Who can forget the cycling axiom, “If it doesn’t happen on Strava, it didn’t happen? Well, sadly, I left my Garmin on the tandem and my phone on the nightstand next to our bed before we left for our morning ride… and try as I might, I couldn’t sway our crowd to ride road bikes. It was going to be chilly and they wanted gravel bikes.
My wife and I haven’t done many single-bike rides together, if any, since we made our marriage a wonderful place to live. I was a little more than nervous about how this was going to turn out. Riding together on the tandem has become a fantastic experience, but how would I make that connection we clearly have on one bike when we were on two? I had a plan and my fingers crossed as we rolled out on a totally blind, tech-free gravel ride (except my Garmin blinkie light – dude, I never leave home without the Garmin blinkie).
We started out and I took my place near the front of the pack as I always have. I figure, in a knight in shining armor kind of way, if I’m up at the front of the pack, I’m making my wife’s ride a little easier by giving her a draft. However, that’s not always the case as I can have a tendency to kick up the pace too much and my wife can mistake that romantic notion as a need to always be in front of her… she’s complex that way. To counter that, every now and again I’d drop behind her or ride beside but let her half-wheel me. Then, after a bit, I’d pull into a position where I could offer a decent draft on our dirt roads which have been manicured to the point they’re almost as nice as some of the paved roads around here.
I, intermittently gave my wife space and rode with her for miles until the first sign she was starting to tire out. Then I made my move and rode up along side her on the way up a hill and placed my right hand on her back while steering, just inches away, with my left and added 20 or 30 watts to her effort up the hill. As we crested the little rise I left my hand there, giving her an extra 10 or 20 as we pedaled on, talking about what a wonderful day it had turned into once the cold burned off. When we completed the conversation, I gave her the slightest push and kept my pace so I could catch my breath.
That was the connection I was hoping for. All at once, letting my wife know I was there if she needed me, that I had a little extra in the tank if she needed, and that I was there to talk with her as if we were on the tandem but even closer on the single bikes.
We had a marvelous time on that ride and finished with a smile. The look on my wife’s face when we pulled into the driveway showed I’d gotten it right.
And now the dark past; I’ve always been a selfish cyclist. I’ve even left my wife on the road by herself to struggle back on her own a few times. I have a lot to atone for now that I’ve learned how to be me without being an asshole (even if I think I might have the right to be one). Now that I’ve woken up, I am making my amends to my wife one ride at a time, whether on the tandem or now on our single bikes. Dating on bikes is not only possible, it’s easy… and fabulous… especially whilst remembering how important it is to date my mate.
More on this concept, later.
UPDATE: I asked my wife to read this and she pointed out a flaw in my recounting of the events. She correctly stated that I didn’t quite give her the credit she richly deserves for the two of us riding side-by-side out front or out of the draft and together for most of the ride. She is right. There are only two women I know of who can regularly keep up with the A riders in our group and my wife is one. She’s a force on the bike and when she’s in the mood, she can make all of us complain when she gets down in her aerobars. I don’t always make that clear and I’ll do a better job of that in the future.