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It Takes Two to Tandem; Go Big or Go Home…

May 2016
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Last week was a crap week for cycling.  Possibly the worst May week since I’ve been riding a bicycle regularly.  Three days of rain. And it snowed yesterday.  Three times (not much and there was no accumulation, but c’mon dude, snow in May?!).

When I woke up there was snow on the vehicle’s windshields but we just brought the Co-Motion home Saturday… no chance I wasn’t taking it out unless it was raining.

We went big, because we all know I don’t go small.  Possibly a little too big for a first group ride on a tandem – and only our second ride on a double.  44 miles at just under 18 mph for an average.

The first 30-ish were awesome.  We both felt good and rode well.  The last ten or so, I turned into Betty White in the Snickers commercial.  I ate enough but I definitely didn’t drink enough and I was smoked.  I have never worked so hard on a bicycle.

There were definitely some issues we had to work through but they were hills to mountain climbers.  Getting into them now would be counter-productive so I’ll save that for a future post after we’ve had time to iron them out – and I’ve got just as much to work on as my wife…

The tandem is really about working together. When we did, there’s nothing like it in cycling. It’s smooth and fast and fun. When we didn’t, and there were times, it blew me up just trying to hold the wheel in front of us…

That said, when we worked together, the tandem was awesome and I’m glad we decided to try it. We just have a little work to do to get to a point where we’re working together most of the time.

To wrap up our first foray into tandem riding, there were a lot of pluses and a few minuses to work through.  The coolest on the plus list is riding into the wind.  While you feel it, it’s not the same as on a single bike – it’s a lot easier to push through the wind (and we had plenty to test this on yesterday).  Riding double brings to mind an old cliché – learning to ride a tandem is a lot like making sausage.  The process is a bit ugly but the end result is beautiful.  I’m keeping my eye on the prize:  A plate full of Jimmy Dean’s sausage next to my waffles with peanut butter and syrup.  After a long ride on the tandem with my wife.

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15 Comments

  1. OmniRunner says:

    Snow in May? We had snow in April and thought that was bad. Can’t wait for the heat.
    With two people peddling will you be able to go faster then peddling alone? What happens if one person peddlers slower?

    • bgddyjim says:

      Both cranks are “tied” together with a chain so both have to pedal with the same cadence, if one pedals slower than the other you end up working against each other. One CAN pedal light though and the result is slower speeds. The trick is learning to work together, in which case, yes… Two will go faster than one. Heavier bike, but the wind resistance is much better for a tandem.

      • OmniRunner says:

        So one person can take a bit of a break and refresh and then let the other person take a break. I imagine it will take a little practice to match cadence naturally.

      • bgddyjim says:

        That’s our biggest issue right now, that and figuring out how to communicate effectively. It’s definitely interesting!

  2. It’s especially hard if the two riders don’t have the same natural cadence speed. The key is all about harmony and communication, getting in sync with each other. When it works, it’s beautiful. Just like any good relationship very soon it will just click. Enjoy!

  3. Only three days of rain – luxury!!!!! But then we’ve had loads of sunshine for a while, that really makes a change.

  4. in the club, i knew three husband-wife tandem teams. man… two were older and had years in together. the third team, they sounded like you do in the posts. but, boy, did i enjoy seeing those tandems at the starts of rides! best drafting spot in the group was behind one of them! 🙂 you’ll end up pulling your entire group for entire rides by mid-summer. i should take bets.

  5. Sue Slaght says:

    Thanks for the report on how it’s going. Yes I can imagine it will take some time to get it all ironed out. Lind of like a relationship. 🙂

    • bgddyjim says:

      You’re welcome, and you’re absolutely right. We’ve been talking quite a bit about that ride and those discussions are going well. We’re concentrating on what we can do to replicate that period where we were working together because that was truly awesome.

  6. tamsynsmith says:

    It’s always good to hear about male/female tandem teams. I’m hoping to borrow a tandem from a local charity for disabled riders, so that I can go cycling with a friend who is visually impaired. Although he’s a lot faster than me, I’ve done some guide running with him and we’re hoping to be able to train to do a duathlon together as we’ve found some local races that will allow mixed gender pairings.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Awesome! Good luck… Just spend some time on it to get used to it. There’s a TON of upper body strength needed to keep one on the road. I just recovered from Sunday.

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