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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 01-02-02, 09:07 AM   #1
captain
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Stokers, I need your help...

After years of riding a single, I took a short ride on a tandem, and I didn't want to get off, it was fun and I had someone to talk to. Now I own a tandem, which
makes me an old rider and a new captain. I believe in McCready's ( Mr. Santana) dictum: The stoker is always right. My SO does not bike, so I am soliciting comments from stokers about what makes riding most comfortable for them. I know communication is key, but what
other attributes of a captain are desirable ? For example, I mention when I am going to shift, stop, or coast. And about every 25 miles, tired or not, we get off to stretch our legs.
I would like to hear some from stokers out there,
I am all ears. Thanks
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Old 01-02-02, 10:32 AM   #2
Gus Riley
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Originally posted by captain
..... The stoker is always right. .... I know communication is key, but what
other attributes of a captain are desirable? For example, I mention when I am going to shift, stop, or coast. And about every 25 miles, tired or not, we get off to stretch our legs.
....
One very important thing I see that you didn't mention is bumps. You've got to let the stoker know about bumps. During the riding season I get so used to calling "Bump" that I sometimes do it in the car! That's how important it is.

Looks like everthing else you mentioned covers the requirements of communication. You will find that as you both gain riding hours and miles you will be less likely to communicate gear changes and coasting. Both of you will learn by feel what each other is doing....kind of like dancing.

You must gain 100% confidence from your stoker for her/him to feel comfortable with your ability. My better half will tell me when we're going too fast and I make darn sure I listen and adhere.

We've been lucky to have fallen over only twice. One incident was at a crawl speed and the other was at a full stop. Our team pride suffered a bit, but no biggie.
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Old 01-02-02, 10:55 AM   #3
Gus Riley
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Originally posted by captain
After years of riding a single, I took a short ride on a tandem, and I didn't want to get off, it was fun and I had someone to talk to. Now I own a tandem, which
makes me an old rider and a new captain. I believe in McCready's ( Mr. Santana) dictum: The stoker is always right. My SO does not bike, so I am soliciting comments from stokers about what makes riding most comfortable for them. I know communication is key, but what
other attributes of a captain are desirable ? For example, I mention when I am going to shift, stop, or coast. And about every 25 miles, tired or not, we get off to stretch our legs.
I would like to hear some from stokers out there,
I am all ears. Thanks
Captain - I am Gus's stoker and wife (we've been riding as a tandem team for several years now) and I was not much into riding before we got the tandem. I never appreciated my single (Cannondale R600) as I did not make a serious attempt to learn the gears. I really enjoy not having to worry about shifting and braking and have total faith in my captain's capabilities. We used to ride a Honda Goldwing before we took up bicycling. (We still have the Goldwing, but don't ride much now.)

One thing I would suggest is that you stop about every 15 miles or so for a quick break. 25 miles is a bit much for me without a break. Also, I like having a trunk bag as opposed to wearing a backpack or fanny pack (I tend to overload my fanny pack and it gets in the way). So if you don't have a trunk, consider getting one. Also, I have a suspended seat post, and it really helps in making for a more comfortable ride.

I really get to enjoy the scenery a whole lot more now instead of concentrating on the road and driving. There are a lot of pluses to being the stoker on a tandem team, but the best is that we are riding together. My abilities are no match for my husband's, and on singles he would always have to hold back or leave me in the dust! I have to say that I am gradually getting better to boot.

You are doing well in telling your stoker when you are going to shift, stop, etc. but those bumps are very important to communicate (the suspended seat post helps alot there as well). Have fun and maybe we will see you at RAGBRAI some year.
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Old 01-02-02, 06:28 PM   #4
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what makes a good captain?
tight butt.
well defined, smooth, shaved legs.
shorts with no holes.

ok that's sexist(but you should see some of the posts on the women's forum....).

seriously:

a lot is said about stokers trusting their captains, but please also learn to trust your stoker.

for instance: during a 53 mph descent my captain resumed pedaling. i screamed "COAST!" and he did. he'd started pedaling on a small bump where i had been kicked out of the saddle and we were all out of wack. i've also yelled "CAR" and saved us from vehicles he didn't see.

a good captain listens to his stoker and takes her(or his) advice. i'll often call "cadence" on climbs; meaning his is dropping and i want to keep it high.

i've been lucky and i have a captain who is a very good bike handler. all of the group/pack riding/racing that you do only improves your skills.

my captain is also very complimentary, which helps. he always tells me how nice and smooth my pedal stroke is and that he barely feels me "back there".

we don't take "breaks"(that is "stopping") but we do call "stand" and then we take a standing/coasting break.

one thing: don't be afraid to really BE the captain. YOU are responsible for your stoker's saftey and comfort. sometimes we can not see what is ahead and you will have to make decisions.

have fun. we talk a lot. we also joke about "books on jerseys"(like "books on tape"). remember that the view can get pretty boring(no offense) so try to be nice and amuse your stoker.

have fun
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Old 01-06-02, 02:29 AM   #5
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Thanks....
For the suggestions from Gus' wife, her SO, and stoker Poptart.
Just got back from a 60 mile ride in the rain with
a new stoker. We hit it off quite well, it was talk, talk
talk while it rained, rained and rained. And she is
a "smell the roses cyclist", so we took our time to
take in the sights we could see between the rain drops.
She may be more of tandem junkie than I am. She
has a mail route, and noticed one fellow who took
cyclist catalogues. So she talked him into renting
a tandem for a local century ride last spring. She
didn't enjoy it to much, as he was a cyclist who
tried to get to the finish as soon as he clipped
one foot into the pedal to start the ride.
I have a suspension seat for her, however I found it
advantageous to call out "bump", stop pedaling
and have both of us stand. We prefer back roads, and
by their nature, there are plenty of "bumps".
Stopping before the 25 mile limit worked out nicely, especially when we could find a cup of hot coffee or a roof to stand under for a few minutes.
I use a TREK bag which has "semi-pannier" pull down pockets, so we don't have any big belts and packs to deal with while in the saddle.
I tried shaving my legs to improve her "rear view", but the cord on the electric razor won't stretch down that far. And since it wasn't Sunday, I had on only
my unholy jersey under the rain jacket .
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Old 01-06-02, 10:15 AM   #6
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[B
........She may be more of tandem junkie than I am..... [/B]
I'm not overly partial to the tandem either. My better-half loves it though. I personally would rather ride my single "most" of the time. I do admit though while riding the tandem I enjoy her company. I try to balance my riding time between my single and riding with her on the tandem.
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Old 01-06-02, 08:52 PM   #7
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Gus, thanks for being candid. Given my
years of school teaching, when one student
asks a question, there are several who have the same question but don't ask. Hence, I think there are a lot of captains out there who have similar feelings. I don't have the urge to get on my single and rip up the pavement. I have been trying to do that for the last eight years. At this point, I am looking for more fulfillment out of cycling,
such as enjoying the pleasure of being with
someone who enjoys the same things I
enjoy about cycling: working together, the sights, being out-of-doors, and the conversation. The fact we don't lead the pack on club rides isn't an issue. Gus, you
are in an envyable positon, your squeeze
is follows your every move.
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Old 01-06-02, 08:55 PM   #8
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"is follows" should be "is following "
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Old 01-06-02, 09:21 PM   #9
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As much as I like my single I still find that there is no thrill in biking like flying along on the tandem. When both the stoker and I are feeling strong its a rush. It's the closest I'll ever come to knowing what the pro racers feel like, especially when a group of strong tandems get pulling together. 30 miles later when the rush is over then the companionship benefits take over!
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Old 01-06-02, 09:47 PM   #10
Gus Riley
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As much as I like my single I still find that there is no thrill in biking like flying along on the tandem. When both the stoker and I are feeling strong its a rush. It's the closest I'll ever come to knowing what the pro racers feel like, especially when a group of strong tandems get pulling together. 30 miles later when the rush is over then the companionship benefits take over!
So True!!
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Old 01-06-02, 11:07 PM   #11
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Gus, that was a great pic!:thumbup:
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Old 01-07-02, 11:49 AM   #12
Gus Riley
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Gus, that was a great pic!:thumbup:
Thanks, we can't take the credit for it thou. While on RAGBRAI last year we met a friend (Puddle Jumper) from bicycleforum.com, she took this action shot. It is one of our favorites. Thanks PJ if you ever make it to this forum.
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