A Captain, A Stoker, a Single, and a Sag!

When riding a tandem, the rider in the front is officially the captain. They are the ride leader, responsible for steering, braking, and communicating with the rider behind them. The rider in the rear of the tandem is known as the stoker. The stoker is the motivator, encourager, and powerhouse. On the cross-country ride, Jim and Denise are the captain and stoker, but they are also bringing along a single (Abi – me!) and a sag (Josh). Plans haven’t been entirely finalized, but at this point, Jim, Denise, and Abi will be riding, and Josh will be driving support with some kind of travel trailer.

About the Captain: Jim


The easiest part of my role as a captain is that I can see what is happening, that is also the hardest part! I watch the road a lot to avoid holes and road hazards and make decisions about the handling and control of the bicycle. One thing that seasoned captains understand is that ‘it’s always my fault’ if something goes wrong! This upcoming ride has been something I’ve wanted to do since 1976. At the beginning of 2017, I took a partial step to retirement by moving from a role as an active perfusionist to cell saving. With that transition I asked for an extended leave of absence for the purpose of riding cross country and I am very thankful that my employers agreed. I have been actively planning this past year to make my dream a reality. When Denise and I successfully completed an 8-day, 500 mile cycling tour on our tandem, I was convinced we should make this trip together—on a tandem!

About the Stoker: Denise


The most challenging thing about being the stoker is two-fold: trust in your captain and not having control! The back of a tandem has no steering, no braking, no shifting, and limited forward visibility. In some respects, this might make it easier, as all I have to do
is pedal, yet there is a vulnerability in relinquishing and trusting your captain for all of those decisions. Lest any of you think the stoker position is boring, there are plenty of other things that I do including (but not limited to): reading maps and giving directions; taking pictures; answering phone calls and texts; monitoring cycling stats on our Garmin; distributing snacks ‘on the go;’ enjoying and pointing out the scenery to the sides; monitoring traffic; selecting music to enjoy along our ride; checking the weather radar; being prepared to use Halt (a dog repellant spray); potentially, painting my fingernails; and, yes, pedaling; plus maintaining control of the captain!!

A word from the Single: Abi


Yo guys! What’s up? I’m pretty pumped about this trip, and can’t wait for all the dope photos I’m hoping to get along the way. Besides riding my rad Specialized Crux, I’ll be taking photos, posting on Instagram, and updating the blog as we ride. I think this is going to be an adventure of a lifetime and I’m incredibly grateful for the flexibility of my employers at Summit City Bicycles and Fitness for allowing me the time off to make this trip, as well as for my parents who have graciously welcomed me back into their home for the interim to make this possible for me financially after moving home from Tanzania. Oh, and for my sister who doesn’t know yet that she’s dog-sitting for me! 😛

About the Sag: Josh


Several years ago, Josh worked at Red Cloud Outfitters as a cook for their Elk hunting trips. Josh is WFA (wilderness first aid) trained, and a climber, backpacker, and adventurer extraordinaire, not to mention his prowess as a welder. He has chosen to take a leave of absence from his current welding job in order to accompany us on the trip as driver, cook, camp-coordinator, and adventure chief. He has also decided to use his spare time while we are riding to train for a full marathon.


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