Recently, after years of dreaming, my accomplice and I have finally ridden a tandem bike from The Pedaler. From what we’d gathered over years of watching people rent, there are two basic schools of thought regarding the ever-coveted “bicycle built for two” – it’s either a romantic afternoon bringing couples closer together, or a power struggle to the death ending in utter calamity. I was curious about which group we’d land in. Being “bike people,” we couldn’t just take the tandem for a lap around the parking lot. We had to take it for a real ride. We ended up riding from The Pedaler to Sea Cider, an awesome local cider house that offers delightful tastings and deals for cyclists!
The entire loop was almost exactly 50 km and was a beautiful way to spend the day. Ultimately, we were lucky enough to fall in the first category of tandem riders and had an absolute blast, but this does not mean that the ride was without its struggles. There is definitely a steep learning curve to riding a tandem. Here are a few key things that may be helpful to know in advance:
- Communication is KEY – Especially for the person riding in the back. The reality of being on the back end of the tandem is that you cannot steer, cannot brake and basically cannot see anything that may obstruct your path. This means that it is SUPER important for the person riding at the front to tell his or her buddy on the back what is going on so everyone is informed as to what the bike needs to be doing.
- Control isn’t everything – Yes, essentially riding blind without any control over gears or braking is a crazy trust exercise. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t super fun! Think of it as a break from responsibility – no pressure at all, just pedal the bike and look around!
- Your cycling quirks will be exposed! – Both of The Pedaler tandems have a crossover rear drive, which is essentially a fancy way to say that when one person pedals, the other person must pedal as well. This can reveal a lot about how a person rides (namely, in my case, how often I opt to stop pedaling and coast around corners, near crosswalks, down hill, when signaling, when I see something interesting, etc.). Also, because you’re sharing a bike frame, every move you make is felt by the other person, whether you’re trying to move hair out of your eyes or getting out of the saddle constantly to adjust your shorts, there is nowhere to hide when riding the tandem.
- Have fun! – The first time riding a tandem may be bumpy and awkward, and may necessitate a lot of starting and stopping. Approaching it as a fun adventure instead of a daunting task or an intense race is key for both of you to have a good time!