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Tandemonium Pt. III: A Continuing Lesson in Communication


May 2016

After sucking a tandem’s wheel all weekend long, Mrs. Bgddy and I took ours out for what was supposed to be an easy recovery ride – 30 miler.

Recovery ride pace on our tandem is probably around 17 mph, about the same as the single bikes, maybe a shade faster.

After a wonderful 155 miles over the last two days down in Kentucky on terrain vastly more hilly that we’re used to, a good recovery day seemed the perfect way to cap a wonderful long Holiday weekend.  With vast amounts of sunshine and a perfect 65 degrees in the morning, a day off a bike was absolutely out of the question.

The first mile was at recovery pace.

The second mile and the 29-1/2 that came after were something other than recovery. We ended up finishing with a 19.2 mph average.

I learned quite an interesting lesson on the tandem today. While I am strong enough to make the bike go faster, without my wife helping, I’m not strong enough to will us along for very long. We have to work together. For the first half of the ride I figured I’d try to help the process, whereby my wife would simply know when to push a little harder by seeing body language rather than an actual use of words. It didn’t go well. I did get a hell of a workout in, on the plus-side.

The second half, after a constructive talk, went much better. We were cruising easy between 21 & 23 mph and I wasn’t working near as hard as I had to for the first half. We seemed to hit a band of effort where we were working together and cycling got a lot better in a hurry.

The truth is, as with most things related to cycling, I want the payoff – speed – to materialize without having to figure out the intricacies.  On a solo bike, this is quite simple.  You just pedal harder and faster.  On a tandem, where I have to rely on my wife to work with me when her goals differ slightly from mine (my wife wants to be fast too, sure, but she wants to enjoy riding the bike first – which means my trying to power through every little change in elevation presents a conflict).

One thing I can say for certain, I’m glad my wife and I are where we are in our marriage now, opposed to trying a tandem 15 years ago…  With a solid foundation of love and understanding beneath us that only came with time, experience and acceptance, learning to work together on a bike is a lot easier than learning to work together in a marriage.



  1. Sue Slaght says:

    Jim I wonder if tandem bikes could be used as a tool for marriage counseling. Symbolic of how working together creates the magic.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Maybe if you went from a tough love kind of perspective. That would be a hardcore way of going about it… you get into trouble when the start getting tired. It’s hard to keep your composure.

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