For a while now we've wanted to take our bikes to Cape Cod and cycle on the Rail Trail, but something always got in the way. The latest obstacle, was that both of my lighter bikes are in the shop getting work done and the Pashleys are too heavy for our car's rear rack. Meanwhile, the summer is nearly over. Begrudgingly, I was browsing the rental section of one of the bike shops along the trail, when I saw that they had tandems. Tandems! Within seconds, I was making a reservation.
Here we are on the tandem! It is a very modern Fuji mountain-road hybrid, with an aluminum frame and carbon fork. With our mismatched beach attire and sunscreen-streaked faces (it was a hot day) we didn't exactly look glamorous, but it was quite an experience!
Tandem bicycles look charming and fun, which makes them seem easy to ride. I assure you that they are not! Despite Sheldon Brown's detailed description, we did not expect it to be so challenging. The tandemists must learn to coordinate their pedaling and coasting patterns, pedaling cadence, and even their body movements, so as not to disbalance the bicycle by leaning in different directions. This takes some time! Steering, shifting gears, and turning corners require considerable skill.
The person at the front of a tandem is called the Captain, and the person in the back is the Stoker. If you are the Stoker, this will be your view (inches from your face), unless you look to the side! The job of the Captain is to steer and balance the bicycle, and to control the gearing. The job of the Stoker is to provide extra leg-power on the pedals and maintain the balance.
Here is the co-Habitant being all cool and riding the tandem stretched on the rear pedals. He was an excellent Captain.
I am not at that stage yet, but I was a very good Stoker.
One of the benefits of a tandem, is that it can go very fast. Once we got the hang of operating the bicycle, we were flying on that thing, grinning with delight and leaving all the scowling roadies in the dust. Overall, I prefer to ride an individual bicycle, simply because I like the control and independence. But on occasion, a tandem can be so much fun. It's a tandem!