For most of my early adult life, I didn’t ride a bicycle. That joy remained firmly a childhood memory until my husband brought home a beat-up, no-speed tandem he picked up at a garage sale for $25.
From our first wobbly attempt down a country lane, I was hooked.
First of all, my husband, although he doesn’t look it, is a great athlete. He’s fit, strong, powerful for his size, has great lung capacity and is fiercely competitive.
I’m am none of the above.
When we walk or cross country ski, we start out together but within three heart beats, he’s at the horizon while I’m laboring along in his dust.
The tandem fixed that. We could pedal and talk, actually do a sport together! He couldn’t sprint ahead. I couldn’t lag behind (although I could still slow the team considerably as my legs inevitably turned to jelly within nanoseconds and I’d beg him to let me rest.)
But eventually, even I, weak as a strand of overcooked spaghetti, grew stronger.
We loved this activity so much that after a year we upgraded to a bizarre looking tandem that suited me perfectly. My part of the bike allowed me to sit upright and best of all, I had my own gearing so I didn’t have to pedal like a maniac just because my beloved chose to.
All was well until two years ago when I noticed my husband had become less and less interested in tandem outings.
The problem was that while I was relaxed and happy up front, he had to stay alert at all times as he was in charge of steering and braking our outsized monster. Some of the joy had gone out for him.
As much as I enjoyed cruising on the bike, I felt sorry for my husband.
That’s why I did something I swore I’d never do—let him talk me into singles.
I did it only because he agreed that when we go out together, he will stay with me. No zooming ahead “just to see what’s around the corner,” or racing some spandex clad guy who’s barely old enough to shave, or moaning that his legs are sore from pedaling so slowly.
Much to my delight, he’s kept his promise.
Added bonus—I often take my bike out by myself and amble wherever I like. Couldn’t do that with the tandem.
We’re hoping that our next move will be to a place adjacent to a bike path. It’s a bummer to live at the top of several steep hills that I’d never be able to climb without extra oxygen, several five-hour breaks and resuscitation equipment waiting at the top.
So I stick to the flats, often along one of the nearby lakes, crunching along at a very leisurely pace, listening to the crows or the kids playing and feeling connected to it all while apart enough to decide when I want to turn back.
I’ve written this post in honor of National Bike Month.
If you haven’t been on a bicycle in awhile, or experienced the joys of riding, why not give it a try this month. If you can pedal to work or to do some errands a few times a week instead of driving that’s fantastic. But if you, like me, do no more than get out and enjoy nature and the freedom that comes from captaining your non-polluting vehicle, that’s something to celebrate too!
Most importantly, have fun!
What’s your most memorable bicycling experience?