Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Buy a Tandem Bicycle - Find a Tandem Mentor

Part 3 in my How to Buy a Tandem Bicycle series.

If you and your (potential) tandem partner can find a tandem mentor, or a near by tandem group, they can be a tremendous resource and great encouragement.  I was fortunate to come across such a couple early on and they be came longtime friends.  Over the years since, I have always tried to pay it forward and share our tandem experience with others.

Tandems were very much a rarity I began riding. While I had seen casual or cruiser tandem around the the lake I grew up on , the only road tandems I had seen were books and magazines. It was on my first DALMAC in 1974 that I encountered my first road tandem. (It was being captained by a 20 year-old women, and the 40 something man on the back had his arm in a shoulder cast!)

Bob and Em Harrington, with their Assenmacher custom tandem - 1981
The first tandem couple I met and regularly rode with were Bob and Emily Harrington of Lansing, Michigan. Bob and Em were a fixture mid-Michigan rides during the 70’s, ’80 and early `90s. On one of first tours as a couple,  Linda and I joined them on one of their annual overnight rides to Matt Assenmacher’s bike shop near Flint.

The fun Bob and Em had was itself and inspiration, and Linda and I also saw how a tandem could keep a couple of different skills together. Bob and I also started to chat about tandems, tandem parts, and keeping them up and running. Getting to know tandem enthusiast was a great resource in the pre-internet “Dark Ages”.

While the internet makes tandem information more readily available, having another tandem couple to show the ropes can be a great asset. It is great introduction to the couples fun of tandem riding.

Finding your tandem mentor is easy. If you have been riding awhile, somewhere in your circle of cycling friends is a tandem couple. They are good resource on a number of counts. First, if they are typical, they are going to be enthusiastic evangelists for tandems and tandeming.

They can tune you into the local tandem scene, other tandem couples, the best resources in local shops, and maybe even a used tandem or two. Some may offer you a test ride, or even a bike for the weekend, since many teams hang on to their first tandem after upgrading. A tandem team can also reassure a hesitant partner about the couples aspect of tandems, in the sometimes male dominated cycling scene.

If you are new to cycling, look on the web for a bicycle club near you. You may also find a nearby tandem club through the Tandem Club of America (www.tandemclub.org). You will find a variety of tandem resources on the web. Just know that almost any tandem couple is approachable and glad to answer questions.

Next - Finding a Tandem Dealer.

(This is adapted and updated from a series of articles I wrote for Recumbent and Tandem Rider magazine a few years ago.)

Follow the Ride So Far on Facebook

No comments: