Best start technique on 3+ person bikes?
We're renting a triplet for the weekend! My wife and two other women are going to ride it in a local sportive (aka gran fondo) around Lake Geneva in Switzerland and France on Sunday (Cyclotour du Leman) for 180 km / 110 miles. One of the other girls has previously done the same ride with my wife on our tandem a couple of years ago, apparently that didn't draw enough attention, so now they want to step it up a notch by riding a triplet. The third girl has done a couple of training rides with my wife on our tandem, and everything has gone very smoothly. They'll get the triplet one day before the event for a test ride with everyone riding together for the first time. Fortunately, fitness and cycling ability will not be a problem for any of them, but the triplet could make it a real challenge.
When starting and stopping our tandem, the stoker always stays clipped in, and we ride 90 degrees out of phase, and both girls were happy using this technique when stoking our tandem. The triplet is going to have all pedals in phase, and we're wondering what is going to be the best method to use when starting. The two stokers are pretty small ladies, and my wife (the captain) is reasonably strong, but is it a bad idea to even try having the 2 stokers fully clipped in before starting? Would having everyone's right feet on the ground and launching together be easier, or even harder to co-ordinate? You could also have just one person fully clipped in and two with a foot down. Instead of them using trial and error with every possible combination, we decided to ask for the collective wisdom and experience of people on this forum. What methods have you found to work best on triplets, quads, etc? Especially when all riders are of similar weights. They may have to stop for a few red lights, so they need to master a technique that is going to work well rather than messing around with some that are doomed to failure.
While the girls are having fun on the triplet, I'll be piloting our tandem with one of their husbands on the back (another experienced cyclist). It should be a lot of fun, and there'll probably be lots of photos to share afterwards. Plus, we're hoping that the other couple that will be split between stoking the two bikes will end up falling in love with multi-person bikes and will be buying their own tandem soon-after.