A tandem was my gals idea. I’m gone for 12 to 13 hours a day working and our time is scarce except on weekends. I like to ride bikes, tour, etc. She is a former rider, but it was about fifteen years ago that she took her last bike ride. She was thinking that this would be a good way to spend recreational time together without me riding off and leaving her in the dust (her words—I ain't nothing special). She didn’t want me waiting around or her trying to catch up all the time. So I thought about it and read everything I could find on subject and decided to start looking around for a used one, using all the advice to be found in this forum—which is considerable—thanks. We finally found a used tandem within striking distance. We drove about half a day to pick it up (I knew I was gonna buy it) three or four weeks ago and have gotten a few rides in since then. It’s two years old with less a hundred miles on it (looks like new) and while it was a little more than we had budgeted, I thought it was a good deal as the components are modern and there’s nothing that needs upgrading (at the moment, aside from the pedals and stem). The previous owner had the wheels built for loaded touring (48 Dyads) and that’s definitely on our agenda, so it fit our criteria very well. Wasn’t overly keen on the color but it’s grown on us—I like it now. It’s the one of the greenest things I’ve ever seen. Really.
The rides have gone well. Mostly. After getting myself all “learned up,” we set out out on a warm-up cruise around the neighborhood and to a local parking lot where we practiced starting and stopping, turning and such like. We then set off for a low-key back street ride through town and that went good I thought—and so did she. She said she thought she might enjoy this tandem thing, so I took her to the LBS and got her some togs and a helmet. The next ride we took on local country roads—about 12 miles. Our riding technique improved, communication improved and she was exposed to a few bits of unpleasantness that, unfortunately, road cyclists are subjected to. First, a truck load of rednecks rode by jeering and shouting something unpleasant which neither of us could make out. At least they didn’t throw anything or slow down and “gas” us. A few miles down the road, a car slows and then stops to make a left and the driver behind them (and us) wasn’t paying attention and only realized what was going on just in time to swerve and brake (at about 55 mph) right in front of us. Fortunately, there was a bike lane or it may not have gone so well. Were we a couple of bike-lengths further on—it would have been ugly. Oddly enough, these things didn’t alarm her as I would have thought—I made the mistake that got her upset. We were approaching a 90˚ left hand curve at a right good clip. The turn is banked fairly high and I was thinking “hey, our first banked turn where we can lean into it.” Our communication had been great until then—I don’t know why I didn’t say anything to her, I just dove into the turn thinking she was into the spirit of things—she knew the road as well as I did. Wrong. We got into it and the bike’s front wheel started to scrub and then the bike started to wobble and finally skipped the front tire three or four times before I got it sorted out. She wasn’t appreciative of that manuver. I’m still hearing about that one. I’m finding out that riding a tandem is like driving a big-block, super charged limo. This bike doesn’t “dive” into corners. Not yet anyway. We got home and talked about the ride (as usual, which I think is good) and the next day she got right back on and we did another 15 miles. But no fast, banking turns. Though, I have to say—for a gal that hasn’t ridden in fifteen years—she can stoke. When I ask for power, she delivers. At one point I thought we had a heck of a tail-wind, but no, it was girlie-girl cranking it up. I think she’s liking it. I’ve caught her a couple of times now, perusing the cycling mail order catalogs and bike magazines. We plan on upping the milage as we get better and she’s talking a lot about our technique, or lack of it and I’m thinking this bodes well for the future—if I can manage to not frighten her again. I’m still figuring out this tandem thing myself. The only point of real contention (and I’m not fighting it) is our individual cadences. She likes a more torque-y/slower cadence so I let her call the gears to suit. When I get to pedaling too fast, she lets me know and I drop it back down to where she’s comfy. She doesn’t insist I drop it down to her real comfort level, but throws me a bone as a bit of compromise (while not mentioning it—but I know). I’m pretty lucky, I’m think ‘in.
Thanks to all you tandem riders/forumites for all the advice and information—from pricing and buying to technique, gear and everything else.