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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 02-19-12, 02:11 AM   #1
Ritterview
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Tandem category in organized rides

It is fun doing organized rides on a tandem, and it it better still when your team can register as a tandem. It adds visibility to tandems, makes the registration easier, and can ease the expense if the tandem registration is made somewhat less than twice the singles price.

Last year I considered registering for the Sea Otter Gran Fondo, but balked when I saw that there was no specific registration for tandems, it was an expensive ride, and 2x that for a tandem entry. So, I found the event organizer and emailed him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by my email to Sea Otter Gran Fondo
Jeff--

I am thinking of doing the Gran Fondo on our tandem. But I probably won't because it is too dang expensive!

If you look at it, the Carmel Valley Route is mainly for men. Last year there were 305 men and 48 women, a ratio of more than 6:1. My stoker is not going to be doing any of these rides on her own. So if I do this on my own, it is already a much-more-expensive-than-usual $95, but if I go with my stoker, it is a can't-justify $190 ($95 x 2).

Tandems:

Tandems may ride any Gran Fondo route. Each tandem rider must register separately.


I note that on last year's Gran Fondo there were hundreds of riders and a total of one (1) tandem. And this on a fairly tandem-friendly course. This might be a clue that the market rejects $190 for one bicycle entry.

I just completed the Reedley Blossom Ride with a group of 5 tandems. There was no break on tandems, but the Registration was half the cost of the GranFondo. So too could I ride the nearby Tierra Bella Century the same day on our tandem (as we did last year) for the half the price of the Gran Fondo.

I'd like to promote the GranFondo among other tandem enthusiasts, and so get more tandems involved. The timing part is neat as we think the tandems could do well in comparison to singles, but there are going to be few takers for $190, and fewer still on April 1 when it becomes $235.

And if tandems aren't doing the Gran Fondo, neither are they visiting the Sea Otter Classic, and so Sea Otter misses these often well-heeled bicycle enthusiasts.

So, I hope you'll take another look at the registration fees in hopes of encouraging greater tandem participation.

Sincerely,

Ritterview
He replied:

Quote:
Ritterview:

Thanks for the e mail.

I appreciate the time it takes to write a thoughtful, insightful explanation –

The event offers significant number of discounts through our event sponsors – including an “early bird” discount that runs from November 1 to December 31. Plus any number of other 10% and 20% discounts.

We just finished up with a Bicycling Magazine offered discount of entry fees.

We are super-sensitive to the expense of attending Sea Otter but truly believe we offer a great value in each entry fee – free parking, Festival Pass valued at $30, and of course all the bells and whistles of a Gran Fondo ride – meal, post-ride massage, raffle prizes, etc.

Having said that, let me see if there is anything we can do for you and your group of tandems.

Thanks again for the feedback – it is truly appreciated!

Sea Otter Classic - Monterey, CA
Director of Athlete Services
April 14-17, 2011
Event Information/Hotline 1-800-218-8411
www.seaotterclassic.com
Well, my activism, paid off! This year there is tandem registration.

The only problem is, that the cost for the tandem is still $190 --the $95 single registration x 2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GF Registration
GRAN FONDO
Carmel Valley Route $ 95.00
Tandem - Carmel Valley Route (2 participants) $ 190.00 per team
Oh well, I guess the separate registration for tandems is a start.

Other organized rides often give the tandem team a discount from 2x the single registration. Examples include the Tour de Palm Springs, and the Solvang Century.

There can't be a discount if there is no tandem-specific registration. I think the way to approach this is to contact ride organizers to see if they will agree that tandem specific registration is a good idea. Once they agree to set that up, then suggest a tandem-team discount.
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Old 02-19-12, 07:10 AM   #2
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I understand exactly what you are talking about. We have ridden a couple of local rides and I only registered as a single rider but bought an extra meal ticket. We do not participate in the food at the rest stops when we do that, we carry our own GU and only fill our water bottles at those stops. I feel a little tug at my conscience but as long as I abstain from the food at the food stops my conscience is clear.

We have ridden a couple of rides where we did register as a tandem and payed the full fee. The Tulsa Tough is one that I remember.
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Old 02-19-12, 07:31 AM   #3
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Tandem activism, I love it!!
Seriously though, we rode on a tandem specific club ride yesterday (single bikes were also allowed) When getting a pre ride head count, the tandem people counted bikes, the non tandemers counted heads. That said a lot.
Keep it up, Ritterview
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Old 02-19-12, 08:34 AM   #4
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+1. Even a token price break is appreciated.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:44 AM   #5
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We were in the Sea Otter last year and it was an amazing ride well worth the money for us as the Gran Fondos in Canada have been doing their best to keep us out. We actually had to threaten one of them with a discrimination claim(my wife is disabled due to a spinal injury) to be allowed to ride. We did three Gran Fondos in the States last year; San Diego, Sea Otter and Seattle. All with different organizers and all welcomed us with open arms which was so refreshing after our problems in Canada.

So keep up the fight but appreciate what you have.

Craig and Claudia

ps Anyone thinking of Sea Otter this year make sure your rig has a granny gear we used our 30 x 34 to pass many 2 x 10 singles(who were walking) on the last major climb.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:54 AM   #6
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We never felt a discount is expected, since both of us are enjoying everything the organizing group did to make our ride enjoyable. We have always felt it is a rider fee, not a bike fee that we are paying for And that us on a tandem, we are not participating in the event any less than if we were on our singles. As for Charity rides, getting a break on fund raising would be nice, since we have to collect $300 - $500 to participate on the tandem. But that is just our thoughts....
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Old 02-19-12, 09:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
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ps Anyone thinking of Sea Otter this year make sure your rig has a granny gear we used our 30 x 34 to pass many 2 x 10 singles(who were walking) on the last major climb.
Is this the 96 mile route, and is the last major climb of which you speak Laureles Grade (2.1 miles, 7.1%) or York-Boundary Road (1.2 mile, 7.9%)?
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Old 02-19-12, 09:23 AM   #8
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Yes 96 mile.

Laurels grade(??), but I think that the average may be 7.1 but it felt like 1% at the bottom and 15% at the top.
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Old 02-19-12, 09:42 AM   #9
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Yes 96 mile.

Laurels grade(??), but I think that the average may be 7.1 but it felt like 1% at the bottom and 15% at the top.
The steepest it appears to get on the Strava segment is 13.7% briefly, which is seen approximately here.
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Old 02-19-12, 12:04 PM   #10
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I think that was where I wanted to get off and walk but my wife would not let me.

She is a slave driver.
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Old 02-19-12, 04:35 PM   #11
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Some events have offered tandem discounts.
One event gave us one number to wear, which is fine with us!
If you don't ask, you don't get!!!
Pedal on TWOgether!
RUdy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 02-19-12, 07:45 PM   #12
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We enjoy tandem starts just before the main start. Handling a tandem at very low speed with some unskilled single riders weaving around in front of you while having trouble clipping in is not fun. Especially difficult are large rides with over 10,000 riders that have starts that involve walking speeds that come to stop at intervals.

I can understand no tandem discount since two riders get two goodie bags use facilities and but any price break is appreciated.

Wayne
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Old 02-19-12, 09:07 PM   #13
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As someone who has helped organize rides (Hekaton, Cinderella, Wildflower, Lighthouse, etc) and who has ridden many organized rides with my beloved stoker (on the tandem and on our singles) I have a hard time figuring out why an organization might offer such a discount. Their costs are no different than for two riders on singles.

Willing to listen to good arguments otherwise.
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Old 02-19-12, 10:22 PM   #14
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Discount-seekers need to put themselves in the shoes of the seller: how does the organization running the ride benefit from letting two participants eat their food and fill up their portable toilets etc. for less than the budgeted price? Merely saying, "Tandems are cool so I deserve a discount," doesn't really cut it. They are but you don't.

"Why should I give you a discount?" isn't fighting words; it's just an invitation for some information about you as a customer that will benefit me (and you if I give you a discount), which I hadn't thought of when I set my asking price.

If the event is so undersold that large fixed costs aren't close to being met by full-retail registration, then I could see how trying to attract the tandem segment of the market with a discount could make financial sense. But the list of reasons is long for not wanting tandems on a mass ride -- very likely some event organizers have brainstormed about applying a surcharge to tandem registrants! So I'm with the GranFondo folks on this one. Find another battle.
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Old 02-19-12, 11:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
As someone who has helped organize rides (Hekaton, Cinderella, Wildflower, Lighthouse, etc) and who has ridden many organized rides with my beloved stoker (on the tandem and on our singles) I have a hard time figuring out why an organization might offer such a discount. Their costs are no different than for two riders on singles.

Willing to listen to good arguments otherwise.
Totally off-topic here, but one of the first centuries I ever rode was the Hekaton, and my now-twenty-one-year-old son "rode" the Cinderella. That is, my wife was three months pregnant when she rode it with some friends. Those were great rides.

I do agree that the costs associated with a tandem are pretty much the same as for two singles. I would never allow the presence or lak of a tandem discount to influence my decision to ride; I either want to do the ride or I don't. However, who doesn't love finding a tandem to draft? We're kind of like rolling sag wagons that help folks finish. That should have some small value.
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Old 02-20-12, 01:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
As someone who has helped organize rides (Hekaton, Cinderella, Wildflower, Lighthouse, etc) and who has ridden many organized rides with my beloved stoker (on the tandem and on our singles) I have a hard time figuring out why an organization might offer such a discount. Their costs are no different than for two riders on singles.

Willing to listen to good arguments otherwise.
I'll see if I can come up with any.

The price for an organized ride is not a simple thing. Different factors go into account, involving both supply and demand.

Organizer Costs:
  • Registration costs are less if two people register as one.
  • Automobile parking and traffic is halved, as two riders share one car.
  • Promotion cost/rider is halved, as for each tandem team reached, two riders participate.
  • Food costs are reduced, as each tandem team will be 50% female, whereas ridership is otherwise upwards of 80% male. Therefore, eat-like-bird females ride in place of swarm-of-locust males. And since there must be some truth to that oft-heard knee-slapper "She's not pedaling!" the stokers caloric requirements are reduced proportionate to the reputed feebleness of her expended wattage.

Bicycle-limited rides
Many rides are limited to the number of riders that may participate (eg Wildflower). What often is cited for such limitations is the capacity of the roads to handle the vehicular traffic of so many bicycles. Each tandem that participates eliminates one bicycle. Tandems could thus be used to expand ridership within a bicycle limitation.


Demand-limited rides
Those rides not limited by a quota are limited by rider demand. The organizer sets the price not only to cover expenses, many of which are fixed, but so too to encourage greater ridership and revenue. The price has been optimized, therefore, to best entice the >95% of riders who will be singles.

The tandem team must make a similar decision to the single rider, but upon clicking on the Register Here link, the team sees a registration fee is 2x the solo rider's. But neither the means nor cycling ardor of a tandem team is twice that of a solo rider.

The rider and revenue maximizing price for tandem team's is somewhere between the 1-2x the solo rider's.

So, there are factors, from a cost, logistical and revenue maximization standpoint by which a rational ride organizer would provide tandem registration fees less than twice that of single fees.
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Old 02-20-12, 07:18 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
As someone who has helped organize rides (Hekaton, Cinderella, Wildflower, Lighthouse, etc) and who has ridden many organized rides with my beloved stoker (on the tandem and on our singles) I have a hard time figuring out why an organization might offer such a discount. Their costs are no different than for two riders on singles.

Willing to listen to good arguments otherwise.
Tandems make good publicity. It is not usual to have our picture taken and used in local newspapers that cover the ride. Once the photographer went to the trouble to give us a prop and carefully compose the shot. Have never had that happen on a single.

Wayne

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Old 02-20-12, 08:11 AM   #18
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In this house we kind of don't get worked up over it.

If we like the event and can afford it (direct cost of the event and indirect cost of travel, hotel, time off from work) we sign up.

Sometimes the wife does complain about cost, since she does eat very little, and often the food they have is not part of what she eats. So yes, other than some water and a bathroom stop, she is along for the ride.

Tandem rallies are different than a ride event. These have the fun of meeting other tandem teams and cool things that tandem teams do.

We go to have fun and sometimes that comes with a price.

Now if you want to talk about racing, a tandem is a rip off at twice the cost. Most times that is just greedy promoters.

PK
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Old 02-20-12, 09:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
As someone who has helped organize rides (Hekaton, Cinderella, Wildflower, Lighthouse, etc) and who has ridden many organized rides with my beloved stoker (on the tandem and on our singles) I have a hard time figuring out why an organization might offer such a discount. Their costs are no different than for two riders on singles.

Willing to listen to good arguments otherwise.
From my point of view the biggest cost differences occur in support, headaches, and bad press. There are typically two groups that almost ALWAYS have their tools and spares, and that's the A group riders and tandem teams. Tandem teams, (such as ours), will often have extra spares to help out a rider, and even carry repair parts for stuff they're not riding! For instance we always carry a couple of 8 and 10 speed masterlinks even though our drive train is nine speed. Why not?

Although I have seen a tandem or two sagged in due to a major mechanicals like a broken wheel, you never see them sagging in cause they started off with bald tires, rusty chains, loose crank arms and all the other common nonsense the bottom 50% of the singles show up with. And you almost never see them calling it quits because they bit off more than they could chew and can't make the ride.

Next, in addition to the support, the A groups and tandems often blow right by the sag stops; "A" groups because they think it's a race, and tandem teams because many carry all their OWN fuel and hydration needs for that length of ride. We personally never rely on a sag stop. We will stop at some of them for bathroom breaks, and we might even eat a little something while we're stopped if it appears edible, but we always have adequate food & water on board.

And lastly, (knocking on wood as I'm saying this), in 40 years of cycling I have never seen a tandem team leaving the ride in an ambulance. Not saying they don't, can't or haven't crashed, it's just that on the organized rides with precious cargo on the back, tandem pilots are typically more experienced and tend to be more cautious than the average single rider.

And it's the pictures on the news of a pile of bloody cyclists on the side of the road with cops and ambulances everywhere that ultimately gets these rides cancelled.

So, I vote yes, tandems should get a discount.
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Old 02-20-12, 09:34 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
I'll see if I can come up with any.

The price for an organized ride is not a simple thing. Different factors go into account, involving both supply and demand.

Organizer Costs:
  • Registration costs are less if two people register as one.
  • Automobile parking and traffic is halved, as two riders share one car.
  • Promotion cost/rider is halved, as for each tandem team reached, two riders participate.
  • Food costs are reduced, as each tandem team will be 50% female, whereas ridership is otherwise upwards of 80% male. Therefore, eat-like-bird females ride in place of swarm-of-locust males. And since there must be some truth to that oft-heard knee-slapper "She's not pedaling!" the stokers caloric requirements are reduced proportionate to the reputed feebleness of her expended wattage.
Registration costs (regardless of whether manual data or automated data entry are used) are essentially the same for a tandem vs. two riders on singles.
Similarly, if beloved stoker and I decide to ride our singles, we don't take two cars, so no savings there.
Same for promotion costs.
Same for food costs (actually beloved stoker may eat as much as I do on these rides, since I have to be careful about what I am eating on long rides. Result = lots of bananas = cheap for promotors)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
Bicycle-limited rides
Many rides are limited to the number of riders that may participate (eg Wildflower). What often is cited for such limitations is the capacity of the roads to handle the vehicular traffic of so many bicycles. Each tandem that participates eliminates one bicycle. Tandems could thus be used to expand ridership within a bicycle limitation.
Rider limitations are usually restrained by county permit limits. County officials would be amused to hear the argument of expanding a ride limit based on the addition of tandems. Savvy officials might counter that tandems also impose additional traffic loadings since they are slower on hills and their speed characteristics are different than singles (highway traffic w/o big trucks would flow better).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
Demand-limited rides
Those rides not limited by a quota are limited by rider demand. The organizer sets the price not only to cover expenses, many of which are fixed, but so too to encourage greater ridership and revenue. The price has been optimized, therefore, to best entice the >95% of riders who will be singles.

The tandem team must make a similar decision to the single rider, but upon clicking on the Register Here link, the team sees a registration fee is 2x the solo rider's. But neither the means nor cycling ardor of a tandem team is twice that of a solo rider.

The rider and revenue maximizing price for tandem team's is somewhere between the 1-2x the solo rider's.
I'll just say that's an odd argument from someone riding a Calfee.

Nothing personal, but I'm underwhelmed and unpersuaded.
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Old 02-20-12, 10:03 AM   #21
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Our thoughts:

1. The tandem is a bicycle/ 1 bicycle.
2. 2 wheels
3. All costs for the promoter are the same for single/tandem except for food and drink
A. Insurance
B. promotion costs
C. Maps
D. Course set up / gas, time, paint etc.

We think that a tandem fee should be 1 1/2 the single bike fee or simply charge for the meal/ food drinks.

Since we are retired we can ride the event the day after and just follow the route markings. We ride fully supported, water, food, tools and sometimes prefer not to ride with some of the squirrelly single tourists.

Just our thoughts and we do not care if you are convinced or persuaded. LOL

Wayne (in Illinois)
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Old 02-20-12, 10:11 AM   #22
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We do a lot of organized rides and while a tandem discount is nice we don't mind paying full price particularly if we believe in the charity or want to support the success of the promoting bike club or organization. If our paying a few extra dollars in full price helps insure that a good events comes back again next year then all the better. Some rides (Lighthouse for example) are so good and such a value already I would feel uncomfortable asking for a price break.
If we dislike the promoter or feel the pricing is excessive we find another ride. The good news is we are fortunate to have many to choose from here on the west coast.
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Old 02-20-12, 10:22 AM   #23
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Setting aside the question of allocating the fixed costs (by "wheel" or "body"), the only rationale I can see with some potential validity is the ability of the organizer to increase their revenue ever to slightly if their permit limits the number of bicycles. So, I don't mind a small discount, don't necessarily expect one for riding a tandem. How about a senior citizen discount as we don't eat as much (right).
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Old 02-20-12, 10:24 AM   #24
chichi
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You are correct, riding a tandem with my wife is more expensive then riding my single with the guys.
She likes to stay in stay in a hotel the night before a ride instead of leaving the house at 3 or 4am to get to a distant ride.
She likes to go out to dinner the night before the ride.
She thinks it's civilized to stay in town the night after a ride, get a warm shower, another evening meal and then breakfast before heading home the next morning.
She thinks it is a good idea to stop for lunch during training rides.
She is tired after training rides and would prefer dinner out to cooking in after training rides.
She thinks it is a good idea to take the tandem on vacations with us so we stay in shape for organized rides.
She approves of the purchase of a vehicle large enough to haul the tandem.
She understand how various upgrades have improved the riding experience.
She has approved the purchase of 3 tandems in 4 years.
She understands why I had to buy a 2 new singles during the same 4 years.

You think saving 15 bucks on a ride registration is going to make a difference? Griping about a few dollars in registration fees is not going to endear ride organizers to a demographic that clearly has the ability to pay.

BTW, I did not ride sea otter last year (in spite of being comped on entry fees) because I was so disappointed* in the previous year’s bad support.
Having ridden the sea otter 3 times on a single, I would gladly pay an extra $15.00 if my wife can get me up the last hill.
*PC for pissed off…. bad course markings put us in the middle of a road race heading the wrong direction, food at rest stop very limited and seemd to be stuff they picked up a costco the night before.
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Old 02-20-12, 02:29 PM   #25
Ritterview
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
Registration costs (regardless of whether manual data or automated data entry are used) are essentially the same for a tandem vs. two riders on singles.
Similarly, if beloved stoker and I decide to ride our singles, we don't take two cars, so no savings there.
Same for promotion costs.
Same for food costs (actually beloved stoker may eat as much as I do on these rides, since I have to be careful about what I am eating on long rides. Result = lots of bananas = cheap for promotors)
You assert that the costs are essentially the same "for a tandem vs. two riders on singles".

It is closer to the truth, as DubT points out, that the only difference in variable cost between a tandem team and a single rider is the food consumed by the stoker. Can you point out any other variable costs?

The ridership of century rides (e.g. the Sea Otter Gran Fondo) is predominantly male. Those women who would ride as a stoker are unlikely to do so on a single. The absented stoker will be substituted by a solo male, with an additional variable-cost laden registration, car, bicycle and appetite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
Rider limitations are usually restrained by county permit limits. County officials would be amused to hear the argument of expanding a ride limit based on the addition of tandems. Savvy officials might counter that tandems also impose additional traffic loadings since they are slower on hills and their speed characteristics are different than singles (highway traffic w/o big trucks would flow better).
The county probably doesn't have rider limitations, but vehicle (bicycle) limitations. The county officials will never hear the argument. The ride will fit in extra riders within their bicycle limitation by having more riders as stokers on tandems.

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Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
I'll just say that's an odd argument from someone riding a Calfee. Nothing personal...
None of these factors are the least bit affected by whether we ride our Calfee or our 1991 Burley.
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