How to Ride a Tandem Bicycle
Tandem Bicycles Bring Couples and Families Together
What to do with your weekends? You want to spend more time with your partner, but you also want to get a good workout in. How about riding a tandem bicycle together?
When I was younger, I romanticized the idea of riding a tandem bike with a friend, or even a love interest. We'd glide along pathways, past sunny fields, and stop for a picnic lunch. Smiles all along the way! Remember that song, "A Bicycle Built for Two"? That definitely played into my fantasy.
In reality, riding tandem may be more difficult than it appears. One quote (paraphrased) is that whatever direction a relationship is going, it will get there twice as fast on a tandem bike.
To prevent some spats and spills between the two of you, let's learn how to ride a tandem bicycle.
Racing Tandem Bicycles!
Get a Tandem Bicycle!
Communication is Key When Riding a Tandem Bicycle
One of the most obvious reasons that riding tandem can be an exercise in relationship building is that you are not in control! No matter if you are riding as stoker (in the rear) or captain (up front), you have to depend on and trust the other rider. Not surprisingly - communication is key.
Some tandem cyclists have likened the sport to ballroom dancing or canoeing. Its definitely a team effort. Riding tandem is not intuitive, either. You need to time your starts and stops and have agreement on speed. Expert advice is that you should start with a bicycle shop employee with tandem experience to go over the basics.
Injuries can occur when there is a communication breakdown. Examples include heading down a hill too fast, or taking a corner at a dizzying speed. If you need to take a bathroom break, or your legs are hurting, consider how it will impact your tandem partner. No wonder patience and perseverance are required.
Build Relationships on a Bicycle Built for Two
Tandem bicycles can also encourage couples, friends and even co-workers to spend time together. Working out and enjoying scenery.... even touring vacation spots... can be a tremendous boost to any relationship.
If you are going to work out for an hour or two, why not do it together and get some good talks in?
Some couples have even joined tandem cycling clubs, finding friendships among others with a cycling passion. Regional rallies draw hundreds of tandem riders for group excursions ranging from 15-100 miles per day. There are alsotandem races and tours.
Whether you like road biking or mountain biking, there are plenty of options in the tandem market: touring, racing, mountain, and townie. Average cost for a tandem bicycle is about $1,500 and up.
Once you get into the sport, you'll need a roof rack, cycling apparel/shoes and a repair kit.
Don't forget bicycle helmets!
Get the Family Riding Together with a Tandem Bicycle
Tandem cycling can be a family affair, too. There are a number of products that allow your child to ride tandem with you (tandem trailers), and even specifically designed childrens' tandem bikes.
I've seen parents "commuting" to day care or school with their kids riding along on a tandem trailer. Engaging in regular, outdoor activity and no burning of fossil fuels. What a great, healthy example to set!
Your kids will love to get in on the fun. Riding tandem can teach important, real-life lessons about communication and teamwork. The novelty doesn't wear off, either. Admit it - when you spot a tandem bicycle, you can't help but stare for a moment or two!
If you're concerned about having your child behind you on a tandem trailer, there's an inventive product called the "Buddy Bike," that places the second (often weaker) rider up front in a lowered, protective position.
How to Ride a Tandem Bicycle
Should You Buy or Rent a Tandem Bicycle?
Although I generally prefer running, cycling is a great workout that I am starting to enjoy more. Working out on a bicycle trainer, and also getting out on the weekends, my legs (and rear) are in great shape now. I'm thinking about trying tandem cycling....
Before I take the plunge and buy a tandem bike, I think I'll first check out tandem rentals. Many tourist locations, like my beautiful hometown of Bend, Oregon, include tandems in their stock of bicycles for rent.
The outing is virtually risk-free and enjoyanle, unless you consider the potential of some skinned knees and a bruised ego!
© 2009 Stephanie Hicks
More by this Author
Everything you need to know about barefoot running shoes and whether they improve your athletic pursuits
Competitive gymnastics for girls is an intensive sport that develops coordination, strength, flexibility and poise
If you have been rejected by a family member or lover, then you know that it's difficult to get over the feelings of being unloved.