The Tandem Tour in Hungary is the world’s only organized sporting event for cyclists on the same bike. The first event took place on May 10th, 1957 to commemorate 6 months since the forces of the Soviet Union brutally crushed the Hungarian uprising. The idea is to show that although the socialist ideals of helping each other are perfectly embodied on a tandem you also need freedom to enjoy that socialist ideal. What better freedom could there be than riding to the four corners of Hungary in a two-week long race that tests teams’ endurance to the limit.
In the 1957 all the teams were from Eastern Bloc countries apart from the Soviet Union – all the entries from teams in that country mysteriously disappeared due to an administrative oversight, which kept repeating itself until 1990.
The tour starts in western Hungary at Sopron with a short time trial to Gyor. The next stage is to the town of Balatonfured. This is just a warm-up for the hardest day of the tour – a double circumnavigation of Lake Balaton including sixteen separate sprints where time bonuses can be won.
Stage four takes the riders to Esztergom on the Danube Bend before they head into the Matra Hills for three days of riding between Salgotarjan, Ozd, and Eger. Next it’s into the Hortobagy National Park and a series of time trials between Miskolc, Tokaj, Nyiregyhaza, Mariapocs, and Debrecen.
The penultimate day’s ride takes the teams across The Great Plain to Szolnok via Bekescsaba. The last day’s riding takes the tour to Budapest for the finish in front of the Houses of Parliament by the River Danube.
The unique feature of the Tour of the Tandem is that both professional and amateur teams take part in the same race. Time trials are always organized so that the fastest teams go first thus reducing the chances of accidents. On the race around Lake Balaton the road is always wide enough for the faster teams to lap the slower ones.
There is also a prize for the unlikeliest bike to have completed the race. This is usually either a specially altered Penny-farthing bicycle or an extended mountain bike with smaller wheels.