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Thanks by Jimmie & Linda Auchterlonie.Hi, 7 years ago my wife and I attended at your premises to try out a tandem, for us to use to toddle around Scotland.
Over the course of the weekend we tried a number of bikes. Your staff were knowledgeable and generous with their time, they changed pedals, tyres, handlebars etc for us, gave us different routes to try and even highlighted great cafes along the way. We got the feeling that they wanted us to select a bike that was perfect for us and not just to make a sale. By the end of the weekend we settled on and bought an Orbit Pegasus Pro.
Since that time we have not only toddled about Scotland but have enjoyed touring holidays in Denmark, Croatia and Montenegro as well and have always found "Peggy" to be a good solid bike that has never let us down.
I retired at the end of 2014 and my wife got unpaid leave from her employer for 14 months, we decided to use the time to pedal through various countries around the world. We have cycled 4,300 miles by a rather protracted route from Lisbon to Istanbul and as expected Peggy behaved faultlessly. We then flew to India as we wanted to cycle the 360 miles from Manali to Leh then complete the Khardung La. Having read up on the route I knew that the road wasn't great. However we never expected it to be as bad as it was. The road often consisted of boulder strewn gravel paths, stretches of Tarmac were short lived and often rutted and pot holed. One memorable 10 mile descent could only be regarded as a rough Land Rover Track. The fact that Peggy, came through it all fully laden without even a broken spoke speaks highly of your ability as bike builders and my wife and I would like to acknowledge this.
Thank you for, helping us on our first shaky outings and supporting us with advice over the years but mostly for producing such a capable bike. Thanks again Jimmie and Linda Auchterlonie
Inspiration by Elizabeth Smart.Dear JD Tandems, Last year about this time I happened to be listening to Woman's Hour (I usually listen to Radio 5 Live, but the golf was on and I wasn't keen) and I heard your article about tandems. It struck a chord. My husband was a very keen cyclist (think he might have been out on his bike at the time) and out of my league and I had recently been diagnosed with MS and was finding it hard to do any sort of aerobic exercise. Could a tandem be the answer? I got him to listen to the programme on playback, planted the seed and waited. Lo and behold we received delivery of a tandem a week later but kept it in the box as we were moving to Hampshire the following week.
First outing in September: a few wobbles on starting off, a few complaints about the weight at the back from the pilot(!) and a few grumbles about communication from the stoker (me) but basically I loved it! I progressed from training shoes and peddles, to training shoes and toe clips, and then got my own cycling shoes by November. Gentle rides though the countryside became tougher (lots of hills where we live but obviously not as tough as Yorkshire) and the goal posts started to shift. A few more complaints about the weight of the bike so we decided to treat ourselves to a lighter bike. And then in December we entered the Mega Meon Sportive on 27th July: my husband's 60th birthday and the course went past our front door!
Unfortunately, with 3 months to go I had a relapse and wasn't able to train for a nine weeks. Plans to do the Intermediate Course (72 miles) went out of the window but we could, perhaps, get round the Short Course (44 miles). So, to cut a long story short, we rode it on Sunday, clocking 3 hrs 9 mins 47 secs. I actually got the Silver standard but my husband had to settle for the Bronze! Couldn't have done it without him though!
I just wanted to write to you to say thank you really for the inspiration. I really love the tandem and every ride we are getting better - at communicating (both) and at peddling (me). And sometimes it's just nice to be doing something together that we both love, although he does still got out on his single bike.
We are planning to do another sportive in October. Something to aim for. Thanks again. Hope you don't mind me writing to you but I've felt for a long time that it was Fate that got me to listen to you last year, and the article really was inspirational.
Regards, Elizabeth Smart
Riding a tandem by Dom IrvineAs I gasped for air my heart pounding in my chest as I struggled to stay on the wheel of the athletic Gods in front of me I knew there had to be a better way than this to enjoy training. There is only so many times you can get your butt kicked before it becomes demoralising. It had been a similar problem years previously. I remember going for a ride with a girlfriend. I'd wait at the top of each hill whilst she puffed and panted her way up. She hated it. We're no longer together.
Then a few years ago, John and Ruth Hargreaves, founders of Tandems.co.uk introduced me to a tandem. It was a revelation. Imagine going for a ride where you can never be dropped - no matter how good the other person is. Think about the pleasure of being able to maintain a conversation comfortably and easily whilst out riding - not having to wait for the cars to pass so you can get close enough to gossip. This is the world of tandem riding.
Over the years, my riding partners and I have covered many thousands of miles, including riding from Lands End to John O'Groats in a shade under 60 hours and many 200+ mile day rides. During this time we have become a real team - both intuitively understanding what's going to happen. It's a joy.
The more we thought about it the more we realised we were better cyclists as a result of riding the tandem. Our roadcraft had improved. Here are some of the specific benefits we found.
A tandem takes a bit more effort to get going - after all there are two of you to co-ordinate when setting off. As a result, on a tandem you learn to read the junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights better. The result is the bike rarely comes to a complete stop, momentum is maintained and less time is wasted stopping. It may not be much, but when you aggregate all time spent with your foot down at junctions - it all adds up.
Smooth and creamy
On a tandem, changing gear from the inner to the outer rings requires both riders to reduce pressure on the pedals during the shift. If there is too much pressure the gear change simply can't happen. As a result, tandem riders develop more mechanical sympathy learning how to super sooth gear changes.
Boy do tandems go fast! We've hit 50+mph very regularly - and it's a lot easier on a tandem because the bike is long and stable. So when it comes to hit the same speed on a normal bike, you're already used to the speed - it's just a question of getting to grips with the shorter twitchier wheel base.
You can imagine at such speeds the line has to be just right. Finding the fastest way round corners is very helpful on a normal bike too.
C'mon give it some!
I don't know about you, I find training with someone else really helpful. It's easier to stay motivated and committed to the session. With your training partner right there with you it's a doddle. When you're feeling a bit flat they can support you and vice versa.
Just good friends
I never expected this to happen - riding a tandem has meant many hours of great rides, chatting and gossiping away. These shared experiences have served many purposes - helping think through difficult issues, laughing our socks off at jokes, discussing topics of interest and admiring some fantastic scenery.
The sense of team
There are times, you will recognise the sensation, when you feel tired and the ride has become a bit of a struggle. On a solo bike, you end up slowing down and drifting along. On a tandem you have someone to keep you going until you feel better and vice versa. This makes such a difference to riding long distances.
How long does it take to get good?
You will be able to ride together from day 1. Getting good at riding together will take longer. The more you ride the smoother you will become and the more you will start working as a team. In the early days you will be calling out when you are getting out of the saddle and probably managing only a few pedal turns when you do. However, in time, you won't even need to make the call, you'll simply know when the captain is getting out of the saddle and you will be able to climb long hills this way. It's the same for all aspects of riding the bike. The more you ride the better it will get. We can even ride no-handed together now.
If I had a choice?
There will always be a place for solo bikes, not least when diaries don't permit riding together, but given a choice, I'd reach for the tandem every time.
New wheels, written by Alasdair
All of a sudden I'm learning to ride a bike again. You wouldn't think I would need to, not after the number of miles I have under my belt. I do, however, have an excuse. The thing is I have a new bike and it's a tandem!
Why?I had been at the Significant Other to get a road bike so that they could come riding with me. They are wiser than that and, with the dual thoughts of either being left behind or patronised (I claimed it would be encouraged) by me, they suggested a tandem."It will be fun", "It's something we can do together" are the sort of things I heard in support of this plan.
To be fair, I wasn't against the idea. And it let me shop!
After looking around on the internet and weighing up our options we decided that it would be great if we could try it before we committed ourselves. And that's where JD Tandems came in. With the promise of a day or two's hire of a tandem and instruction on how to ride one they seemed an ideal place to visit. The only problem? They're in Yorkshire. So we planned a few days away to visit them and arranged the bike hire.
As soon as we arrived in their shop in Gargrave we were made very welcome. The proprietors Ruth and John seemed keener than I was to get us on a bike and off. Having read all sorts of stuff about the problems starting to ride a tandem I was very nervous about setting out. Our hire bike was ready and after a couple of adjustments from John for saddle height and bar reach we were set for our lesson in the car park outside the shop.
The technique is described elsewhere but here's my distilled version. The pilot (person at front) gets astride the bike, puts the brakes on and stabilises the bike by putting their feet as wide as they can go. The stoker (the person on the back) then gets on the bike and gets both feet on their pedals. This achieved they then set the pedals and the pilot narrows their stance so that they can put their foot on a pedal. Then a quick, "lets go", a release of the brakes and the bike sails off. Ruth and John make it look very easy and the bike covered the ground around the car park with effortless ease. Stopping looks equally easy and the bike came to a halt with Ruth still sitting on the rear seat both feet on the pedals with John looking really relaxed on the front.
Then it's time for my partner in crime to take Ruth's place and have John show me the starting technique again while getting them used to the idea. John does it easily again. I ask to have a go on the back to see what it's like. It's very odd and when we came to a stop I had to put a foot down, unbalancing the bike. Naughty stoker. John chuckled and said it's fine.
Then it was my turn to try piloting. I managed to get astride the bike with brakes on; that bit is relatively ok although stepping over the bike instead of swinging the leg over the saddle is different. My Significant Other got on. It's a funny feeling having a bike wobble around behind you as someone else gets on. They set the pedals. I narrow my stance. Go! No. I found it difficult to let go of the brakes. More chuckling and sympathy from John. We tried again and this time we wobbled our way around the car park. Stopping brings about it's own problem as I found that I tend to lean a bike when I bring it to a stop. Not a good thing for the stoker. Very unnerving. We tried again and were a little better. "Off you go then" said Ruth and I thought "Really? Are we ready?".
We got a few things together and put them in the provided rack bag, a thoughtful addition to the day's bike hire. John gave us directions to Malham and showed me on the map, also provided. They left us in the car park and we tried to set off. I still couldn't let go of the brake levers in time. We tried again and managed to get going this time. We went round the car park one more time; it felt safe and then we made our way to the road. We managed to stop at the junction without falling off but realised that to start again we were going to have to turn right. Visibility wasn't great and neither was our starting so we decided to walk the bike across the road, then over the humpback bridge to a flatter more inviting piece of road.
We got going again and this time we made a pretty decent job of it. We started cycling down the road. I began to get used to the gears and brakes. The thing was that the bars were straight like a mountain bike so nothing like my road bike and unlike my town bike too as that has twist shift gears. That and a longer, heavier bike made things interesting. We passed a car whose occupants waved at us. We suspect they see a lot of wobbling tandems there and that made us laugh.
We headed on up the road and by and large we made slow but steady progress. We stopped and started again which wasn't easy on the ever narrowing Yorkshire back roads. At least there wasn't too much traffic, but the lines of sight weren't as good as I'm used to and, of course, I had no idea of the roads at all. Eventually we arrived above Malham and could see the famous Malham Cove; a mecca for tourists and climbers alike. It looked like quite a steep drop into the village but we went down the hill and arrived at the visitors centre. I elected to park here and we made it into the car park and stopped relatively well. We locked the bike up (the lock again provided) and strolled along in search of a cup of coffee for the pilot and tea for the stoker. John had recommended somewhere but we couldn't find it. There are plenty of options though and we stumbled into one.
Over our beverages we discussed the 7 miles or so we had just done. A painfully short distance for me but quite a long way for my Significant Other. It had been ok but the rear cyclist did admit to shutting their eyes on one fast downhill bit. Pilot error I thought our experienced hosts would suggest. And the gap in our cycling history was brought to the fore. Ruth had asked what our usual mileages were. "Al thinks nothing of 100 miles in a day." was the reply from my better half, "I'm more like 4". On the whole though we were happy and agreed that if nothing went wrong on the way back we were likely to decide to purchase a tandem.
We got back to the bike and I was glad to see that it was still there. We were passed by two proper roadies looking like they were off to do some serious riding. I was slightly envious. We wheeled the bike back to the road and looked up the slope we have to get up. I was apprehensive. I didn't know what our combined climbing power would be like and I thought the slope looked steep. I was glad to have a bike that was geared for climbing and for partners of unequal experience.
The start was smooth for us and we got going. I managed to change gear to a sensible one and we spun slowly up the hill who's brow came surprisingly quickly. Then with almost apparent ease we cycled back to Gargrave. My stoker was surprised how quickly we got back. I pointed out that it had been mostly downhill as a consequence of mostly going uphill on the way there. I was surprised at how quickly I became somewhat used to the bike. It was still a strange animal but workable by now and not a horror story.
We got back to the shop. Ruth and John wondered if we were going to do some more; perhaps wondering if we liked the experience. But 14 miles on a strange bike was a long way for my rear gunner and I was happy to leave it for the day. I did take out a tandem on my own to try one with drop handlebars but although I preferred being in a more natural position and with controls I'm more used to I can see why John had his doubts for it as a first tandem. The flat bars give a more positive braking position and that, at the moment, is important.
As we discussed the options with John and Ruth in the shop I watched John work in the spotless workshop area. I gazed longingly at the tools he has wishing I had the skill to use them as well as having them in my less than spotless garage. We made arrangements to sleep on it to make sure the stoker's back had withstood the challenge and left for the hotel.
We hadn't changed our minds overnight and the next morning we popped back to the shop. "Could we pop out for a short run just to be sure?" we asked. It was no problem. We didn't go far, we just wanted to see everything was still as good as it had been the day before. We needn't have worried. We didn't go far and we were soon back in the shop agreeing to the purchase. As we left another couple arrived to pick up a Hase Pino. I'd seen it the day before and they had a test version too. Half bike, half recumbent it looks superb but I fought the urge to try it. I might regret that.
All we had to do now was to wait.
Arrival and ridingWe didn't have to wait long; about 10 days. And then a very long box was delivered. Arriving this way it takes a little setting up as it travels with the handlebars turned, the stokers bars turned and the saddles fitted as low as they will go. Ever the efficient sales team though we had the measurements from the test bike we'd ridden as a basic starting point.
Our first ride felt like we were back to square one and I felt we wobbled around our local roads. I was reassured from the back seat that we were doing fine. And that's what the tandem is about I guess: teamwork and communication.
Since then we've been out and about quite a bit and enjoying the new bike. We are still learning, improving and looking forward to more. And the Significant Other will now be called the Stoker!
Thanks to Ruth and John for being patient and understanding. Buying a tandem isn't an easy thing to do and they helped us get the most out of it on that first day. Without that help we may well not have bothered. I know they are looking to sell bikes but there was still a care and a love of tandem riding that transcended the sales process. We are looking forward to taking the tandem down to Yorkshire for the start of the Tour de France next year. Hopefully we will meet up with them and some other like minded couples. We'd better get practising.