Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Stoker Wanted"

"If you are an experienced tandem stoker, or always wanted to give it a try, please contact me"

"Anybody out there want to ride on the back seat of one of my tandems ? I have got two lovely tandems in good working order. All they are doing now though is sitting in my garage gathering dust beacuse I have no stoker to ride them with. Please contact me if you would like to go for a ride or two with me by tandem.Sighted or unsighted stokers welcome, Female or Male, any height catered for. "

"I am always looking for a stoker so my tandem sits against the wall way too much. If you would like to go for a ride let me know. I am thinking about selling my Cannondale s/m size simply due to lack of use."

"Captain looking for a stoker to share a morning or afternoon outing. It's fun...just be sure to follow safe cycling rules, and always wear a helmet!"

It is an irony for the unmarried tandemist that the one thing about tandeming that makes it so rewarding is also the thing that can make it impossible to ride a tandem: it takes two people. Most tandem teams are husband and wife. Others are families on triples or pairs of recumbents. The unmarried tandemist must find a stoker without the benefit these ties.

I am not married. I rode over 2000 miles on tandems last year. For most of that time my stoker was my 22 year old daughter. She was never much into riding upright bikes, but once I got a tandem recumbent she was hooked. We rode most weekends out in the country with my friends and did most of the organized rides in the Houston area over the years. I treasured the hours spent in the open air with my daughter. That's over now, for the most part. She has a job that requires her to work Saturday's. Oh, she may come back for a Saturday or two or the Bike Around the Bay, but I fear the days of riding with her 2-3 times a week are gone for good.

So where does that leave me? I have a girlfriend, but she rides with me intermittantly at best. Several of my friends have volunteered to stoke for me and we've had a blast, but none of these volunteers are going to morph into a regular stoker for me. They have bikes of their own. There is a tandem club in town, but their members are complete teams, not stokers looking for captains.

The best of tandeming comes when a captain and a stoker become a coordinated team through shared experience. There is an intuitive form of tandeming that can only be achieved by learning the movements, cadence and thinking of your tandem partner as the miles slide by. This magic is unavailable to the tyro tandem team or the seasoned captain or stoker riding with a new team mate.

Can a high milage tandem team exist without the marital of family relationship? Can two people with lives of their own come together on a regular basis to enjoy the pleasures of tandeming? Frankly, I doubt it, but I'm interested to hear opposing views or experiences.