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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 04-26-11, 01:10 PM   #1
rdtompki
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"Ambidextrous" Captains

How many captains out there can stop comfortably with either foot on the ground? I'm a right foot type of guy, but I stopped once on a heavily cambered road and we almost went over since I leaned the bike too much to get my foot down. I'm reasonably strong, my stoker not so petite and when the bike starts to "go" it can be hard to hold things upright!

I think I'm going to start working on my ambidexterity. Nothing says trustworthy like keeping the rubber side down.
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Old 04-26-11, 01:44 PM   #2
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My stoker likes to put her left foot down, so that's what I do. I'm fine with either, but I think you need to agree on a standard.
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Old 04-26-11, 02:09 PM   #3
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I usually put my left foot down on the road, to take advantage of the camber. I put my right foot down on the curb, if there's one present, and I stopped close enough to it. Rather like on my single.

She stays clipped in. The only difference is where I want to keep the pedals when getting ready to re-start.
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Old 04-26-11, 02:15 PM   #4
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This was/is a problem for us because I keep switching and she prefers to start with the right foot, but she stays clipped in on stops.
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Old 04-26-11, 02:54 PM   #5
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I've been riding pretty seriously for 45 years; about 20 of them on a tandem and I'm definitely more comfortable with my right foot down, especially on the tandem. It's not as much of an issue on the single. On the tandem, my wife, who is a creature of habit, always leans slightly to the right upon stopping , while clipped in, and if I attempt to land on my left foot, we end up sort of fighting each other and we are very precarious! This is interesting, because we are a pretty good team...she is very confident in my bike handling and is quite relaxed. We have even been known to trackstand at short traffic lights! I don't want to jinx it, but we've never fallen-even when we were side swiped by a car about 20 years ago. This guy guy tried to squeeze by on our left at an intersection and pushed me to the curb. His side actually burned a hole in the top of my glove. We gave chase and almost caught him. It's a good thing that we didn't because I was much less forgiving in my younger years! Anyway, when I looked at my watch, there was a huge curlycue of red paint stuck onto the watch stem...I probably left my mark down his whole side.

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Old 04-26-11, 06:37 PM   #6
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Doesn't matter... of course, having ridden technical single track on the off-road tandems goes a long way towards refining those skills.
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Old 04-26-11, 08:03 PM   #7
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Doesn't matter... of course, having ridden technical single track on the off-road tandems goes a long way towards refining those skills.
I'd agree with this.

I gave the question some thought. I would say we prefer right foot down on account of left foot starts. But when you ride off-road you are often forced to choose based on terrain. You learn fast or get your foot wet, loose your stokers shoe in muck (she was PO'd), or you fall and it's usually the long way to hit the ground.

None are fun, some are funny.

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Old 04-26-11, 09:58 PM   #8
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I use my left foot down on my single but must agree that MTB builds good skills for any type of riding ( I don't tandem MTB). While riding the tandem, I have no problem using either foot. Gina is always puzzled by this. I'm not sure why, it's all about balance.

Heck, I also hold the vid recorder with either hand while captaining the tandem. One gal commented in one of my videos. "that's pretty talented, you're able to steer and work the camera".............comment at 1:52 into the video.


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Old 04-27-11, 05:39 AM   #9
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Like many other things cycling, there were always two schools of thought on that one, Rick. As you discovered, the left foot down leans you into the camber of the road so you're less likely to get caught by a hard camber or a disappearing shoulder. But it ALSO leans you towards the traffic! So you're more likely to get brushed when a car pulls up beside you, to fall into traffic if your foot slips, or to wobble that way when you're starting off. Let the endless debates begin again!

Maggi and I use the right foot, but then we also use the "double down" method of stopping and starting instead of the "stoker up" method, (sometimes incorrectly identified as the "proper" method)! So no one has to balance or hold the other one up!

There. That ought to be enough fuel for the fire.
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Old 04-27-11, 07:50 AM   #10
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Which foot is forward wakeboarding, skiing, etc? I always thought of it this way whether it is right or not, and my dominant/leading foot (left) stays clipped in. I have difficulty on single track along a hill when the slope is to my right, but no worries the other direction when the slope/drop is to my left, kinda weird. Most of my falls on the MTB are to the right....
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Old 04-27-11, 09:15 AM   #11
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Which foot is forward wakeboarding, skiing, etc? I always thought of it this way ...
OK, THREE schools of thought!
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Old 04-27-11, 03:06 PM   #12
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My stoker always stays clipped in and I have stopped with either left or right foot down but any more I just unclip both feet and put them both down. Although I am comfortable stopping with one foot down and one clipped in I prefer not having to control the balance as precisly with weight toward the down foot so that I can just keep my stoker weight centered and it is no problem if the center of gravity shifts a little right or left. However, we always like to start with the right pedal up about 3/4s of the way so the stoker always positions the pedals so we are ready to go.
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Old 04-27-11, 03:15 PM   #13
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My stoker always stays clipped in and I have stopped with either left or right foot down but any more I just unclip both feet and put them both down.
I was wondering why this thread was even an issue. I was taught to unclip while the stoker remained clip and set the pedals. I use a wide stance with both feet on the ground and can sit on the tuptube and support the bike an stoker without any hands. When it's time to go, it's fast cause the pedals are set in the right place. I really don't see an "amibextrous" issue here. But it adds to the thread count in this forum.
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Old 04-27-11, 09:27 PM   #14
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Patti stays clipped in and I'm a right foot down guy. Been doing it that way for a long time. That is where my strength, control and confidence is at a maximum.... and, it leans us away from traffic which is why we started that way from day one.
Each to his own on these kind of deals...just go with what makes you and your stoker most safe and comfortable.
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Old 04-27-11, 11:49 PM   #15
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Stoker Kay stays clipped in while pilot puts down either foot; if we know it's a long light/stop, maybe both feet.
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Old 04-28-11, 04:05 PM   #16
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... I really don't see an "amibextrous" issue here. But it adds to the thread count in this forum.
13 folks were willing to respond! I don't think it's an issue, but for the odd circumstance where left foot down would make sense I've been considering practicing. On my single I'm equally comfortable with either foot. Longer stops I put both feet down. Stoker Sherrill stays clipped in.
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Old 04-28-11, 05:25 PM   #17
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Longer stops I put both feet down.
Why not put both feet down at all stops? Seems like a senseless gamble. That's just me though, an extra 2 seconds to clip in the second foot won't cost me first place in an organized charity event.
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Old 04-29-11, 11:28 AM   #18
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I normally try to stop with the uphill foot down. We do get some strong winds here so sometimes it is the side away from the wind and not into the hill that gets the foot down. Usually that puts the left foot down.

As far as traffic goes, I am confident that we will never fall towards the foot I have down so I would rather have the traffic side foot down. It is the side with the foot clipped in that is most likely to be the side we would fall. That is why if a strong wind is blowing from the left then the right foot goes down. Otherwise a gust could flip us toward the unsupported side and down we go!
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Old 04-29-11, 11:30 AM   #19
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We also use the "proper" method. My stoker likes it and the name much better. You know the rule...
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Old 04-29-11, 03:07 PM   #20
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I'm certainly not ambidextrous in this regard - I always have to put my right foot down, and normally don't even try doing it with the left. I started doing it that way due to living in places where one drives on the right, and so there is often a kerb on the right to put my foot. I've used my left foot in a few situations when absolutely necessary, but its far from smooth - I probably should practice to get better.
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Old 04-29-11, 04:00 PM   #21
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We 99.9% of the time put our left foot down. We use "our" method for starting and stopping. Unclip the left foot prior to the stop and have it ready. Make the stop with our left foot down. Move the right pedals (in sync) to the 2 o'clock position, push off with the left foot, clip in and go. Part of this comes from our motorcycling days. I would always stop the Goldwing with the left foot down and then put both down, needless to say on a big motorcycle the co-rider stays put.

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Old 04-29-11, 04:11 PM   #22
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Why not put both feet down at all stops? Seems like a senseless gamble. That's just me though, an extra 2 seconds to clip in the second foot won't cost me first place in an organized charity event.
I'm with you Mr. Beanz. We have good balance have have done momentary track stands, as when waiting for a car to pass before crossing a street, but back when I put only one foot down I always felt like I had to never let the weight shift to the other side of center and tended to lean a bit excessivley toward my down foot. Incidentlly, I have observed some teams who only put one foot down fall over on the opposite side. Not a risk with both feet down, not the least concern or anything to even think about or be aware of.
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Old 04-29-11, 06:43 PM   #23
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One of the reasons on the daVinci for not routinely putting both feet down is the inability of the stoker to rotate one of my pedals in the "start" position. Its just so much easier to leave one foot clipped in rather than rotate the pedal to 0600, clip in, rotate pedal to 1000, start. Some lights are short and if you're in the middle of a large group stopped at a light you don't want to hold things up. When we stop I leave my left foot clipped in at 0600; if for some reason the bike starts to lean in that direction I can get that foot out in a millisecond.
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Old 04-29-11, 06:48 PM   #24
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I have observed some teams who only put one foot down fall over on the opposite side. Not a risk with both feet down, not the least concern or anything to even think about or be aware of.
I've seen single bikes fall over the same way, I'm not chancing it on the tandem.....Plus as mentioned before, if the captain places both feet on the ground, sits on the toptube, he can actually rock the stoker from left to right without the use of the hands on the handlebars. Not that one wants to practice this but as a demonstration of the control and stability the captain has in this position.

Everyone has theirown system I guess but this was one of the techniques that I was personally taught by Bill McCready (owner and founder of Santana Tandems/former owner of Bud's Bike shop, one time major Santana dealer). It works so hey, I do it!
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Old 04-29-11, 06:50 PM   #25
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One of the reasons on the daVinci for not routinely putting both feet down is the inability of the stoker to rotate one of my pedals in the "start" position. .
That makes sense. Never thought of that but I've never been on a daVinci or similar independent drivetrain.
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