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  1. #1
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    Learning the tandem

    I have just clocked over 900 miles on our new tandem. All these miles are my first on a tandem and my first as a serious road biker. My wife/stoker/superpower in the back has been riding for about 2 years. She and her regular riding partners have me on an accelerated training schedule and every ride until this last Friday have been, for me, a hammerfest. Every ride we learn more about how to get the most out of our bike and ourselves by teamwork, coordination and cooperation. She has been a great teacher and has helped me become stronger, smarter, and better all around. This next weekend we ride the Tour de Palmsprings century.

    One of the things I have learned is that there is a tremendous amount of power and stress on the drive train. When we road in the rain, we were both surprised at how quickly we could spin a wheel on a climb. I have broken a chain early on in my training missing a shift. I have learned how to communicate which is essential when riding with an independent, strong, powerful rider with a lot more skill combined with control issues of her own and mine.

    Today we were climbing a steep grade and as I atttempted a simple downshift, the bike would not stay in gear, kept jumping gears in the back. We made it to good stopping place and as I spun the rear wheel to see if I could figure it out, I found the wheel would barely turn from dragging on the rear disc brake. I could not seem to adjust it so after looking some more I found that the last time I had put the rear wheel back on, I had not tightened the crap out of it. I popped the quick release and the wheel jumped a small amount so that the disc became immediately centered. This is at about mile 50 of a 60 mile ride full of hard climbs, rollers and fast flats against the wind. I know I tightened it as much as I normally tighten the singles but some how we pulled the wheel out of alignment. This was amazing. In a few moments I had the caliper adjusted and we were back on the road. This time I really tightened it.

    As the miles go by, I am slowly getting it. We are are a great team and I look forward to the first century and those to come. Thanks to all I have learned from on this forum as well.

    Chris

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Both of you cranking hard and pedaling in phase (IP) can create some equipment issues.
    By pedaling 90 degrees out of phase (OOP) there will be less stress on the frame and the components.
    Give OOP a try for a couple weeks (after you finish that century) and see if things do not improve.
    Be glad you have a knowledgeable stoker; communication and cooperation create good tandem team!
    Pedal on TWOgetyher!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  3. #3
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    zonatandem,

    I gave OOP a thought but how would that effect timing and coordination while standing sprints uphill?

  4. #4
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    As your happy stoker I can tell you that your attitude & athletic ability play a large part in how well we're pedaling these days. You took the challenge & ran with it. I can wax poetic on how quickly you've shaped up, how much your commitment to our shared fun means to me, but I'll save that for another forum. You're the best!

    xoxo

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Hey! Get a room!
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  6. #6
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Got one, thanks.

  7. #7
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgallagh
    One of the things I have learned is that there is a tremendous amount of power and stress on the drive train. When we road in the rain, we were both surprised at how quickly we could spin a wheel on a climb. I have broken a chain early on in my training missing a shift. I have learned how to communicate which is essential when riding with an independent, strong, powerful rider with a lot more skill combined with control issues of her own and mine.
    Last weekend, we had the opportunity to ride with another tandem team (both male and very good) for a few miles over hilly terrain with moderate climbs. They ride in phase and we ride out of phase. When we were in the draft, the noise that was produced by their tires as they went through peak torque on the drive train was astounding. Our bike was silent except for the constant sound of the wheels on the pavement. One can imagine what stresses at peak torque were being applied to the chains, gears and spokes of the in phase team.

    Standing OOP is not a problem and just needs practice. Acceleration is very good and we can sprint out of the saddle. If the stoker thinks we need more power, she will sprint out of the saddle and unless she tells me, I will not know that she is standing. If I stand, we both stand.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordoftherings
    Standing OOP is not a problem and just needs practice. Acceleration is very good and we can sprint out of the saddle. If the stoker thinks we need more power, she will sprint out of the saddle and unless she tells me, I will not know that she is standing. If I stand, we both stand.
    We also ride OOP, the captain 90 ahead of the stoker. I do appreciate it if my stoker lets me know that she intends to stand, particularly if she does it for no particular reason other than a butt brake. If she happens to get up while I am relaxed and with only one hand on the bars or while I am shifting gears we can experience some loss of control. She runs her hand up my back to let me know that she is standing. I know that she likes to stand at 60 to 70 rpm, so I shift accordingly. On the other hand, if we are doing rollers, hard climbing or chasing someone, she just gets up and powers the tandem like there is no tomorrow.

    We can stand together, one a time, one after the other, etc. The only thing that is a little awkward for us while standing is sprinting out of the saddle, as she prefers a much higher cadence than I can tolerate.

  9. #9
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Other OOPers are giving you their insight on 'standing.' Like first learning to ride a tandem: communication, practice, patience, cooperation!
    The only possible disadvantage in riding OOP is laying a very hard leaning corner or some of those old fashioned super high speedbumps. Have only bashed a pedal once on a tandem (speedbump at US/Mexican border) and once on a single, in 32+ years of tandeming/riding . . . so really a non-issue.

  10. #10
    SDS
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    Some lightweight quick releases do not achieve a good nonslip bite on the dropouts because of design, i.e., they have smooth aluminum parts clamping the dropouts. These can slip on a single bike during a full-power sprint, even with vertical dropouts, and when the wheel goes down and forward, it can jam into the back of the seat tube, causing rapid deceleration (!). Replacing the Performance titanium/aluminum skewer with a stronger and heavier Dura-Ace skewer fixed the problem on my single bike. Point is, the problem might not be clamping tension as much as it is mechanical grip, and overtightening a QR occasionally causes failure of the QR. You might want to consider replacing the QR with a better one.

  11. #11
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice. We are going to try OOP when we get back from Palm Springs. Don't want to change anything right before the big ride, but we are interested in improvement so we will try it soon. I will also inspect the quick release for SDS's comments. I don't believe it is currently over tensioned but I will definitely inspect it this afternoon.

    Caution, Fun riding ahead.

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