Nostalgia Edition: A Tandem Century First Date

Felkerino and me. (c) Bill Beck

This month marks the sixth year of the formation of Felkerino’s and my tandem team. Felkerino’s and my first date was a century ride on a tandem bike. As our friends well know, I never tire of telling that story!

Four Super Randonneur brevet series’, one 1200K, a 1000K, and several summer tours later, here we are today. Still riding tandem together.

The Co-Motion along the C&O Canal

If there is one thing I’ve learned in six years of riding tandem, it’s this. If anyone ever asks you to ride 100 miles on a tandem for your first date, say no.

I mean it. Just say you’d like to noodle around for 20 miles or so and see how you all do together. And when you do that, make sure to ask for the following:

  1. A physical inspection of the bicycle, particularly the stoker zone;
  2. References from other cyclists who have ridden with the person;
  3. A written essay from the potential captain, detailing his or her views regarding bike safety;
  4. A proposed list of conversation topics that may come up during the ride; and
  5. A cue sheet of the proposed route, making sure that in includes shortcut options.

A tandem ride is a tricky first date. You put a lot of trust in the hands of a stranger if you happen to be the stoker. You trust that the bike is road-worthy and that the captain has the faculties (both mental and physical!) to know what he or she is doing up front. You cross your fingers that your riding style is compatible.

Further, if you commit to a century and the two of you don’t click, you are stuck together on the same bike for a long time. 100 miles long, to be exact. Lots of time for awkward silences and wondering how you got yourself into this mess. That is emotional pain. If the bike doesn’t fit properly, you are also in physical pain. Who needs more pain in their life?

I didn’t give those things any thought when I got on the tandem for the first time. I just said to myself, “This will be fun!” and off we went. It was, lucky for me! Phew!

The Co-Motion Tandem.

Perhaps throwing caution to the wind might work out for you as well as it did for me. But it’s a risky plan, only for the foolhardy. Go for the noodle ride and call it a day. There will be plenty of other days for long rides, if everything goes well on the short one.

Plus, I love being the only one on the block with the cheesey tandem century first date story.

One comment

  1. Our first go on a tandem was for a 70 mile randonnee & Stephen had only ever cycled 12 miles in one go before hand (ok two little miles the night before when we picked up the hire tandem – hardly counts tho). I was expecting the worst, but we set off without a wobble and loved every hilly second of it. Everyone on the randonnee thought we were mad doing our first tandem ride on that route, but because of that more & more people talked to us and spurred us along. It was the best time and such a sense of achievement.
    We’ve now saved up for our own tandem, which we are collecting in November and looking forward to all the new adventures on it. Luckily we have good cycling compatibility. They say that a tandem ride tells you whether a relationship will work or not, phew, I think we’re going to go the distance for many many many miles 🙂


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