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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 10-11-07, 05:15 PM   #1
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new with a question...

I'm sure that this will be the first of many questions that I have. I was wondering, have you found that tandem cycling has effected your single cycling performance either negatively or positively?

We are both new to tandem riding, in fact our tandem just arrived and was built up yesterday. We plan to ride together a couple of times a week, do some of the easier double centuries on the tandem, but still do the majority of our riding on our single bikes.

Oh...and any tips for new tandem riders would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!
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Old 10-11-07, 06:20 PM   #2
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My wife and I ride our single bikes and tandem approximately 50/50. This year we raced the tandem in 7 time trials and my wife raced in a TT on her single non-aero. We both like the same cadence. We prefer single bikes in group rides and hill climbing. However, with ample power from each party, hill climbing on a tandem is not a problem.

We find going between tandem and singles not to be a problem although, I notice the Q factor when I first get on the tandem is different from the single. It takes a few moments to adjust. We find that training on the tandem causes us to push each other harder and each person has HR and speed. We try to stay in the same HR zones while riding although that is not necessary.

As I recall, you did a race / ride across america??? Plus numerous very hilly doubles??? My prediction is that your team will be a killer combination on a tandem. Will it help your single bike riding? That depends on how well you work as a team. If while riding the tandem, you long for the flexibility and spontaneous capability of a single, you will be disappointed by the tandem experience. If you like teamwork, communication, shared goals and soul crushing speed, then you will like the tandem and the tandem training, IMHO, will benefit your single bike riding.

Edit: Tandem riding is a plus in increasing our fitness that carries over to singles.
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Old 10-11-07, 06:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. He did RAAM on a two person team and just last weekend did Furnace Creek 508 on a fixed gear. I do the double centuries and some of the hillier century rides, like the Planet Ultra King of the Mountain series. We both love to climb and I want to get out there climbing on this thing as soon as possible so we don't just get accustomed to the fast flats along the coast and drag our heels in hauling it out climb on it. Our fitness levels are mismatched...I'm not nearly as fast/strong as he is, but at least this way he can't drop me. <~~~only half kidding...he always comes back to get me.

Soul crushing speed...those are the words I like to hear!!

We're taking it out for the first ride as soon as he gets home!
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Old 10-11-07, 06:35 PM   #4
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Hi Brandy, Long time...

I think you guys will be great! Kim and I tandem, and I find it's a lot more work then my single. I'm a fair be stronger then Kim, and we usually average much closer to my speed then Kim's. We usually just pull out the tandem for club rides etc... Some women don't like "not having control", but we enjoy being able to talk and enjoy the ride together. The best advice we have is learn the proper method (bascially the captian holds the bike frimly while the stoker mounts and clips in), and that the stoker is never wrong. Otherwise, call out holes, hills, stopping, etc... I've dropped Kim 3 times, so some lessons come hard
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Old 10-11-07, 06:39 PM   #5
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Hey John!

Thanks for the advice, I found that article on the proper method while I was at work and emailed it to George. I like the stoker is never wrong theory!!! I don't want to be dropped though, so wish us luck on our maiden voyage tonight. It's going to be a short one because George can barely walk after Furnace Creek 508 last weekend, but we're hoping to get a few miles in, grab some food and then ride home.
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Old 10-11-07, 06:54 PM   #6
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BTW John, I was just talking about you this weekend! While I was crewing 508 for George I was telling one of our other crew members (Terry Zmrhal, race director for RAAM) about how fortunate we were to have some yummy meals along the way during RAAM. Driving through the desert at 15 miles an hour I described in detail that meal that you brought to us...yum. At the time I was wishing I had some right then! Thanks again for that, you're the best!
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Old 10-11-07, 11:11 PM   #7
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How does tandeming affect single bike riding?
We've been riding as a duo since 1975. At ages 75/72 we still get in 100 miles a week on the twicer plus pilot sneaks out once a week on his single. Kay gave up riding a single years ago.
We are no longer competitive nor do we do the long/hard stuff any more.
Been there and done that!
Key to tandeming is not about being equal riders. It is communication and compromise. So he won't need to look over his shoulder as he sprints through that amber traffic light . . . you'll be right behind him kicking in the afterburner!
Eventually you jell as a team . . .
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 10-12-07, 12:13 AM   #8
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I was wondering, have you found that tandem cycling has effected your single cycling performance either negatively or positively? Thank you!
We've been riding tandem for a year come next weekend. Prior to that I had a couple of years' experience on the road over my husband, whose idea it was to ride tandem. As stoker I could no longer drop him and he could keep up. (Sidebar: He got a 1/2 bike in the spring and has increased his strength and fitness big-time since then.)

As stoker my biggest challenge was relinquishing control. Then I realized how much control the stoker really has.

At one point I'd not ridden a 1/2 bike for 6 weeks. When I finally took it out for a ride I freaked out, approaching an intersection at which I had to turn, the curb was fast approaching, OMG! Then I realized I could steer. End of drama.

We committed to a century a month on the tandem and thus far are 8 for 10. We're seriously thinking doubles and randonees, as well, since we both rise to the challenge of "more is better." That's for next year, though, so the captain can have a solid aerobic base under his belt.

When you come to N. CA give us a holler and we'll do likewise when we travel south. Enjoy your tandem adventures!
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Old 10-12-07, 08:24 AM   #9
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We ride the tandem about 1000 miles and I ride my single about 6000 miles. The only problem we have is that because I stupidly run a lower cadence on the tandem, sometimes my knees are a little sore afterwards., but I use the tandem rides mostly as recovery except for a half dozen hammer fest rides throughout the year. It's a nice break and I really like riding with my SO. It's good to remember what someone on the forum has said "the stoker is always right".

Frank
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Old 10-12-07, 09:05 AM   #10
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Here is a link to the Proper Method by Bill McCready, owner of Santana Tandems. http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html

The most important rule in tandeming is "the stoker makes no mistakes". And for good reason...they have no control.

I would add one other thought. Allow more safty margin for stopping and cornering than you think you need and clear obstacles by wider distances. With the added weight and speed, one just needs more margin. If you clear obstacles such as parked cars too close, the stoker will think you are going to hit it. Even if they do not say anything, they will not like it. It is the view from the back and lack of control that give them a different perspective.
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Old 10-12-07, 09:18 AM   #11
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Thank you so much for all of the information...this subforum is great!

Our maiden voyage was very short! I freaked out and didn't want to go onto the "big roads"...I felt like such a chicken, took me back to when I first started riding my road bike. We stayed in the housing tract and wow...this is going to take some getting used to. It is going to take some time to give up control, it's so hard to not try to steer from back there.

If you were a total newbie captain and stoker, how long did it take for you to figure all of this out?
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Old 10-12-07, 10:18 AM   #12
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Here is a link to the Proper Method by Bill McCready, owner of Santana Tandems. http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/propmethod.html

The most important rule in tandeming is "the stoker makes no mistakes". And for good reason...they have no control.

I would add one other thought. Allow more safty margin for stopping and cornering than you think you need and clear obstacles by wider distances. With the added weight and speed, one just needs more margin. If you clear obstacles such as parked cars too close, the stoker will think you are going to hit it. Even if they do not say anything, they will not like it. It is the view from the back and lack of control that give them a different perspective.
I never realized the truth of this until we did a leisurely stroll on a bikepath with center posts at the intersections. I just casually strolled thru on whatever side made sense, but after the 3rd post my stoker said "I keep thinking you are going to hit the posts because I can't see them coming up"

Frank
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Old 10-12-07, 10:20 AM   #13
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If you were a total newbie captain and stoker, how long did it take for you to figure all of this out?
It depends on the stoker/captain personalieties. Some people can not give up control and some people can not assume control. For us it took less than 1-2 minutes to start having fun.... but after many years and many miles we are still improving our communication.

May we suggest that you close your eyes for a while next time you go out. Just try it.

From what we can see, both of you are very strong ridders... not only long, endurance ridders but also strong/fast. If you tame the tandem you are going to make a lot of friends in organized or group rides... people are going to fight to grab your wheel and you will drop most but the strongest singles... it would be soo much fun!!

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Old 10-12-07, 10:24 AM   #14
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May we suggest that you close your eyes for a while next time you go out. Just try it.
That's so funny, I told him exactly that last night. I need a blindfold!
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Old 10-12-07, 10:27 AM   #15
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I had not ridden a bike on the road, seriously, for a few years. Red Rider had ridden her half bike for about 2 years, done several centuries and taken some racing clinics. We bought the bike after an 8 mile test ride. The next weekend we went on a 50 miler. Communicate, communicate, communicate. After many thousand miles, 1 year, an upgraded tandem, time trials, century rides and a couple of times where the bike exceeded the critical angle, we still try to communicate.

RR will have her own comments on the stoker side I am sure. She still "steers" the bike from her seat on occasion. We were riding about 10-12 mph on a country road when a dog came running up to it's fence, barking like crazy. I saw the dog and fence before it barked and knew it was safe. RR did not and when the dog barked, the bike swerved hard left. I laughed and asked her if she wanted to sit up front.

The team aspect is what it is all about. You have to think of it as a team and each team member has their position to play, neither of them more important than the other. Always talk to each other and let each other know what is working and what is not. As far as figuring it all out, I would say every ride is a chance to improve on our team work as a tandem team and a couple. We will celebrate a year of Twogether riding on the 21st of this month. Enjoy the ride and enjoy each other. That is what it is all about for us.
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Old 10-12-07, 11:00 AM   #16
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Hello everyone! Brandy will do most of the talking on the forum but I am the captain of this tandem team and I can't wait until we are in sync and get to enjoy tandem riding as much as you guys.

See you on the road.
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Old 10-12-07, 12:21 PM   #17
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Brandy, don't get alramed when George sits up, no-handed, and starts taking his vest and arm warmers off.....tandems are very stable in this regard. My wife used to freak out every time I took my hands off of the bars.
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Old 10-12-07, 12:27 PM   #18
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Brandy, don't get alramed when George sits up, no-handed, and starts taking his vest and arm warmers off.....tandems are very stable in this regard. My wife used to freak out every time I took my hands off of the bars.
Been there, done that already George...and yes, I freaked out just a little. Or a lot. I'm a big chicken when I try almost anything new, until I'm comfortable. You should have seen me a few weeks ago when I did my first ride on a fixed gear on a Saturday in bad traffic in downtown HB. I was totally freaking out.
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Old 10-12-07, 12:47 PM   #19
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That's so funny, I told him exactly that last night. I need a blindfold!
Closing your eyes is a legitimate way to deal with that situation. My wife does it every time we pass through a set of barricade poles near our house. The funny thing is that we had been through them about a dozen times before I mentioned how much I hated going through what seems like an 18 inch space between the pole and the curb and she replied "that's why I close my eyes...so I don't steer us into one or the other". I laughed so hard we almost had to go into granny gear to get up the small hill up the street. I just hadn't considered the situation from the stoker's point of view!
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Old 10-12-07, 01:23 PM   #20
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You should have seen me a few weeks ago when I did my first ride on a fixed gear on a Saturday in bad traffic in downtown HB. I was totally freaking out.
Brandy on a fixed gear......now that would be totally awesome!
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Old 10-12-07, 01:58 PM   #21
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Brandy on a fixed gear......now that would be totally awesome!
believe it. I fit her to my other fixie and she was out there doing it ....with clipless pedals even.
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Old 10-12-07, 07:44 PM   #22
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Back in 1975 when we started tandeming on a brand new Follis 'real' ten-speed, even the bike shop knew nothing about riding tandems!
We were both experienced single cyclists, had done centuries, etc.
It took us 3 months to really get our act TWOgether as there was no advice/instructions anywhere and tandems were something you had maybe heard about, but had not seen.
Our first rides, Kay was a bit petrified and as pilot realized later, the stoker position is one of complete trust. Not easy to give up control!
Have ridden primarily as pilot but have stoked many times with experienced and novice captains alike. Nice not to have to worry aout steering/braking/shifting etc; however the view from the rear seat is a bit skewed .. . 'yipes he's gonna hit that car!' DO NOT steer from the rear as it will affect captains control, no matter how stiff that tandem is.
Again key is proper communication and comprmise.
Wanna be a team? Need to work at it!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 10-12-07, 08:46 PM   #23
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Congrats on another killer ride (508), and thank you, it was fun to be part of the RAAM effort, if ever so small.

The drops were all very slow speed, but still Kim ended up with a bruise. The first was up a very steep hill with the kid in the trailer, we did a dismount and I just loss the bike. Second was on a MUP, the gates were closed and I had to swing around them and the front wheel fell off the pavement. And last was at Bike the Drive in Chicago, everything was wet and I just slipped. So I think I've learned now, and Kim still rides with me.

We are on our second tandem, as we started with an entry level Fuji. I think we just started small and the more we road the better we felt. Now Kim will take pictures, get food, read the map, who knows what all goes on back there. I want to take it to the local time trial next Spring. My age class is packed, but the mixed tandem class

We liked the Fuji enough to think about another bike, but the best thing we did was buy the Trek T2000, rides great, fits much better, super components, just a great bike. Made a big difference.

Enjoy the ride!
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Old 02-16-09, 11:49 PM   #24
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I'm resurrecting a thread from the dead. After a year of sitting around untouched...really...the tandem got no love in most of 2008...we're finally riding!

We went out for a 40 mile ride in early December, a century on Christmas day, and have since done 200km, 300km and 400km brevets on the tandem. Nothing like a long distance ride with a ton of climbing to figure your new tandem partnership out!

It was really hard for me to give up control at first, but I have come a long way. The last two events we've done have had 13,500 ft of climbing each, so we've really perfected our climbing out of the saddle.

Just had to share!
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Old 02-17-09, 12:29 AM   #25
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I'm resurrecting a thread from the dead. After a year of sitting around untouched...really...the tandem got no love in most of 2008...we're finally riding!

We went out for a 40 mile ride in early December, a century on Christmas day, and have since done 200km, 300km and 400km brevets on the tandem. Nothing like a long distance ride with a ton of climbing to figure your new tandem partnership out!

It was really hard for me to give up control at first, but I have come a long way. The last two events we've done have had 13,500 ft of climbing each, so we've really perfected our climbing out of the saddle.

Just had to share!
It sounds like you guys are doing really well. Keep it up. We on the other hand are going in the opposite direction. We are riding more singles, preparing for upcoming individual races and track. We rode the the tandem once since our trip to Mallorca October, 2008 because the road was wet and we had fenders on the tandem.
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