Our friend and fellow cyclist, Joe Wermer, recently lent us a book on tandem riding called "The Tandem Scoop." After reading it himself, David assigned it to me as homework.
I couldn't help but nod in agreement as the author listed a few pointers for both the Captain (person in front) and the Stoker (person in back). A few things we've learned by trial and error, and a few things came naturally. What I mostly appreciated was the validation of some of my greatest fears as a stoker (who the authors refers to as "a captive audience"). The author provided tips for the captain based on those fears, like how stokers feel uncomfortable biking alongside other things, like railings or edges, because they can feel claustrophobic or nearer than they actually are. Essentially, less visual input from ahead can be nerve racking and translate into frequent requests to David to please not bike so close to the railing!
The stoker tips were also insightful, like the fact that David doesn't have time to consult a committee before deciding whether to dodge left or right of a pole, and I need to trust him enough to let him steer and stay soft enough to be able to shift whichever way he decides.
The book also had a lot of great things to say about the benefits of riding tandem. Here are a few it discussed:
- Greater Speeds: We weigh more, tear down hills faster, and coast forever. We KILL on rolling hills.
- Better Braking: More weight equals better sticking power on the road, and more weight on the back wheel to prevent skidding. Also, there is no risk of over-braking and flying over your own handlebars.
- Pleasant Company: Easier to talk with your partner, which supposedly makes for better conversation and "togetherness."
- Enjoyable Riding: At least for the Stoker, who is freed up to take in the sights.
- More Efficient: A good tandem will be more efficient than separate bikes... physics and whatnot.
After careful deliberation, David asked me what I was thinking. I told him I was overwhelmed by the pros and cons of each, and that I was eager to hear his thoughts because I greatly needed direction. David told me he'd done some research and even prayed about the matter - and that he had complete peace in saying he wanted to ride across the country on a tandem
So we're taking the tandem! Most likely not the tandem we currently own, but that's another blog post entirely :)