We want to thank the members who gave us encouragement on our quest to try out tandeming on our vacation in Sarasota.
The two bike rental shops within walking distance of our hotel each had at least one tandem for rent. Admittedly, they were big hulking models; but, they did have gears (7 and 21), decent brakes, and were reasonably well maintained.
The first bike shop gave us a bike for a test ride to make sure that it would “fit” my stumpy legs and to see if me and my stoker could “team” well enough to have fun. We made three very successful circuits around the shopping center (probably the most dangerous route of the entire week!!!). The shop’s mechanic pronounced us “capable”. I took this as very high praise in that it indicated that he believed that we would not engender extensive bike repairs.
The next day we took the bike (Fugi?) out for a ‘real’ ride on streets and trails. We learned several interesting things: 1. I put my left foot down when I stop, my wife puts her right foot down! 2. I start pedaling with the pedal in the 10:30 position; my wife starts in the 8:00 position! And 3, the most important thing to communicate when tandeming is imminent bumps in the road!!!
We were pretty careful on that first real foray: avoiding sharp turns, converting to “pedestrian status” at intersections, avoiding gear changes, yielding to all wheeled and biped traffic, practicing loooonnnng slow stops, and communicating lots of unnecessary information. The trip ended abruptly in the seventh mile when, during a pedestrian phase of our tour, the chain came off and lodged itself between the sprocket and the frame. It would have been a quick fix with a chain tool … another cyclist, a biped, and a local policeman tried to get us going again, but ultimately the shop had to send out its sag wagon.
We went to the other shop the next day. It turned out they are a dealer and have been selling them at a pretty good clip. They were very nice, but I didn’t think they were very knowledgeable on the principle aspect of tandeming – specifically ‘butt on the leather’. We went out in what I think was a better quality bike (Sun?), or maybe we were just more confident. We covered a little over 15 miles. By the time we were finished, we were doing nifty u-turns, asserting ourselves in traffic, and picking up enough speed to outpace the pedestrians. It was a very nice ride and we were both quite pleased.
Our only issue was that we are both accustomed to a more aggressive postures; and these bikes had us in comfort-bike postures with big platform saddles. If you’re not accustomed to a comfort-seat, it really isn’t comfortable!!!
Now we would like to ride something with a little less weight and a bit more zip!!! Thanks again to those of you who provided encouragement and information.
Great story! I'm glad that it all worked out fairly well overall. Aren't tandems grand?
Originally Posted by JKfromPBurgh
1. I put my left foot down when I stop, my wife puts her right foot down! 2. I start pedaling with the pedal in the 10:30 position; my wife starts in the 8:00 position!
Was stoker routinely putting her foot down at stops? This is generally considered a no-no for most teams' riding styles. Typically only the captain plants a foot at a stop, and stoker remains ready on the pedals for go-time.
Also, regarding start position -- the typical strategy is for the stoker to get set on the pedals, and then position them in the captain's preferred starting position. Stoker is at the ready to power with both feet when the bike launches, and captain, who has to also manage getting the second foot "pedaled-up" at launch time, is working from a favored starting position.
I passed your advice on to my wife. She was pleased to learn that she won't be responsible for holding the bike vertical or for kick starting us at the lights. She really enjoys the aspects of tandeming that allows her to watch the scenery and chat with pedestrians. Now you (and Sheldon Brown) have freed her from more responsibilities.
I spent the better part of an hour yesterday looking at tandem web sites. It seems at this point in the life'cycle' of the sport -- emphasis is very much on speed and performance. It seems to be a diversion for serious roadies.
My days of drop handle bars are ten years behind me ... and my lower back is very thankful. My wife and I started biking together regularly two years ago; we easily cover 40 miles on our hybrids (Specialized Cirrus) - BUT, we carry a nice lunch and we always stop to admire both roses and interesting road kill. We transitioned to biking from canoeing, so obviously we don't go to the outdoors to get somewhere or nowhere in a hurry.
We would like a lighter weight frame with cruising and hill climbing gears - but posture possibilities that allow us to actually enjoy the scenery at a 12 to 15 MPH clip. Do you think the industry is interested in us as a market?
We went to a Christmas party on Saturday and were recounting our Florida tandeming experience. I was surprised by the sincere interest and the questions; it was well beyond idle curiosity. Most of the people were recreational riders, though definitely not roadies. I think all of them would/will definitely give it a try. My wife, who is truely a dillettante (you can read that 'princess', if you prefer) when it comes to athletics, makes the role of stoker sound more cleopatra than stoker. She is definitely the better salesman for the sport (Anyone who knows us knows that we are not trying to go faster than Yugos.).
I have continued my web search for the perfect dilettante tandem ... haven't found it yet! On the Co-Motion site I found our local authorized dealer and gave him a call. I think I was the first person to inquire about a tandem in a very loooooonng time. They don't stock them and don't foresee doing so. Hmmmm? I think we will end up driving 100+ miles to look at and test ride a decent tandem.