When you are getting started on a tandem you want to pick rides that don’t involve a lot of traffic or hills or gates so that you can concentrate on how the bike handles and on communicating with your partner rather than on shifting gears or missing obstacles. These rides are good for that. (They’re good rides on single bikes, too.) Do them in order, repeating any that make you uncomfortable, and you’ll have about 250 miles on your tandem and you’ll be ready to ride it anywhere.
- Interurban – Green River loop. 20 miles. Park at Tukwila station and ride south on the interurban to the green river intersection. Ride back on the Green River trail. This is your basic introductory ride. The interurban half is straight and flat although it does have a couple of busy street crossings. The Green River section follows the meanders of the river and always has pedestrians and other bikers. This is a great place to work out the wobbles.
- Sammamish River Trail. 20 miles. Park at the landing in Bothell and ride to Marymoor and back. Plenty of pedestrians and bikes to avoid, but straight and level and no serious street crossings.
- Cedar River Trail. 25 miles. Park at the Renton Community Center off SR 167 under 405 (across Houser from the skateboard park.) The trail is on the west side of the river and there is a pedestrian bridge under 405. Ride south to the end of the pavement. A couple of streets to cross but not usually very busy. Plenty of people on the first few miles, then a lonely woodsey trail between a river and a highway.
- Foothills Trail. 30 miles. Park at the Sumner trailhead and ride to South Prairie and back. Difficulty = pedestrians. (There are a few bollards and some streets to cross but not any more complicated than the Cedar River trail.)
- Centennial Trail. 40 miles. Park at the trailhead in Snohomish and do this as an out & back. The challenge on this one is that there a lot of bollards and gates – but most of them are pretty tandem friendly.
- Lowell River loop. Woods Puget sound (ride #89 without the extension to Mukilteo.) 20 miles. Park at the airport restaurant in Snohomish and ride out on Lowell River road, back on Homeacres and River View. Entirely on roads, but virtually traffic free. A short steep climb after crossing the tracks in Lowell. Another short climb up to the Hewitt Ave. tressle. This is a much more interesting ride than the Centennial Trail.
- South End Lake Washington loop. 25 miles. Park at Gene Coulon Park and ride around the bottom of the lake, north on Rainier, across the I-90 bridge and back on the lake washington trail next to I-405. Half of the ride is in traffic, but with bike lanes in the busy parts (pro tip: do it on a Bike Sunday and avoid much the traffic. A long gentle uphill and short steep downhill before Seward Park. Switchbacks up to I-90 and steep downhill to the bridge. Blind turns and lots of people on the lake washington section.
- Snohomish – Monroe loop Woods Puget sound (ride #23) 30 miles. Park at the airport restaurant and ride through Snohomish to the Old Monroe Highway which you take all the way to Monroe. Stay on Main to highway 203 and the bridge. Return to Snohomish on Tualco, Highbridge and Springhetti roads. This ride is entirely in traffic, but only Highway 203 is very busy. There is a series of climbs on Highbridge and a short descent on Springhetti.
- North End Lake Washington loop. 40 miles. Park at Log Boom Park and ride south on the Burke Gilman. Cross I-90 and ride north through Bellevue. Take Lake Washington Blvd to Juanita and then the bypass back to the Burke. This is a longer ride but the bypass eliminates most of the hills. Lots of people on the Burke and lots of traffic (and some hills) on the east side.
here is a link to the Evergreen Tandem club – a good resource for novice tandem riders.
And despite all of the good advice above, here are the rides we did during our first 500 miles.