My GF and I had our first tandem ride this weekend. I wasn't sure how easy it would be for us to adapt and I had planned on going to a big empty parking lot for the first run. However, as the time got closer I just said to heck with it and rode the tandem solo to ensure brakes and gearing were in order. Then my GF hopped on and we headed into town to run some errands.
The first 3kms was lightly traveled MUP so that provided a safe shake down zone to get dialed. I often haul her on the back of my Surly Big Dummy cargo bike so controlling the extra weight and how it felt with two people on one bike wasn't an issue at all. I was communicating a lot at the start, but after a couple hours we paired it down to big bumps, sharp turns, and front chain ring shifts. I was amazed how much you knew what was happening through the chain like on a fixed gear.
We've got a ways to go getting our pedal strokes synchronized, but we had some good moments and some poor ones...so we know what success is supposed to feel like.
My GF liked the teamwork aspect and started to automatically coast with the right foot forward and set the right pedal correctly for a power stroke off the start while I held onto the bike at a light.
One of the reasons we were interested in a tandem was that although she is fit she bikes quite slowly compared to me and even compared to her friends. On the tandem we dropped her friend riding a single on the first climb and then I waited at the top for her to catch up and started to coast down the other side...we even started to gap her again just coasting and I braked a bit so her friend could catch up completely. My GF is usually the one at the back of the group trying to stay in contact so she loved being at the front of the pack and passing other cyclists. I need to use a GPS next time as she was eager to know how fast we were going!
I think she is sold on tandem riding and is looking forward to more. Personally I enjoy riding my single better, but I enjoyed the tandem ride with her better than trying to ride with her on two single bikes. We also enjoyed the tandem better than when I haul her around town on the cargo bike because she feels more involved rather than being cargo!
We rode for 4hrs+ with stops all over town dealing with traffic and lights/stop signs. I think our next ride will be a 30km jaunt to the next town for lunch and then back on a MUP. Being able to pedal for longer periods without starting and stopping all the time will hopefully allow us to work on syncing our pedals.
Thanks for all the great posts on this sub-forum. I did a lot of reading here to get info on this new cycling pursuit - it was very helpful...