Managing the Difference Between Hammering and Cruising on a Tandem with My Wife. The Deeper Side of Tandem Riding.
My wife and I bought our tandem a little more than six years ago – I think it’ll be seven this coming spring. I’d seen some of the other tandem couples and had romantic ideas of my wife and I enjoying bombing down the road, putting the hurt on our friends with a smile stretched across our faces… into a headwind…
Well, it didn’t exactly start out that way. We’ve always been decently fast but my wife had a negative view of many of our rides on the tandem. A lot of her issues with our tandem time had to do with perception and because we were both walking on eggshells in our marriage, we tended not to talk about those things to keep from rocking the boat and having a simple discussion and negotiation turning into a fight. In hindsight, that’s no environment to learn how to ride a tandem together. The more we ride and the better we get at it, the more important it is that we talk, reasonably, about how a ride goes.
Recently, my wife and I started looking at it as a good date or a bad date on the bike. I suppose it’s necessary to add this most important point about judging a bike ride as a good or bad date… we don’t try to hurt the other’s feelings with our assessment. We always talk about what we can do differently to improve a “bad” date. My biggest problems arise when I get antsy about time, or lack thereof. My wife’s arise when she believes I get antsy or our goals for the ride (which aren’t always discussed before the ride) aren’t clearly articulated.
Our good date/bad date issues really started manifesting when we started trying to keep up with the A-Elite group on Tuesday nights a couple of months ago. Until then, our best was around 20 to 21-mph (32 to 34-km/h). All of a sudden we jumped to 22 to 23-mph over 29 miles. That’s a heck of a jump and it was entirely unexpected – and my wife was the one who initiated it by suggesting we should try it.
Where I went wrong…
The “bad date” rides often center around a difference in thinking about how we should be working together. For example, if I think we should be going faster – whether we have somewhere to be or we’re going really slow – and I start hammering the pedals to the point I blow myself up (yes, I’ve done it, and fairly recently), Jess is in the rear admiral’s saddle thinking “WTH?”.
The key is communication and if it’s not happening, it’s easy to run into difficulties.
Going back to the period in our marriage where we were both walking on eggshells so we were afraid to have a decent negotiation, you can see how that will create tension in an environment where you literally have to communicate well with someone. Well, the key is in the negotiation. When we don’t try to win a fight, rather find a path to peace through a fair and respectful negotiation, good things can happen.
It helps to know when you’re trying to win, your spouse loses. Let’s just say the potential for happiness and peace is negatively impacted and call it good.
Oh, and one last thing! Once I realized how much fun a 16-mph ride could be with my wife, it wasn’t so important to hammer it when we went out for a ride. Last night we had a phenomenal date on the tandem. 15.9 miles in 59:30… for a 16.1-mph average (25 km/h). We talked the whole hour and it was outstanding.