A Lesson in Grace from a Friend and How I Used That Lesson To Ride with My Wife In Peace, Happiness and Harmony. A Lesson On Dating On Bikes.
This post is dedicated to Greg Jenkinson, one of the greats to ever clip in. Chapeau, my friend, and thank you. Jess & Jim
One of my best riding buddies, Mike, had been through some tough times battling health issues. Specifically, his ticker. One day on a Saturday ride, during his journey back to cycling fitness after yet another procedure, Mike lamented that he was fine hanging with the group everywhere but uphill. He just didn’t have what it took to make it up hills with the group because medication was preventing his heart rate from getting high enough to allow him to muscle through hills. Greg was on that ride and heard Mike. On the next hill, he maneuvered to Mike’s wheel and placed his hand on Mike’s back while putting some extra power to his own pedals, which gave Mike a boost of 30 or 40 watts and enough to make it up the hill with the group. I don’t know how Greg didn’t fall over when he gave Mike the final shove to push him by much of the pace-line. I watched a little slack-jawed. Many of us joked and griped that we needed a little shove too, and laughed as we caught Mike again. Greg gave Mike a boost up every decent hill that ride and through much of the summer when he rode with us.
We called it “Jenkinsoning someone up a hill”, and so the phrase has been coined and has stuck. He’s even done that for my wife and I so we could stay with the main group on the tandem on Tuesday night a few times as well. If that isn’t enough, he can ride with a wide range of cycling talent and be content even though he’s one of the more capable in the A-Elite group. Greg is what “class” and selflessness look like when you put it on a bike.
Earlier this season, long after Greg didn’t have to push Mike up hills anymore, I thought about how I could use the same move for my wife so I could let her know I had her back and keep a loving connection with her while we ride. I could also use it to help her if needed. Rather than getting antsy if she’s struggling to keep up, I can actively help her keep up. I used the maneuver at the Horsey Hundred when my wife had a few struggles on some of the hills, but we’ve been riding the tandem so much I haven’t had any more opportunities… until the other day when we were out on the gravel bikes because it was too cold for our tandem.
I waited till we were deep into the ride. I helped my wife a couple of times up small hills but decided to modify Greg’s move, too, because I was performing it on my wife. I moved in behind her and placed my hand on her back as we cruised along, just she and I, talking as we rode. I kept my hand on her back so we could have that little connection that let her know I had her back. She exclaimed, “That’s so nice!”
I gave her a little boost every time we came to a hill… but more just so I could rest my hand on her back and have that connection… We talked and laughed about rides past. Being connected was amazing! I don’t know who enjoyed it more, she or I!
I can tell you this, I’ll never look at riding bikes with my wife the same again. On a tandem or on single bikes. In fact, my wife brought up riding with my hand on her back last night. She didn’t mention much about the help up the hills, but she loved when I rode with my hand on her back to let her know I was there for her. She beamed about that!
If you’re out riding with your spouse and they’re struggling a little bit, Jenkinson them up the hills and watch her/him light up. Then, while you’re riding down the road, rest your hand on your partner’s back to let them know you love them and you’re right there. I’d be willing to bet you’ll never look at riding with your partner the same. I won’t.
Thanks, Greg. I appreciate you, brother.