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Tandem Club Discussion Board

Advice for novices

Posted By: Helena Jackson
Date: 24 October 2008

Hi all,
My husband and I are undertaking a charity cycle ride from Land's End to John O'Groats in April 09. We're beginning our training now, and are looking to buy a new touring bike each as our hybrids (solos) are not up to it. That got us thinking whether a tandem would be a good alternative...

Having only tried a tandem once before, for a few minutes at that, we're absolute novices (although both competent and reasonably enthusiastic cyclers). We will be hiring a tandem over one weekend soon to give it another go, and ensure it 'works' for us, but assuming this is ok, there are several pieces of advice we would be grateful if you could help us with.

- What difficulties and benefits might we encounter if we go for a tandem over two solos on a long ride like this? We've considered getting a tandem at some point in the future, even if it's not for this trip specifically. Given that it's going to be a huge challenge for us anyway (we're aiming for 9-12 days, so it wonít be a leisurely trip!), is a tandem likely to make it significantly harder for us to achieve?

- We'll be getting the train back from Scotland and will be pre-booking everything, so will enquire with the train company first, but in general how easy is it to use trains with a tandem? I've heard you can get a 'folding' variety - I assume these are more practical for transportation and storage, but how do they compare for riding?

- similarly, we'll be using CTC recommended B&Bs for the journey, as far as possible. Based on your experience, could I assume these will cater for tandems adequately?

- Can anyone offer any advice on cycling tandems and solos together? We will be cycling in a team of up to 6, and donít want to be left behind (on hills?) or leave the others behind (on flats?)

- Are there any thoughts on a good touring tandem to look out for? I've looked on the web, but canít find any 'touring tandems' as such, and get a bit confused with the technical terms. We're favouring a Dawes Super GalaxyÖ but that's just because it seems to be one of the most sturdy and talked about (Ö and we like the name!). Price will be a factor, and we're happy to search for second hand, if we know what to look for. We're based in Southampton, and havenít found any specialist shops near by.

- Finally, with the inevibility of marrital differences aside, do you have any tips for long rides on a tandem as opposed to solos?

I look forward to any response, and thank you for reading this mammoth request for info!
Many thanks,
Helena.

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