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  1. #1
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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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".
    Michael Shiffer
    EuroMeccanicany.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Good luck getting anyone to change but for fun...
    Pilot and Navigator I think has potential.

  3. #3
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    Thing 1 and Thing 2 - The battle of being Number 2 should be fun.

  4. #4
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    Did you see the film, "Murder By Death"?
    Michael Shiffer
    EuroMeccanicany.com

  5. #5
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aixaix View Post
    . He has his job, and the RIR has hers.
    It's better to be male chauvinist.....

  6. #6
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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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

  7. #7
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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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.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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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.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wheelspeed's Avatar
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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. ;-)

  10. #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

  11. #11
    Canadian Chick Aquakitty's Avatar
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    Picard and Number 1? /nerd

  12. #12
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote 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...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  13. #13
    commuter
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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.

  14. #14
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    Why not let your wife ride on the front and be the Captain?

  15. #15
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Every one I know calls me Capt. never gonna change.

  16. #16
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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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?

  17. #17
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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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.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

  18. #18
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    Well, you can always get a rear-steering tandem for duty equality for the rear rider...



  19. #19
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    Quote 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 02:36 PM. Reason: lack of proofreading

  20. #20
    Senior Member ncbikers's Avatar
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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.

  21. #21
    Senior Member brewer45's Avatar
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    "Captain" Brewer controls the bike; "Rear Admiral" Malkin controls Brewer. End of discussion for our team.

    Cheers!
    2008 Red Co-Motion Speedster Co-pilot (Redster)
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    1970's Stella rebuilt as fixed-gear (captain's toy)

  22. #22
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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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?

  23. #23
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewer45 View Post
    "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.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

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