My buddy, Mike, who rides everywhere on a tandem with his wife, likes to say of the bicycle, “they’re either marriage makers or marriage breakers”.
Truer words have never been spoken.
When my wife and I picked our tandem up from the bike shop, the owner, a good friend of ours, handed me a laminated, printed sentence that read, “The Stoker never makes mistakes”. He was letting me in on a very difficult lesson to absorb and live with.
When I ride with a group I’m capable of hanging with, I have a “keep up” drive within me that I find difficult to let go of when I’m on the tandem. The tandem is a lot more work (especially in the early spring when my wife and I are both winter-heavy). I’ve got all the responsibility of a single bike, plus I have to keep the bike on the road if my wife fidgets (as she sometimes does), then add in the crazy braking distance, and having to pedal harder… it’s a lot of work.
My wife, on the other hand, loves that bike early in the season because all she has to worry about is putting power to the pedals. She doesn’t have to worry about keeping her line or the distance from our front wheel to the wheel in front of us… it gets her ready for single bikes later on in the season.
On the other hand (that may be one too many hands… on the one foot…), while it’s more work and a little slower, riding with my wife on the bike with me is incredibly fun. We don’t have to worry about wind noise as much, or shouting so the other can hear… and she’s always there to give me a little pat on the backside as a way of saying, “Nice job, tough guy”.
And so we rolled out yesterday morning to a bit of a blustery start… sunny, for sure, but windy and a little chilly. Thankfully, the tandem warms you up in a hurry, so only the first mile was on the brisk side. In the group we had five singles and my wife and I. We cruised north for 14-1/2 miles, then let the wind push us all the way home. It was a true “Sunday Funday” on the bike. A little slow for my liking, but plenty of work for the early spring. The best was that my wife and I used that ride to set the mood for the rest of the day.
That’s what tandems do well for a marriage, when used for good. When each does their part on the bike, it’s a reminder of just how important it is to work together. It sets you up to be content together for the rest of the day. Good stuff… and I decided not to get into the bad stuff in this post. It’s a long season and there will be plenty of time for that rant. Unless, of course, I remember that the Stoker never makes mistakes.