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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 02-11-07, 12:09 AM   #1
djembob02
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teenagers/preteens tandem riders?

As you all probably know, one of the stokers on our triplet is my 5 year old daughter. My wife and I also have a teenage daughter who absolutely will not be seen near the bike (she is not a cyclist). This got me thinking, I have seen very few 9-18 year old tandem riders. I really hope that Jamie keeps riding with us throughout and really makes cycling part of her lifestyle. Of course this may not happen as kids do have minds of their own.

I love the tandem and would love it if she continued to ride it, however, I wonder if there will come a day when she will insist on being on her own. Right now, she cannot ride her own bike at all (w/o training wheels), and even if she could, she certainly couldn't ride as fast or as long as I. At 10 or so, however, she might be able to. I guess my question is: have any of you successfully transitioned your child stokers into youth stokers, or have you raised solo cyclists?

Of course, I also understand the great importance of accepting my child and her wonderful gifts if she doesn't choose to ride bicycles later on. But as cycling has become so much a part of my life, I was just hoping for some inspirational stories about preteens and teenagers doing things like riding across the country on their tandem, or child-stokers becoming avid cyclists (either competively or recreationally). If Jamie chooses to go solo, I have a feeling I will have some separation anxiety. Although I bet it would be fun to semi-race each other and almost as fun to tour together on singles as it is on the tandem.

Thanks for your stories. I hope that teenager riding isn't a total anomaly!
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Old 02-11-07, 12:00 PM   #2
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My daughter has been stoking (first a Burley Piccolo trailer cycle, now the tandem) since she was six years old. She's now twelve. We ride the tandem daily for our commute, and she now likes weekend rides, typically 40 to 80 miles... but mostly only in the summer, when it's dry and warm.

She's not quite old enough to go to school on her own, and I don't have the money to burn on driving a car to work every day, so it's the bike or nothing.

It's not like that, though -- it is still cool and fun to tandem. A big help seems to be letting her be her own boss about her stoker compartment. Her pedals, her fit, her handlebars, the bike's handlebar tape (front & back), stoker computer -- she has a huge say in all of it. And why not? It helps make it her/our bike, not just my bike.

She does have a single, which we have *finally* managed to fit her in a way she likes. Aside from the fact that she's always growing, she is VERY particular about fit (why shouldn't she be, eh?), and it has been really hard to find a frame & components that have vertical and horizontal reach sizing that she likes. We just nailed it recently. She likes her own bike, but she also likes the tandem -- we can ride fast together, go on group rides with the club, and she can look at the scenery when she stokes.

A local high school has a mountain bike racing team, and even though high school is a year and a half away, I think she's already decided to sign up.

-Greg
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Old 02-11-07, 12:31 PM   #3
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I don't know that teens and preteens have a thing about tandems or bikes in general. It seems to be a teen thing to rebel against parents and adults as part of growing up and becoming independent. If you have a teen willingly and of their own free will get on a tandem with you treasure it. In 1984 I got the ages of over 2,000 riders doing the Front Range Century Ride in Colorado. Smooth, if skewed, bell curve of ages from 5 to 80 with the peak about the 30s. Smooth, yeah, except for a divot in the curve from 13 to 18 that looked like Godzilla had eaten it.
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Old 02-11-07, 01:36 PM   #4
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I've got a 13 YO son still willing to be seen w/ me on the tandem. 'Started him out when he was around 4 or so, so the kids could ride on the tandem before they could ride w/o training wheels on their own. We have our first long (organized) ride coming up in a couple months and I'm hoping it'll be a fun experience for the both of us. As long as you make it fun for your kids, age shouldn't be an issue.
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Old 02-11-07, 04:26 PM   #5
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My, now 13 year old, son rides more on our tandem than on his own. He has never been very comfortable riding solo but we regularly ride together on one of two tandems. Our most recent long ride was a two week tour from the Canada-US border to California. This year may see the Northwest Tandem Rally (our first) and a one week trip averaging 120 km a day from Victoria to the northern end of Vancouver Island.
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Old 02-11-07, 06:55 PM   #6
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Hi Bobby! My daughter (now 23) will not be caught dead on a bike since about 12 or 13 (much less a tandem). However when she was 18 and we went to San Francisco she rode the rented bikes (including briefly the rented tandem) across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito with a return by ferry. It all has to do with cool factor i guess. It's nice to know that she will do it under the right circumstances- Maybe someday it will be cool again. Enjoy it with your daughter as long as she enjoys it, If she loses interest maybe some day her interest will return when you least expect it. Mark
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Old 02-11-07, 08:36 PM   #7
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We have 3 sons, and many years ago, when they were pre-teens/teens all of them rode either singles or tandem.
One son, then about 14, rode/raced TOSRV in Ohio with dad on the tandem.
Another son, at age 11, rode his first century (solo) and did many tandem events with dad.
Did several distance events and even won trophies for the family with the most miles ridden.
Eventually they discover cars/girls/boys or whatever . . . and kids do grow up.
Enjoy them while you can!
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Old 02-11-07, 09:35 PM   #8
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I must be lucky or unlucky depending on your outlook. I have a 10 year old who has spent 2 summers looking at my butt. In the fall my now 17 year old asked for a fast ride 100 kms away as the stoker, after it was over she said "dad that was fun". She too rode all summer on a single, but loved the idea of the tandem. We have 5 riders and 3 tandems I suspect that this summer we may tour with two of the tandems and a single.

My advise keep it fun, give options (especially the one about not coming) and see what happens. I suspect that since we tour a lot, and since they can switch back and forth the tandem is the dream ride as per the kids. Having a wife and a set of twins who are all about the same size has its advantages, they can stoker, captain, or ride single on the same trip. I think that what makes riding the tandem fun is that they do not have to, as crazy as that sounds.

I would love to have a triple....now that would be fun!
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Old 02-11-07, 09:49 PM   #9
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I have two teenage daughters/ Both have ridden the tandem in the past. With pedals extenders and crank shorteners. The older daughter, age 19, still rides on the tandem for rides of up to 50 miles. The younger one, age 17, prefers riding her single. Both are pretty much "fair weather" riders and do not ride all that much in the winter (if you can call what we have here in the Bay Area "winter?. When the weather's nice, Sunday's are our family ride with my wife and younger daughter on their singles, and my older daughter and myself on the tandem.

My younger daughter is more the athletic type and it would not surporise me if she continues to cycle as an adult, although I don't think she will ride competitively.
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Old 02-12-07, 07:52 AM   #10
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My kids have been connected to cycling since before they were born... Burley trailer, Burley Piccolo, Adams tandem trail-a-bike, tandem w/kid-back, tandem w/crank shorteners, and now "regular" (they're 11.5 and almost 14). And now... just a couple weeks ago Peter captained Emily for the first time on our Bike Friday tandem for an hour ride. Coming up the last few blocks on our return home they put the hammer down and I couldn't keep up with my 41-lb city bike. You should have seen their smiles at the stop light when I caught up. I was so proud of them.

Yesterday I suggested to Emily that we take advantage of a break in 3 days of rain to go on a ride. To her question, "Where?" I jokingly suggested a 50 mile loop to our nearest "big hill" (Cantelow for your Sacramento Valley folks) and she said Peter already told her he wouldn't captain her over that hill until she could do it on a single!! (He did it on his single bike last year for for the first time and they've both been up it many times on the tandems.) I was astounded that they'd already discussed this!!

They both ride singles around town for almost all our normal travel. Its just what we do (my wife is a cyclist too) and they accept it. Last year Peter and I trained for and did a metric century on our Santana. I savored the training time to talk, just him and me... a bit different than dinner table conversations. This year I'm trying to get both signed up for a metric century on the tandem. We also enjoy the "dueling tandems" (no, we're not competitive with the two bikes) with my wife and I both captaining, but strength differences between us captains has limited us to about 30-45 miles.

So, I don't know how long it will last, and they're certainly not always willing to go out with me. Sometimes I do get the classic, "I don't know" and "whatever," but as others said, do what you can, savor what you have.

Don
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Old 02-12-07, 11:06 AM   #11
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We've had a tandem for going on three years now (two different da Vinci bikes, though). My kids are the regular stokers with my wife riding only very occasionally.

The two oldest children were 8 and 9 years old respectively when we started; they're 11 and 12 now. My youngest is currently 7 and finally grew long enough legs late last season to ride with Dad if we removed the shock-post and ran the saddle all the way down (see the attached photo).

So far, I haven't had real strenuous push-back to my suggestions to go on rides from any of the kids, as long as the weather is nice. We trained up for and completed a century ride last season with the then 10-year-old taking the first 40 miles and the 12-year-old the final 65 miles. That was the longest century of my life time-wise, though. We pretty much putted along, took every opportunity for rest stops, and ended up with a total elapsed time of 9:40 for the 105 miles combined. A week later, the 10-year-old completed a metric century on the tandem in 5:30 total time. Except for the bit of rain the first 10 miles, he was pretty happy. A week after that, I rode another full century in 5:08 on a single bike. We were zippin' along.

Comparing the three rides, I was pretty proud of the 5:08, but definitely had more fun with the kids. Lots more talking, socializing, and smelling the flowers. With the fast group on the single bike, it's all a blur...except for the view of everyone's rear brake from three feet away, over and over again.

This year, the oldest is talking about completing the full century as the only stoker, without any help from her brother. Of course, he's not to be outdone, and wants to ride one as well. The youngest is still excited for any ride at all; I have my eye on working up to a local 50-mile scenic loop as his goal for the year.

They all have single bikes, though only the two oldest are tall enough to fit decent road bikes. They seldom ride single for more than around the neighborhood or over to friends' houses. Because our tandem speed is so much faster then they can ride alone (though much slower than I'm used to on a single), they cover much more ground and see many more sights on the two-seater (or "two-headed bike" as they like to call it).

One of my oldest kid's Jr. High teachers recently purchased a tandem and told the class about it. My daughter said she jumped right up after class, went forward, and offered to take the teacher and spouse out to show them the local routes, give tandem-specific tips, and generally fill them in on the tandem scene.

I felt pretty good when I heard about that.

How much longer they'll ride with the old Dad, I don't know, but we're going to enjoy every minute while it lasts. I figure the more fun I can make each ride, the longer they'll hold on.
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Old 02-12-07, 05:59 PM   #12
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Great 'kidz' stories!
Our 'kidz' are now in their late 40s and one in his 50s! Gosh, we can't be that old?!
When our grandkids were smaller (yeah they are in college and high school now) a couple of the them used to 'measure up' to grandma (who is a tall 4'10 3/4") in front of a full length mirror to see if they were tall enough yet to ride on the tandem. And yes, they did ride with grandpa on the tandem.
Enjoy 'em while you can folks!
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Old 02-12-07, 06:30 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the great replies, please keep em coming. So far things are great with us, I always try to reward for her for our rides.

While on the trainer inside, she gets a couple oreos and she gets to watch extra TV while we ride, she is usually limited to about 45 minutes. She picks the movie and we ride while we watch. When riding outside, we try to always ride somewhere like the party supply store. I'm guessing that one day, these rewards won't be good enough anymore.
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Old 02-12-07, 06:46 PM   #14
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As a 16 year old, I can't honestly say i'd ride randem with my mom =p
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Old 02-12-07, 06:53 PM   #15
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Actually started tandeming with my daughter at twoteen...driving from one community to the next in the city to play soccer didn't feel right and one trip on the half bikes with me coasting down the hill and gliding to the top of the next while she braked down the hill and then laboured up the other side convinced us to try the tandem.

And it was a big cool factor...we showed up at the game on the tandem...everyone else just rode in the back seat of the minivan... We probably put 500 km on the KHS each season. And she still rides it to work at fifteen if the roads are good.

The ride that solidified her tandeming was when we tracked down a guy riding the bike path on an ATB bike. He cut corners and pedalled for his pride but the 2 of us steadily hauled him in and then blasted past.

Her cousin (10) rode the KHS tandem this summer to soccer while her younger brother (9) and I rode the Tsunami. The safety advantage of the tandem to and from the game is immeasurable.

Speed with the fifteen year old is very similar to my single times (slower uphill balanced by the faster down - fear is not in her vocabulary on the bike).

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Old 02-12-07, 07:06 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feba
As a 16 year old, I can't honestly say i'd ride randem with my mom =p
But what about with your girlfriend?
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Old 02-12-07, 07:21 PM   #17
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But what about with your girlfriend?
Awhat?
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Old 02-12-07, 08:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YalzaDon
... And now... just a couple weeks ago Peter captained Emily for the first time on our Bike Friday tandem for an hour ride. ...
Great story, Don, I really enjoyed it, too. A few months back, after I had confirmed that my boy could actually ride my singles, I took a leap of faith and asked him if he wanted to try captaining our tandem towards the end of the ride, around the high school parking lot. To his credit he did a pretty decent job for a first timer, and at low speeds, so we'll see how this season develops and see if we don't end up doing more swaps. I think until he gets totally comfortable with being in charge in traffic (we're talking city traffic, not town traffic), I'll get us around for a little while longer, but it's a bit sobering to think that kids can "drive" a tandem in traffic before they can drive a car.

Don, you should put it to your kids to do the Davis Double.
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Old 02-13-07, 08:42 AM   #19
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My 10-year old son has been interested in biking for years; he has spent a lot of time on a bike ever since he was able to ride without training wheels at 5-years old. Last year, I bought him his first road bike, a Giant TCR, X-small. He loved it, but I quickly discovered that riding with him was a test of my patience. I was good to him; didn't blast up the hills or set a high pace, but the experience wasn't enjoyable as it could have been for either of us because of the disparities in strength and training. He still did well, completing several 50+ mile rides with monster hills... but I started thinking about getting a tandem after one of these long rides that took 4.5 hours.

We bought our tandem towards the end of the summer, and it was the answer to all our problems. I could ride to my potential, and he got to attain speed that he could never experience on his single bike. We logged lots of long rides on the tandem with several centuries and a couple of organized rides (one was the Hilly Hundred, near Bloomington, IN). Now that it is cold, we don't get out as much, on our single bikes or our tandem, but we're planning for the next season. My son is so excited about upcoming organized rides. When we get fliers in the mail, he avidly pours over them, begging to go. He's totally addicted... and I couldn't be happier. And I'm glad that I didn't have to do anything to fuel his addiction except provide him with good equipment, offer encouragement, let him have a say over what routes we take, and try to plan fun trips.
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Old 02-16-07, 04:04 PM   #20
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We bought our CoMotion 2.5 years ago with the idea of putting our daughter on the back. She is now 6 and I plan on buying a child stoker kit this spring. Eventually, we plan on doing rides across Iowa and/or Wisconsin. I'll report back in about 10 years to see if she thinks it's cool

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Old 02-16-07, 11:15 PM   #21
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All 3 of us did the Bike Across Kansas this last summer and we are hoping to "Pedal Across Lower Michigan" (PALM) this summer if I can get away from school and work and everything. We have tons of memories. If we can't do PALM, we'll probably spend 4 of 5 days self-supported on the Katy Trail. Good luck with the little one.

Bobby
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Old 02-16-07, 11:29 PM   #22
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DJ, you have a link to this bike across kansas thing? i'm interested
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Old 03-26-07, 10:40 PM   #23
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I've enjoyed riding with my teenage daughters.

As they get older (ours are now 16 and 14) there seems to be more activities and they're
spending less time on the bike. I think it helps to have them plan the rides/adventures.

Last summer our goal was to be able to do the Hotter'N Hell Hundred.
We decided that we needed a minimum of 300 miles/month in order to
be able to complete the 100-miler and be able to enjoy it.

This year's ride was hot. At about 80 miles we were all tired.
We paced ourselves and were all able to smile at the end.

This attached image was about mile 40.
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Old 03-27-07, 06:24 AM   #24
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This 12 year old in 1989 is not smiling for the camera, he's taunting the people that we just blew by.

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