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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 04-12-11, 04:34 PM   #1
StephenH
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Non-spousal stoker?

(Edit: This is an OLD THREAD, answers to this original question not needed, update at the end.)

Okay, stupid question maybe, but I'm socially challenged, so I'll ask anyway. In the local randonneuring group, there's already several tandem couples. And it seems to me that would be lots of fun and have various performance advantages as well. The problem is, my wife doesn't ride a bike and isn't interested in starting. And meanwhile, I know several women in the group that I get along with fine, although there's not any special relationship, either (and, some are married, some not). So the question: If I ask one of those ladies if she's interested in riding a tandem with me, how does that come across? Is that like asking her out on a date and she's gonna slap me or be forever offended? Or is that a perfectly reasonable question to ask a lady that you don't necessarily know all that well? (And just to clarify, I don't have the tandem in question, and this would need to be a continuing thing to make it worthwhile to get one, so it's not a one-ride question. The rides in question would generally be 200k or longer.) Any thoughts?
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Old 04-12-11, 04:49 PM   #2
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What does your wife think of this? Mine would not approve at all.
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Old 04-12-11, 05:26 PM   #3
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I guess it all depends, but I would never do it.
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Old 04-12-11, 06:41 PM   #4
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... The problem is, my wife doesn't ride a bike .... the question: If I ask one of those ladies if she's interested in riding a tandem with me, how does that come across? Is that like asking her out on a date and she's gonna slap me or be forever offended? Or is that a perfectly reasonable question to ask a lady that you don't necessarily know all that well? (And just to clarify, I don't have the tandem in question, and this would need to be a continuing thing to make it worthwhile to get one, so it's not a one-ride question. The rides in question would generally be 200k or longer.) Any thoughts?
What could possibly go wrong?

1. Honey, I'm tired of participating in my sport alone, and since you won't join me I've decided to team up with another woman.

2. Honey, I want to spend upwards of $1000 of OUR money, (possibly as much as $5000), on a piece of equipment that will allow me to spend a significant amount of time with another woman ... alone ... at night ... on isolated rural roads.

OR .......

3. Stephen, we're both married, (to other people), and you want to know if I'll make a long-term commitment to accompany you on multiple overnight bicycle rides?

4. Stephen, we're both married, (to other people), and you want to know if I'll make a commitment to you that will be the impetus for you to spend upwards of $1000, (possibly as much as $5000)?

Good luck with all that!!

However, if the idea of tandeming really does appeal to you, maybe you want to go ahead and buy a used tandem first. Tandem owners in most active cycling areas really don't seem to have that much trouble finding people who want to give tandeming a try.

And kill the idea that your stoker has to be female! Try just advertising that you have a tandem and want a stoker/partner for the 300, 400, or 600 this season. Think a mixed team has an advantage? Try riding a double-male setup. That's how I started, and it was a blast. You'll also find double-male teams at virtually every states race, the nationals, and on the velodromes around the world. (That last is in decline because they are SO fast they're being outlawed on the track.)

Anyway, after a few gals see you riding with various partners, they might even approach YOU to stoke for a longer brevet. (Which, I'm almost willing to bet, will sit better with your wife than you buying a tandem specifically to ride with another woman!!)

But that's just my take on Human Psychology 101. YMMV.

Bill & Maggi, Randonneurs of the 2008 Tour De Guava 200K
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Old 04-12-11, 06:59 PM   #5
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There are probably easier ways to get laid.
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Old 04-12-11, 07:06 PM   #6
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What does your wife think of this? Mine would not approve at all.
Amen! This is a way bigger issue than the one you posed, even if your wife doesn't realize it.
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Old 04-12-11, 07:25 PM   #7
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I know a couple, the guy who regularly road brevets with another woman. They qualified and road PBP. His wife knew the stoker and was OK with it.

That said my stoker/wife would NEVER allow it. I once asked my wife if I could captain for a blind male stoker and she was hesitate. In that case though there was also the problem of her missing the chance to ride the tandem that day.

Personally I would not want my wife stroking for another guy on brevets. How about you? In the it depends people.

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Old 04-12-11, 07:38 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input.

This is the kind of a thing where I can reason it out in my own mind and make it sound perfectly reasonable to me, or I can work it the other way and make it sound completely outrageous (as y'all have pointed out above, which of course is why I hadn't asked anyone!), so that's why I was wanting to see how other people viewed it.

I'm already riding around in the middle of the night with the people in question, just on separate bicycles and drafting, normally in groups, and that likely wouldn't change.

Due to the expense and frame-size issues, I'd be very hesitant to buy a tandem on speculation that I could round up stokers.

And, in a slightly different context, I ran the idea past my wife a while back and she was okay with it. Not to say that couldn't change. I can just see my mother-in-law saying "He's doing WHAT?"

Thanks again!
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Old 04-13-11, 05:36 AM   #9
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Due to the expense and frame-size issues, I'd be very hesitant to buy a tandem on speculation that I could round up stokers.
Might want to take a straw poll then. Wait till a bunch of you are together and announce your interest in buying a tandem. Ask if anyone would be interested in stoking for you on some brevets. Point out how fast a double male team would be, and tell them about your wife having no problem if a female wants to stoke for you. See if you get any bites.

As for sizing, due to the longer stoker compartments and the variety of seatposts and stoker stems available, most current day tandems are extremely versatile in the rear. Get one that fits you in the front and you will be able to "fit" a lot of people on the back.

For instance, on our 58/46 Trek, I have comfortably fit and ridden with our sub-five foot daughter, my wife at 5'4", and a blind stoker male friend who is probably around 5'9". That's quite a variance, and I was able to get everyone within a reasonable semblance of their normal riding position.

Another suggestion might be to try and borrow one of those couples' tandems for a day ride or two and see if you even like it. If you do, (even though I kidded you about the price tag earlier), you can find a decent used tandem for under $1000. If you go that way and don't like it or can't find stokers, you can usually sell the bike for what you paid for it within a year or two and lose nothing.

Go to searchtempest.com to do a search for a used one, and it'll look at every classified and auction site within X miles of your house!

P.S. Used to know a guy that cruised the club ride parking lot first on his tandem with a sign on the back that said, "Space Available". He often got takers.
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Old 04-13-11, 06:27 AM   #10
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Used to know a guy that cruised the club ride parking lot first on his tandem with a sign on the back that said, "Space Available". He often got takers.
Funny! I have two single friends who own tandems. I'll pass that along to a woman friend of mine who has a tandem, and space available. She rides it as both captain and stoker with several different people, both men and women.

I'm one of the tandem teams you see at brevets, and it is great fun. Our local Ohio group has three regular tandem teams plus a couple other occasional teams. There have been other threads on this forum about riding a tandem with a non spouse and you may want to read them. You'll see there's a very wide range of reactions and opinions.

My 2 cents - make completely sure your wife supports, not just tolerates, the idea. And I do think you are right to anticipate possible reactions from your fellow brevet riders, their husbands and even other brevet riders. Be clear, as you are in your post, that you your intent is to enjoy the fun and performance of a tandem on a brevet.

I meant to ask one of the occasional tandem riding women in our group her take on the difference between doing a brevet on her single and on a tandem. I didn't have the chance to do it last Saturday, but this post will remind me to ask on the fleche.

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PS. 200k, 300k and 400k completed this year; looking forward to completing that final 600k qualifier for PBP
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Old 04-13-11, 07:05 AM   #11
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I ride all the time with non-spouse stokers!






(my oldest son, my younger son, occasionally my brothers)
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Old 04-13-11, 07:20 AM   #12
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There are several teams here that ride on occassion, that are married to other people. These are folks however, that are doing it to race, and paired up for a specific event because they were strong riders.

So in my experience its not unusual for unmarried teams to pair up to go to Master Nationals.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:15 AM   #13
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Access to an alternate Stoker is nearly as important as having a spare tube in your bag...

If you want to go ahead with this, I would definitely try to borrow a tandem the first time.

If you're used to riding 200K+, you probably won't be impressed by an entry level machine (a lot of LBS's will help here and many tandemists will lend you a machine on a one off basis). Fit is the most important criteria of all.

I would target a particular event that's tandem friendly (eg not too hilly and you know tandems will be there).

Make sure your wife really is cool with the whole concept (as other responses show, not eveyone is).

Let it be known you have secured loan of a tandem and you're looking for a stoker for the event. You may be surprised how much interest you get.

Before the event, make sure you get time to set up the bike as well as possible and ride at least an hour or so with your stoker to make sure you are compatible. Things to work out - Starting, stopping, how close you ride to others, coasting, standing rests, gear changes, cadence. My experience is that most new stokers adjust very well and like the teamwork and a chance to ride faster than usual, but some hate: loss of control, cadence change, limited opportunity to change position, balance feels weird, can't always match single bike position.

Go do it - and get a record time.

By the way, my experience with male-male teams has been a little tougher than with mixed teams. It's easy to go amazingly fast for a while, but blow up before the end of the ride if you're not careful.

Since your wife doesn't ride you'll avoid some of the following fun conversations:
"Stoker Y doesn't need a rest stop every 20 miles..."
"I can do this hill 2 gears higher with Stoker Y..."
"Stoker Y actually likes it when we hit 50 mph"
"Honey I'm too tired"
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Old 04-13-11, 08:27 AM   #14
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"Tandeming" frequently has two meanings. If you try it with a non-spouse you may see why. Uh-oh. I don't know of another way to get as intimate as quickly. That said, I know single women who own tandems. It doesn't always get that far. As long as you and the stoker were incompatible, it would probably be fine. But what fun is that?
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Old 04-13-11, 08:42 AM   #15
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Find a blind male athlete to be your stoker.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:56 AM   #16
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Find a blind male athlete to be your stoker.
Just find any guy to be your stoker. The ones that can see pedal just fine as well.
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Old 04-13-11, 10:11 AM   #17
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Just find any guy to be your stoker. The ones that can see pedal just fine as well.
Sure. But you might be able to help someone out. Here's a potential resourcehttp://bicyclingblind.org/about
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Old 04-13-11, 11:22 AM   #18
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The comment about two male riders blowing up reminds me of a problem my wife and I had to overcome when we began tandeming. Both of us wanted to hold up our end so as one felt the other's strength through the pedals we tended to go harder. This can create a feedback loop.

Happens with competitive stokers male or female and is part of learning to ride together as a team. Over time we learned to ride in sync as a team.

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Old 04-13-11, 11:32 AM   #19
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Sure. But you might be able to help someone out. Here's a potential resourcehttp://bicyclingblind.org/about
Making someone ride a brevet could be considered cruel and unusual punishment - even in road biking circles!
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Old 04-13-11, 11:44 AM   #20
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I've known of tandem couples, online and in real life, that occasionally swapped out stokers or captains, but there, the people involved all knew one another in the first place, so it was a little different situation. And I know of single people that own tandems, but in their case, it doesn't matter if it looks like a date or not, so it's a non-issue.

My motivation in asking the question here wasn't so much to see how to get any random person on the back of a bike, but to see what the perception was on riding a tandem with people I already know. (And sounds like that would quite likely come across completely wrong, glad I asked.) I may at some point in the future pursue some other ideas, but sounds like an idea to be shelved at the moment.

Cost is a factor, but if I didn't buy a tandem, I'd be using the same money to upgrade my bike at some point anyway. Probably be another year or two.

In reading up on the blind stoker idea a while back, I noticed they were looking for experienced captains specifically.
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Old 04-13-11, 11:46 AM   #21
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Sure. But you might be able to help someone out. Here's a potential resourcehttp://bicyclingblind.org/about
For what it's worth, I've never ridden a tandem any significant distance, never done a brevet, and have no connection with the organization for which I provided a link. I just thought it was an idea worth exploring.
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Old 04-13-11, 01:59 PM   #22
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You have got to try it out first, preferably with an experienced stoker on a borrowed bike. As others have pointed out, there are many ways in which this may get complicated, both in terms of your enjoying the experience and what others, most notably your wife, may think down the road.

Above all, do not, as Wayne did in post#7, ever refer to your tandem partner's job as "stroking".
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Old 04-13-11, 04:43 PM   #23
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Stephen, My wife does not ride bicycles and I have a tandem. I have various women ride as my stoker all the time for various events. In fact, I got started riding brevets with a woman who owned a tandem. Her husband didn't ride bikes. If you're relationship is good it shouldn't be a problem. Talk it over with your wife, see what she thinks. You might be surprised!
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Old 04-13-11, 06:30 PM   #24
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=Carbonfiberboy;12500150....As long as you and the stoker were incompatible, it would probably be fine. But what fun is that?
Kind of like what ?Rodney Dangerfield? said: "I'm not going to get married again. I'm just going to find a woman I don't like and buy her a house."
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Old 04-14-11, 10:02 PM   #25
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Been tandreming for 36+ years and have ridden with many atlernate stokers male/female, young/old.
My wife has ridden over 230,000 miles on tandems with me and she does not mind relinquishing her stoker seat once in a while.
After 56 years of marriage, our marriage is quite secure!
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