The bicycle built for two

David and Steve on a tandem bicycle

David spends about an hour a day pedalling, but he hasn’t been outside on a bike since he was a kid and had enough vision to see the driveway of his home. 

When the Lions Club of Strathfieldsaye recently donated a brand new tandem to Vision Australia, David was first down at the Tom Flood track to try it out.

First rule with a new machine is get to know your bike. So he went over every inch of it and asked questions about everything. Finally he decided: enough of the theory, let’s test this out!

The person on the back of a tandem is known as the stoker. They get to pedal and enjoy the ride leaving all the hard work to the captain.

The captain is the eyes of a tandem team. They manage the steering, braking and gear changing.

Whether the stoker is blind or sighted, the captain must keep them informed about what’s coming up. If you upset your stoker you’ll lose your riding companion.

Developing good communications is an important part of a team getting to know each other.

Some teams work together so well, they hardly have to say anything to each other any more. But it takes many shared hours in the saddle to get to that stage.

A tandem is easier to handle if captain is about the same size or taller and heavier than the stoker. So not only do you need to get along well, you need to be physically compatible.

Steve Monigatti of Vision Australia took David out for the test ride. Now he’d like to match interested captains with willing stokers.

If he can find enough interested teams, he’d eventually like to enter a group of tandems in the Murray to Moyne.

Out on the track, David had the captain test out the bike’s top and bottom gears, wanted to know how fast they were going and why they kept turning the pedals while the captain was braking.

When they pulled up at the fence he reached down to feel the back tyre. “It’s warm!” he announced with glee.

There’s still a bit to learn for both captain and stoker. Riding on the road and in traffic is the next stage.

Contact Steve Monigatti if you’d like to team up with an enthusiastic stoker for recreational rides around Bendigo. Phone 5445 5700. Teams will get initial tuition on the track and then arrange between themselves when they’ll go out.

As any tandem team will tell you, two people on one bike generates a lot of power and a lot of fun. And David would like to get out on the bike again.

Specifications
Vision Australia’s new tandem is an Apollo Tandem Sport.
Size: front 20” (65 cm) rear 16” (40 cm)
Suit riders from – 165 to 180 cm
Gearing: crankset – 44, 32, 22
 Cassette – 7-speed, 13-34
Wheels: 26”
Frame: oversized high tensile MTB tandem
Fork: high tensile CroMo
Brakes: Alloy linear pull

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