Tandem technique

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neil the wheel
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Tandem technique

Postby neil the wheel » 30 Jun 2008, 12:25pm

Hello tandemites.
The wife and I enjoy the tandem and are planning a long tour this summer. But I fear she is enjoying it more than me - the reason being that I end every ride feeling really shattered whereas she says she feels fairly fresh. The problem's made worse with a full load of camping gear etc.
I'm the fitter partner and imagined the tandem would be a bit of a "leveller" but didn't realise I would find it so much harder than a solo bike - I feel like a rickshaw driver at the end of the day. The thing is, I don't want to drive her to put more effort in if it just leaves her worn out instead, but on the other hand if I can't make it easier on myself I fear I won't go the distance!

Also - anyone care to give views on the relative mrits of trailer v panniers on a tandem tour?
Many thanks...

AndyB
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Postby AndyB » 30 Jun 2008, 12:50pm

No tandemite myself, but I recall a thread which might help. There was someone who talked about having the stoker's cranks advanced slightly relative to the captain's. I think the theory was that their feet weren't just dragged round without helping. I'll see if I can find the thread, but perhaps someone can confirm/deny this?

Edit: found it here (about two thirds down):

Si wrote:I do loadsa riding. Mrs Si doesn't. So I'm much fitter/stronger than her on the bike. Advancing a weaker stoker's cranks in this way makes the pedalling smoother and makes it feel easier.

I have seen pics of continentals with the cranks set at 90degrees - makes for a smooth ride apparently but can be a bit of a pain when starting or when out the saddle. Also looks extremely strange!

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Cunobelin
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Postby Cunobelin » 30 Jun 2008, 6:15pm

Actually - I like this for a different reason...

I stop with my right pedal at about 2 o'clock, so I can push on if the junction etc is clear, but my wife stops withteh pedal at 6 o'clock, advancing the pedals helped match this and gave no problems withthe motion.

eileithyia
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Postby eileithyia » 30 Jun 2008, 8:07pm

Having been the pilot of a tandem with far less fit rider (child stoker) than myself I can assure you it is hard and I was often tired at the end of the day, it certainly takes a fair amount of stamina. At least you can put your feet up at the end of the day whilst she cooks tea (assuming you are hostelling/camping).
Having towed a trailer with child in it, behind a solo I would be very wary of towing one behind a tandem, the drag on a solo was quite severe and imagine it would be very hard on a tandem.

Have not on gone very well with out of sync cranks, might be worth trying out to see if they work for you, but have put ours back in line.

On tour have done a couple of days in one place so we can explore more with only day kit not fully kitted up to give a bit more of a rest.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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Si
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Postby Si » 1 Jul 2008, 9:38am

As well as the above the other thing that I find is this:

you are fitter than your partner and probably faster too. therefore on the tandem, which averages things out, you'll be riding slower on the climbs than you would be on your solo bike, slower than the speed that you are used to. Thus you might be trying to get the rig up to your normal cruising speed and putting more energy into it than normal, hence feeling so tired at the end. Your partner, on theother hand, will find that the tandem is going faster than a solo and for less energy so there is no incentive for her to put any extra effort in, hence she feels fine at the end of the day.

the trick is to keep telling yourself that you are not going to climb as fast (even very slight drags) as on a solo and so not to waste energy trying to keep the speed up. Let it find its own natural pace and don't be scared of easing right off the power on the flat and leaving your partner to do more of the work to keep it ticking over.

james01
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Postby james01 » 1 Jul 2008, 11:48am

Si wrote:putting more energy into it than normal, hence feeling so tired at the end. Your partner, on theother hand, will find that the tandem is going faster than a solo and for less energy so there is no incentive for her to put any extra effort in, hence she feels fine at the end of the day.

the trick is to keep telling yourself that you are not going to climb as fast (even very slight drags) as on a solo and so not to waste energy trying to keep the speed up. Let it find its own natural pace and don't be scared of easing right off the power on the flat and leaving your partner to do more of the work to keep it ticking over.


I once dropped my wife at a cafe during a tour, & I continued solo on the heavily laden tandem for a couple of miles in order to get the tent pitched. To my surprise, the solo ride was faster & easier than when we were doubled up. My wife was not pleased when I informed her that she literally had not been pulling her weight. :D

Willpower
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Postby Willpower » 1 Jul 2008, 2:12pm

Neil, the stoker pulling her weight thing is a delicate matter to address. I would suggest you over play to you dearset how knackered you are at the end of a ride. You never know she might get it.

On the trailer vs pannier issue:
We recently did a tour by tandem+trailer (cambridgeish to inverness via outer hebrides - 984 miles/14 days) with full camping kit. We used a Carry Freedom Y-large with a custom homebuilt box on in place of the load bed.
The decision for the trailer was based on:
- Load on the tandem wheels. These are already highly loaded with two bods, and the extra kit was a worry with regard to spoke failures.
- Keeping the thing upright at junctions: much easier with the load in a two wheel trailer.
-The trailer is also a deal more easy to pack, as you can load it many different ways - for example, if you decide to raid the shops on your way to the campsite, you;re more than likely to find somewhere for your extras on a trailer. It also had space for a non-folding tyre!

On the minus side,
- an empty trailer weighs more than empty panniers, but then it doesn't wiggle with the bike, so you don't notice it as much.
- There may be more drag, though whether four relatively lightly loaded tyres have more drag than two very heavily loaded ones, I don't know. I do know that we didn't really notice that it was there. In fact the one day that we left the trailer in the tent and cycled round Benbecula and Grimsay, we did not go any faster!

Either way you will probably find that the worst bit is trying to stop on the downhills. I've no idea what weight you are as a team, or what your luggage weighs, but we were having interesting times on the 1:8 hills.

p_pitstop
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Postby p_pitstop » 1 Jul 2008, 3:46pm

We normally tour with panniers, but tried using the trailer for a long weekend. The main problem was the extra space encouraged us to take more stuff. We ended up with more luggage for 3 nights than we took for 3 months touring ! So panniers focus the mind more on what you really need to haul around.

Providing you are both enjoying tandeming your wife will get fitter over time - I did. Even now we are evenly matched my partner finds the tandem a bit harder at the end of the day than a solo, due to the extra weight and concentration required. It sounds like you need to stop pushing a bit and let your wife take more of the load.

james01
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Postby james01 » 1 Jul 2008, 4:07pm

I've never stoked, always piloted. I imagine that the stoker's job can be a bit boring. The pilot's mind is taken off the drudgery of pedalling by the constant decision-making (steering, shifting gears etc). Maybe stokers deserve some sympathy :D

neil the wheel
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Postby neil the wheel » 1 Jul 2008, 4:21pm

At least you can put your feet up at the end of the day whilst she cooks tea
Untrue, and possibly sexist :lol:

Thanks for all your views. We'll certainly have a go at advancing the pedals a few teeth on the stoker's cranks and see if this helps her to put more effort in. She tells me it feels at times as though the pedals are falling away from under her and she finds it hard to put the power down which is down to my amazing stength. I can see how advancing the transmission might help this. I agree I also probably need to back off a bit and adapt my own technique!

Incidentally, we average about 10mph on the laden bike.

We test-rode a trailer on a camping weekend and found it was brilliant all the time we were in motion and a right pain all the rest of the time!

Willpower
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Postby Willpower » 1 Jul 2008, 4:21pm

You could gently suggest that she put the knitting down and concentrate on the cycling........................ 8)

We had to 'have words' about engaging in conversation whilst slogging upa a hill (ie if you've got breath for talking, my dear, you ain't peddaling hard enough!)

Willpower
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Postby Willpower » 1 Jul 2008, 4:24pm

neil the wheel wrote:

We test-rode a trailer on a camping weekend and found it was brilliant all the time we were in motion and a right pain all the rest of the time!


was that a twin wheel or monowheel? twin wheel ones have the advantage that you can load them up easily whilst detatched from the bike.

Willpower
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Postby Willpower » 1 Jul 2008, 4:27pm

neil the wheel wrote:She tells...... she finds it hard to put the power down which is down to my amazing stength.!


I bet she asked you to put some shelves up later.


Flattery will get you anywhere :wink:

eileithyia
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Postby eileithyia » 1 Jul 2008, 4:57pm

For what it is worth I am female so can probably make sexist remarks :-)
Also I think you will 10mph is not unusual when on tour, indeed at one stage of my son's life on the tandem I guess we made about 10mph just on an ordinary unloaded day out, thankfully he is now stronger and can contribute more, though he now rides solo more often and I have not attempted to pilot the tandem since my accident until I get more strength back in my shoulder.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

neil the wheel
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Postby neil the wheel » 2 Jul 2008, 9:01pm

was that a twin wheel or monowheel?
Mono wheel. Yes, hitching/unhitching was awkward, as is reversing /parking the bike. The other major annoyance is having all your gear in one big bag - deeply impractical especially if we have to sleep in separate dorms at hostels etc. We also felt we would probably also need a couple of small panniers in addition as the trailer didn't hold as much as 4 Ortliebs.