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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 07-17-09, 07:12 PM   #1
pablopsd
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Advice needed from those old and very experienced captains!

Hey Guys, Here is the deal. We have been riding tandem for 11 years, and married for 19. Got our first tandem at 30 years old. I have always ridden singles and some mountain bikes, and the stoker doesn't ride anything but the tandem. I do some racing, and have picked up my training last year and this year. (Must be mid life crisis beginnings?) My stoker doesn't mind the hard ride, and doing some work, but this year we just are not up to par. I guess I am being somwhat selfish, as I am getting a little frustrated with our performance, as I know we have and can be better. BUT, the wife doesn't like the word "training" or anything that seems like a structured way to get faster, and stronger. So my wise friends, how do I get her to train without her knowing she is doing it? At 41 years old, we do have to work more than we used to! You all should have fun with this one! Thanks
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Old 07-17-09, 07:29 PM   #2
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Ride harder by yourself. Ride for fun with the stoker. Maybe longer tandem rides? Any hills to climb? Can't avoid getting stronger climbing hills.
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Old 07-17-09, 07:34 PM   #3
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Me riding hard is not the issue. I am way ahead of my usual season, and have done a fair amount of racing in May and early June. We are so out of sync this season that our rides are just not turning out to be that much fun.
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Old 07-17-09, 07:55 PM   #4
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Group ride with a bunch of your racing buddies. Have them go hard enough to make you two work HARD, but not so hard as to totally drop you (my stoker's advice). Kayla HATES being on the slowest bike and will put in really hard efforts to ride with the fast singles. If we are riding hard around here the topography usually does a good job of providing interval work.. We just need to have a "rabbit" to chase so that we don't ride slow when the road starts going up.
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Old 07-17-09, 08:03 PM   #5
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Agree to sign up for an event. Then work together toward that goal.
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Old 07-17-09, 09:26 PM   #6
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BUT, the wife doesn't like the word "training" or anything that seems like a structured way to get faster, and stronger. So my wise friends, how do I get her to train without her knowing she is doing it? At 41 years old, we do have to work more than we used to!

Really? You don't.


It would be as if you knitted to keep her company in her knitting hobby and then she expected you to knit a full quilt as fast as a pro....


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Old 07-17-09, 09:41 PM   #7
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I'm old and experienced, but not an experienced captain. Still, its the internet and I've got observations. My wife and I are enjoying tandeming emmensely, but I'm finding a certain amount of frustration climbing; I'm having trouble reconciling my climbing speed (remember, we're talking relative!) with that of my wife and I on our tandem. My solution is to get my wife a single that actual fits (51cm Specialized Ruby) and ride at least once a week together on our singles so I can better understand my wife's climbing capability. If she can only climb a 6% grade at 8 mph on her single we're not going to be able to go 12 mph; I'll be better able to get us in the right gear at the right cadence.

When I'm on my single with a group I feel free to blow myself up trying to keep up with some young guy, but on the tandem we need to get up hills in particular in good shape so we can take advantage of our downhill and flat land speed.

We're both competitive, but being on the tandem is about sharing something we enjoy doing. We'll work on cadence over the winter and maybe do intervals for 1/2 hour a week, but you've got to smell the roses.
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Old 07-18-09, 11:32 AM   #8
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^^ Rick, you show wisdom that more than compensates for your lack of experience in the front seat. You've got a lucky stoker and the two of you will enjoy tandeming together for a long time.

Everybody else: on your tandem you're slower going uphill than you are on your single unless your stoker is stronger and lighter than you are. Even on the level, your stoker has to be almost as strong as you are in order for you to be as fast as you are on your single. Live with it, and enjoy the compensations of having a hobby and a passion that the two of you can share together.

I'd ask the OP, Can you recall what was the "contract" between the two of you when you bought the tandem together? Why did she agree to get one? Is she a jockette by nature, did she compete in athletics in school? Did she sign on to helping you become competitive when your mid-life crisis -- your word -- started? Or did she have other "deliverables" in mind -- togetherness, socializing, moderate fitness, whatever? If "training" wasn't in the contract she signed, she's not likely to agree to pain and nausea as an add-on, unless she gets something in return that gives her compensating value.

Think of this as Freakenomics applied to tandeming.
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Old 07-18-09, 01:32 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the posts. Good information. I think you are missing the light hearted intent of the post. Neither my wife nor I were high school jocks. I have long outgrown my riding ego. It's called family. business, life etc are priority over racing. We both enjoy tandeming. If not, we would not have been doing so for 11 years. Wouldn't have made 19 of marriage either! We both are frustrated with our rides lately. She is more competitive than she will admit too. We both want to ride better than we have, but if the "training" word is used, the psycology kicks in, so I need some stealth techniques so she doesn't think she is training. That's all. Yes, I know we will climb slower, yes I know she could ride a single, but that will never happen. Been there, thrown that money away. Just figured there might be someone out there that had to outfox the stoker! Smiles, laughs guys and gals!
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Old 07-18-09, 01:41 PM   #10
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Just figured there might be someone out there that had to outfox the stoker! Smiles, laughs guys and gals!
Outfox a woman you're married to??? Surely you jest.....
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Old 07-18-09, 01:44 PM   #11
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Suggestion from a older, (married 39 years) disparate rider team. I do two rides. I first go out, either by myself or with a select group of friends, and do a hard ride. When I get home, we go out and enjoy an additional tandem ride together. I am generally pretty fried, so the additional "cheap miles" doesn't sound like a training ride to my wife. We can go at a little slower pace. If we ride hills, I really feel it because I have already had a hard ride. I end up getting stronger. I use it as recovery. She enjoys being with me and I love being with her.
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Old 07-18-09, 03:51 PM   #12
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I qualify for the "old" part of it. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

I guess I don't quite know for sure what you're talking about. If you mean she gets tired before you, you just need to work harder to match her - she's working harder than you. If you mean the tandem doesn't climb as fast as you do on your single, well no, I think the vast majority of us tandem couples are in that situation. That's why we got tandems - so the two of us could ride together without the pain in the neck business about being competitive and dropping each other and getting frustrated and all that worrying about it. We want to share our joy in riding far and fast with our SO. We get the plus of spending quality time with each other. Otherwise, we'd be apart when one or both of us want to train, which is OK for a while, but eventually stinks for a number of reasons. Just watch the news.

When we were first talking about getting a tandem (my idea), stoker said, "That won't work. I can't keep up with you!" Well, she keeps up with me just fine.

Stoker loves the tandem, much more than she does her single. Lots of good reasons for that. She also won't have anything to do with "training" and pain. She'll ride her single on her trainer for up to an hour if weather or time don't permit going out on the big bike. Sometimes she'll do a zone 3 interval on the trainer or some fastpedal, but nothing more. On the tandem, if we can get into some pretty country and nice roads, she'll work quite hard to keep the bike moving, at least as hard as I'm working, if we're having fun and we almost always are.

We are starting to really train now, for our first foreign tandem tour next fall. I try not to say that word. "Training" will consist of my giving up my hard weekend rides on my single, so we can go out and ride the tandem whenever weather permits, and at a moderate pace. I'll get plenty of training. The tandem absolutely slaughters my legs. If I ride hard on weekends and tandem a lot during the week, I get overtrained immediately.

So the objective is to bring stoker along by spending a lot of time together. Stoker does not ride in the rain or dark unless we are caught out, so in inclement weather we can ride rollers and trainer together and/or go to the gym where we have a membership. We can't ride the tandem on rollers because I am much more aggressive about training. She enjoys all that as long as I'm careful that she's being self-motivated, and not reacting to inputs from me, one way or the other. Which is not that hard to do. I just try to make it fun. I can say, "Just a little more. You know a little more now will make next week's rides easier." That works sometimes, but not always.

So that's what we're going to try: to get faster on the tandem by spending a lot more time on it. That works for a lot of things in a relationship. So far, so good. What did Eddie say? "Ride lots." He didn't say, "Do intervals."

What we're missing in this discussion is inputs from stokers, who really hold the keys in this discussion. You might add a thread with a title ending in "stokers."

BTW, I'm 64, stoker is 60, so neither of us recovers like we used to. Been together 35 years. Stoker is not and never was an "athlete." Doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy a great hike or bike ride. I'm looking forward to riding in the mountains with her next year. She doesn't know that yet, but she's gonna love it. So will I.
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Old 07-18-09, 04:15 PM   #13
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Threaten to get a younger and hotter stoker. Have all your legal affairs in order before you do this.
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Old 07-18-09, 05:52 PM   #14
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Not so much a trick but the reality is that group rides push you to work hard (train). Just look for a group that is strong enough to push you and your stoker.

If we go out and agree that we are going to do a 25 mile loop at or near 85% MHR it feels/is a lot harder (training) when we do it by ourselves than if we do it as a part of a fast group (fun). No comparison.

Hills and beautiful places also help
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Old 07-18-09, 08:37 PM   #15
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Agree to sign up for an event. Then work together toward that goal.
+1 Try to make it her idea and have it be more challenging.
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Old 07-18-09, 10:55 PM   #16
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In a nutshell....

I'm sure you heard the old phrase, "A tandem will make or break a marriage."

Give your wife a break. You're obviously a lot more interested in riding hard than she is. She's just going to be miserable if you make her ride harder than she wants to. And as my wife always reminds me, her thumbs are strategically placed to do major damage to my butt when we're riding! :-)
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Old 07-19-09, 04:06 PM   #17
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In a nutshell....

I'm sure you heard the old phrase, "A tandem will make or break a marriage."

Give your wife a break. You're obviously a lot more interested in riding hard than she is. She's just going to be miserable if you make her ride harder than she wants to. And as my wife always reminds me, her thumbs are strategically placed to do major damage to my butt when we're riding! :-)
+1 Your wife sees the tandem as fun, if you change that you may be riding alone...

For the record: age 46 (both of us), married 25 years, tandem team 5 months.
YMMV
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Old 07-19-09, 05:15 PM   #18
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Hey Guys,
I love all the posts, thanks. I especially like the one about the hot stoker, but I am smart enough not to try that one! :-) Actually went out and had our best ride of the year today. 53 miles close to 17 average. Not rockets compared to some of you guys, but we were happy. Notice we. It is not just me that has been frustrated, but both of us. Very flat ride today, and I am sure that contributed to the speed, but we were riding with a bunch of singles and we were holding some back too. One thing we did today was get our cadence up some. We never have really spun like i do alone. She has very short legs, and even with different cranks, we have always spun less, and muscled more, which I know is pretty common on tandems for some. I lost a fair amount of weight last season, and with it, a fair amount of low cadence power. Work alot now with spinning versus just mashing. We stayed in the middle ring most of the day, and just got her spinning more, which she didn't mind. Not up to where I ride normally, but a nice compromise. We did have some nice hard stretches, especially when someone made the comment about the stoker can help some too. Just happened to be on an slight steady uphill. Get the Portuguese blood flowing, and we are good to go! Walked away from most of the group. Will see how things progress.
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Old 07-20-09, 08:40 AM   #19
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She is more competitive than she will admit too. We both want to ride better than we have, but if the "training" word is used, the psychology kicks in, so I need some stealth techniques so she doesn't think she is training. That's all. Yes, I know we will climb slower, yes I know she could ride a single, but that will never happen.
To train without training you need to be going somewhere, or riding with a group. Rolling hills help with the intervals part. But if you set a goal of a sixty mile ride today, then the fifty mile ride you do two or three days down the road will be easier. So put in a mix of longer and hillier (interval) - trying not to do them both at the same time too much. And if you have a regular ride that you do once or twice a week, clock it, and track the improvement. Basically, you can think about the training element, in terms of building up distance, reducing time on the same route, etc., but build in a specific location [Ice Cream Shop works for my daughter, but not my wife (dairy intolerance)] that you ride to - you can keep riding to the same location and increase your distance by adding minor alterations to the route.

I can't stand training either, but on our morning ride we had shaved four minutes off our previous best, which was already down five minutes from the start of the season (down to 26 from an original 35). Had a lot to do with other rides that were training but were done in the name of going somewhere, albeit someone circuitously.
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Old 07-21-09, 03:49 AM   #20
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Hi everyone.
I have posted some pics on a 1936 hercules tandem on the classic and vintage forum if anyone has any pics or info regarding value so I know as whether to get it insured or not.The info is hard to come by on these tandems as they seem to be rare.If anyone is listening and has some help on this would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-22-09, 10:13 AM   #21
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You're overlooking the fact that her lack of desire to ride harder is a training opportunity for you. Suppose she's generating 120 watts of power, you're doing whatever you're doing and riding at 15mph average. You want to go faster? She doesn't have to generate any more power. Just work harder yourself.

After nearly a year of riding on the tandem with my wife, she's gotten much more powerful and much more endurance -- we rode a Super Randonneur series together, with the final ride being 380 miles with about 23,000 feet of climbing. So she's doing fabulously, but she's still in her first year of randonneuring, while I'm in my fifth, and it's going to take a little while longer still before she catches up.

But the training benefit of riding with a stoker whose strength to weight ratio is somewhat lower than mine is that my strength and endurance has increased well above what I've ever been able to achieve training on my single.

Nick
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Old 07-22-09, 04:25 PM   #22
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Eliminate the word 'training' from your tandem vocabulary and just 'ride TWOgether!'
Been riding with the same stoker for 225,000+ miles . . . Yup, she's still the greatest!
Been there, done that . . .
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Old 07-22-09, 07:06 PM   #23
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Just got back in from a nice ride tonight. Stoker + no sinus infection= a little better ride! Stuck some hills in on her, but we did them well. We haven't been around long enough to ride 225k together, but are still happy together anyway. I told her to thank you guys for the extra hills tonight. She might post a response. :-) Still have not brought up the idea of the younger hot stoker.
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Old 07-23-09, 08:54 AM   #24
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""......Still have not brought up the idea of the younger hot stoker....""

You're a wise man pablosd !!!

Bill J.
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