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Home » Cycling » Is a Tandem Bike a Divorce Machine, or a Marriage Binder? Tandem Cycling for Noobs

Is a Tandem Bike a Divorce Machine, or a Marriage Binder? Tandem Cycling for Noobs

December 2018
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I read a lot of cycling posts and articles but not much on tandems, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents on a topic commonly bandied about when riding with single-cyclists (not marital single, one rider per bike “single”). Is the tandem a marriage maker or breaker?

A friend of mine, and a helluva strong cyclist, used to say that on the tandem with his girlfriend was the one place that everything was as it should be in the world.

On the one hand, they’re no longer together. On the other, and with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, he did have a point.  For the seasoned tandem cyclist, the tandem isn’t a struggle because you either learn to love it, or you go back to single bikes.  For the noob, it gets a little interesting, so if you’re new to cycling and think you might want to try a tandem with your spouse, read on…

First, a few important rules of happy tandem cycling (remember, the captain is up front, the stoker is in the back):

  • The captain is the captain. If you can’t accept this, stick with the single bikes.
  • The stoker makes no mistakes. Of course they do, right? Oh no they don’t! D’you wanna be right or happy? Happy it is! The stoker makes no mistakes.  If you can’t accept this, your marriage will be very short.  Stick to the single bikes.
  • The stoker is there for one thing: pure, unadulterated power.  Yes, you get to look around and talk to everyone, that is the benefit of not having to pilot the bicycle equivalent of a semi.
  • The captain is the stronger cyclist for a reason – you’re going to work a lot harder on a tandem – and you still have to keep the thing on the road! Figure 25-30%, give or take. That’s the job.  Muscle up, bub.
  • Stokers, watch the fidgeting.  Every shift you make throws the bike around and it gets a little tricky keeping it on the road sometimes.  Don’t worry, you still don’t make any mistakes.
  • Captains, the stoker gets every bump on the road and has no time to prepare for them.  Miss the road bumps for your stoker’s sake.  At the very least, let your stoker know they’re coming so they can brace for it (or get a thud buster seat post).  Unlike stokers, captains do make mistakes.  Don’t let this be one.

Tandem bikes are a lot like canoes. If you want to know how solid a foundation your marriage is built on, take your spouse for a spin on a tandem. You’ll find out pretty fast.  To look at the initial question posed in my Title, though, a tandem is both a marriage maker and a breaker.

A tandem is a relationship intensifier.

20170820_094135(0)
This photo is of some friends on the Assenmacher 100 – The photo just fit the post.

Whatever you’re going through in your relationship, a tandem will intensify it.  For my wife and I, typically this is a very good thing.  Every once in a while, though, WOW!  Just remember, on those bad days the goal is to stay married.  And the good days?  Well, they’re really good.  Just enjoy them.

To wrap this up, if you’re going to give the tandem a try, hold onto the single bikes.  Every once in a while a break might be needed so you remember how much fun it is to ride together.

I hope this was helpful… or at least a little entertaining.

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9 Comments

  1. theandyclark says:

    Loved the article, but your explanation of the picture almost ruined it. I would take a special type of cajones for a married guy to put the moves on another man’s wife in front her daughter. You could have had me trying to figure out when Michigan turned into California for the rest of the day!

    Course, y’all are all yankees up there so any fool thing is possible.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Yeah, the old fella takes the mom and daughter so the father can ride with the sons and they can all do the ride together…. It was awkward trying to figure out how to phrase the entirely friendly relationship between all of us.

  2. We had a “two-seater” cruiser when I was a kid. We LOVED that bike. Every kid in the neighborhood wanted a turn!😂

  3. The stoker’s other job is to hand out ride snacks and (if touring) read the map and figure out where you are. I love riding a tandem with the missus. We can go further than if we were both on single bikes as she’s not a strong cyclist – and has no aspirations to be one.

    Relationship intensifier is the perfect description of tandem riding. Divorce or happily ever after. Whichever of the two outcomes your marriage is destined for, a tandem will get you there faster!

    Great post! 🙂

  4. annastk76 says:

    Haha! I think this would be the sort of thing I would be absolutely TERRIBLE at but precisely for that reason would be so very good for me! I can see myself – bossy nightmare that I am – being useless at relinquishing control to the other person where required. For that reason it would be excellent because that’s one of the things I’m trying to be better at. Thank God my husband is a tolerant, patient and very well balanced man…. 🙂

    Well. I now run with him AND ENJOY IT, something I never thought I’d ever want to do as anything other than on my own – at MY pace, in MY way, etc etc. I get that you are talking about cycling but I think anything tandem or team is relevant for a recovering alcoholic like me. Giving up control, trusting in someone or something else. It was what immediately jumped out at me in this post.

  5. OmniRunner says:

    Entertaining! I can only imagine. Must be a lot of laughs out there too?

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