My wife and I rolled out Saturday morning. We’re recovering from Covid and don’t quite want to ride with our friends yet, but my fever was the last to break four days ago – we’re well beyond contagious. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be a little overly cautious when it comes to Covid. We went though it easily enough, but you never know who won’t.
We’re riding easy, getting our legs back under us and are having a wonderful time of it. We talk about how things are going in our lives, we talk about our plans and aspirations, and we regularly talk of how much we love each other, that we’re excited to see what comes next. We went, in five months, from riding once a week on the tandem to almost every time we throw a leg over a bicycle. It wasn’t always this wonderful. In fact, this love story has a contentious start…
I was a very aggressive rider with a complex about keeping up with the group. If we struggled to keep up, even at a 21-mph pace, I’d try to pedal through my wife to keep the wheel ahead of me. This was hard on my wife and she got to a point where she didn’t much care for the tandem. She also failed to clue me in on this – however, I’d been dense enough I’d missed it myself.
We’d take our tandem out now and again when we anticipated an easier paced ride and I always made sure to tell my wife how much I loved riding that bike with her but I never got the warm, fuzzy response I hoped for. Say, something along the lines of “I love riding the tandem with you, too.” Well, my wife wasn’t all that happy because she felt out of sorts with the fact I was so much stronger a rider than she was. One day, after a difficult, fast ride which resulted in the group splitting up and my wife and I both cranky, it was suggested we should designate Sunday a “Funday” and keep the pace reasonable, say around 17-mph. If someone (or a few someone’s) took the pace up too hot, they’d be reeled in… and life on the tandem improved. We rode the tandem every Sunday Funday and my wife grew to love it. The more fun we had on it, the more we looked forward to riding it.
My wife and I still had marriage issues, but the tandem helped.
This spring, I came to the inglorious conclusion that our issues might improve if I brought out an industrial-sized street sweeper to clean my side of the street (rather than continually concentrate on and complain about how dirty my wife’s side was). Over a series of a few weeks I went through life-altering, massive changes. I saw a lot of room for improvement on my part, and I’d thought I was pretty decent.
I called my wife in tears one day and begged her forgiveness for the way I’d been behaving. I changed, and my wife changed with me. And we fell in love again, but with the experience of having been married for almost twenty-five years. Not only that, with our marriage improving off the bike, riding on the tandem really improved.
Shortly thereafter, I realized there wasn’t any room for that aggressive cyclist on the tandem and my wife. As well, my wife began putting forth an outstanding effort, especially when I needed a little extra boost. We became a tandem couple and a team. As our lives improved off the bike, our time on the bike became… I don’t even know how to put this into words. All I can say is being able to ride with my wife the way we do has been nothing short of amazing.
This love story isn’t perfect, however. We’ve both given up a little of our identities on single bikes to be the tandem couple we are today. I’ve had to give up that aggressive, fast way of riding so I don’t make life on the tandem difficult for my wife. My wife has had to give up much of her identity on a single bike to ride with me because, as my Rear Admiral, she doesn’t have to worry about the intricacies of riding in a group riding and holding a wheel… without practice, she worries about making mistakes.
For me, I’ve never been happier on two wheels, on a tandem with my wife. I’m willing to sacrifice being a speed demon for the happiness of riding with my soulmate… and I definitely don’t mind riding the single bikes now and again to make sure my wife gets her practice in a group. It’s really not an issue for me as much time as we spend on the tandem. I’ve got around 3,000 miles so far this year. I figure the split is close to this; 700 on the trainer, 800 on single bikes and a whopping 1,500 on the tandem.
A friend who happens to be one of the strongest riders I know messaged me on Strava that I was a lucky man being able to ride happily with my wife on the tandem. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know I am.
My wife and I found love. On a tandem bicycle.