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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 03-21-04, 06:33 PM   #1
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Bicycle clubs

I guess I'm just not cut out to be in a bicycle club. In my horseback riding days everyone stuck together on a ride and if someone wanted to canter their horse for a ways that was fine, then they would circle back to get with the group again. Guess I'm still in that mind set. Today we rode with a bunch of really nice people in a tandem club but during the ride my husband & I (who aren't very experienced at tandeming) were playing catch up most of the ride, just trying not to get dropped. We were going faster then I would have liked (scaring me most of the time) The group did stop once for everyone to regroup but that was the only time. By the time we got almost to the end of the ride there were only 5 of us left so we stopped for lunch then proceeded back to our starting point. We never did see the other people who had started out on the ride with us again. By the end of the ride I was in tears just because I had been so scared the majority of the ride and couldn't enjoy myself. I told my husband I would rather just ride by myself on my single and that way I can stop when I want, go as fast as I want and go as far as I want. My husband pointed out that I can't expect people to go slow just for me and stop every time I want to stop, he's right! My husband & I will still ride the tandem but probably alone, he likes getting in a group but I don't. Such is life.
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Old 03-21-04, 06:40 PM   #2
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Lightspeed -

I do not ride a tandem, but am a member of a club. Usually the main paceline breaks into several. Were the 5 other bikes you ended up with at a similar pace to you? If so, you guys could likely break into a seperate group.

An example of this is that my wife and I both ride in the same club. We always start out together, but end up in different pacelines once we really get rolling. (Though I think one of these days she will keep up with my line - She has only been riding for 5 months.)

You may want to consider riding just the two of you for a while till you get your comfort level up. It sounds (though I am no expert) like you may want to get a bit more used to the bike in a tandem format before moving on. Then again, maybe you shoud be the captain....
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Old 03-21-04, 08:31 PM   #3
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Yo Litespeed:
Stuff happens and all clubs do it differently. Some are more of a 'go-fast' mentality, while others are more social.
We went on what was supposed to be a 35 mile tandem ride today; 6 tandems showed up. We sort of split into 2 groups: the 'go-faster' young ones and us 'seniors' . . . we do mean seniors! Youngest senior was 69, next 2 @ 71, one @ 72 and 2 @ 80! Our eldest seniors suffered a flat of the rear tire; fixed it for them and back on the road.
The wind was ridiculous at about 25 to 30 mph! After about a dozen miles stokers had 'enough' and asked for a break . . . said they were no longer having fun. OOPS! Time to make a U-turn and pedal back to the start, where we all went to a little restaurant for our 2nd breakfast, coffee and lots of camaraderie!
Met up with the younger crowd later and they 'fessed up the wind switched on the way back; a double whammy of headwinds both ways.
When you get lemons, make lemonade!
Don't give up on tandeming; there are folks out there who ride your pace . . . or slower!
Rudy & Kay/Zona tandem?Tucson, AZ
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Old 03-21-04, 09:07 PM   #4
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Litespeed You’re not alone. Most groups are made up of various packs. You’re just starting out and today you and your husband found out a few things about yourselves. First of all you both worked as a team. Your husband and you gave a really good shot if you never done this kind of ride before. You should now trust your husband a tad more for going as fast as both of you can go and still control the bike.
Just remember you really had a group with you all the time. Remember 5 other had you as company as well and sometimes it will be just you and your husband and to me that is a big enough group. Do not forget to say high when you pass us!
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Old 03-22-04, 09:50 AM   #5
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As others have suggested, folks who ride tandems are like all other cyclists -- they differ in their riding abilities. Therefore, you must pick and choose who you plan to ride with based on having similar goals. We once fancied ourselves as "go-fast" riders. However, the folks who we were able to keep up with have graduated from weekend riders to club riders who ride several days a week and spend at least one day each weekend riding with the racer-boys. Thus, we can no longer keep up with them. However, we're still faster than a few other "go-fast" riders which means we often times go out on a ride and get left riding alone in "no-mans-land" off-the-back of the hammerheads but still out in front of the fast recreational riders. It's hardly a "group ride" when that happens and I can tell you that it has happend to us and our friends at events as large as the Midwest Tandem Rally with some 300-500 other tandems on the road. So, you're left with three choices when you ride:

1. Use each ride as a "training ride" to push yourselves to your physical limits in which you chase the rabbits (hammerheads) as long as you can, and resign yourselves to the fact that you WILL get dropped along the ride. You can mitigate some of the isolation by finding rides that offer different ride length options and pushing hard to the split between the long and shorter routes. Once at the split, you can finish the ride alone or wait for slower riders to catch up and then "enjoy" the cool down or slightly more relaxed pace for the remainder of the ride. Over time, you may find your fitness levels and on-bike performance will improve to where you hang with the rabbits onto the long ride and eventually even allow you to finish with them if you ride smart and stay in the draft the whole way. If you continue to stick with it you will eventually find yourselves doing your stints on the front, but it doesn't happen over night or even in just a few months.

2. You can find others who ride at or a little below your level and make a point to ride with them. No, you may not be as physically challenged by this type of ride, but there's a lot to be said for the quality of life that comes from combining good physical activity (just riding at a steady pace) with a high-degree of social interaction. If you settle in with other riders who you can enjoy riding with as a group, you may find that your group will ride more often and as a group become stronger and faster together.

3. You can ride alone as a couple and enjoy each other's company. Nothing wrong with that... but you do miss out on a lot by not sharing a ride with other couples now and again.

Anyway, the key to picking which of the three ways to approach your group-ride opportunities is for you and your hubby to agree on the approach before you start your ride. After all, the key to success in any team sport is communication before (planning/strategy/goal setting), during (execution/audibles), and after (critique/lessons learned) the activity. I can't think of any other team sports aside from a three-legged race where the team members are physically linked at a moving joint (the ankle) where these three aspects of communication are more critical.

Ok, easy stuff right? Now, let's move onto the reality of your individual situation....

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I detect a constant theme that runs through your posts which seems to suggest you and your hubby need to spend more time talking about your respective goals and expectations for the tandem BEFORE you ride as it always seems the intermediate parts are highly emotional in a negative way for you. And, lets face it, if the stoker is unhappy the captain's unhappy.

Again, lists can be tricky things when it comes to "reading into" personalities since we only have the written word on which to base our interpretations vs. non-verbal cues and intonation which provide perhaps the other 2/3rds of the communication process. However, as I think back over your postings I'm left with an image of your hubby in two lights: 1. He wants to enjoy the speed and power that tandems offer and likes to ride hard and, 2. he's the Apha dog at least when it comes to your respective cycling pursuits, e.g., his reaction to your single-bike crash and persistent desire to push the tandem harder than you like. Neither of these two things are necessarily bad, but if you're reluctant to and/or don't enjoy pushing the tandem hard and feel he doesn't have the patience to work with you to eliminate your fears then your collective prospects for really enjoying the tandem are pretty low. The other side of the coin is, recognizing that as a "team" he may need to set aside his need for speed so that you can enjoy the other 1/2 of the tandem experience WHICH IS the social aspect.

Bottom Line: Reading through your note, it sounds like two are caught in between approach 1 and 2, above, and on your way to 3. Please take the time to discuss how to proceed so you don't end up using approach 4... not riding the tandem at all.

Just my .02.

Last edited by livngood; 03-22-04 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 03-22-04, 01:48 PM   #6
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I agree with the above. I don't ride a tandem, but am in a club. On club rides we break into different groups. I used to be "tail-end charley", chasing the "hares", now, after a year with this group I get to be a "hare" and let the "hounds" chase me! It takes time and a desire to go better on each ride. Sometimes, though, going slow is quite appealing to me, especially since I'm recovering from bronchitis. First time in about 20 years. I'll be leading soon. You will be too. Happy trails.
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Old 03-24-04, 01:29 PM   #7
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I think you have been unfortunate with your group riding. Admittedly you may want to go slower than the others, but there is no excuse, for them to make you feel uncomfortable.. In the group that I ride with, admittedly off road and mainly solo's, we have one rule. First one to the top of the hill gets cold waiting for the rest.
We do have newcomers ride with us and we do not know their standard or their stamina. Hills are where it takes it out of you, and we ensure that at least one rider will stay with them, no matter what their standard. Generrally, this is to slow them down so that they can do the 30 miles that our normal ride lasts. If they are "Ultra- fit" then we generally have a couple of riders that can chase them to stop them from getting lost.
My suggestion is that you find a different group to ride with. If you can't find one, then start your own amongst your friends. It is a great way to get your friends intersted in doing some form of physical activity that will improve their health, aswell as get your fitness up so you can poke two fingers at the other group when you see them out on a ride in the future.
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Old 03-24-04, 08:17 PM   #8
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Getting on a bicycle, any bicycle, single or tandem, is an incredibly liberating experience for me. I leave behind my various physical infirmities, turn into the person I am on a bike, and spend myself in the worthy cause of my choice. I sprint for the lines, lead out for the lines, tow the pack, tow dropped riders back up to the pack, put a hand on the backs of slower riders and push them up hills with the pack, pull the pack back up to breaks, or help a break get away, or maybe I sit just in front of the pack and dare them to catch me, with the effort of only one or altogether. I celebrate the precision of the paceline, especially the rotating echelon that flips it's tail from side to side and reverses rotation as the road tacks across the headwind. This is really my sport. I have found the sport that I can do.

But just as this is my sport, so I would never try to hammer your different shape into my mold. Yes, we are all different, and I value our diversity of desires and abilities.

I take out all kinds of stokers, from ones who use what they have at a profligate rate, to ones who only need a small boost up to have some riding companions, and when I take them out, we ride with the companions of their choice.

Modern life is time-challenged, and some of us have to go hard every chance we get to maintain the desired level of fitness. And that means the club rides tend to split up. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because you will have noted that you felt a little safer with the smaller group that was going your speed. It's normal for the packs to go slow until out of the heavy traffic, or to the designated starting point, and then selection occurs, until the riders have been sorted into their groups.
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Old 04-06-04, 11:48 AM   #9
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Everyone complains of being dropped when they start riding with a group, and attribute that "dropping" to the group members being unfriendly. Sometimes that is true, so then you "drop" that group! Most of the time, however, it is just that riders like to ride at their preferred speed. It's their weekend, too: Precious moments, time to enjoy.
I started riding with a very big cycling club and soon found that all rides are actually many smaller rides. People sort themselves into groups by ability. The problem I had was that I was trying to keep up with the lead pack, then dropped back to a reasonable pace, which put me a certain distance in front of the people where were riding my speed (and so would never catch up). I finally learned to stop and wait for the next group.
Also, the group I ride with is big enough to have rides rated foor speed. Anyone who does any riding other than to Dairy Queen on two Sundays in June each year can keep up with the social "C" riders (which always end at a restaurant or said Dairy Queen).
So find a group that rides your pace, and have fun!

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