I guarantee you it’s not as easy as it looks! But it can be if you take my advice into account. As a seasoned tandem rider myself I can help you out and pass on some words of wisdom. 🙂
What is a captain? What is a stoker?
A tandem team only works completely if the pairing have total trust in one another. The Captain (the rider on the front) is the stronger cyclist and takes charge of the less experienced cyclist on the back of the bike, the Stoker. The Captain is responsible for the steering, the gears and the brakes and the Stoker has no control over any of these elements so it is very important that the Captain is someone the Stoker can trust. If you want to get back in one piece, injury free!
Your first ride on a tandem is always memorable so make sure you have someone to witness your hilarious first attempt.
So we’ve got the bike! How do we start/stop?
The Captain and Stoker should be stood over the bike, legs apart. For both of them to get into this position I recommend swinging your legs over the saddle. There are other ways of getting into the starting position, but there’s a possibility you may scratch the bike and/or strain a muscle! 😉
The pedals of a Tandem move round at the same time as I’m sure you’ve noticed! Starting is the captains call, they decide which foot stays on the ground and which foot is on the pedal you’re going to push off on. When you’re both ready (tandem riding involves communication) you push off at the captains says so. It is of primary importance that the Stoker gives it their all at this stage!
When stopping at lights, etc the captain put his foot down and the Stoker stays in place. When stopping at the end of a ride the Captain puts his foot down and the Stoker dismounts and then the Captain dismounts.
It may be the case that the Stoker and Captain have different cycling styles. Stokers being less experienced often prefer to coast and have a slower cadence (pedaling rate) than the Captain. So it is the captains responsibility to look out for their stoker, warning them of upcoming bumps in the road, etc. Keeping the bike balanced is also very important so it is essential when starting out that the stoker doesn’t move about. If they have to, for instance if the Stoker is thirsty, it’s fine, but warn the Captain beforehand.
I hope my top tips on how to ride a tandem were helpful. I hope you have success in all your cycling endeavours.