How to ride a tandem

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 bicycle built for two” – Harry Dacre

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! 😉


Thanks to State Victoria Library for providing this lovely photo

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.




What are your favourite Devon Christmas Walks?

“Walking is man’s best medicine”

– Hippocrates


Whether it’s stumbling through snowdrifts, clambering over rocky outcrops or wandering around Dartmoor blindly in the fog, a walk is always best when it’s taken after a sumptuous Christmas dinner.

Devon Xmas Walk

Despite being cold outside, Devon remains one of the most beautiful counties for a Winter walk. Just remember your scarf, coat and gloves and enjoy the stunning countryside and picturesque coastline (depending on where you’re walking, of course)!

Tell us what you love most about your annual Christmas walk and send in your favourite Devonshire walk. We will send a complimentary map to the contributors of the six chosen walks. Once we have created the map of the six Christmas walks it will be available to buy from our website at a special discounted price of £1.99 (plus p&p).

Email your walk to:

To learn more about the Around and About Map please visit our website here.

Closes Friday 4th December 2015

Don’t have a Barney with this Storm

Oh, to be in England

Now that Barney’s there,

And whoever wakes in England

Better watch out, beware

etc., with thanks to Browning

And if you were wondering why the tempest rageth, I’m afraid it’s that troublesome child ‘El Niño‘ … BBC latest on El Niño

So I think we should batten down the hatches and keep an eye out for floods by visiting the live flood warnings … Flood warning map

Below you can see the Environment Agencys assessment of potential flooding in the Somerton area which they rank as a 1% chance of happening each year. If you happen to be visiting this beautiful Somerset Town why not drop in to the Stationery House where you will find an eclectic mix of gifts and stationery as well as a full range of the local Yellow Maps.

Somerton flood map 96dpi

I Love a Bit of Scientific Scaremongering :)

If worrying about rising sea levels rings your (eight) bells then forget Global Warming and its few paltry feet as all us poor folk on the South West coast of good old blighty are in for a right good dousing according to a very reliable source 😉 ….


It probably doesn’t compare with being turfed out of bed by the Yellowstone Supervolcano …. yellowstone-supervolcanobut everything is relative.

I am afraid that even our excellent Tide Timetables for the South West aren’t going to help when this wave comes in and we suggest you head for high ground such as Bodmin Moor. However don’t let this stop you going for an invigorating walk on the beach but make sure you have a copy  of the Cornish Coast in your pocket so that you don’t find yourself cut-off by rising water.


Don’t let 60 mph winds stop you in your tracks!

Part of the joy of living in this green and pleasant land is the weather, we can’t avoid it so we may as well get out and enjoy it 🙂 Here are some handy tips and ideas to fire up your enthusiasm for venturing forth into the weather god’s domain –

  • Choose a well sheltered route preferably in amongst trees such as a woodland walk (it is interesting to note that a walk in the woods can be good for dementia). One of our favourite walks is Hardcastle Crags, this beautiful wooded valley with its deep ravines, tumbling streams and glorious waterfalls is enough to give balm to your soul and soothe your troubles away. There are 25 miles of footpaths which can be negotiated using our Hardcastle Crags, Gibson Mill, Hebden Bridge & Top Withens map which can be found at the NT shop at Gibson Mill (open 11.00 – 15.00 at weekends during November).

stream 600

  • Make sure your waterproof is up to the job! There is nothing worse than being cold and wet and although this autumn has been quite warm the wind can certainly chill you, especially when damp.
  • Choose a laminated map that is easy to read. manageable and won’t give you problems in gusts such as the Around & About map (see above).
  • Carry supplies, water, energy bar etc. Even though you may be being soaked, you can sweat a lot inside a waterproof especially if the terrain is challenging.