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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 08-22-11, 09:33 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Voting Rights in the Kindom of Tandemville

DW and I were on a 100K organized ride this past Saturday after two nearly cycle-free weeks following a tough 95 mile ride in the Marin hills. I wasn't feeling particularly strong, darn business travel has been cutting into my cycling, so up comes this short pitch at mile 30 or so that was definitely over 15%.

I stopped a said innocently, "we should walk this", but in the emancipated kingdom of tandemville stokers have 2 votes for every captains vote, so up we went. The next 35 miles featured a persistent battle with cramps my muscles having been shredded on that short pitch. We eventually found a grocery store and I bought Tums, potatoe chips and gatorade and thus fortified I was able to continue the ride. Lunch, of course was at the top of a 1/2 mile 10% climb which we walked.

Following this mishap I explained in my best simplified engineering lingo the challenge of getting the tandem up these really steep pitches once the stoker is max'ed out. That didn't go well, but we recovered both literally and figuratively and we will continue challenging ourselves on the tandem

In reality, this was a character-building ride and fair payback for my having made a 34 mile mistake two weeks prior turning the Marin 100K into the Marin 150K

Also on this ride managed to snap my LH Campy shift lever with 15 miles to go - oh well.

Anyone else have tales out of school to tell?
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Old 08-22-11, 11:22 PM   #2
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On yesterday's Sunday group ride we had 3 other tandems, but mostly singles. We made the remarkable discovery that we can ride singles off our wheel simply by powering up on a short descent and then holding 20 on the next little climb. They vanish. I think the tandem's aerodynamic advantage kicks in about there and the combination of uphill and wind resistance really foxes them. OTOH, Stoker did quite a bit of whining on the last half of the last climb whereon we were dropped by those we had dropped earlier and I was destroyed for about a day after. 1.5 hrs. near LT and 10 minutes of anaerobic for both Stoker and I. Ouch. But we were tęte de la course at the first rest stop. Stoker had a big grin, which is worth a lot.

OTOH, that's how we get stronger. We are a lot stronger than we used to be, and it ain't me babe, it ain't me. At 66, I'm sure as heck not going to be getting any stronger. That's all Stoker, who is on her second summer of Real Riding. We had gotten strong enough to do quite a number of long, hard rides this summer, and that made a difference. 26-34 makes a difference, too. We ground up a couple of pitches on this ride that had single bike riders walking. It takes a lot of strength to turn the cranks on even a standard road triple when it gets steep.

We walked a couple of walls when we were touring loaded, but otherwise we simply don't walk. We both wear HR monitors and we sit and grind it out in an agreed upon HR level. "You good at 148 on this?" Sometimes we sprint short walls out of the saddle, though. There are a couple of mandatory sprint hills on our standard routes that we always kill ourselves on. We haven't won one yet, but we're doing better.

We don't seem able to lose much weight. Stoker is a good cook and we both like to eat. I always figure, get stronger first, lose weight later. We are having a great time, but summer in the PNW is coming to an end. Much too short this year. This summer I've noticed a few non-riding friends who are starting to fail. Eeeeek! (runs screaming in the other direction)
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Old 08-23-11, 07:46 AM   #3
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We don't seem able to lose much weight. Stoker is a good cook and we both like to eat. I always figure, get stronger first, lose weight later. We are having a great time, but summer in the PNW is coming to an end. Much too short this year. This summer I've noticed a few non-riding friends who are starting to fail. Eeeeek! (runs screaming in the other direction)
I'll second the thought on weight loss as it aligns exactly with our food consumption philosophy. We're running a 24-32 which is plenty low enough for most of our riding and we've definitely gotten stronger. We've just got to do more climbing. I feel for your pending climate change. Stoker and I are so fortunate to live where we can ride comfortably year round although with the shorter days it takes a bit of doing.

I'm 65, but have only been riding for a few years so I've got some room left to get stronger. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.
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Old 08-23-11, 09:52 AM   #4
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3X10' climbing intervals at 50 cadence, full circles, no upper body movement, HR around 95% LT. I can't talk Stoker into that, but we do plenty of long climbs, so that's OK. IME stokers aren't much into gratuitous pain. But that's what I used to do on my single. The other single best climbing training is to do 2 X 20' X 5' intervals in zone 3 at 100 cadence on the flat or shallow rollers. I can get Stoker to participate in that now that she can. Last year she could only manage 5-10 minutes of that. I don't know why that works so well, but it does. I suspect that climbing is a lot about pedaling technique and synching.

OTOH, it doesn't get hot very often here. Probably the reason I get dehydrated so easily. We think a perfect day for a ride is about 55° and drizzling. No dehydration, no sun damage, very comfortable. No views, though, and can't go high because of running into snow, when one gets the feeling that one has made an incorrect choice of sports equipment.
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Old 08-23-11, 10:26 AM   #5
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This is why I love riding the tandem. It keeps us together even if we don't feel like exerting the same amount of energy. On our long ride last weekend, I was working close to my aerobic max and she was on the back talking about our kids. It made it hard for me to reply, but I was happy to listen.
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Old 08-23-11, 11:03 AM   #6
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We are now well into our second decade of tandeming and our disagreements (on the bike) are few. Normally the stoker's question: "Are we going to sprint for the whole evening?", tips me right off, being the perceptive type that I am. Especially on the weeknight training rides we can be amazingly in sync about things. Last night the pace line (we are the only tandem) was pushing pretty hard near the end of our 26 mile loop, doing about 25mph. We jumped for the lead without exchanging a word, took it up around 30 for the last stretch, and she didn't bat an eyelash. Of course the singles love it when we give them "the vortex".
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Old 08-24-11, 09:49 PM   #7
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Well, Cf and RD, J & I think you both are incredible teams. We have ridden seriously two seasons and are a couple of years behind in age, but couldn't keep up five minutes! Now, not to change the subject, but found it interesting that in our 1700ish miles this season, we have climbed 78,514 feet in elevation according to Garmin, and that doesn't count the routine 500 ft on our 15 mile quickie. Maybe that is why we are tired? or maybe not?
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Old 08-25-11, 08:12 AM   #8
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When we lay out our group rides, we try for about 50'/mile. That seems about right to build strength without ripping everyone's legs off. We have done 100'/mile rides. Those are rare here, but I understand more normal in even hillier sections of the country. To humble us all, except maybe the uspspro team, one of my singles riding buddies has done 1.5M feet in a year. He's a little obsessed, though. I think we'll probably see about 2500 tandem miles this year, which isn't too bad considering that we usually hike on Monday and do a spin class on Thursday, and that's about all we've done this summer. We only get in the occasional midweek ride. I used to get in more miles when I rode my single, but it's harder for the team because we have to coordinate schedules.

We had an epiphany the other evening: we can't seem to lose weight because we have too many friends! We do OK and then we go to some party or just out with friends and we gain it all back. We need to become even more irritating somehow.
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Old 08-25-11, 09:52 PM   #9
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We have lots of 100' rides here and we do ok to the 200', after that its slow trudging, especially with the bob on the back
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Old 08-26-11, 06:55 AM   #10
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We have lots of 100' rides here and we do ok to the 200', after that its slow trudging, especially with the bob on the back
Good grief! Great on you all. You both look fit, but bob needs to go on a diet
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Old 08-26-11, 07:36 AM   #11
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We have lots of 100' rides here and we do ok to the 200', after that its slow trudging, especially with the bob on the back
So that would be a 20,000' century? Out here, we have trouble putting together a 12,000' century. Even the Death Ride is "only" 116'/mile.
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Old 08-26-11, 10:56 PM   #12
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I'm not sure we are thinking the same, its really not all that steep, just seems like it with bob! I'm thinking of parts of rides, we do have lots of rides that average 1%, that's your 50' a mile, so a flat ride is 1% average, but if you go camping touring, it goes up fast. We do quite a bit of 40 mile rides that are 4000' gain, but most of that gain is one way, so it really is tiring for us old folks.
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Old 08-27-11, 07:13 AM   #13
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This is why I love riding the tandem. It keeps us together even if we don't feel like exerting the same amount of energy. On our long ride last weekend, I was working close to my aerobic max and she was on the back talking about our kids. It made it hard for me to reply, but I was happy to listen.
+1 Still loving the tandem in that we can do the local Thursday night group ride here together.

Our current battle is that she does some exercises to her exercise videos she has. That's great, except those home-exercise routines tend to build thigh muscles. I suspect this is why she always wants to stand on hills. If I let her stand, then we make it about 2/3 up the hill (in some gear that's good for standing) before we've lost momentum. Then she's tired, and sits at which point I have to get to the granny gear quickly, losing more momentum. For the remainder of the hill we're both panting and beat from having had no rythm or long-term pace during that standing portion. I'm having trouble getting her to be patient and develop the sitting&spinning muscles to settle into a nice aerobic climb. But no big deal, we'll work it out. At least we do all the hills and can take part in the ride!
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Old 08-27-11, 08:36 AM   #14
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Good for her! Get her a set of rollers and she can do one-legged pedaling, etc., too. That might keep her interested and fix up those hams and psoas. My stoker cross trains at a dressage barn once a week. She gets her HR higher on the horse than she can on the bike. More muscles involved, I think. Our Thursday spin class with weights after has worked out really well in our rainy area. She does dressage on Wednesday, spin class on Thursday, sometimes we get out for a toot on Friday, then our Sunday group ride, then we try to hike or snowshoe on Monday. That's been a good schedule for us slow-recovery geezers and is definitely ramping up Stoker.

This winter we're going to try the old-fashioned Friel weights program and see if we can increase our raw strength a little more. I'd like to see us stand more to keep momentum over little bumps and to rest the legs on long climbs. I always start a climb in the saddle. Because our aerobic capacity is not great, we mostly climb sitting, only standing on the occasional steep bit or to rest our legs.

If we're racing (is there another way to ride a bike?), we like to come into a climb seated at over 100 rpm, then downshift and gradually drop cadence as HR comes up until we're steady-state. We usually get dropped on the climbs anyway, but we can almost always get them back after the crest. Our power/weight stinks, but our power/frontal area is good.
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Old 08-27-11, 01:09 PM   #15
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I'm sure everyone knows there are no 20,000 ft centuries here in CO, so I go back to my first post,"Well, Cf and RD, J & I think you both are incredible teams. We have ridden seriously two seasons and are a couple of years behind in age, but couldn't keep up five minutes!"
It is nearly impossible for us to do a 30 mile ride under 50' and the fact that what comes down must have went up and averages being averages, we probably do a lot more climbing than some, but getting back to the original post,ie; voting rights, our "local" century is 112 m & 8500', mol, my wife votes NO, but we have ridden the steeper parts of it with bob, that is her vote, our pace, camp out and yes, bring bob!
R. btw, I work weekends so it is hard to ride with other folks
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Old 08-27-11, 04:10 PM   #16
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I am really looking forward to riding with my wife as my stoker. We will both be new to the machine (new bike going together/1st tandem) so we will be learning together. The idea of doing intervals is completely out of the question however. Lanie is far too practical for that.
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Old 08-27-11, 06:21 PM   #17
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That is how my wife and I started riding the long bike. The first time for us on a tandem was when we picked our first one up. It has been more than a year and 7,000 miles now and we have never looked back. I know that is not the most recommend method to start out but it worked for us.

Don't worry too much about the mechanics. You will figure out what works for the two of you. Just keep it fun.

And always remember, the stoker is never wrong.

Enjoy it twogether.
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