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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 07-14-09, 12:37 PM   #1
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Stoker's Century? Any Less On Tandem Than Single?

Thoughts?... Reason I ask, we have done 4 centuries on our tandem. My wife (stoker) has done up to 84 miles on her single as training rides. But has never done the 100 on her single. If I remember correctly, the 84 mile ride may have taken about 5 hours. I know she can easily do a flat 100 in 7 hrs which would more than respectable for a recreational rider.

Well, at times the century topic will come up as we socialize with other riders. If asked, we mention the 4 centuries on the tandem but only 84 on her single. Seems that the response is usually the same, "oh well, that's different, you carried her ". That response reminds me of the little jokes we hear while riding, "she's not pedaling". I know others are just being friendly so not offended but in reality, if she wipes her brow while riding, I can feel it up front. So if she had her feet up, I'd surely know!

So the plan this summer is to have her ride 100 on her single. Which I know will be no problem, but just to have another notch on her stem!

Also wondering how many of you married couple tandemites that have done centuries on the tandem, have also had their SO stoker ride centuries on her single??? OR "his single" depending on who wears the pants!
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Old 07-14-09, 01:19 PM   #2
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So, what you are asking is how much harder it is for a stoker to do a century on a single, than on a tandem?

This would depend directly on the wattage and weight of the captain. If the captain is fit, the century would be a lot easier and faster on the tandem, a laggard would have the stoker pining for her half-bike.
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Old 07-14-09, 01:33 PM   #3
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For us...

On our most recent double, my stoker's HR stats were where they would be if she did it on her own. However as a team we go much faster than she would on her own.

My HR was where it should be, but we were going a bit slower than I could do it for the same level of effort.
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Old 07-14-09, 02:05 PM   #4
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So, what you are asking is how much harder it is for a stoker to do a century on a single, than on a tandem?

This would depend directly on the wattage and weight of the captain. If the captain is fit, the century would be a lot easier and faster on the tandem, a laggard would have the stoker pining for her half-bike.

Nope,not asking that! More along the lines of "has and/or can the stoker do a century on singles?"

My wife has said it's easier on the tandem. But I know she can do a century on the single, just need to get her out ther to do it. So I wonder if most stokers have done it on singles?
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Old 07-14-09, 02:31 PM   #5
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How many stokers out there do not ride half-bikes? I know that mine rides on the trainer in the winter, but doesn't like to steer/brake and cars are somewhat scary. She wouldn't mind riding on rail-trails, but she does not like to play in traffic. Are there other stokers out there like this?
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Old 07-14-09, 02:39 PM   #6
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I don't think it's possible. Based on what I've heard from others, the stoker just sits in the back, not pedaling, doing her nails or reading a book.
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Old 07-14-09, 03:00 PM   #7
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Nothing worse than tandems side-buy-side with the stokers chatting away. (not my stoker/wife mind you).

We did centuries 25 years ago on our singles, but so did our 11 year-old twin sons. Don't have any desire to do another (solo) because we're having too much fun on the tandem. You don't share an experience riding two singles and there is no teamwork. To me that's what tandeming is about. If some folks think it's about given the stoker a free ride let them wallow in their ignorance. If the basker is part of a couple as the stoker wannabe of the two if he/she would trust his/her partner to on a 50 mph downhill descent.
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Old 07-14-09, 04:10 PM   #8
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I rode centuries on my half-bike before I became a stoker. Captain had never done more than a metric on any bike when we did the Palm Springs century in '07. He felt so good after that that we did a century a month from Feb.-October.

I think it depends on the individual -- if they want to ride a solo century, they will. But just because you can ride a century solo, doesn't mean you should, unless you really want to -- otherwise it's a long, lonely ride.
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Old 07-14-09, 06:05 PM   #9
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One way for you to look this, is to compare the rides posted on Motion Based by tandemists and stokers.

For example, here is the ride I did with Mrs. Ritterview, the Solvang Half Century. 50 miles took a total of 4 hr, 50 min, averaging 12.7 mph.

Even on our antiquated tandem, the pace is much faster. Here is a relatively short trip, but we averaged 17.1 mph.

Maybe someone with a Garmin has posted a century by both tandem and stoker-on-half-bike to give a comparison. If a direct comparison isn't available, you can compare tandem century times with assorted female century times on the same ride.

For example, I came across this tandem team, averaging 20.3 mph for the 108 miles El Tour de Tuscon! You'll not find many stokers managing that on a half-bike.

Edit: I looked into this El Tour de Tuscon some more, and they have times for a lot of tandems on the 109 mile course here. Lots of variation on the mixed teams, averaging 24.1 mph to 10 mph. You can compare the female times on the singles here to give you some idea of comparable times. The fast single times were obviously in fast pacelines, which wouldn't necessarily be the case with your stoker's century.

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Old 07-14-09, 06:21 PM   #10
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So the plan this summer is to have her ride 100 on her single. Which I know will be no problem, but just to have another notch on her stem!
Whose plan?... Hers or yours?
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Old 07-14-09, 06:57 PM   #11
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There are lots of variables here. The terrain, group or solo.

My wife's first century was on the back of the tandem. Four hours,nineteen minutes. Not to downplay the effort, but I don't think she could have done her first century in a little over 4 hours on a single.
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Old 07-14-09, 10:44 PM   #12
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+1 on the variables. Assume the (male) captain is a stronger single rider than the (female) stoker the team will be faster on the flats than the captain on his single. Once terrain enters into the equation it's all a matter of degree and the relative loss of aerodynamic advantage as speed drops.
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Old 07-15-09, 01:28 AM   #13
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I rode centuries on my half-bike before I became a stoker. Captain had never done more than a metric on any bike when we did the Palm Springs century in '07. He felt so good after that that we did a century a month from Feb.-October.

I think it depends on the individual -- if they want to ride a solo century, they will. But just because you can ride a century solo, doesn't mean you should, unless you really want to -- otherwise it's a long, lonely ride.
You would be he one to answer. Speed, strngth keep arising here but what I'd like to know is, since you have done both:

IS doing a century on a single more glorious than doing it on the tandem? Are you more proud of your efforts on the single over the tandem? Or is it the same glorious feeling? Are you more proud to say you have done a century on the single, or just as proud to say tandem too?
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Old 07-15-09, 01:32 AM   #14
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Whose plan?... Hers or yours?

Hers!...My plan was the 5,000 ft climb. She made it 16 of the 21 miles. It ended when a bee stung me on the neck. I think she was rather happy about that! Had to turn back as I swell, needed cortisone creme.
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Old 07-15-09, 09:49 AM   #15
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""""Are you more proud to say you have done a century on the single, or just as proud to say tandem too?""""

I know this is an answer to a question you never asked..... but FWIW, for me, there is a ton more satisfaction of doing a century on the tandem with my wife than doing so on my single and by a long margin. I get double the fun/happiness on the tandem because it is a lot more physically challenging for me, plus I get the pleasure of seeing and sharing her satisfaction/excitement of doing a century that she would never do otherwise....

Bill J.
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Old 07-15-09, 11:42 AM   #16
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""""Are you more proud to say you have done a century on the single, or just as proud to say tandem too?""""

I know this is an answer to a question you never asked..... but FWIW, for me, there is a ton more satisfaction of doing a century on the tandem with my wife than doing so on my single and by a long margin. I get double the fun/happiness on the tandem because it is a lot more physically challenging for me, plus I get the pleasure of seeing and sharing her satisfaction/excitement of doing a century that she would never do otherwise....

Bill J.
That's cool! I feel the same after a tandem century. I know what you mean about the "more physically challenging". It does take a little more out of me than the single.
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Old 07-15-09, 02:51 PM   #17
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Just have stoker ride a century on her single just to get it our of her system . . . and to avoid the comments . . . "oh, but she did it on a tandem!"
Stoker Kay rode her first century back in about 1973 on a Huffy 10-speed with upright bars!
She then got a better single bike (she deserved it!) and rode several more centuries solo.
In 1975 we got into the tandem mode, and since then she has ridden well over a hundred centuries + several double metric centuries on our tandem(s).
She also has 15 El Tour de Tucsons to her credit plus back-to-back centuries and even a 325-miler with 22,000 feet of climbing in one 3-day-weekend.
She did not qualify in a 63-mile event as the 'first female finisher' because: 'she was riding on a tandem' (we placed third)! She bested the next female by 20 minutes and the first male/male tandem duo by 1/2 hour! We averaged 21.5 mph in the first 2 hours of that event. Can assure you she did as much work as the pilot!
Oh, she did get the trophy for the OLDEST woman riding! We still laugh about that one!!!
We are now in our seventies (76/74) and still love riding TWOgether although we quit riding centuries in our late 60s!
Pedal on!
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Old 07-15-09, 03:38 PM   #18
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She then got a better single bike and rode several more centuries solo.

She also has 15 El Tour de Tucsons to her credit...
So, what do you think comparable times would be for Stoker Kay on the 109 mile Tour de Tuscon on a tandem vs. a half-bike?
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Old 07-16-09, 12:45 AM   #19
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You would be he one to answer. Speed, strngth keep arising here but what I'd like to know is, since you have done both:

IS doing a century on a single more glorious than doing it on the tandem? Are you more proud of your efforts on the single over the tandem? Or is it the same glorious feeling? Are you more proud to say you have done a century on the single, or just as proud to say tandem too?
That's like comparing apples to oranges. I loved the feeling of having done centuries on my own. Finishing centuries on the tandem was like doubling the pleasure. It's heaps more fun to share the achievement. Unless Mrs. Beanz wants to prove something to herself, she's already achieved accolades for her tandem efforts.
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Old 07-16-09, 07:32 PM   #20
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^^ Best answer. (Which figures, coming from a stoker as it does.)
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Old 07-24-09, 03:00 PM   #21
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First century we did on a Tandem and there was no other Tandem doing the ride. You may remember back to your early days of Tandem riding and if you did 25 miles- then that was enough. The "TandemTeam" was not there and it was hard work. Very hard work.

Back to our first 100 mile ride- and all the other riders were solos. There were a few knowledgable riders that had tried Tandems but after a couple of hours- they gave it up as a bad job as the things don't go round corners- the brakes don't work- they are too heavy to go uphills and gear changing is a bit hit and miss. So There we were along with around 400 other riders attempting our first 100 on a tandem. I had done the ride before but on a solo and I can assure you this is the hardest ride I have ever done. Never done that distance on a Tandem though but we were a "Team" and we knew that tandem and the last 30 miles of the route- which was our local riding area.


Side bets were taken amongst the other riders as to where we would drop out. 20 miles?- 50?- but no-one thought we would finish. Then the organisor came up and informed us that Tandems had started before but none had completed the ride. Nice Confidence booster that one. As it was for charity- The side bets were taken for when we would drop out and all the "Winner" would get was their bet back.

14 hours later and we finished. 400 entrants- 45% dropout on the ride and we finished around halfway down the finishers. We enjoyed it so much- we put our entry in for the following year and due to proving that a Tandem could do 100 miles offroad with 10,000ft of climbing- a 2nd tandem entered and finished that year aswell.

So as to whether your stoker can do a Century on her Solo- Of course she can. All it will take is a bit of training in relearning how to go up the hills without having to put the Turbo in to carry the pilot. And tell her to put her I-Pod on. If she doesn't she will think she has gone deaf without the pilot being there to tell her what to do. And yes- I am a stoker.

And that first 100 miler on the tandem was hard. Harder than it ever was on a solo- and the next three I did were just as hard- but they were a bit faster. One thing I do know- I prefer the tandem to solo's anyday.No matter how long and steep those hills are.
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Old 07-24-09, 03:30 PM   #22
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We rode RAIN (Ride Across Indiana) this past weekend. There were over 1100 finishers on the 160 mile ride, we don't know how many started. There were very few tandems, we saw maybe 8 - 10 on the entire ride. We were surprised how few tandems were on the ride.
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Old 07-24-09, 08:48 PM   #23
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Well, at times the century topic will come up as we socialize with other riders. If asked, we mention the 4 centuries on the tandem but only 84 on her single. Seems that the response is usually the same, "oh well, that's different, you carried her ". That response reminds me of the little jokes we hear while riding, "she's not pedaling".
Who cares what they say? Are you riding to impress the scoffer's or to make yourselves happy?
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Old 07-24-09, 10:21 PM   #24
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Who cares what they say? Are you riding to impress the scoffer's or to make yourselves happy?
Posted like a true Retro Grouch.
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Old 07-24-09, 10:23 PM   #25
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So as to whether your stoker can do a Century on her Solo- Of course she can. All it will take is a bit of training in relearning how to go up the hills without having to put the Turbo in to carry the pilot. And tell her to put her I-Pod on. If she doesn't she will think she has gone deaf without the pilot being there to tell her what to do. And yes- I am a stoker.
Best advice so far.
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