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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 05-05-11, 01:41 PM   #1
aixaix 
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An Ambitious Proposal

My wife and I are new tandem riders, having bought our first one last year. We love it, but there is one aspect of tandemania that really rankles: the titles of the riders. "Captain" and "Stoker", with their evocation of Steam-Age nauticality, have their charm, but I find that overbalanced by the implied master/servant relationship of rider-in-front to rider-in-rear. True, the RIF steers and slows the rig, while the RIR provides power while hanging on for dear life, trusting the RIF not to allow his lofty position to overwhelm his sense of self-preservation. However, on our rig (and apparently a lot of yours), there is no reason for the RIF to think of himself as commander in any sense. He has his job, and the RIR has hers.

New names are called for!

Now "Stoker" could be paired with "Helmsman". I considered, then discarded this idea as a little too salty. "Pilot" & "Co-pilot" is clunky, while "Engineer" & "Fireman" just sounds stupid.
After straining my brain for as long as I could stand it (about 45 seconds), I arrived at what I believe is the perfect pairing. The names are alliterative (and literary!), have brevity and depth, and give a nod to the soon-to-be-discarded designations. They also sum up certain best-left-unspoken assessments made in stressful tandem moments. I hope you agree.

The stoker will henceforth be known as "Bram"; the captain, "Bligh".
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Old 05-05-11, 02:19 PM   #2
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Good luck getting anyone to change but for fun...
Pilot and Navigator I think has potential.
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Old 05-05-11, 02:30 PM   #3
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Thing 1 and Thing 2 - The battle of being Number 2 should be fun.
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Old 05-05-11, 02:50 PM   #4
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Did you see the film, "Murder By Death"?
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Old 05-05-11, 03:53 PM   #5
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. He has his job, and the RIR has hers.
It's better to be male chauvinist.....
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Old 05-05-11, 05:25 PM   #6
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Geez . . .

Mr and Mrs should probably be changed too? How 'bout 'Committed folks'?
Pilot and stoker has been around for a long time . . .
Captain and rear admiral works too; a rear admiral outranks a captain (less chauvinisitc?).

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 05-05-11, 07:29 PM   #7
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We're with Rudy and Kay. Captain and Rear-Admiral it is. The captain (even if his naval rank is not a four-ringer captain, he still gets the courtesy title of "Captain" when aboard his ship) necessarily has absolute responsibility and absolute authority for everything that happens aboard. A master of a ship at sea, even a civilian ship, is as close we have in the "free" world to an absolute despot. He can do whatever is necessary, even to the point of summary execution, to deliver the ship from peril; to refuse his lawful orders is to commit the crime of mutiny. An admiral sailing in a warship can't interfere with the captain's judgement about how to steer his ship in a storm, or how to handle the ship to bring the best arc of fire against the enemy. But once the ship docks, if the admiral doesn't like how the captain performed, he will tell him all about it! (Not in front of the crew of course.) A captain who can't keep his admiral happy will soon find himself without a ship. That pretty much sums up tandeming. That's why we say "The stoker makes no mistakes": the captain is still responsible even when the stoker is "wrong".

You can tell I've been immersed in Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin novels too long. (Can't help it: I'm a doc, like Maturin.) In real life we just describe ourselves as "out riding the tandem together."

P.S. Wear with pride the moniker of "Captain" Bligh (his naval rank was only lieutenant -- "His Majesty's Armed Transport" Bounty was a tiny little ship, not appropriate for command by a full captain.) While everyone knows about Fletcher Christian's mutiny, the really amazing part of the story is Lt. Bligh's subsequent sea voyage of 1000 miles in an open boat to the shores of Australia. He brought to safety most of the loyal sailors who followed him down the side of the Bounty into that boat and it remains one of the greatest seafaring feats of recorded history.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:46 AM   #8
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We got over this "chauvinism" a long time ago. The truth of the matter is that the captain is in control. He has full responsibility for safety and whatever happens in the short term. The stoker makes no mistakes because they have no control. Decisions about where we go, how fast, when & where to stop, what gear to use, etc. are shared. If someone wants to come up with their own labels and have to explain these every time, go right ahead.
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Old 05-06-11, 11:30 AM   #9
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I think the term 'stoker' should be a compliment. The visual of a fire flaming up when kindling is thrown on is how the bike feels when the stoker makes an effort.

I agree that the term 'captain' could be improved. However, she refuses to call me Commander, or Master, or her Excellency, or any of the other ideas I've had. ;-)
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Old 05-06-11, 11:48 AM   #10
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While everyone knows about Fletcher Christian's mutiny, the really amazing part of the story is Lt. Bligh's subsequent sea voyage of 1000 miles in an open boat to the shores of Australia. He brought to safety most of the loyal sailors who followed him down the side of the Bounty into that boat and it remains one of the greatest seafaring feats of recorded history.
http://www.amazon.com/Men-Against-Se.../dp/0316738883
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Old 05-06-11, 12:12 PM   #11
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Picard and Number 1? /nerd
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Old 05-06-11, 01:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by oldacura View Post
...The stoker makes no mistakes because they have no control. Decisions about where we go, how fast, when & where to stop, what gear to use, etc. are shared...
???? Apparently your stoker has never pulled the "emergency" brake on you, or stopped pedaling or leaned the wrong way or... The stoker has more control than you give them credit for...
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Old 05-06-11, 02:31 PM   #13
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When my stoker/wife decides she doesn't want to go where I do, on goes the drag brake and we stop until I change course accordingly.
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Old 05-06-11, 03:10 PM   #14
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Why not let your wife ride on the front and be the Captain?
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Old 05-06-11, 07:42 PM   #15
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Every one I know calls me Capt. never gonna change.
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Old 05-07-11, 05:25 PM   #16
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Stoker has control . . .
She pulls down the back of the captain/pilot/steersman shorts and hooks them under his saddle.
'Exposure' of who is in control?
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Old 05-07-11, 05:36 PM   #17
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^ Hmmm...I wonder if that would be a breach (get it?...breech <groan>) of naval etiquette if an admiral did that to a captain on the bridge.
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Old 05-08-11, 08:30 PM   #18
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Well, you can always get a rear-steering tandem for duty equality for the rear rider...


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Old 05-09-11, 01:35 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by wheelspeed View Post
I think the term 'stoker' should be a compliment. The visual of a fire flaming up when kindling is thrown on is how the bike feels when the stoker makes an effort... ;-)
If anyone gives my stoker a piece of wood to throw or a shovel I'm going to be in trouble. :-D

Last edited by Murf524; 05-09-11 at 01:36 PM. Reason: lack of proofreading
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Old 05-09-11, 05:57 PM   #20
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On our tandem the person in the rear position is called the RPU as in rear power unit and I have my wife's permission to do so.
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Old 05-10-11, 04:08 PM   #21
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"Captain" Brewer controls the bike; "Rear Admiral" Malkin controls Brewer. End of discussion for our team.

Cheers!
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Old 05-11-11, 12:04 PM   #22
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That is why Captains should always wear bib shorts!


Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Stoker has control . . .
She pulls down the back of the captain/pilot/steersman shorts and hooks them under his saddle.
'Exposure' of who is in control?
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Old 05-11-11, 06:13 PM   #23
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"Captain" Brewer controls the bike; "Rear Admiral" Malkin controls Brewer. End of discussion for our team.

Cheers!
Is that really her name, "Malkin"? It means "Queen", right?
End of discussion indeed.
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