Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tandem Review

One of Jenny’s cycling dreams has always been to rent a tandem and go for a ride. So after we rode Mt. Constitution we stopped by a bike shop on Orcas Island and rented a tandem to ride around for awhile.

Having never ridden a tandem before I must say it was quite the interesting experience. The following are my thoughts on tandems. In case you’re curious Jenny also wrote a post on her tandem thoughts. I haven’t read her post yet but I’m guessing she has a completely different slant on our tandem experience.

No spitting or any other bodily functions allowed

About 30 seconds after we took off Jenny leaned up and laid down the law regarding bodily functions. I think it went a little like this “hey buddy, no spitting or rockets while I’m back here.” I’m really not much for these things anyway but having my spitting rights revoked felt a little like having an itch and not being able to scratch it.

No standing and mashing

Orcas Island goes in two directions, up or down. The descents were in a word “awesome”. I always love descents no matter what but when it came to hill climbing the tandem was a challenge. Jenny and I were both huffing and puffing on any hill of substance and being total novices there was no way that we could have successfully orchestrated a stand and pedal mash session. It would have been more like a stand, pedal half a revolution and fall over session. I really missed the standing aspect of hill climbing.

Had to think about someone else when making gear selections

Since I was in the front I was the one making the gear selections. Normally, this is just an automatic thing that I don’t give much thought to when I’m riding alone. When your soul mate is also affected by your gear selection you have to think twice before shifting gears. This wasn’t a bad thing it was just a little weird.

Easy to talk to each other

Jenny and I always talk to each other when we ride but sometimes we end up doing some screaming just so we can hear each other. On a tandem there is no need to scream because you’re really close. That part was really nice. On another note, at one point Jenny needed to give her hands a rest from the bars so she grabbed a hold of my ever growing “love handles”. For those of you taking notes at home, this isn’t a good idea. Just don’t try it. Love handles aren’t a good substitute for handlebars.

Handled like a truck

I had never thought about this before but the wheel base of a tandem is super long. That being the case the handling capabilities of a tandem are very similar to a school bus (no, not a short bus). So, as we descended down some pretty steep winding roads I really had to concentrate as to not weave into the other lane. I think I’d rather keep the epic crashes to myself.

Could cruise on the flats

When we did find some flat sections riding the tandem was a blast. We could really cruise without a ton of effort. I could see how people could really get into tandem riding on flat surfaces.

I was done after an hour

I’ve heard tandems called Divorcycles before and I can see why. All in all our tandem ride was really fun but after an hour I was done. Just the simple act of deciding to coast was a chore. We ended up settling on the voice command of “coasting in 3, 2, 1”. I just can’t imagine how couples can ride tandems for 100 miles while pedaling, coasting, stopping, and starting all in sync. Jenny and I are decent at communicating but this takes communication to a whole new level.

In conclusion, it was fun to ride a tandem together and I think I’d rent one again if the terrain were flatter. I’m not ready to do a tandem century any time soon though.


Jenny-Jenny said...

Great ride report! It's a pretty different story from the back of the bike. Good fun!

Tipper said...

Hey-I just came from reading Jenny's view. I've always wanted to ride a tandem too-but after reading both of your thoughts-I think it's probably harder than most folks think. Especially for people like me-who doesn't ride much other than on camping trips.

Anonymous said...

My aunt and uncle ride their tandem almost exclusively; and my aunt never rides her own bike anymore (she likes not having to worry about shifting or braking or anything). Me, I don't think I trust anybody else enough to give up my control over important things like steering and braking.