View Full Version : Seattle to Portland 2007: Tandem or No?

01-25-2007, 11:16 PM

I am looking at doing the STP ride in July 07. I've never done something of that magnitude.

I was wondering about tandem bikes. Would this make the grueling 200 mile ride easier/the same/harder? I've never ridden one. I will go with my sister also, so that might be good--unless it is really hard to control and a lot more effort.

Also, I am looking at renting a bike. If a tandem is the way to go, is there a place I can rent one?

Any advice from those who have done STP would be helpful. I am getting in shape once again but I am not a super athlete.



01-26-2007, 07:44 AM
I've done STP 4 times, so here are my thoughts on the subject.

STP isn't really a HARD ride, in that there are no major elevation gains; it's just long. So, it attracts a lot of people that haven't done a lot of riding in large groups. There are riders covering the spectrum of speed and experience. Typical behavior of participants includes not holding a steady line or speed, not letting other riders know when they're being overtaken, stopping in the flow of traffic with no warning, etc.

The result can often be chaos and there are plenty of crashes. It's bad enough while riding solo; I can only imagine it would be worse trying to safely manuever your way through all of that on a tandem, especially if you and your partner are relative novices at controlling them.

The one upside of a tandem is that with two "engines", you can really fly on the flats. This, however, will result in you and your partner becoming the lead riders in inpromptu pacelines that always spring up behind tandems.

Finally, the key (in my mind) to preparing for STP or any other long ride, is to get comfortable on your bike. Proper positioning is key, as is making sure you have a saddle that your butt can get along with for 200 miles. If you're thinking about renting a tandem, make sure you are comfortable on it before you set off.

My advice: try it first solo and see what it's all about, then decide if you want to take a crack at it on a tandem. Tandems take some getting used to and unless you and your partner have time to do a bunch of miles before STP, it might not be as much fun as you hoped.

01-26-2007, 08:30 AM
I've done STP 4 times as well, twice on a single, twice on a tandem. I've done it in 2 days and in 1 day on each.

My thoughts on the subject:
(caveat: I'm the stoker)
You do need to get in some miles on the tandem before you tackle STP. Our first ride was around the Fairmount Loop, then we did a 36 mile Hagg Lake Loop, then we did the 103 mile Reach the Beach route. We learned a LOT on that one :-) There are many resources on the net on tandem riding techniques, you may want to check them out. Couldn't help you on renting a tandem.

That said, I found it easier on a tandem, plus I had a built-in conversationalist for the ride. When he was tired, I generally wasn't, and when I was tired, he wasn't, so we kept moving right along.

But you've got to get comfortable riding the tandem first. You aren't going to get on it and immediately do 100 miles.

And remember to take frequent butt breaks. Learn to pedal while standing, which, on a tandem, is harder than it sounds. I've got friends who have been riding tandems for years, and they still don't stand.

Being at the head of a paceline on a tandem is no big deal. Being in the middle of a non-tandem paceline is hard - tandems start up slower and take longer to slow/stop.

Just remember, if someone wants to draft you, they have to tell a joke.

01-26-2007, 01:01 PM

I have an upright and a recumbent tandem that I ride with my wife. I ride in the front (normally called captain), in reality it is not necessary true.

I have never done STP and am speaking in the perspective of tandem riding. It take time to get used to it. The handling is different (heavier than a single). The wheel base is longer which requires a larger turn radius. Different person has different riding style (for example, comfortable cadence). All this take times for both rider to adapt. If will be a blast, if you can spend enough time trainingg together on the tandem before STP. Lynne already mentioned the fun and benefits, I am not going to repeat it.

For tandem riding information, one good place to start is Sheldon Brown's website at http://sheldonbrown.com/tandem/index.html.

Gateway Bicycles is specialized in tandem bikes. They used to rent tandems, I am not sure whether they are still doing it. I also saw tandem bikes in BG on Sandy and Rivercity Bicycles.

For recumbents, the best place in PDX is the Coventry Cycle Works. http://www.coventrycycle.com/ They have very friendly and knowledgeable staffs.

01-30-2007, 10:13 AM
Tremendously helpful info. Thanks to everyone.

I no longer have the expectation that I can just jump on a tandem and go all the way. If I opt for it, then at least I will spend a few weeks getting used to the idea.