Golden, Colorado

Left, right, bump; Captain needs more power!

Left, right, bump; Captain needs more power!

One comment tandem teams often hear from 1/2 bikes is, “You must have to tell the stoker everything–stand, left, right, bump, power….” I have seen many solutionsto this. I have ridden with teams in which the captain is constantly talking, however, I myself say very little. I suggest every team experiment a little and find what works best for them. Maybe more important than how much you say, is what the captain says, and what the stoker hears (understands). The following is a good reminder for seasoned teams as well, and those looking to improve their skills.

It is often the case that the captain is a much more accomplished mountain bike handler than the stoker. Don’t assume that the stoker understands the meaning of what you say. Some commonly misunderstood words are related to effort. Power, go, harder, punch-it, easy, steady. I can remember a time when I said power and I meant: short steep hill, pedal harder to try to keep the same pace. Lisa heard: Maximal effort sprint! Choose your own words, and discuss their meaning, and do some intentional practice on a few rides. I suggest the following:

Power: It is going to get harder, (hill, ledge….) increase power to keep the same speed.
Go: Go hard, more power, with the intent to increase speed, even if going up- or downhill.
Steady: Keep the effort (power) the same, even if you start up a hill or down. This is maybe the most under used word–don’t leave the stoker guessing.
Easy: This is often underused on long hard technical climbs. When there is a chance to recover on a climb, make sure to let your stoker know they should rest also.
Stand: I don’t actually use (say) this, Lisa reads this well based on gear and effort. What is useful to us is how hard to go when we stand. We stand climbing for two reasons–to stretch the legs and relieve the seat or to accelerate over a climb. I say, “Walk it” when we are just stretching our legs and “Let’s go” when standing to accelerate or push over the top of a climb.

Make sure your stoker knows the meaning of your words and don’t leave them guessing.



Racing: Matching effort and pace is even more important in a race, use heart rate and/or power meters. Know your FTP power and/or heart rate zones. I will have a post about this in the future.
Terrain: I will have a future post regarding, left right, bump, up, down….

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