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Thread: Why?

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    Why?

    I'm not trying to be insulting or in anyway detract from your sport/past time, but I simply don't understand the attraction of a tandem. I've tried it as the front and rear rider over 30 miles and hated it- esp' the hills.

    So, what's the attraction?

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    I am not trying to belittle the question, but there are any number of reasons. Likely the things you dislike are the things others like about it. No one really likes hills but they can give you a sense of accomplishment with your partner and in that way can be enjoyable.

    Pick some activity you like that others don't. It can be hard to quantify exactly what it is that you enjoy about the activity, but you can see that it is not necessarily for everyone. Whatever the reason, you're just glad you have something that you enjoy that is good for you.

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    Do you like cycling? If you don't like cycling or have an other-half that does, you probably won't like tandeming.

    The great thing about cycling is that it's a social sport, unlike say running. You can train or go somewhere and talk to a bunch of people while you ride. Tandeming takes this to the next level since you're fixed together.

    Additionally it's a way that a family can enjoy riding a bike together. We pull our 9-month old in a trailer and she whoops as we take her for 5 laps of the park. I fully expect to hear Faster, Gas-gas-gas and Venga venga venga from the directeur sportif's seat in another 9 months!

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    I love cycling and cover 75-100 miles per week with the occaisional 50-70 mile weekend trip. I love the freedom to roam, change direction, stand up, sit down, change cadence and gear, get off and on, at will. The tandem restricts all of these and more.
    The social side while cycling is fine on a regular bike, though you do have to consider the traffic more than if you were on a tandem.
    When I had my short experience of a tandem it felt like everything I love about cycling was compromised - perhaps I'm just selfish!
    I get the point that we all like different things but I would genuinly like to understand the plus point of tandem cycling.

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    Senior Member Jinker's Avatar
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    I'd say the biggest thing is how you and your tandeming partner get along and communicate.

    Unless you're a pair of hammer-heads who want to ride a tandem to go a lot faster than a single (which I would love to try some day) tandeming is about sharing the experience.

    Going out for a fast paced ride on my road bike, or riding a challenging trail is a fundamentally different experience than hooking up the kiddie trailer and going for a ride on the tandem with my wife and daughter.

    To me it's the difference between going on a timed run, vs. going on a jog or hike with my wife where we point things out to each other, chit chat, etc etc.

    If you don't see how the second could could be a nice change of pace from the first, then, well, I can't really explain it to you.

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a good solo ride to get away from everything and be alone, it's just that I can do that on my commute to and from work whenever I want to.

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    Last time I picked up a thread like this it turned out to be a hack.

    Your post says nothing of your teamate on your tandem ride. It takes two to enjoy the tandem. Your post only says "I", so perhaps you should stick to a single, if you can work in a "we" then you might find the enjoyment we share here.

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    I ride my bikes 50-60 miles a week, mostly by myself. I enjoy that type of biking both on and off road. Yup you can go fast and nimbly on a single, but I really enjoy the tandem also. My wife isn’t an avid cyclist and the tandem allows us to have fun on the bike together. We will do shorter loops and stop for lunch and just spend quality time together, and together is the key here. Then I also ride the tandem with my 10 year old granddaughter. She couldn’t go on real rides with us without being on the tandem. She isn’t strong enough or big enough to keep up on her little 20 inch bike. Again the tandem allows us to spend time together as a family. My third option for a partner is my daughter. She inherited the cycling legs from my side of the family and we do organized rides and longer distances together. With her and I on the tandem, we can fly. Equally conditioned riders on a bike can’t keep up with a good team on a tandem especially when we are on flat ground or on a down hill stretch. Where I have hit 40 mph down hill on my single the tandem will cruise at 50. The singles are ok, and I do the serious conditioning and harder work on them. The tandem is more for just plain fun - together.

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    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    The downhill's are enough reward for riding tandem.

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    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    Pretty simple if you didn't like it don't do it, some like some don't like everything else in life.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadge
    I love cycling and cover 75-100 miles per week with the occaisional 50-70 mile weekend trip. I love the freedom to roam, change direction, stand up, sit down, change cadence and gear, get off and on, at will. The tandem restricts all of these and more.
    The social side while cycling is fine on a regular bike, though you do have to consider the traffic more than if you were on a tandem.
    When I had my short experience of a tandem it felt like everything I love about cycling was compromised - perhaps I'm just selfish!
    I get the point that we all like different things but I would genuinly like to understand the plus point of tandem cycling.

    I get your point, and for the most part, I'd prefer to ride a single bike. The tandem just isn't as much fun to ride. (We're looking to get a nicer tandem though to see if part of that isn't our particular tandem).

    However, there are 2 big advantages:

    1) it's the great equalizer. We both can get a good workout together, at very different fitness levels.

    2) it's time together. You can communicate much better, and it is more of a shared experience
    than riding 2 single bikes.

    Thus for me riding a Tandem isn't an end in itself. Rather the Tandem is the appropriate tool for the above 2 goals.

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xanti Andia
    Last time I picked up a thread like this it turned out to be a hack.

    Your post says nothing of your teamate on your tandem ride. It takes two to enjoy the tandem. Your post only says "I", so perhaps you should stick to a single, if you can work in a "we" then you might find the enjoyment we share here.
    I thought the same. Even though stated to the contrary by OP, the intent may be to inflame. Also, this forum is full of "why" and the manufacturers publish testimonials on their web sites from satisfied customers about "why" so the answer to the "why" question is easy to get and understand. The real question is why it did not work for his/her team - bad bike, poor partner, poor technique, poor communications, poorly managed expectations for the first ride and etc. Or just not a tandem kind of person.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by gadge
    I'm not trying to be insulting or in anyway detract from your sport/past time, but I simply don't understand the attraction of a tandem. So, what's the attraction?
    There are at least three essential elements needed to have an attraction or sincere interest in just about anything: a valid reason, a realistic goal, and the means. To become an enthusiast requires passion.

    As best as I can surmize from your postings in this thread, while you had a reason (curiosity?) and the means (access to a tandem and partner to ride with), there really wasn't a goal for you or your riding partner. Unfortunately, that is often times the case with many would-be captains who decide to experiment with tandems but who really haven't established that both they and their riding partner have compatible reasons and realistic goals. First time tandem experiments can also meet with poor results when the "means" is short-cut by using an ill-fitted machine or one that's not in proper repair.

    If you're struggling with this let me suggest that you consider your question with a slight twist. Instead of coming from a cyclist who experiemented with a tandem, consider what you'll hear coming from many non-cyclists who experiment with bicycling:

    Quote Originally Posted by first time rider
    I'm not trying to be insulting or in anyway detract from your sport/past time, but I simply don't understand the attraction of a cycling. I've tried over 30 miles and hated it- esp' the hills. So, what's the attraction?

    Again, without a realistic goal mere experimentation will not necessarily yield a continued interest in something unless during the experiment a hidden passion reveals itself.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 06-29-07 at 01:40 PM.

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    I am blind, so.... I think you can figure this one by yourself.

    For me its just another way to appreciate life even with limitations, by doing sport.

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tandeming is a bit like great sex!!!
    Neither one is good solo . .
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  15. #15
    Let's ride to the pub!
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadge
    So, what's the attraction?
    I get to look at DH's bum for hours on end.
    The more we ride, the better it gets.

  16. #16
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    You're right-you can't find the answer to the popularity of tandems by looking within yourself.

    A short answer might be: Togetherness, Teamwork, Technique.

    My wife and I value every minute together and begrudge the loss of just one of them. Right now our time is about evenly split between singles and tandem. Togetherness really, really matters.

    Some people find a value to Teamwork in excess of what can be achieved individually, even if they are themselves better than those with whom they choose to partner. Excelling at teamwork is something you can take back from tandeming, and cycling in general (drafting is a form of teamwork), to the rest of your life.

    Doing well as a mixed team on a tandem in a pack of mostly male riders going at a moderate/fast pace will require near-maximum efforts going uphill, and perfect pack placement, tactics, and gear selection the rest of the time. It takes Technique to do well on a tandem. If your goal is to feel after the ride that you have done well, excelling as a mixed team in a mostly male ride is one way to increase the satisfaction that you take away at the end of the day.

    Incidentally, tandems often win climbing "competitions" including a "win" at the Markleeville Death Ride (15000 feet of climbing, if I recall correctly), and (count 'em) FIVE consecutive "wins" at the Davis Double Century. Tandems can climb well because the energy-saving drafting effect of putting both riders close together extends down to 10 mph or so. Your complaint about climbing is more likely caused by the riders than the tandem.

    ".....love the freedom to roam, change direction, stand up, sit down, change cadence and gear, get off and on, at will. The tandem restricts all of these and more."

    SOME tandems, not all, restrict none of these things. A team with identical desires will always be going the same way. If the tandem is long enough and the riders have balanced pedal strokes, it's possible to stand up and sit down at will. A Da Vinci Independent Pedaling System gives the stoker the opportunity to pick a different cadence and gear than the captain, and even (horrors!) the opportunity to coast. I'm not as sure that the stoker can pedal while the captain coasts, but it seems likely.

    I've long since lost track, but I have had about 35 stokers over the years, and they all saw the value of tandeming, and they all came back for more rides. When you find you need it, tandeming will still be there for you.

  17. #17
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    I fell into tandemming after an illness and found a Pilot for the bike that was prepared to learn with me. You cannot experience the joy of a Tandem in one ride- It takes several. Those first rides are bad, especially if you are an experienced cyclist. Hills are hard- Compromising with the partner is terrible and you are always making mistakes and incidents such as falling off or being in the wrong gear happen all the time. Then it starts to become easier. That is when you start to find out that Tandems are great. You will still be slow up the 15% hills but on the flat you will leave the solos with ease and just don't scream too loud on the downhills.

    Now try it offroad and start doing long randonnees with plenty of other riders who when they first see you are ridiculing you for attempting a ride that they will find difficult on a solo. They won't be doing that after 20 miles or so.

    You want enjoyment- tandemming will give it. You want speed tandems have it. You want an easy ride- stay on the solo's. (Or ride in a Tandem team for about 6 months)
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    I think I understand the question, and I think it's a good question: what's the attraction of tandeming?

    I remember when mountain bikes first came out in the early 80's. Everybody was really stoked and enthusiastically riding mountain bikes. I actually test rode an early Ritchey, and I couldn't see the attraction at all (and I live just across the inlet from North Vancouver, and my first ride was up the dirt road at the top of Mountain Highway to the Cut at Grouse Mountain). I later bought a mountain bike (Bridgestone MB-2) and did some races, but I never really got into it. I figured that my strength was my leg speed, which is really useful in a track race or in a bunch sprint on the road, and leg speed counts for zip on a mountain bike, so I don't mountain bike any more. Too boring.

    To understand why I love road riding (and road tandeming), we'd have to go back to the time I smoked cigarettes, between the ages of 17 and 21. If I were to analyze why I smoked, I'd say the thing I enjoyed most was feeling that intense "hit" of the smoke going down my throat. Very tactile. And one of the things I like about riding the road bike or tandem is just feeling the thing vibrate underneath your hands, butt, and feet as the countryside goes rolling by.

    I don't think I'm really a sociable person. When I go out training, I usually ride by myself. I don't like riding single bikes with a girlfriend, because most can't keep up, even if I try to go slow (which can be just as painful as going too fast). But the tandem allows me to share the cycling experience with the significant other, and if I feel like hammering, she gets to share that part of the ride without getting left behind.

    Now, having said that, it's been my observation at tandem rallies and being amongst tandem people in a club that tandemistas tend to be generally more social and less competitive than the average bikie I have known. (Well, there's gotta be some commitment demonstrated by the shelling out of $6,000 on a bike sized to the two of ya.) But then, it could be because most bikies I have known have been the typical psychopathic homicidal racer. (Man, if I were working on a psychology degree, how I would love to do a study on the correlation between successful athletes and serial killers...)

    "Chacun son gout."

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    It's kind of like one of the "promotions" for the Jeep brand.

    It's a Jeep thing, you wouldn't understand.

    Trying to describe why we (note the we, not I) love to tandem is that we enjoy it. We like to be together. We enjoy each other's company. We have similar goals (like tandemgeek mentioned).

    As I've posted elsewhere in the forum...

    If you want to ride a tandem fast and your partner wants to ride a tandem fast, you will ride fast.
    If you want to just enjoy riding a tandem and your partner just wants to enjoy riding a tandem, you will enjoy riding a tandem.
    If one of you wants to go fast, and the other just wants to enjoy the ride, you will be neither fast, nor enjoy it.

    If you don't like an activity, don't force it, maybe it's just not for you. I hate golf, I could give you my reasons I don't participate, but that would do squat do dissuade the millions of golfers from continuing in a sport they love.

    Nothing personal, but if you don't like riding a tandem but enjoy riding a single, ride a single and don't try to figure out why you don't (or we do) like riding a tandem.
    NewbieIATandem
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    Captain - 2nd in Command djsincla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadge
    I'm not trying to be insulting or in anyway detract from your sport/past time, but I simply don't understand the attraction of a tandem. I've tried it as the front and rear rider over 30 miles and hated it- esp' the hills.

    So, what's the attraction?
    The attraction is riding with my family together and not spread out over a great distance. Being able to carry on a conversation without yelling or being interrupted. Riding with a fast friend on the back, being able to ride very fast.

    Two adults and one child in our house we have 8 bikes and 1 trailer in the garage. The Tandem with trailer is what we ride when we all want to ride.

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    It's about partnering. And two homophobic Army buddies can partner just as well as two lovers. It's not about the bike. You want the bike, go get yourself a 16 lb. bike and ride your ass off. That's a good idea, too. But the two activities don't have much to do with one another. IMHO.

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    Believe it or not, some university did a study with married couples and they found a correlation between a better love life and tandem riders. NO JOKE! They showed the story on our local NBC affiliate about a month ago! I still haven't found out if this is true or not... I just got our recently gotten tandem out of the shop, and still working on it!

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoosierref
    Believe it or not, some university did a study with married couples and they found a correlation between a better love life and tandem riders. NO JOKE! They showed the story on our local NBC affiliate about a month ago! I still haven't found out if this is true or not... I just got our recently gotten tandem out of the shop, and still working on it!
    Yeah, we're all still working on it! I think there's a song about that. Enjoy.

  24. #24
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    hoosierref, what is your NBC affiliate? I'd like to do a bit of digging into finding this research.
    NewbieIATandem
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  25. #25
    Cycling since 1978 deanack's Avatar
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    Go on a flat ride with a group tandems that have been riding together and you will see. We did a ride down in Ohio a long a river that had a river boat ride back with a group of 4 tandems and 4 couples. Some better riders than others, but to get a double pace line of the four bikes together very few of the 1/2 bikes could keep up with us. That was a lot of fun!!

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