Riding together

Each and every couple will have a different way of organising their riding. We generally ride absolutely together, allowing us to make decisions, such as when to rest or eat easily. I think that it is fair to say that many couples will be unevenly matched in terms of strength and we are no different. Inevitably I still have to say "Wait for me" two or three times a week, but mostly as I am too lazy to really exert myself rather than being truly exhausted. I also tend to call for a camp earlier, knowing that if nothing turns up, I'll be the one to flag. Luckily Mark does not mind this, and for me there is no shame in being the weakest link in a really great team. There are two main ways we make allowance for the differences: Riding style and bike loadings.

Riding style

Interestingly we perform differently over different terrain:

Downhill: Mark is much faster (And more reckless) here, so he rides ahead from the start of the hill to save me the anguish of his overtaking me on a blind bend. I am then available for him to photograph as he waits for me at intervals, or to bandage up his grazes with my first aid kit.

Uphill: We are more evenly matched here, Marks long cranks tend to mean he takes longer to realise that the road angle has steepened, whereas I choose a gear in advance for the hill I see. I ride ahead the only occasional problem being that I can sustain a lower pace without falling over than Mark.

Altitude: Altitudes above 3000m slow Mark up. I has been known for Mark to struggle to keep up with me in the mountains. Then he rides ahead.

Wind: It's a well known fact that winds exert a greater effect upon the female body, no seriously, I useless against a headwind and generally hide behind Mark. Occasionally I make a token effort to relieve him, but he claims that I am so much smaller, the shielding effect on him is negligible. What a gent! We can achieve 40 km/hr with this arrangement on the flat. If there is a cross wind I ride a bit to the side and overlapping. This takes some practise.

Rest days and goals: I go much better if I have a day off every 6 days. The effect is not so pronounced in Mark. I also like to be heading somewhere defecate within a few hundred kilometres. I just can't see the point of really straining just for the sake of it.

Feeding: Mark starts to flag after several days on meagre rations. I simply live off the fleshy bits. For this reason I carry all the lunch food, but Mark keeps his own supply of "Man food bars" These have to be greasy and unappetising to me. He generally shovels one of these (usually snickers bars) in a day without me feeling the slightest pang of envy.

rough riding: Most people get wound up by hours of real bumping and no suspension. We each deal with this in different ways. I plod on slowly and descend carefully taking frequent breaks. I prefer to keep really rough days short. Mark rides as fast as he can, both up and down hill. He proffesses to hate breaks on these roads and likes to go on as long as possible to 'get it overwith'. This is the only circumstance in which he has cycled off and left me behind so far.

Loading the bikes

We load our bikes according to our lean mass. Mark of course is 100% lean, I have to carry around the usual fleshy female parts, and since he agrees that he appreciates them we have deducted half a stone from my total body mass.

Here are the calculations: (Don't forget the bike itself!)

Ju total body mass is 58 Kg. Lean mass 54.5 Kg

Mark total body mass is 71 Kg

Ju bags plus bike plus useless fleshy bits weigh 43.2 Kg (Bags 25 Kg, Bike about 15 Kg, flesh 3.2 Kg)

Mark bags plus bike weighs 55.5 Kg (Bags 39 Kg, bike about 16.5 Kg)


Ju's lean mass is 77% of Marks

Ju carries (including the bike) 77% of the weight of Mark.

I can highly recommend doing your own version of this calculation, if you are planning a tour. Remember that great line, "Lies, damned lies and statistics" Don't forget to facter in anything neccessary to show that you are both contributing eqaully to the venture. If the above sums look too difficult, go and buy a tandem then you can be sure that all things are equal.