I am 17 years older than my pilot. Getting on a bit and not as fit as I used to be and definitely not as strong. I do sometimes wonder if I am not putting in enough power to keep my 180lb muscle bound pilot from feeling that something is lacking on the Tandem. Mainly "Is he carrying too much Dead weight"?
Yesterday he went out on his solo offroad for the first time in about 12 months. Remember he is an accomplished rider- Ultra fit and plenty of stamina. He phoned me up after his ride to let me know that he does not like Solo's anymore. The front wheel would not go where he wanted it to go- it bounced around off every flint, would not climb out of ruts, and seemed bent on destructing itself at every lump he hit. Uphills, where I always felt our tandem team lacked, he could not keep momentum, and at each muddy section the bike slowed and the amount of wheelspin he got was annoying. Then he gave me the biggest compliment going. He felt that he was definitely lacking in power to get over the obstacles and through tricky sections. The secondary engine was not there.
Both of us have felt for sometime that solo riding lacks something, but I think that we have actually got that Tandem so set up that it works. The suspension he understands and knows how to hit things so that it goes through it. The ruts are not a problem as the weight on the front wheel pulls the rest of the bike out of them, and as for wheelspin- That extra weight does give us traction. As for power uphill, That is where I have to work and I realise it. Then there are silly little things like balance, and weight distribution. A stoker has to work on this thing to keep it upright and even in the right direction.
Glad to know that I was missed yesterday, and that I have a few more years aggressive riding in me before I become surplus to requirements. For any other stokers out there that wonder if you are any use on the tandem, get your pilot to take out a solo and see if he enjoys it. Mine didn't.