I'm looking for a tandem stoker, which means I am looking for ways to find one, and open to any suggestions.
Backing up a bit, I purchased my tandem with the idea of sharing my joy of cycling with others at a level they might enjoy and for the usual benefits of a tandem:
- Couples of mis-matched ability can ride together pretty easily.
- You arrive at the top and bottom of a hill at the same time.
- Shared effort, shared joy, shared fun.
- (generally) faster speeds or further distance for about the same effort (barring uphills, and evenso you make it up on the downhills...).
- Easy conversation compared to riding two singles.
And, too, I kinda thought it would be a nice way to meet and share riding with a female cyclist.
initially, hopefully leading to a pleasant cycling association
or even someday in the distant future, a good friendship beyond cycling
Who am I kidding? Just finding a suitable stoker would be nice (back to
So far, my efforts have come to naught, and I find myself riding the tandem by myself-- even on longer 250km day rides.
Here's what I've tried over the years (guessing I'll use the full range of emoticons in the description):
- Declining/ill health has prevented family members (father, sister) from riding with me.
- A visiting friend came from overseas and we used the tandem for touring and a short camping trip while he was here.
Then he went home.
- I took some non-cyclist family friends around the block once or twice so they could say they rode the Big Red Bike and take cellphone-photos of the activity to prove it to disbelieving friends. Once seemed enough, as they aren't cyclists. They do like the photos, however.
- I have used the bike to introduce the (generally female) half of several married couples to the idea of tandeming so they could decide whether or not to buy one (they did). I also used it to teach the (generally male) captain what good captaining is all about (i.e. it is poor form to a] remove the stoker's knees on path-entry bollards
, b] fail to call "post!" before bumps if they can't be avoided and/or exceed the damping range of a suspension seatpost
, and c] fail to realize while they might be Captain, the stoker outranks them as Rear Admiral and is Always right. Always. If stoker ain't happy
, no one is happy
). Success on both counts, but success meant they got their own Big Bike and didn't keep riding with me on mine.
- Took initially reluctant friends and acquaintances for rides, after which they decided they loved tandeming, but loved the autonomy of their single bikes more.
Hearing, "I wouldn't mind a tandem, but I'd have to captain 'cos I'm *such
* a control freak" was not what I had in mind
, especially as it would have also required me to buy a custom-made tandem and sell mine. I also found it is possible for a stoker to steer the bike using their own handlebars and sufficient body English.
I also discovered some stokers remove their feet from the pedals and recline in the rear compartment in classic if somewhat cliche' poses. I knew
it felt like a hill....
- Placed ads at local bike shops and alerted personnel I was looking for stokers. No luck there.
- Offered to partner with blind cyclists.
- Contacted a local cycling club or two. Or three. Same for the YMCA/YWCA and a variety of outdoors clubs.
- Offered references and a resume as past professional tour leader.
- No one I know knows anyone who is interested in trying even a temporary stint as stoker...even if it means a gentle 5-mile ride along the riverside paths and a includes a decent picnic lunch.
- Certainly, no one is up for a 200-400km day ride on the Big Bike.
- I really don't want to loan-out the entire bike as some have suggested, 'cos then I wouldn't be riding it.
- Despite what may seem obvious
, I have been reassured the problem is not "me" but the concept of tandeming itself lacking appeal. Goes back to that autonomy thing, or lack of it for potential stokers. Those who have ridden with me reported they felt relaxed and comfortable with my captaining, but would have preferred it had been them driving instead of anyone else. Or remembered why they hadn't been cycling in years and commenting on how much work even tandeming is compared to other sports like, well, there were no other sports mentioned.
We're still having the occasional flurry of snow, but that can't last much longer and spring is on the way. It would be nice to get out on the tandem with someone occasionally. Someone pleasant and enthused who also wants
to would be even better!
Suggestions for finding same?