Riding a road bike can be difficult enough sometimes on the twisty, damp roads of Yorkshire so when we got the call that we were invited to have a go on a Tandem it was fair to say me and Sarah felt a little apprehensive about the idea of the two of us riding one bike together. We haven’t ridden together on our own bikes very much before either. It was fair to say we headed to JD Tandem with two thoughts in mind. Firstly, would we actually survive the day and not accidentally kill each other and secondly, could we satisfy our Strava addiction and grab some gold cups together on a ride.
When we arrived at JD Tandem with our nervous faces and helmets in hands we were warmly welcomed by the owners John and Ruth and colleague Jamie who are all big enthusiasts of tandems. After some quick introductions we were told to choose a tandem that we wanted to test. Again we looked slightly nervous given there were at least fifty different tandems in the room; it’s like choosing your first ever road bike all over again. Thankfully with a little guidance from Jamie we ‘chose’ one of the own-brand Orbit Tandems with a more relaxed position to test ride first. How hard can it be?
The answer is pretty hard to start with but things quickly fall into place. We were taken outside and given a tutorial on how to ride the bike by Jamie and it very quickly became clear that as the pilot on the front of the bike I was very much responsible for keeping poor Sarah the stoker upright on the back before we had even set off. Tandems work with the stoker, or rear rider clipping into the tandem first and then presenting the pedal to tell the pilot they are ready go. Sarah was ready to go but sadly I wasn’t and the next ten minutes followed with me wobbling around the car park trying to steer the bike whilst Sarah clung on for dear life begging me to pedal. Not a great start but at least we were still alive. As punishment Jamie took me around the car park on the back and showed me just how scary it is being wobbled around.
Eventually after much patience and guidance from Jamie we were unleashed onto the main roads around the Yorkshire Dales to hone our newly developed skills and trust in one another. It’s so important to talk to each other and anyone going past would have thought we were crazy shouting “Pedal” and “James stop shaking” at each other but before long we felt like we’d mastered the tandem and were happily pootling along down the back roads avoiding sheep and buses but still telling Sarah to keep pedalling. I’m assured she was but I’m still not sure.
Confident we were now master tandem riders we picked up one of the Orbit Lightening tandems – a lean, mean racing machine in our eyes that could power it’s riders into Strava bling. Once we had the hang of things it was certainly slick out on the road and we could finally stop shouting at each other and settle into a rhythm, even having enough confidence to attack one of the QOM’s at over 28mph and our fear had turned into some great fun on the road.
Riding a tandem was never something I had considered to be so much fun but they are great once you get the hang of riding one and do leave you with the urge to go back and ride one again. It was a great way for me and Sarah to be able to ride together even though on our own bikes we are very different in terms of speed and power on the road and gave us something funny to talk about later that day when discussing who was to blame for not pedalling or making us wobble.
Tandem can often be seen as something for someone slightly older but I disagree. I had great fun riding a tandem with Sarah and I’m told we’re already saving up for one in the future. We were invited to review Orbit Tandem but any views expressed are my own. It’s also worth adding that whilst I write this JD Cycles currently have a team out on the road trying to break the Tandem Lands End to John O’Groats Record.