Tandem Bike Captain & Stoker Collaborators, From the book In Tandem Jay writes: “Thinking back on that walk, the tandem bike metaphor captures my role. On a tandem, the captain shifts gears, applies the brakes, and steers. The stoker pedals and trusts life and limb to the captain’s decisions. If Szifra wanted to be captain and steer us out of Starbucks, I was along for the ride. She walked and talked us over to a bagel shop. She braked at the curb, accelerated between cars, and shifted into a slower cadence as we approached the crowded bagel shop. After less than three minutes standing in a long line, she signaled a U-turn and walked us back across the street to an empty, second-floor lunch and dinner restaurant.
The stoker on most tandems has to start and stop pedaling when the captain does. The pace or cadence of the pedaling is also set by the captain. Szifra was moving and, if I was going for this ride, I needed to stay in sync with her cadence. I was personally comfortable in Starbucks and didn’t mind lines when I had someone interesting to talk with. But following Szifra’s lead was easy and natural. Her hopping about and exploring weren’t my usual style, but I was happy to be her stoker.”