August 15, 2011

Double Vision Tandem Program

Photo: View from the 'Stoker' position of
a tandem bike, looking over the 'Captain'
and ahead at the bike lane and
a quad side by side bike.
Written by: Liz Jessen, VIST Coordinator
The WBRC Recreation Therapy program has a weekly tandem bicycling program for current WBRC Students and WBRC Alumni.  This 'Double Vision' Tandem program works with community volunteers and educates veterans in bicycle safety and maintenance as well as orienting them to the sport of tandem cycling.  Weekly rides are typically contained on the VA Palo Alto Hospital grounds, but occasionally there are longer tandem rides in the nearby community. 

On Saturday July 9th, 2011 the WBRC's Double Vision tandem program set out on a long community group ride. We had seven tandem teams, including one team on Wilma (our side-by-side quad) on the road heading to a local park called Rancho San Antonio.  It was a lovely summer day and everyone was excited to be out.  All went well and we all safely made it for lunch at Rancho San Antonio.  Most of the riders completed 16 miles of hilly terrain and had a great time. 

What is Tandem Cycling?
The tandem bicycle is a form of bicycle designed to be ridden by more than one person.  The term tandem refers to the seating arrangement, with the riders seated front and rear.  On conventional tandem bicycles the front rider is known as the ‘Captain’ and is responsible for steering as well as pedaling, shifting gears, and balance.  The rear rider is known as the ‘Stoker’ and is responsible for adding pedal power to the team.  Tandem cycling can not only increase health and well being, but also can improve teamwork, build trust, and add a sense of community, among many other benefits.

Getting Started with Tandem Cycling:
-   Be sure to be medically cleared by your health care professional prior to beginning any new physical activity.
-   Locate a tandem organization; checking with local bicycle shops and/or your parks and recreation organization could be a good start.
-   Get familiar with bicycle safety, equipment inspection, and rules of the road.
-   Make sure to make adjustments to equipment to meet your needs such as to helmet straps and your seat height, and check for loose clothing, pant cuffs, or shoe laces prior to starting to ride.
-   Connect with experienced riders and start practicing in a safe area, such as an empty parking lot.
-   Communicate with your captain; plan, discuss, and share the ride.  Good communication can make a world of difference.

Community Resources:
Learn more about Bay Area Adaptive Bicycling at:

Learn more about Tandem Cycling, Clubs, and Locating a Captain at:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent overall Liz! The sharp jersey is one I haven't seen yet :>) It is a valuable program for stokers And captains!
    Jim P