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  1. #1
    Ms Congeniality bikingMILF's Avatar
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    noob to the tandem, equality of workload question

    So we just got us a sweet vintage Santana and took her out for a ride last weekend. It was a GREAT ride and as you all know, a whole lot of fun. I can't wait to get back out there, which will most likely be this Saturday. Something we've kind of been chuckling about all week (me chuckling more than him, lol) is our reaction after the end of the ride:

    Me: That was SO fun
    Jay: You're right! What a hell of a workout. I was so whooped when we finished!
    Me: Uhm, really? LOL Wow, I hardly broke a sweat!
    Jay: Well then uh, we need to figure out how to more evenly distribute the workload



    A bit about our riding style... He's a spinner, I'm a masher. We are pretty equal in ability, meaning even though we have different pedaling styles, I'm a strong enough rider to be able to keep up with him.

    I did notice that we were riding at a higher cadence than I would have chosen if it was just me on a single bike, but I didn't complain about it at all because I wasn't experiencing any discomfort. I was able to maintain the cadence.

    Any suggestions on how to more equally distribute the effort? The goal is to use the tandem on all rides we are able to do together, and that includes the MS150 in September. If we're going to make it 100 miles on this thing, we need to learn a technique that will have us both contributing equally, so that one of us isn't half dead at the finish line.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    I would probably suggest riding in a higher gear than he normally would, or him running longer cranks than you.

  3. #3
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Well the preferred cadence difference is interesting. Maybe you could put a bigger ring on your end of the timing chain? That would be pretty weird with the timing constantly changing. A better idea might be to just compromise and find a cadence that works for both of you.

    I guess for me it seems pretty simple. I ride as hard as I want to, and she rides as hard as she wants to. And when the stoker says "shift", the captain shifts.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

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    Ms Congeniality bikingMILF's Avatar
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    see the thing is, neither of us was uncomfortable. we were definitely going at a cadence closer to what he prefers. another thing too is, when i asked him to put it in a higher gear, he couldnt....we were out of gears!

    he'll be home soon and can throw his input into this thread. he's a lot better at bike talk than i am. all i know is, i mash, im comfy, i go fast. when we're on the tandem, i cant mash because even on the hardest gear, its ridiculously simple to pedal. does that make sense?


    ps.... we got a new crank set sitting on the kitchen counter. it will be installed on the bike next week. he said the new cranks are 175/170 so I guess when those bad boys get put on, he'll be running longer cranks. Be interesting to see how much of a difference it makes.


    Some points I've been pondering as well..... could the fact that he is the one getting all the wind in his face be contributing to his tiredness? I kinda figured since we were both on the same bike that I wouldn't be benefitting from a draft in any way other than just not having wind in my face. Also, could the chore of having to balance, steer, etc be wearing him out?

    Whatever the case may be, I'd really like to get to a point where he's not pooped while I'm sipping mint juleps. LOL We are both strong riders, and I want to go out and have hammer time, not unclip and put my feet up.
    Last edited by bikingMILF; 02-19-09 at 08:53 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    I think the main thing is just more saddle time in the tandem. Compromise will need to happen.

    I'm sure you've probably heard before - tandem riding will magnify your relationship. Kind of like hanging wallpaper

    We bought our tandem when she was expecting our first. I'm IMing my daughter as we speek, who's now a junior at college. We figured it out, have had a blast with it, so I'm sure you can too.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  6. #6
    Ms Congeniality bikingMILF's Avatar
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    LMAO....tandem riding better not be anything like hanging wallpaper. i HATE hanging wallpaper! so frustrating!!

    that being said, i do think time together on the bike will help tremendously. fortunately for us, we really dig each other, so HAVING to spend time on that thing won't be a horrible thing. having to FIND time is another problem.

  7. #7
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    What cadences do you prefer to pedal? You'll need to be more specific than spin or mash. I consider a cadence meter on my computer a necessity. When I (the captain) brought our cadence down to my wifes range then she was able to do a lot more of the work. With the computer I know exactly where to keep the pace.
    For us it required a lot of communication to figure out what cadence range would work.
    Last edited by justcrankn; 02-19-09 at 09:53 PM.

  8. #8
    Ms Congeniality bikingMILF's Avatar
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    lol welllll....... i like to keep it below 70 <ducking> hes more in the high 90's and above.

  9. #9
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    Biggest gear?

    Sheesh, what gearing do you have on there?

    We have a 53x11... You have to be going pretty fast to overspin that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayC View Post
    We picked up a set of Truvativ tandem cranks Theyre 175 for the captain and 170 for the stoker. Im not sure what difference if any that will make.
    I'd suspect that when you have long cranks and she has short, and you're spinning, she will feel like she is NOT pedalling as fast because the circumference of her pedal circles will be smaller than yours, thus the circular velocity of her feet will be Lower. [edits, per Cornucopia's correct input below] Thus, you may be able to lower your cadence a bit (it may feel like your feet are going around more often, i.e. spinning, when they're really just going further around) and hopefully she'll be able to pedal a bit faster / higher cadence

    The thing is, we just done have enough gears for her to mash. Ive also got another rear cassette coming for the bike which will swap out the 14/34 with a 13/34 so that should help a little.
    related to the last paragraph below, are you dealing with cassettes or freewheels, and how many speeds?

    I think one of the problems is that Im having to work really hard to balance the bike while we're getting used to the tandem.
    That could make you more tired, overall; more upper body work for the captain. As you get better at the balancing, and build up muscles for that heavy-duty steering, that source of tiredness may go away.

    I think the fit was also way out of whack which may have affected Erica's power output. I did a quick setup on the stoker compartment tonight and her seat was about 10cm too low. Hopefully that gets her back in the sweet spot.
    The lower seat may have made it easier for her to spin, actually.

    Im trying to keep the cadence at a happy medium for both of us. I dont know if I can find a cluster with a smaller gear than a 13. Its a Shimano freewheel.
    As was noted, you can go as small as 11, but, then again, you could get a chainring with a few more teeth. 54x12 gives a 121" gear, more or less, and at 100 rpm you'd be doing over 35 mph ...

    I find it interesting that she didn't really mind being "forced" to spin. Maybe the things to do are 1) set up the bike so that she has the long, masher cranks, 2) split the difference, with preference toward the higher side, on the cadence [maybe get computers with cadence readout for both, or at least where she can see it], 3) get a different casette [check the on-line merchants for what is out there] (might want to think about a 12-28), 4) get a bigger big chainring.
    Last edited by moleman76; 02-21-09 at 06:43 PM. Reason: correction, per a later post

  11. #11
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    We use heart rate monitors frequently on the tandem. We know what each other's numbers mean from years of running and cycling together. So when I'm working hard and I THINK she isn't.. I just ask for her number at the moment and we know right a way it we are in near equal effort or not. We can also usually tell from our numbers if one of us is a bit tired or weak that day and can adjust accordingly. Good Luck have fun.


    Bill J.
    Last edited by specbill; 02-20-09 at 06:38 AM. Reason: typo

  12. #12
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    So what's the problem? If you want to get more of a workout, pedal harder... And he should drop the cadence a bit for you.


    I've actually never taken my wife on a real tandem ride... I usually ride with my 5 y/o son. I've taken a couple of longer rides with my brothers. When I ride with them (they are both very casual cyclists), my concern has been that they are riding too hard and are going to wear themselves out before the ride is over. And with the 5 y/o, I know he's not putting much effort in and that's just fine.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by moleman76 View Post
    I'd suspect that when you have long cranks and she has short, and you're spinning, she will feel like she is really spinning because the circumference of her pedal circles will be smaller than yours, thus the circular velocity of her feet will be higher.
    .
    The opposite is true. Longer crank arms fell fatser (are going faster) than shorter ones.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayC View Post
    she rides in the 50/11 almost all the time.
    Please take no ofense but 50/11 is a huge gear to ride at all the time. Stoker needs to learn to spin at 80-85 rpm minimum or her knees are going to hurt sooner or later. IMHO

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    You're bringing up many issues which take time to work out. The HRM isn't of much value until you work out the bike fit and cadence issues.
    If you're wobbly on the bike there are at least two possible problems. The stoker needs to stay "quite" or the captain will be doing extra work to counteract any movements. Also, the bike handling is probably quite a bit different than your single. If you look at the headtube angle and the fork rake you'll see the difference. The fork rake can be modified with a different fork, but your older bike might be hard to change. Personally I am wobbly with a 54mm fork and we can ride no-hands with a 44mm fork. YMMV
    This is debated, but I feel you should use whatever crank length you feel is best for you. Don't modify that for the tandem.
    Many women need their seats way back. This has something to do with femur/leg length. This was the case for Miguel Indurain, so you have fast company. This positioning requires a slower cadence to make power. My stoker has her seat all the way back on a setback post. We brought her cadence up from 70 to the 80's and I slowed down from the high 90's. Any faster and her feet are just along for the ride, but I can adjust to any cadence from 75 to 105. With her putting out more power both our speed and endurance are up.
    Hope this helps.

  16. #16
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    50x11 is a huge gear.... bigger than a 52x12.

    She just needs to learn to spin faster. You will both adapt just keep riding.

    Also, White Industries makes a 140mm spaced tandem hub... we have one. Then you can have your choice of modern 9/10s cassettes.

  17. #17
    Ms Congeniality bikingMILF's Avatar
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    lol he exaggerates....i dont use my big gear ALL the time

    thanks for the advice, guys. i can't wait to get the new cranks put on. they are taunting me from the kitchen counter. we're taking her out for our second ever ride tomorrow and armed with both what we've read here as well as being aware that our maiden voyage was less-than-optimal as far as power sharing is concerned, I'm sure we will do a bit better. Rome wasn't built in a day, right? Heck, I'm just happy we didnt wreck. LOL!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornucopia72 View Post
    The opposite is true. Longer crank arms fell fatser (are going faster) than shorter ones.
    You're right. It was late at night when I typed that comment. So, it could help with the cadence mismatch, at least psychologically

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayC View Post
    This bike is a vintage Santana with 140mm rear wheel spacing. It's 7 speed with a Sachs 5 groupset. It uses Shimano 7 speed freewheels. I believe we have a 34/14 on there now and will be replacing it with a 34/13. If I could find something with a 12 or even better an 11, that would be great ...

    Its got a 52 tooth big chain ring on the front.
    7-speed choices:

    Sheldon Brown http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html#8cassettes lists all the choices which Shimano made ... might not all be available.
    Otherwise (no comment on quality levels)
    SRAM's PG-730 at Nashbar is 12-32
    Nashbar has "MTB" 7-speed freewheels 12-28 and 13-32 and "road" ones 13-24 and 13-32
    Loose Screws has Sunrace 13-24 and 13-28, as does Biketoolsetc.

    these are all in the $30 or less range, with postage.

    eBay may have some, too.

    I'd go with the suggestion to upgrade to a cassette system, however ... much more flexibility, more cassette choices, AND better rear axle/bearing conditions. You could put in an 8-speed and probably only have to change the chain.

    The 52-14 does cramp your top range. 54-13 would bring you up 12% in your top gearing; 54-12, 21%.

    I'd expect that the bigger chainring would cost more than the freewheel.

  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikingMILF View Post
    Me: That was SO fun
    Jay: You're right! What a hell of a workout. I was so whooped when we finished!
    Me: Uhm, really? LOL Wow, I hardly broke a sweat!
    Jay: Well then uh, we need to figure out how to more evenly distribute the workload



    It does not matter how accomplished a rider(s) you are on solo's- When you get on a Tandem things change. You have the get those two 1/2 engines working as one. This will take a bit of compromise with both of you. And sounds as though the biggest compromise you will have to make is with regard to Cadence. It will not take long- About 500 miles or 3 months and you will be starting to work together. It does sound as though you are a bit low geared though- for the flat- but that 34 will still be a godsend up the hills.

    Give it another 6 rides or so and you will both find that you will be settling into the Tandem. And you won't even notice it.
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  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    HRMs. Have to be coded, so you don't pick up each other's. Decide on ranges before the ride, depending on how you want to train that ride, how tired, etc. We sometimes use different ranges, depending on how fresh one of us is.

    The cadence non-issue will fix itself. More important is to get so you use the same power in the different parts of the stroke. Trying to accelerate someone else's feet takes a lot out of a person. It shouldn't feel like someone else is pedaling at all. So you might say, "A little more kick at the top of the stroke" or "Am I pulling too much at 8 o'clock?"

  22. #22
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Back in the 'old days' (mid-1970s) when we had 27 inch rims, we utilized a TA 56 tooth front chainring paired to a 14-28 5-speed freewheel giving us a 108" top gear.
    Currently running a 54x12 paired to a 9-speed cassette (121" top gear). . . nice for those downhills!
    Communication/compromise cadence + bigger chainring (may need longer cage front der.) would be cheapest solutioin.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  23. #23
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    . . . you could also try setting up your pedals 90 degrees out-of-phase (OOP).

  24. #24
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    HRMs. Have to be coded, so you don't pick up each other's. Decide on ranges before the ride, depending on how you want to train that ride, how tired, etc. We sometimes use different ranges, depending on how fresh one of us is.
    +1. If you're training to be faster, and or ride farther on the tandem, training by HR is your best option, and will help with sharing the work.

    You really do need to have them coded. For awhile my wife was using a non coded HRM, and she was reading off my HR. We'd be climbing, and I'd be at 170 bpm, pretty much dying. She'd be chatting away, reporting a HR within 1 or 2 beats of mine. I knew she was not that much stronger than me.

    Turned out that she was in fact reading my HR.
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  25. #25
    Ms Congeniality bikingMILF's Avatar
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    LOL I'd know if I was reading his HRM. He is consistently about 20bpm lower than I am. Ten years age difference might have something to do with that

    Anyways, he uses the HRM on the Garmin. I use the one that pairs up with my Polar watch.

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