Promoting a Tandem Race
Notes on Organizing a Successful Tandem Race
by Linda Clemens, TrueSport.com, September 8, 2000
Foto: Wielkopolski Klub Kultury Fizycznej.
Although mass-start tandem races are not exactly common, there are plenty of examples to learn by. The information in this article is based on my experience as promoter of the Miami Valley Stage Race (1991-1993 near Dayton, Ohio) and as a tandem racer in the Burley Cycling Classic, Starved Rock Classic, U.S.C.F. Masters Road Nationals, plus at least another dozen more tandem road races and criteriums. One very notable tandem competition this year was on the track: ICG Tandem Sprint Series
This article is not intended as the final, authoritative word on tandem races - you are welcome to send your experiences, suggestions and comments. This article assumes that you already know more than a little about organizing a bike race.
In most respects, the tandem field does not need to be treated differently than single bike fields. When we included the tandem category in our stage race, they did a road race, criterium, prologue and time trial, with the same courses and distances as the single bikes.
Determine your goal with tandem racing... attract spectators with a novelty race, draw new racers to your event, build the tandem circuit in your region, or have some fun? Each of these goals implies a different approach to entry fees, rules, advertising and prizelist.
Generally, the pool of competitive tandems is relatively small. They are rarely motivated by large prize payouts. To draw enough teams for an exciting race, you'll need to advertise early and provide the opportunity for meaningful competition. Prize list and entry fees should be comparable to your other small fields, such as juniors, women, or masters.
Tell Them About the Race
- Start early. Competitive tandem teams are not numerous, but they are more willing to travel when they have time to prepare.
- Advertising to the tandem community is critical to a good turnout, but prices range from free to cheap. Check out the links section on the TrueSport Tandem page.
Turn Up the Heat!
- Tandems will travel if you have a multi-day event with a mass-start event and decent distances.
- We had 14-18 teams attend our 3-day race each year. They came from all over the Midwest and even New Hampshire. You can expect fewer teams unless you have a solid multi-day event.
- Leverage your race as prep for National Championships, or the Burley Cycling Classic.
- Tandems handle well in criteriums and road races. We had a seven corner criterium, and plenty of hills. They loved it.
Gender & Categories
- We had a single tandem field with both Male and Mixed teams racing together. We had 3-place bonus awards for the top mixed teams.
- Mixed teams typically like to have their own competition, and there are many-many more mixed teams than male-male teams.
- Tandem categories work the same as single bike categories. Like most women's or master's races, all categories tend to be lumped together.
- Tandem teams may include either blind or sighted stokers. Blind and sighted teams compete head-to-head with no problem. If you are not familiar with the U.S.A.B.A., check out 'em out (United States Association of Blind Athletes).
- If you do not require licensed captains, then consider limiting your tandem field to 25 bikes (that is 50 people)
The Burley Cycling Classic has previously used a 40 bike limit for the experienced "A" field - that is a good limit.
- Tandems tend to go fast compared with masters, juniors, women and citizen racers. Depending on who shows up and the course, they may outpace your Senior men as well.
- You can give tandems a separate start with other fields on the same circuit. Staggering depends on the course. We treated them like a small, fast masters field.
- Avoid starting the tandem field simultaneously with another field. Compared to single bikes, they cruise faster through turns and down hills, and slingshot harder up hills. The difference in pacing could make for difficult/dangerous packs.
- Only give ONE race number to each team!!! Some officials try to give each person on the tandem a separate number and this creates huge headaches with scoring.
- We charged an entry fee per head.
- Our stage race was U.S.C.F., and we required both the stoker and captain to have a license. If you have a single day race, you may want to consider having an open/public tandem race. This might tempt more local tandem riders to "give it a try."
- Let the tandem riders know about rules for rear (stoker) handlebars. Check with officials and rulebook ahead time to avoid major equipment hassles.
- You might grab a rulebook and see where the word "tandem" pops up. Not often.
D. Bettge; letzte Änderung: 24.11.2002