I haven’t always been a tandem captain, but if you’re wondering exactly what the process is to becoming one, you probably shouldn’t do it like me.
My tandem captaining started as something of a personal challenge. I have three daughters of widely varying ages and we struggled to find something to do together on a Sunday afternoon that involved all of us. When the eldest was 15 and the youngest was 2 you can see the problem.
My middle daughter had just received an iCarly bike from k-mart for her birthday and was itching to take it out of our tiny yard – which formed the seed of a scheme to build a tandem for myself, my eldest child (who hates cycling) and the 2 year old who I planned to put in a kiddie seat on the back.
Yes it sounds crazy but it also worked a treat. If you want to try it, here’s what you need: Two old steel mountain bikes, a stick welder, an angle grinder, loads of chain and some brand new tandem length gear and brake cables. I won’t go into the details again since it was detailed in this thread at the Shed forum on Bicycles Network Australia:
Anyway, after building the thing I suddenly realised I had no idea how to ride a tandem, or more specifically, how to get it started. One further difficulty was that the reluctant teenage stoker did not know how to ride a bicycle at all. We did eventually work it out with a few trials before mounting the toddler seat (something which made my contraption somewhat wobbly) but in the end the result was a success and we spent many Sunday afternoons plying the cycle paths of Armidale with our pilot fish on the iCarly bike in front of us.
Eventually the youngest one grew out of the toddler seat and was much easier to integrate into an afternoon walk (which suited the eldest one better anyway) so I reluctantly packed that homemade bike away.
Some time afterwards, a request came through the Armidale Cycling Club website asking whether there were any experienced captains who might be able to tandem with my blogging compatriot and that’s how we ended up here. That was a steep learning curve for me which I might leave to another post.