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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 08-23-12, 03:39 PM   #1
Dean V
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Stoker not working comments

As I am sure you are all aware comments regarding the stoker not working/free loading etc etc are about the most common ones said by other people (cyclists included). Has anyone given any thought to why this is? What is the mentality (or lack of) behind this?
Is it because the stoker is usually a woman and they are implying they are lazy? Do teams that have a guy on the back get it just as often?
We have been doing this for 20 yrs so are well used to it but it is still a bit annoying.
In contrast during an organized ride a month or so ago another cyclist commented how he could see how hard my wife was working during the ride and this is the first time I can recall getting that compliment.
I guess it is usually out of ignorance and a lame attempt at humour, but I just feel like venting a bit about it!
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Old 08-23-12, 03:49 PM   #2
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But She's Great... ?

It is a typical comment and is probably just a lame attempt at good-natured humor. A friend who we recently did a ride with, and who has a group of folks they normally ride tandems with, said that all the male pilots have been instructed to immediately and without hesitation say: "But she's great in bed!" I'm not sure if the guys have been bold enough to say it yet.
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Old 08-23-12, 03:50 PM   #3
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There are lots of threads on this and it seems to me that most think it is a lame attempt at humor. We mostly just let the comment hang there with no response. Once passing a guy resting in the shade with his single commented "she's not pedaling" and I responded "You're the one not pedaling" On the bright side if a rider says that as he passes us my stoker usually picks up the challenge and want to run him down so we are in for a hammerfest. Lots of fun IF we can catch him even more if we can drop him. Hmmm that gives me an idea....
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Old 08-23-12, 03:52 PM   #4
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I expected to hear one or two of those on the Tour of Napa this past weekend....but not 1! There were also lots of tandem riders out so maybe everyone was used to them. In fact our friend who borrowed a belt driven IGH bike got more comments than we did.
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Old 08-23-12, 04:13 PM   #5
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I usually say "You've got it backwards-I'M not pedaling!"
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Old 08-23-12, 05:03 PM   #6
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Old 08-23-12, 05:23 PM   #7
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It's a lot better than what most non-cyclists "shout out" ...

P.S. I really don't give much mind to anything that anyone yells out. Life's too short to expend brain cells on things or people that don't matter.
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Old 08-23-12, 07:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by professorbob View Post
I usually say "You've got it backwards-I'M not pedaling!"
Last weekend while out on a club breakfast ride, we passed 3 women cyclists, not part of the ride, and one of the ladies yelled out to alert my stoker "Hey! He's not pedaling!"
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Old 08-23-12, 08:22 PM   #9
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If I say anything (and I usually don't), I usually just say, "Coulda fooled me....I couldn't go this fast by myself." But that's only if it's another cyclist who's riding beside us who will be in earshot long enough to hear. It typically breaks the ice and leads to some good conversation about cycling. Often the other rider will say, "I only wish I could get my wife/girlfriend/partner interested in riding one of those."

We were slowing to make a turn out in the country a while back. The clicking of the coasting freehub ratchet caused a couple of guys digging out a fence post beside the road to look up. One of them looked over at Susan and said, "You know, he's [emphasis added] not doing his share of the work up front there."
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Old 08-23-12, 09:16 PM   #10
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When our kids were younger my wife captained the tandem with our daughter stoking, while I piloted the triplet with our two sons working the child stoker cranks to the max. FIVE chains.......don't even ask.
At those young ages they were really into it, and whether the comment was "Hey, they're not pedaling" or " How come they're doing all the work" we always responded by me unclipping and holding my feet out high, wide, and forward as they got out of the saddle and kicked a$$.
My favorite comment heard only once by a guy that must have actually been capable of decent comedy was "Whoa,..... squirrel power!"
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Old 08-23-12, 10:46 PM   #11
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We hear it all the time. I think it is just of way of making small talk. We just laugh and make equally lame comments back. Most of the other comments we get have more to do with someone lamenting that they'd never be able to work together like that with their partner.
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Old 08-23-12, 11:35 PM   #12
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The rejoinder will be a lot more specific and pointed when the Garmin Vector powermeter is introduced.

"Wrongo! She's making 175 watts."
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Old 08-24-12, 12:05 AM   #13
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fun thread. as a triple pilot with an 8yo on the end, i can safely say there are times when my daughter isn't exactly pulling her own. it's a bit obvious when my wife and i are huffing it up a steep grade and our daughter is singing as loud as possible with no loss of breath. i don't mind though. i call her my little turbo charger. when i need her, she kicks it in gear and gives us more power than i thought she could ever muster. i am glad that i didn't get a freewheeling stoker bike so i know she's at least not just sitting idle back there.

as for my wife, who isn't a seasoned cyclist, sometimes i have to tell her to lay off so she can reserve her energy
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Old 08-24-12, 06:56 AM   #14
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"She's not pedaling " is my standard greeting on the rare occasion when we come across another tandem, its particularly fun when overtaking because you usually get an annoyed look until they see my stoker, then its all smiles.

As for receiving the "not pedaling" comment I just treat it as a hello and acknowledge them, if they wanted to be malicious they would say something else. Last week we heard a new one, someone said "look a twinner!".
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Old 08-24-12, 11:27 AM   #15
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We get many more positive comments than the aged "she's not pedaling" so we just ignore the latter. Experienced cyclists tend to appreciate the effort on both our parts it takes to get a senior citizen tandem up a biggish climb, Honey Run at ChicoVelo comes to mind. And when we have to walk (Wilson Hill on the Marin 100K comes to mind) we're not alone.
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Old 08-26-12, 05:59 PM   #16
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Pilot's sometimes retort: "She pedals, I steer!"
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Old 08-26-12, 07:48 PM   #17
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If it is flat and we get the "she's not pedaling" comment, I take my feet out of the pedals and say, "oh yes she is".. I think it is just an attempt at humor too.
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Old 08-26-12, 08:38 PM   #18
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Our bike is a Lamborghini (really!) so I just say, "It's a Lamborghini. The engine's in the rear!"

Also you will probably remember the recent newspaper photo that I posted of Joy and I flying up A1A in Ft. Lauderdale. I posted it here in the Tandem Forum, and got many compliments. Thank you. I posted it also in the 50+ forum, and got equally complimentary comments from that audience. But honestly, not one had any really interesting comments.

Then I posted it in the "41" road forum! Then the fun really began. Lots of great comments. I'll share some of the best here for you. Some are a little off topic. The subject is "Grandma and Grandpa out for a Sunday Ride"

"Are you guys about to hit warp speed?"

"
I'm thinking this isn't grandmaandgrandpa's first rodeo."

"
Your stoker's legs look like they could crush Wiggins'."

(my favorite) "
I am not comfortable with old people who ride faster than I do,this photo is disturbing."

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Old 08-26-12, 09:05 PM   #19
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Great photo!
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Old 08-27-12, 06:00 AM   #20
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A while back, I learned to ride a unicycle, and unicyclists get it worse than tandemeers. I think the issue is that people aren't used to seeing either, they feel obligated to say something, but don't really have anything to say, either, so they open their mouths and something stupid pops out, and should generally be disregarded. With unicycles, half the comments are something about having a wheel missing.

You can expect the "not pedaling" comments more on a bike with independent coasting, I suppose.

I've told a couple of people that we had a deal worked out: She pedals up the hills and I pedal down them.

When it's all said and done, I don't suppose there is any reason why the riders SHOULD be working exactly as hard, but if you get too concerned about that kind of thing, it's time to do something different.
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Old 08-27-12, 08:17 AM   #21
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I'm only 6'4", so I'm sure I haven't heard it as many times as folks who really are tall, but it used to bug me when people would try to be cute and say things like "how's the weather up there?". * (I was probably a bit defensive from all the 'jolly green giant' comments as a kid)

By the time I hit my thirties I figured out that most folks mean no harm, and that if your response is even a little condescending they think there's soming wrong with you!

Life is short. Try to enjoy every turn of the cranks!

* like the "she's not pedaling" comment, I usually respond to "how's the weather up there?" with a smile, a pause, and "good morning".

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Old 08-27-12, 07:10 PM   #22
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Male stoker here. We get the same comment regularly and I usually say, "Shh. You're going to ruin it for me." or something equally inane. I agree that it is just an attempt at humor.

The funniest comment we have gotten recently was from someone we were passing on a climb who asked why we had the captain on the rear. I guess the notion that the male should be captain is pretty solidly ingrained in some folks.
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Old 08-27-12, 08:36 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
A while back, I learned to ride a unicycle, and unicyclists get it worse than tandemeers. I think the issue is that people aren't used to seeing either, they feel obligated to say something, but don't really have anything to say, either, so they open their mouths and something stupid pops out, and should generally be disregarded. .
Our tandem and triplet riding prepared me for one of my current endeavers..barefoot running.
I have at least a dozen responses so automated that even at 185 BPM HR near the finish line I can still deliver them.
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Old 08-28-12, 10:42 AM   #24
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We got the best comment this weekend.

On a steep climb at the very end of a two day trip we (50+) passed a teenager walking his mountain bike up the side of the road. His comment?

"Woah! You guys on your way home from the Olympics? I hope I can ride like that when I am as old as you. Can't even do it now!"

That was just what the stoker and I needed to get out of the saddle and power over the top.
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Old 08-28-12, 08:18 PM   #25
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We got the best comment this weekend.

On a steep climb at the very end of a two day trip we (50+) passed a teenager walking his mountain bike up the side of the road. His comment?

"Woah! You guys on your way home from the Olympics? I hope I can ride like that when I am as old as you. Can't even do it now!"

That was just what the stoker and I needed to get out of the saddle and power over the top.
Love it!
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