Mountain Mama: How to Ride Tandem Without Getting Divorced

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Dear Mountain Mama,

I’m an avid road biker and I’m also recently married. My spouse is a novice rider, and I’d like to buy a tandem bike with our wedding gift money.

I’ve often heard them referred to as divorce bikes. How do I avoid tandem divorce court and ensure our first ride is a success?

Eager to Please


Dear Eager to Please,

It’s often said that “Whichever way your relationship is going, a tandem will get you there faster.” Successful tandem riding requires the same cornerstone of any good relationship — communication. When in doubt, err on the said of more disclosure, especially in the beginning.

The front rider, or the captain, should make it a point to give the rear rider, or the stoker, advance notice about everything she’s doing. Give your stoker updates such as “I’m shifting,” “coasting now,” “bump ahead,” “turning left,” or “standing.” Also, check in with your stoker from time to time. You might ask “Was the speed okay on the downhill?” Or “Is this gear comfortable?” Be proactive about apologizing if you don’t see a bump in time or otherwise cause your stoker discomfort.

Eager to Please, take note that the turning radius is much wider and the stopping distance much longer than on a single bike. Plan accordingly.

Tandems are a great equalizer, and provide a great opportunity for couples to ride together. Rent one before you buy, so that if you don’t gel well riding together you won’t creating fighting fodder by a senseless purchase. And if you do eventually buy a tandem, worse case scenario ditch the bike and hang onto your spouse.

Give it a whirl!

Mountain Mama



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