In this extract from her blog, Catherine Pringle explains the steps required for a perfect tandem start. She describes the role that trust plays in the process, and how things can sometimes go badly wrong. Of course, it’s all a ruse to distract attention from the fact that the tandem tour has come to a temporary halt.
The art of the perfect tandem start
by Catherine Pringle
Day 3, Monday 20 June.
Tandem cycling has a well-deserved reputation as a graveyard for even the most robust relationships. It forces a couple to work together as a team, each constantly and utterly dependent on the other.
Many relationships survive only by stepping permanently away from the machine. Others, and I’m beginning to think it’s just a tiny minority, thrive on the constant proximity, fusing themselves into something infinitely stronger.
It’s all about trust. And the moment that best captures this is the start: two people, both straddling a finely balanced and heavily laden tandem, have to go from standing to moving without falling flat on their faces.
The stoker, and in a couple that’s almost always the woman, clips both feet into her pedals and balances precariously on her seat. From that point onward she’s totally at the mercy of the captain, who is holding the whole structure upright with just the force of his inner thigh against the top tube.
He’s completely dependent on her too. A fractionally early rotation of her cranks will drive the tip of his saddle into his butt. If the timing is particularly poor, or if his seat post is set just a little too low, then it could be curtains for his manhood.
All of which brings me to the point of today’s post. Yesterday we had a fall. Not life-threatening, but enough to severely dent my confidence (which is nothing compared to the dent hammered into Nick’s rear). So we’ll be staying in Huelgoat for a couple of days of much-needed technical practice.
When we’ve mastered the art of starting, when trust has been fully re-established, we’ll be ready to head for the Loire.