Motivating the Stoker

The airplane stoker The Silly StokerThe Serene stoker  We’ve been busy this spring getting ready for our Pacific Coast bike tour in July (even though we’d love to do the whole thing, we only have time for Seattle to SFO).  We’re buying light weight camping gear, planning our route, getting the bikes set up and doing lots of tandem riding on the weekends. The whole family goes for at least one long ride every week – usually between 20 and 35 miles. We’ll slowly build up to 50 miles by the time we’re ready to roll out-of-town in July.

It’s all about the stoker:

Tim's tandem @ lax gameTim rides with our 11-year-old daughter as the stoker position on his giant tandem just fits her. And mine is set up with the kidback to fit her shorter brother. Tim plans to swap the kidback over to his bike for the tour to even out the power a bit. But for now, I’m stuck paired with the younger (and more distracted stoker).

And I just have one teeny tiny problem with my stoker: he tends to get distracted and forgets to pedal. Even though it’s hard to see him back there, I can definitely feel when he’s not putting any muscle into his pedal strokes (especially on hills). When I ask demand that he pedal, he usually screams, “I am pedaling” and then proceeds to stand up, give me 150% power for @ 10 seconds violently shaking the bike.

I’m sure we’ll get it all sorted out in the coming weeks – that’s why we train, right?  We talk a lot about inertia and momentum: he’s into science so it helps to speak in terms he can relate to. But if  anyone has some tips for getting a nine-year-old boy to pedal, I’d love to hear them!

– Anne

6 responses to “Motivating the Stoker

  1. Just remember the xtracycle days when there was no option for him to pedal and count those moments he actually pedals as a bonus!

    • HA. Nice excuse…but he hasn’t been an xtracycle passenger for a few years now, he knows he’s supposed to pedal. : – )

  2. It’s my 10yo girl who is stubborn and my 8yo boy who gives it his all. Looking forward to how this turns out, we are considering tandems for our crew.

  3. I’d be tempted to stop pedaling when he stops, rather than increasing my effort. That way he’s getting the right feedback–if he’s not pedaling, you stop moving.

    As it is the incentives are reversed; when he backs off, you work harder.

    And if your oldest is the kind of sibling who will mock him for falling behind, as I was, may-I-someday-be-forgiven, that would be even more effective.

    • I love this. I took my feet off the pedals a couple of times last weekend (going up hill) and we almost tipped over! We laughed a lot and he figured out what it feels like to do all the work.

      Yes, his sister does mock him. And I think it’s a pretty effective motivator as well!

  4. hey i just found this blog and it remind me of this video i saw! it’s about a project to leave your car at home for 7 days.. really cool!

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