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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 09-12-07, 11:41 AM   #1
INSANEDESIGNS
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A newbie to tandem dumb question????

When my wife and I ride (We are new to tandem) Do I, the "Captain" have to work as hard as the "Stoker" on the hills, It seems as if she gets hardly winded at all, I am cranking pretty hard. When we ride singles, She can't hang with me at all. Is there any science behind this or are we equal??? Hope the question makes sense!
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Old 09-12-07, 12:00 PM   #2
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My stoker claims that it is not possible to pedal as hard as the captain, the pedals move away from her feet she says. The issue is not high cadance, we run 80's- 90's, 100 rpm gets complaints form the back, I guess it is just that the bike makes it up the hill anyway, the weaker cyclist (most often the stoker) does not see the tandem slowing down as a result of less input, only more sweat up front. Don't know what to do about it. Yesterday I took the bike to the shop, about 5 K, and conscripted my 14 yr old son into stoking, we were flying, but he generaly refuses to go with me.
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Old 09-12-07, 12:36 PM   #3
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When my wife and I ride (We are new to tandem) Do I, the "Captain" have to work as hard as the "Stoker" on the hills, It seems as if she gets hardly winded at all, I am cranking pretty hard. When we ride singles, She can't hang with me at all. Is there any science behind this or are we equal??? Hope the question makes sense!
HA HA This is the eternal tandem question. "Are you pedaling Dear?" On our new tandem (The CoMotion Speedster) , because we are in-sync, I can pretty much tell when my stoker is "on" and when she is "off". This is especially true on hills though and while we are at very different levels climbing on our singles, we can BOTH get pretty hammered on a tough climb. I guess the bottom line is, you should feel some input from the back, otherwise your stoker is just spinning along.

Frank
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Old 09-12-07, 04:11 PM   #4
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Captains always think they work/pedal harder than stokers!
My stoker has 75% lung capacity and at times she really can kick in the afterburner. She's always done her share of the work.
You can always ease up on your pedal input and see where it gets you.
Remember, riding a tandem is about riding TWOgether.
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 09-12-07, 06:55 PM   #5
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LOL
I noticed this with my wife also so I suggested she try using my HRM just for fun. For some weird reason it wouldn't read over 105bpm no matter what she did!
She suggested that the belt must be a guy's belt and she needed a girly belt which is why it wasn't reading higher or that the HRM just wasn't working properly.
mmmmmmmm I explained this wasn't likely to be the problem and tried it myself. Worked fine for me with the display showing me riding at a steady 150-155.
So she put it back on and then once we were up to speed I unclipped my feet and all of a sudden her bpm went up to 140.
Tandeming is fun and a great way to cycle together.
NEVER tell your stoker she's lazy and needs to work harder if you want her to keep riding with you. Whatever her output is should be considered just great. A HRM is not a way of checking up on her.
Your stoker is always right.
As it's harder for the stoker to see if you are riding up a hill and sometimes I can't tell myself if it's a long slow one, I installed an inclinometer on her handlebars that shows when we are climbing.
My wife had never exercised at a high level before she met me and didn't know anything about how much effort to use or how to pace herself. Using a HRM has enabled her to see how much she needed to do as she likes to push. These days she's called rocket and the HRM comes in handy for pacing herself on hills so she doesn't blow up before the top.

Cheers

Geoff
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Old 09-12-07, 08:01 PM   #6
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The first and primary rule of tandeming is worth repeating: the stoker is always right (and always pedaling). As to the afterburner effect, it is real. We just got back from a 250 mile tour with lots of hills. When it got real steep the stoker cranked up the afterburner and it made an incredible difference. I miss this effect on my half bike.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:28 PM   #7
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The first and primary rule of tandeming is worth repeating: the stoker is always right
No, actually the rule goes: the stoker makes no mistakes... which is quite different
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Old 09-12-07, 08:59 PM   #8
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No problem knowing about my regular stoker. I have an old Counterpoint tandem where I can see the recumbent stoker in front of me. As she is badly out of shape (for cycling) and an "A" type personality I have to keep on her about not cycling so hard or she gets fried in a few flat miles.
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Old 09-13-07, 06:17 AM   #9
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Been there too. I think the technique is to trust your stoker to feel the increased load of on the pedals and take some of it him / herself. If you take all the load they don't feel it and you get fried. While this may be a good way to get a workout, it's not productive in the long-run.
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Old 09-13-07, 06:49 AM   #10
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My Captain always tells me when he needs extra power. Before going uphill we build up as much speed as possible & both pedal hard. As stoker, I always pedal at a regular steady pressure, but when the Captain needs more push he'll let me know & he'll get all I can give.

A couple of weeks ago we were out & riding on a road we knew was hilly, just didn't know how hilly. We got up to 36 mph going downhill without pedalling, then had to go up that hill on the return. My Captain told me it was a good thing I couldn't see that hill because it looked like a wall. I don't think we left the large chainring either.
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Old 09-13-07, 06:51 AM   #11
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if your stoker doesn't say before the ride 'we are gonna kick all holy butt on this ride and i will sacrifice everything in the quest to make this rocketship dominate in all areas, just keep it steered away from danger and know i will be digging deep at all costs'

then find a new stoker


just sayin




also if you really want to form an effective tandem team, do some MTB tandem up some hills. there must be syncronicity
or you be walking. I've seen mtb tandem go up the steepest stuff, both standing and in sync, and it was beautiful. on the road tandem up hills they are uncatchable, and they hit >150rpm on the downhills. it take practice. there are tandems, then there are the tandems who really practice. difference can be 10mph easy
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Old 09-13-07, 08:02 AM   #12
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Mtb???

What does MTB mean?
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Old 09-13-07, 10:28 AM   #13
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AntiAndia wrote: My stoker claims that it is not possible to pedal as hard as the captain, the pedals move away from her feet she says.

We had our pedals in-phase, and that would happen sometimes with us too.
By adjusting the timing chain so the stokers pedals were slightly advanced worked for us.

Regards,
John
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Old 09-13-07, 10:44 AM   #14
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What does MTB mean?
mountain bike, trail riding
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Old 09-13-07, 11:20 AM   #15
Xanti Andia
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AntiAndia wrote: My stoker claims that it is not possible to pedal as hard as the captain, the pedals move away from her feet she says.

We had our pedals in-phase, and that would happen sometimes with us too.
By adjusting the timing chain so the stokers pedals were slightly advanced worked for us.
I'll try that. We were riding 90 deg OP with captain leading for a while but did not see a major benefit, and I was always a little worried of not knowing were to put my pedals to avoid a low clearance. I'll try to advance my stoker, how "slightly advanced" is your stoker?
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Old 09-14-07, 04:07 AM   #16
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Xanti Andia wrote: I'll try to advance my stoker, how "slightly advanced" is your stoker?

Just a tooth or two, I would say 5 - 10 degrees.

Good Luck,
John
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Old 09-15-07, 09:09 AM   #17
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Sounds like you're both doing great, and I hope you enjoy every ride together

And this is just facetious, but just sayin'

Have you noticed that jockeys carry a short leather crop in their right hand?
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Old 09-15-07, 09:21 AM   #18
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My wife and I have been married for 44 years and we've been tandeming together for 31. Over that time I've learned that some questions are best left unanswered. This is one of them.
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Old 09-18-07, 10:59 AM   #19
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Who said tandem riding was about riding "equally?" If anything, it allows the opposite while you ride together.

It's not about who "is" or "is not" pulling their weight. As long as you don't care how fast you go, it's just about how hard you want to ride and how hard your partner wants to ride. Why would one have to ride as hard as the other?

Why are you knocking yourself out on hills and expecting your partner to do the same - I mean, unless you are afraid you will tip by going too slow up-hill and need their help to keep you above 3-4 mph, why not just ride your ride and let your partner ride their ride?
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Old 09-18-07, 12:13 PM   #20
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^
True. However, it can be a bit frustrating. I race Cat 4. Not the fastest guy around, but a heck of a lot faster than my stoker, who at her current fitness would struggle to keep up with a "B" group of tourists.

Going up a hill, struggling to keep a decent pace, it can be frustrating when your stoker is chatting away, and you can't even answer back in complete sentences because you're dieing, in spite of being way more fit.

I try to console myself with the fact I'm getting a lot of work.
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Old 09-18-07, 02:06 PM   #21
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Going up a hill, struggling to keep a decent pace, it can be frustrating when your stoker is chatting away, and you can't even answer back in complete sentences because you're dieing, in spite of being way more fit.

I try to console myself with the fact I'm getting a lot of work.
I know it is hard. I go through the same thing but with my kids.

I can only suggest that you find a way to compromise. I'll leave the details of how to successfully have that conversation to you and any other resources you might have . My guess is that without a compromise and you get what you want, which I think is a harder working stoker, she may not be as excited to ride that expensive little two seater. And vice versa. I am pretty sure you don't want that battle carrying over to non-riding time.

For example, I was a little too gruff the other morning going up one of our climbs taking #2 to school. Not as much chit chat since then. I wish I had kept my mouth shut and found a way to not try to make them as uncomfortable as I was. I hope the random ramblings will come back around before too long. I miss the little buggers prattle .
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Old 09-18-07, 06:31 PM   #22
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^
True. However, it can be a bit frustrating. I race Cat 4. Not the fastest guy around, but a heck of a lot faster than my stoker, who at her current fitness would struggle to keep up with a "B" group of tourists.

Going up a hill, struggling to keep a decent pace, it can be frustrating when your stoker is chatting away, and you can't even answer back in complete sentences because you're dieing, in spite of being way more fit.

I try to console myself with the fact I'm getting a lot of work.
You probably need to reprogram your brain. Think of tandeming as a totally separate activity from training or bicycle raceing. Tandeming is a restful, social stroll with the stoker so don't waste your adrenaline on it. Save it up for the roadie.
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Old 09-18-07, 06:41 PM   #23
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Do they still make multi-person tandoms?
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Old 09-18-07, 07:15 PM   #24
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Downshift & reduce your effort. Bingo, problem solved... unless you were already in your lowest gear (regear the bike) or you were in a hurry (leave earlier next time).

Otherwise, it's all psychological, and you're pushing yourself too hard!

-Greg
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Old 09-19-07, 06:28 AM   #25
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my wife and i participate in a mtb on the road ride on tuesday nights. the route has one big downhill and three climbs. the single bikes always catch and pass us on the hills, but we catch and pass on the flats. we have a lot of fun riding together ( my wife doesn't ride a single bike). she gets dissapointed with me if i back off going uphill!

steve
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