies tend to pedal like they are on a rental beach bike - slow and strait up and down.

Many times, I can acually feel myself not only powering the bike, but pulling my stoker's feet around too. I can feel the difference in the chain tension. Also, she has not figured out how to pedal circles yet, it's up and down only. So, if we are haul-arsing down a moderate hill and I am trying to spin the 12 out, she is on the back pedaling up and down while I am up front going round and round, trying to be a smooth as possible as the cadence increases.....and the bike will start bobbing up and down... It takes time!
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Old 09-09-05, 01:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by acrafton
. . .any info is appreciated.
Whether you are riding with your wife or your 6 year old, one thing about tandems remains constant: they require teamwork. Teamwork requires compromise, tolerance, and sacrifice. Yeah, you might be working harder now and again and on those days when you feel off or blow-up from going to hard she'll probably be pushing your butt home... or at least it will feel that way to her.

The stoker's life: You give up the pleasure or challenge of bike handling and all other forms of control, place your safety and well being in the hands of someone else, get to spend all of your saddle time with your nose less than 2 feet behind someone else's hot and sweaty backside taking in all of their aromas as well as their sweat and snot with little hope of getting a cool and refreshing breeze no matter how fast you're going. And, in return for all of this what do you get? The pleasure that comes with sharing time doing something your partner and perhaps even you really enjoy.

In closing, you ride a tandem so that you can be with someone who you couldn't otherwise ride with. If they ride strong, that's a plus.
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Old 09-09-05, 01:58 PM   #7
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"In closing, you ride a tandem so that you can be with someone who you couldn't otherwise ride with. If they ride strong, that's a plus."

This is it - no matter how much my wife may try and train, she will never be up to my level and as a result we have not been able to ride together much . . .with the tandem, even a few times a week will be nice.
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Old 09-10-05, 11:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
The stoker's life: You give up the pleasure or challenge of bike handling and all other forms of control, place your safety and well being in the hands of someone else, get to spend all of your saddle time with your nose less than 2 feet behind someone else's hot and sweaty backside taking in all of their aromas as well as their sweat and snot with little hope of getting a cool and refreshing breeze no matter how fast you're going. And, in return for all of this what do you get? The pleasure that comes with sharing time doing something your partner and perhaps even you really enjoy.

In closing, you ride a tandem so that you can be with someone who you couldn't otherwise ride with. If they ride strong, that's a plus.
A stoker does not just sit there and enjoy the ride. Difficult to explain, and the reasons why, but an experienced stoker adds just as much control to a ride, and just as much effort (Pro rata to personal fitness) as the pilot. It does come with the teamwork, but on our team, The stoker will control the pace, The stoker will control the cadence, The stoker will add a lot to the way the Tandem handles and more than that, the stoker is the one that will get the team working. Sounds Wierd? but you try changing stoker to someone else and see how the Pilot and the Tandem struggle on the more technical parts of a ride. Oh and by the way, it is the stokers control of the riding that will get you to the end of the ride in a condition that means that you are fit enough to do another 20 miles. That is if the pilot can put up with the nagging that they are going too slow/too fast. they are not missing enough potholes cos they can't steer, and that they aren't working hard enough up the hills.

(An experienced stoker)
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Old 09-11-05, 06:44 AM   #9
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A stoker does not just sit there and enjoy the ride.
Your point of view is an interesting one that sounds more typical of off-road tandems than road tandems in that off-road tandeming is truly the true test of how well a tandem team works together: it's far more physical and puts greater demands on athletic ability than the road tandem and the trust factor must be 10x better. Because of the latter, changing stokers -- particularly ones that are a different size, weight, or fitness level -- will radically change how the tandem handles, more so than on a road tandem. That's not to say that many stoker's don't do ride-management on road tandems, but it's the exception not the rule, it is very personality dependent, and also reflective of the nature of the relationship between a captain and their stoker.

Back to changing stokers, it can be a shocker once you and your regular stokers are dialed in, both on and off-road. In some cases, at least for married or very-connected partners who ride together, sharing the tandem with another stoker can be tantamount to having an affair and even when done with the primary stoker's OK the captain needs to be on guard with respect to making unflattering comparisons once they have their primary stoker back on-board, e.g., "wow, this hill sure seemed a lot easier when ______ was stoking" or "you can't believe how much faster we were when _____ was riding with me". Unless that guest stoker was Lance Armstrong or some other "celebrity / pro" whom your stoker would recognize, those kind of comments will usually "stick" and come back to haunt you.

Every team is different, both in temperment and the nature of their relationships and those things will factor into how they work together on a tandem... and off-road tandem teams are a different animal from those who never venture off-road, as are off-road teams who seldom hit the asphalt.
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Old 09-11-05, 08:47 PM   #10
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My wife and I are fairly new to 'real' cycling and new to tandems. I commute a 40 mi RT 2 X a week and am a better cyclist although my wife is in excellent shape. We go pretty hard on our rides which are usually 20-40 miles. The only place I feel like she doesn't pull her own (and them some) is on hills. In those situation, I don't kill myself, I just ease off and we go a bit slower. We're still both getting excellent workouts. We've also been working on spinning as well as some other key elements of tandeming such as communication and teamwork. Those attributes are probably more important to enjoyable rides as our performance.
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Old 09-12-05, 06:42 AM   #11
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I weigh 175 in fighting trim and went to my 13th duathlon world championship in May; my girlfriend weighs 115 and is former a marathon runner. The power differential has got to be 3 to 1. But we ride well together. When I need to supply the torque, I do it. When we're approaching a hill and she wants to get off the saddle, she lets me know and goes for it. She likes the oppotunity to pound out some horsepower, but it's her call. What she doesn't do, I do. If you think someone is loafing, start loafing too. NO reason for anyone to get upset or get hurt or whatever.
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