My wife and I are really coming into our own on our tandem. It’s now our go-to bike for Sunday rides and we’re having a blast on it. This is as it should be but it takes some want to to get there.
I’ve been asked how much more work the is tandem over a single bike. To answer the question, I’d have to guess, but that’s a guess I can make – 20-30% depending on the strength and size of the stoker.
We don’t ride our tandem like that, though – we’re not on the tandem for speed, to burn up the tarmac… we’re our there for the fun of it.
We rolled out yesterday morning with a goal of 40-ish miles at a pace between 17 & 18-mph. That lasted all of eight miles and we were pushing 19. We picked up one of the better tandem couples in our county about four miles in and things got a little out of hand. We tried to continually check with everyone to make sure the pace wasn’t a problem and would have pulled up if anyone did.
And it did get a little crazy.
Our 30th mile was completed at just a shade under 26-mph… and we were at a 19.9 average. The next mile was at 24 on the nose. Then a couple of slow miles before we hit a section of rollers famous for tandem awesomeness. Over a three mile stretch (or so), there’s a negative grade of a percent or two with some fantastic rollers thrown in. On a single bike with a slight tailwind, you can keep the pace up above 21-mph, including the uphill portions. On a tandem, with the exception of one or two key hills, it’s 23-mph. The single bikes can have a tough time holding on.
We pounded that section.
We took a little break at the next intersection before the 12-mile cruise home. We were at 20-mph on the nose at this point but I doubted we’d hold it. Usually, when we have to stop to get out of the saddle for a minute, that’s the beginning of the end for my wife and I.
That wasn’t to be, though. We hammered it all the way home taking our average from 20 to 20.2. With three tandems, two of the teams vastly above my wife and I, and four singles we took Sunday Funday a little far. We were supposed to end with an 18-mph average, max.
You never know when a real ride is going to break out. And I was quite stoked that my wife and I could keep up on that one. There’s no question, if you can find someone you can learn to tolerate on a tandem, it’s a fun way to get around.