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Thread: Stokers unite

  1. #1
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    Stokers unite

    It was pointed out in a recent thread that there's not much input from stokers. Are there more of us out there that just aren't posting? Let's post our 2 cents here. Name your favorite ride. Locations that you'd like to ride. What does your captain do that drives you nuts? Do you have techniques that you've found to keep this from happening? Do any of you take over as captain or have a desire to do so? Let's show T.G. that we are not the "passive stokers" that he speaks of.

    I'll start. We bought our first tandem in April 2006 and put just shy of 2000 miles on it last year (didn't quite make it due to a move and bad fall weather here in W. MI).

    My favorite ride is the Mission Peninsula, north of Traverse City - beautiful countryside, water on both sides, vineyards, orchards, very interesting and rolling terrain. If you ride on a hot day like we did, you can even cool off in the bay afterwards - very shallow water at the tip of the Peninsula.

    The thing that annoys me the most is when the captain doesn't say "coast", and I haven't found a foolproof method to change that - yet.

    Stoking is great because it gives me a chance to look around, spot birds, check out landscapes, etc. - something I can't do much when on a solo.

    To all of you who think you or your significant other might like tandeming, give it a try or you'll never know.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Velodiva's Avatar
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    I applaud you for your post! My biggest stoker pet peeve is the assumption that couples get a tandem because the woman cannot keep up with the man riding singles. Drives me crazy! Next on my list are the jokers who yell out "she's just coasting back there." We got our first tandem back around 1980 - we did the Tecate-Ensenada ride, did a time trial, and rode from Monterey to Santa Monica. We sold that tandem and got out of biking for awhile - pursuing other sports/activities. We moved to the Bay area last year and got back into biking big time - getting gnarly. Last August we bought a new tandem - we split our cycling 50/50 (50% tandeming and 50% singles). As much as I love tandeming, I would never give up riding my single (just got a new 2007 Orbea Orca). They are almost two different experiences. Riding my single is "me and my bike," yet I get so much gratification from the shared team effort on the tandem. I am fortunate to have a superb captain and we are a great team. It is all about communication and trust. We put our cranks 90 degrees out-of-phase, and our average speed went up dramatically - seamless power. We can go up hills on the tandem as fast as on our singles and can both stand together. I don't like to coast so I have to be patient when the captain wants to coast for a a "butt break." We generally have common goals (hard ride, recovery ride, etc.) We also have alot of fun chasing down team riders.
    I generally listen to my Ipod which I don't do on my single. I have a cycling playlist - really gets me revved up, but have the volume low enough to hear traffic and the captain. We have met other tandem couples and have become good friends. Our friends have the "tandem talk", but we are not into that. I have the Garmin Forerunner 305 and am constantly monitoring my heart rate to make sure that I am optimum. Captain also have a bike computer and we exchange heart rates when we are pushing hard. We like to bike in Napa and Sonoma, but the bulk of our riding is up and down the Peninsula - some of the best biking in the country - I love to see the peletons! We are looking forward to a great 2007 - will be riding the Solvang Century in March, will do some spring time trials, and are doing a 9 day tandem tour in Tuscany in the fall.
    Do you have matching jerseys, team kits, etc? We are not really into that, but have matching helmets, sunglasses, and shoes. We do have one matching bike club outfit.
    Let's hear from some other stokers!
    In bocca al lupo!

  3. #3
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranky-stoker
    My biggest stoker pet peeve is the assumption that couples get a tandem because the woman cannot keep up with the man riding singles.

    ...psssst....this is the main reason we got one.


    And my stoker found this little nugget in a ride log of one of our local riders. She writes:
    "And it was great to have a new perspective, from the front of the pack, which would not have happened on my single!"
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

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    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Not that I don't appreciate the difference in the genders (I DO!!!), or the fact that there are plenty of fast women cyclists, but I have only ridden with one woman in 20+ years of cycling who could hang with a men's A training ride, and she had to draft on the flats (she was a semi-pro).

    So, yes the tandem was purchased so that my girl and I could both get a workout together on the same ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by cranky-stoker
    My biggest stoker pet peeve is the assumption that couples get a tandem because the woman cannot keep up with the man riding singles

  5. #5
    Senior Member Velodiva's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Doggus]...psssst....this is the main reason we got one.

    That is fantastic! My gripe is that it seems to be an AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION in all cases.
    In bocca al lupo!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Velodiva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    Not that I don't appreciate the difference in the genders (I DO!!!), or the fact that there are plenty of fast women cyclists, but I have only ridden with one woman in 20+ years of cycling who could hang with a men's A training ride, and she had to draft on the flats (she was a semi-pro).

    Reply: Most captains can't ride with a men's A training ride either . . . .

    So, yes the tandem was purchased so that my girl and I could both get a workout together on the same ride.
    Reply: Again, that is fantastic!
    In bocca al lupo!

  7. #7
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranky-stoker

    That is fantastic! My gripe is that it seems to be an AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION in all cases.


    I've highlighted the problems.

    So you're most likely one of the bell curve outliers and your needing more respect. Wear a sign. Sounds like your tandem goes fast enough to get all the respect you should need already.
    Last edited by Doggus; 01-05-07 at 02:03 PM.
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

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    Radfahrer Rincewind8's Avatar
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    Since my stoker doesn't read or post on this forum...
    Quote Originally Posted by cranky-stoker
    My biggest stoker pet peeve is the assumption that couples get a tandem because the woman cannot keep up with the man riding singles.
    We mainly got the tandem so my stoker could ride at all. She had severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and her hands hurt when she holds on to the handlebar for longer than a few minutes.
    The ride that we both like the most is the NYC century ride.
    TH 1.81 (133kg*62)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Velodiva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doggus
    I've highlighted the problems.

    So you're most likely one of the bell curve outliers and your needing more respect. Wear a sign. Sounds like your tandem goes fast enough to get all the respect you should need already.
    Thanks. Seems like my griping got this thread off course. Sorry, GailB. Let's hear from the stokers out there.
    In bocca al lupo!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rincewind8
    Since my stoker doesn't read or post on this forum...

    We mainly got the tandem so my stoker could ride at all. She had severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and her hands hurt when she holds on to the handlebar for longer than a few minutes.
    The ride that we both like the most is the NYC century ride.
    Except for the 180 degree hairpin bridge that tandems have to do 4 point turns around and the heft your tandem bridge. Lovely ride otherwise.

  11. #11
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    Stokers Unite

    My husband brought me to this site. I guess I brought him to cycling. I've been riding solo w/a good friend & her husband for about 18 mos. or so now. We rode 5 centuries & too many club rides to count last year, and loved it -- the good times must have been infectious because my man bought us a tandem for our birthdays in the fall. Now we're in serious training (getting out once, maybe twice a week) for the Palm Springs & Solvang centuries. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

    He wouldn't have a solo bike so the tandem allows him all the fun of riding without being dropped. I love that we have a sport that we can share. As the captain he works hard to learn the lingo, the signals, and to enjoy the rides. As the stoker I get to coach, encourage, enjoy the scenery, and work on letting him be in control of the bike. It's great fun!

    Red Rider

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    Quote Originally Posted by cgallagh
    My husband brought me to this site. I guess I brought him to cycling. I've been riding solo w/a good friend & her husband for about 18 mos. or so now.

    As the stoker I get to coach, encourage, enjoy the scenery, and work on letting him be in control of the bike. It's great fun!

    Red Rider
    I think you are another outlier Red Rider. If enough of you keep posting, the rest of us will need to throw away our assumptions .

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    Stokers: please captain the ship for a bit.

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    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey
    Stokers: please captain the ship for a bit.

    Yeah...what he said....hold up my big behind when we have to stop.....

  15. #15
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Not sure what an outlier is, so I can't speak to that. Just because I'm a stoker doesn't mean I don't have opinions, heh.

    Since my hubby's still learning we always work our fannies off every time we ride. He's learning to communicate, and I'm learning to tactfully ask that he give me more than 1/10th second notice when he's going to coast.

    Our biggest adjustment right now is downhill speed. He loves to scream down the hills , and I prefer a more conservative speed. Our favorite word right now is "compromise."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider
    Not sure what an outlier is, so I can't speak to that. Just because I'm a stoker doesn't mean I don't have opinions, heh.
    An outlier such as on a bell curve, not the typical stoker we all think of. From previous posts it was noted that the stereotypical stoker is the weaker or less fanatic of the team. There have been two who have posted thus far that do not fit that stereotype, you and cranky. I think stepfam or expat would be another outlier. One or both of them are stokers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider
    Since my hubby's still learning ... He's learning to communicate, and I'm learning to tactfully ask that he give me more than 1/10th second notice when he's going to coast.

    Suggest that he slows down his spin to coast, and that he starts pedalling gradually. Instead of stopping "right away", you could stop pedalling in 2-3 crank revolutions.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    Suggest that he slows down his spin to coast, and that he starts pedalling gradually. Instead of stopping "right away", you could stop pedalling in 2-3 crank revolutions.
    I use ever so slight back pressure and she picks up on it immediately. No verbal whatsoever. She does the same when she wants a coast. It's a dance.
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  19. #19
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Hmm. My wife of 28 years also works for me in my office. She knows I love biking. I had the choice of using $1500 available cash and buy either a Trek Pilot 2.1 or similar, or a Trek T1000. Nobily, I bought the tandem. My wife and I enjoy the rides, although a training ride for me is 20-30 miles, and for my wife it is 4-8 miles. I hope one day she'll look forward to our rides as much as I do. And if she ever wants to captain, it's fine with me as long as she doesn't let it go faster than 10 mph (30mph, on the other hand, scared the crap out of her).

  20. #20
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Thanks for the hints. We'll give them a try.

    I taught Jazzercise for 15 years, and learned to cue about 4 beats before the change. My dh is working on that. Major props to him for even trying.

    Our next ride is Saturday, probably a long one in preparation for our century. We'll keep you posted.

  21. #21
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    [COLOR="DarkGreen"]While I can't relate to her idea of ride length (it takes me about 15 mi. just to warm up) I can relate to her dread of speed. A couple weeks ago we did a long ride that involved some major hills (one ominously dubbed "Cardiac"). It wasn't the climbs (for me) as much as screaming downhill, 300 lbs. of metal & flesh, at 42 mph. I tucked in tight and barely breathed for what seemed like an eternity. Oy!

    I hope your wife expands her ride length & speed. It really isn't so bad.[COLOR]

  22. #22
    ES&D t4mv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider
    While I can't relate to her idea of ride length (it takes me about 15 mi. just to warm up) I can relate to her dread of speed. A couple weeks ago we did a long ride that involved some major hills (one ominously dubbed "Cardiac"). It wasn't the climbs (for me) as much as screaming downhill, 300 lbs. of metal & flesh, at 42 mph. I tucked in tight and barely breathed for what seemed like an eternity. Oy!
    Ah, yes, the Cardiac & Coronary tandem. Being where you're from, it would seem the downhill run off 128 (121? or was it Wooden Valley...) back to Vaca would be more of a toe curler...

    Weight balance aside, how does an experienced stoker stand having a rookie captain up front? I've stoked for people who've never captained a tandem and the only ones I trust now are the ones that know how to handle a (long) bike and are able to communicate verbally. Anything other than that and I feel like bailing, and I'm sure all the captains on here know the feeling of a bailing stoker.

  23. #23
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    I'm going to write a book explaining the commonality between tandem teamwork and sexlife. Will not be a bestseller. BUt might be funny.

    Screaming down the hills..... yea baby.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Velodiva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t4mv
    Weight balance aside, how does an experienced stoker stand having a rookie captain up front?
    As an experienced stoker, I would not stoke with an inexperienced captain. We all have to go through the learning process, but I put my life in my captain's hands. I would not be able to give full performance without that element of trust - would not be a good experience for either of us. My captain and I were both experienced cyclists when we first started tandeming together, so the transition to tandeming was a rather smooth transition.
    In bocca al lupo!

  25. #25
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t4mv
    Ah, yes, the Cardiac & Coronary tandem. Being where you're from, it would seem the downhill run off 128 (121? or was it Wooden Valley...) back to Vaca would be more of a toe curler...

    Weight balance aside, how does an experienced stoker stand having a rookie captain up front?
    How do I stand having a rookie captain? The same way he stands having a know-it-all in the back seat. Neither one of us expects perfection -- just performance and respect. We were all beginners once, weren't we?

    I've never captained so I can't speak from that perspective. And my experience as a stoker isn't that much greater than my husband's experience as a captain. I do have more solo experience.

    We rode the Lake Loop thru Fairfield, Wooden Valley (those rollers between Wooden Valley School & Mankewitz Corner are brutal) to 128. The downhill run was from the top to Markley Cove store. Whew!

    This week we'll climb the dam first, then see how the climbs compare to the other direction.

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