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A Perfect Tuesday Night in Lennon with Jess on the Tandem: Three Tandems, a Chucker and a Clark Edition

We’re into the last three or four Tuesday night club rides of 2022… and that’s if the weather is perfect. It never is in October.

The weather was amazing. 74 marvelous degrees with a 4-mph breeze out of the west and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect. I readied the tandem as soon as I got home because we’re rolling a half-hour early this time of year because it’s getting dark so soon. As part of the preparations I slid each of my wife’s seat posts (there are two seat posts for the stoker on a Periscope tandem – one slides into the other so you can adjust the stoker position for anyone from 4’2″ tall to 6’2″):

The second post, the brushed aluminum one, tends to creak a little from time to time so if you raise and lower it a few times then tighten the quick release fully, the creak goes away.

We got there early enough we could check to make sure I got the saddle height right and make a few adjustments before we rolled out for real. We were staged at the start when everyone rolled at a minute past 5:30.

We started out fast right out of the gate and I was breathing heavy and nervous by the time we hit the first mile mark at 24-1/2-mph (38 km/h). I didn’t see how we were going to keep that up, but Jess was surprisingly strong in the rear admiral’s position. We took second bike as we turned north and took our turn less than a mile later and my breathing normalized up front, maintaining right around 25-mph (39 km/h). We took about three-quarters of a mile and slid to the back. I took a glance at our average pace… 23-ish-mph.

We eased into last bike after peeling off the front and drifting to the back to a fantastic draft. Jess was hammering the pedals and I actually had to scrub speed with the front brake quite often. I was getting the breaks I needed and really settled into the ride. A couple of miles west, a mile north and we turned hard left onto the vaunted Shipman Road. Shipman is a life-sucking southwest facing road. We rarely get a tailwind and often get hammered with a crossing headwind or straight headwind all summer long. This Tuesday was only different in that the wind was barely there. The pace didn’t waiver. We held 23 to 27-mph all the way south and west.

We were in excellent position, in the mix with the A-Elite group, as we hit the first hills and Todd, one of the fastest guys we know (his nickname is Watt King), waived us to second bike so we could take the lead on the way up the first two hills and control the pace. I almost fell off my bike at the classy move. Todd, I know you read this; chapeau, my friend. Thank you, that meant a lot to we three tandems.

We stayed with the group, who held the pace steady up the last two rises, and descended to 71 before hitting the next series of hills. The next hill, over a set of tracks, was too much for us, though, and we slipped off the back. I reached back and squeezed Jessica’s hand and reassured her that we gave it everything we had and I was perfectly okay with dropping. She’d been stellar and we just got caught a little out of breath at the same time. We’d made 15-miles at just shy of 24-mph for the average.

We didn’t watch the weed grow on the way up the hill, though (there’s a pot farm on the right). We both knew we needed to be on the gas so we could catch up with the Shiatown short route group and w got to it. We took a little bit of a rest to catch or breath and hammered the rest of the hills, trying a few new strategies along the way to see if we could maximize the downhills without over-hammering the descents to the detriment of the climbs. It worked out quite well, actually. We caught the Shiatown crew at the regroup spot. Two more tandems (Mike & Diane and Dave & Val), a Chucker and a Superman, Clark Kent (I kid you not).

We rolled out after a short respite and took advantage of a downhill to cut short a steep uphill that tends to crush our spirits a little before heading up one of the strangest hills I’ll ever climb. It’s clearly uphill but it can’t be as steep as it appears because we routinely climb the silly thing in excess of 20-mph… on the tandem. After that punchy climb, we descend into Vernon full speed ahead. With three tandems in the lead (two of the teams are exceedingly experienced, Jess and I are the babies of the bunch), using gravity to our greatest advantage, we shot into town topping 30-mph on the way down… and we coasted a quarter of the descent.

We took it easy through Vernon, as we always do, then Clark came through to clear a difficult intersection so the tandems could get through without having to drop a foot. It was a perfectly executed clearing of an intersection and we rolled through. Jess and I had the lead at that point and we worked up a short hill before hitting a fast descent. The rest of the ride was perfectly fantastic with the three tandems outnumbering the single bikes.

We took it to the barn with a wonderful 22-mph average for the 28-mile circuit. There were plenty of hi-fives and pats on the back on the way to the parking lot on the cooldown mile. The story of our ride has to be Jess. She was truly brilliant last night… and we talked about that a little bit on the way home. I overheard her talking to Val about how she worries about keeping her single bike prowess up while spending so many miles on the tandem in the Rear Admiral’s saddle. I made peace with my own personal demons in that regard as captain, but it’s different for Jess, being the stoker. Riding in a group setting is a perishable skill and she doesn’t have the same duties as the Rear Admiral. We’ve talked about this a bit and I don’t have a good answer, other than to hope the gravel bike season helps with that.

On the other hand, she let me in a little bit last night after the ride when she said that she truly loves riding with me (which I did know), adding that she knows she was born to be a stoker, that she enjoys being our stoker immensely. I didn’t know that second part. I love captaining our tandem. I love having my wife right there and sharing our riding experiences so closely… Last night was yet another example of what we can do together and it was awesome.

I also reminded my wife, the one time I tried to hang with the A-elite group this year I was dropped after eight miles. We’ve done better on the tandem than I could do alone. Sadly, there won’t be many of these left this year:

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.


Recovery is a funny thing. Some days you wake up and you can’t put your finger on it, but you’re simply grateful.

I can’t explain it or define it. More important, I don’t think I’d want to.

It’s enough to simply acknowledge it and be… well, grateful for it.

The two things I do know to avoid are fighting it or overanalyzing it.

It’s best to just be thankful and roll with it.

The Happy Life of a Cycling Enthusiast… Post Wakeup.

I’m usually knocking on 7,000+ miles for the year at this point in the season. It’s just barely above freezing outside this morning, unseasonably cold for the end of September (no doubt due to global warming [TM]). I’ll be lucky if I crack 6,000 miles for the year… I still have more than 1,500 miles to go and I don’t care if I hit it. I’m in fine shape, though a little on the heavy side, and I’ve had more fun on two wheels than a human should be allowed (with four legs pushing those wheels lately).

I peaked at slightly more than 10,000 miles in 2018.

I’m happier at half that… and I never saw it coming. I thought I was happy with all of those miles (I sure was skinnier), but hindsight being what it is, I’ll take days like yesterday over a century any day, and with a smile on my face. My wife and I headed down to Ypsilanti to see my daughter’s university football team play their homecoming game. The weather was amazing and the game, horrible. After showing up a couple of hours early and having some tailgate chili, we headed in to get our most amazing third row 50-yardline seats. We watched until halftime and started talking about heading home early. Eastern didn’t have their heart in the game and they were being dominated by an inferior U-Mass team. We took care of a family matter with our daughter and headed for Parker Mill Park, halfway between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

My wife and I held hands, talked and walked the trail for hours.

We saw beautiful trees that had to top 150-years-old, deer and enjoyed a wonderful wooden trail though a wetland that included several stops on streams and one glorious benched seat alone on a river where we sat and talked for a good 20 minutes, hogging the space to ourselves.

Not a pedal was spun yesterday, on a Saturday, no less, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve woken to good times and noodle salad.

A Woman’s Language of Love Vs. A Man’s; What Every Man Needs to Know in One Free Video.

A man’s language of love is pretty simple; Food. Cook that food wearing nothing but an apron. Make love. Before or after dinner. Thanks for playing. For extra credit, meet your man at door wearing nothing but the apron with a smile and a kiss when he comes home, if possible.

A woman’s is vastly more complex, but the easy part is this, fellas; DON’T try to connect with your wife using YOUR language!

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too, “But how will she know what I want if I don’t tell her?

She knows. Our language is simple, and if you want her to talk to you in yours, you have to figure out how to talk to her in hers.

For instance, my wife met me (fully clothed, which was fully appropriate for the occasion) at the door when I got home from work. She smiled gently and planted one astonishingly wonderful kiss on me, then smiled again and whispered, “Welcome home”. It’s the first time I can recall that happening in our 25 years of marriage and it was awesome. And that was a negotiated benefit of my beginning to learn how to really connect with my wife the way she wants me to.

I’d been working on dropping my language and using my wife’s for less than a week. For the first time in our marriage. To get what I want, I gave my wife what she wanted first.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “But why should I give her what she wants first“? “What if she doesn’t give me what I want”?

Well, let’s break that down, because that’s what I thought. 25 years, I just wanted my wife to meet me by the door so I could feel important to her and nothing. Just a few days of trying to care for my wife the way she’s always wanted and I got exactly that. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure what comes after the equals sign; Who freaking cares, just do it!!!

The point is, whatever it is blocking you from communicating the way your wife wants, get over yourself and ask her what it is and do it. Don’t wait as long as I did.

You’ll love the results. And if it doesn’t work, you can pick up the refund for your misery at the door.

If you’re absolutely lost, start here… it’s a little crass with the Title, but I tried these things for a few days to outstanding results. Also, I didn’t want to “make my wife horny”, I wanted to make her happy. And it worked.

I would rather be on the tandem…

We had the choice of gravel bikes (singles) or the tandem this morning. It’s cold. Very cold. Barely above freezing cold. In years past we’d unquestionably choose the gravel bikes because they’re slow, over a road bike, even the tandem… but not this year. My wife asked what I’d like to ride before we started getting ready. I already had the water bottles filled and on the tandem before it even dawned on me that it might be a cold ride on a road bike.

I’d rather be on the tandem.


And for that I am so very grateful. So shall it ever be.

Everybody was Gravel Biking (I Think I Will Too!)

I picked up a new set of gravel tires for my 2017 Specialized Diverge AL-Sport. Truthfully, there should be a class-action against Specialized for producing this bike. While the Sora 9-speed drivetrain is decent and everything works, the frame is only slightly better than useless (the fork, however, is fine). You can barely fit a 32-mm tire in between the chainstays. God help you if you get a little mud build-up on the tire with a 32, though. It’ll rub the paint and the aluminum right off the frame. Enter the Kenda Kwick K879 30-mm Cyclocross tire. Thankfully they’re thin enough with some decent tread that I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I really like that tire!

There’s nothing better than gravel biking in the fall, though, even on skinnier tires. With the cooling to cold temperatures (35 to 50 F or to <2C to 10 C), it’s nice to slow the train down and forget the need to go fast and just have some fun talking with friends while we ride. In my world, the season’s all but over and it’s time to sit back and relax a little bit. Oh, we’re not done yet, of course. There are plenty of miles out there for October and even into November and December yet… but the clock is ticking and we’re into full cold weather gear now. Arm warmers, long-sleeve jerseys, neck gaiters, leg warmers, tights and wool socks.

The true joy of riding dirt roads is avoiding traffic. Nobody drives a car on our dirt roads for enjoyment – they go the mile or two they have to to get to a paved artery and they’re gone. That means it’s rare to get passed by a car on a dirt road (we rode at least ten miles on dirt yesterday and didn’t get passed once). After a full season on asphalt, it’s always nice to experience the quiet solitude of dirt roads… and of cleaning my wife and my gravel bikes at least twice a week. Or more. Hang on, I have to get a tissue.

Anyway, I rolled out with my buddy Mike and Diane yesterday morning for some pre-breakfast groad. The new tires are fantastic and my bike is running excellently. We laughed and talked and generally had a great time of it. My wife had meetings all day, so it would have been better had she been there, but it was still fantastic – though I still had the same problem with the gravel bike that I have with my Venge and Trek; single bikes feel weird. And thank God for that.

The gravel season has begun…

Two Tandems and a Mike on a Sunday

It was supposed to be a rainout Sunday. I had visions of chilling out all morning long. Maybe cooking Jess some breakfast, a little bit of laundry, and a whole lot of lazing around. My wife even had me check the forecast before we fell asleep Saturday night (after a wonderful day together). It would be raining at 5am and solid throughout the day…

Until we woke up at 6 and I checked the weather again… barely a light blip on the radar at 7 followed by 30 minutes (ish) of rain and nothing. And the amount was 0.00 inches of that rain. My wife cursed. So did I. Then we laughed out loud. We hemmed and hawed for a minute, flipping back and forth between riding and not, but we were always going to ride. It was just a matter of how happy we’d be about it.

We talked to Mike and decided on 8:30 to give the rain its chance. I wasn’t going to bother sending the text out but did at my wife’s urging. Doc Mike and Diane pulled up just as we were getting our vests on. The Michigan summer was over Wednesday and it’s acting like it. It was chilly. Mike and Diane (the other Mike and Diane) showed up on their singles just before we were set to roll out.

My wife is sporting some new mountain bike shoes, a step up from mine, with a new shim to help equal out her unfortunate right leg/left leg length discrepancy (more on that later this week).

We rolled out exactly at 8:30, just the six of us. We started the pace out slow because Mike gets a little cranky if we start out too fast, and started ramping it up as we moved out.

We were into the northwest wind but it was one of those odd winds where it was heavy and you could feel it but it was barely registering in the trees and leaves blowing. Diane and Mike and Jess and I took turns at the front on our tandems, taking three to five mile pulls each. There’s nothing like a couple of legit tandem couples drafting. It was fantastic sharing the load. Sadly, Diane had things to do so she split off early…

As we hit tailwind and the pace started picking up. My wife and I were riding astonishingly well and I was having a fantastic time of it, Jess, too.

We ended up getting misted on for a few minutes, but nothing bad enough to get anyone wet. We rolled for home, topping 18-mph on the way back with a decent (if light) tailwind at an easy 22-mph, pulling into the driveway with handshakes and smiles as Mike headed up the road to go home. We ended up with a little more than 38 glorious miles on a day we should have been riding the couch.

It was a good date on the tandem for Jess and I… and that’s about how cycling is for me, lately.

A Guy Walks Into a Psychologist’s Office…

This is interchangeable by sex, of course, it could just as easily be “a woman walks into a psychologist’s office”…

A guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and sits down on the couch for his first working appointment. He looks at the psychologist and and the psychologist back at him. The psychologist says in that quiet, calm psychologist voice, let’s begin.

The guy says, “Well, my wife has a bunch of flaws that really annoy me and I’d like to know how to fix them.”

The psychologist whispers under his breath, “We’re going to need a bigger couch.”

Fans of the 1970’s Steven Spielberg classic, Jaws will get this joke. For the rest… erm, dude. It’s Jaws. You gotta see that movie.

There is a Cure for “Get-there-itis”. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a train…

I am a results-oriented person. Have been my whole life. When I go shopping, I know what I want and I go get the best version of what I want and I’m done. I put a value on my free time… about triple what work is willing to pay me. If I can’t save three times what someone else is willing to pay me, I don’t worry about cost savings.

We can’t take money with us when we go and our existence on this rock is finite – we won’t get out of this alive. You have to save money for the future, of course, but I make the most of the time I have as well. Or so I thought…

As a sufferer of “Get-there-itis”, I’m always pressing to get wherever it is we’re going. That’s the mission (a lot like shopping), to get there. As a result, I’ve been quite anxious, often pushy, and sometimes a downright butthole until we reach whatever destination it is we’re heading to.

To make this exceptionally fun and exciting, my wife likes to take the scenic route. The long way. And she’s an absolute nut until we get out the door. The kids were traumatized when it came to vacations. Any kid would be fortunate to have parents who care as much as we do, but we owe them an amends about getting ready and getting to and from vacation destinations since they were little ones.

I won’t focus on my wife’s numerous quirks in this regard because to do so is an exercise in idiocy that never turns out well. I know the fix to mine, though.

“Get-there-itis”, viewed honestly and open-mindedly, is a self-centric behavior. We have to get there because I am a results-oriented person. There’s no scenic route worth taking, no road but the quickest/fastest way there worth it. Once we get “there”, I can relax and enjoy it. I would actually get fidgety and anxious when we deviated from getting there. I hated it.

This makes life sad and difficult for someone who likes to take a road trip from time to time. Who likes to get there, but to enjoy the trip as well.

So, here’s the trick. First, I fell in love with my wife all over again after 25 years of marriage and 27 years together. This takes a little more than a decision. It takes practice and a whole lot of “want to”. When we fell in love again, I focused on fixing (or at least working on fixing – it’s a massive battle) my self-centeredness. And that’s how I learned my “Get-there-itis” was a result of being selfish. Oh, it’s great when you’ve gotta get the wife to the maternity ward, but it sucks on vacation.

My wife and I went on our first trip together after these changes started manifesting with all of the angst we normally would – thankfully, the kids were staying home for this one. On the way up, because I knew the route to our destination (I’d traveled it regularly with my parents when I was young) I asked my wife if we could take the longer route up the coast because it was vastly more visually stunning. I didn’t have to scrape her jaw off the floor, but it was close. Then, on the way up the coast (east coast of Michigan, in Tawas and Oscoda), my wife kept seeing public beaches and as we passed one she blurted out, “Oh my God, that’s beautiful!” I asked if she wanted to see it up close and whipped our SUV, camper in tow, into a gas station to turn around just as she answered, “yes”.

We walked the beach for ten or fifteen minutes and took a few selfies and photos of the magnificence of the Lake Huron beach.

If memory serves, my wife actually cried as we got back into the car because I’d never been willing to do something like turn the car around in mid-trip to check out a beach! I simply smiled and said, “The change is real, sweetheart.”

Later, during that trip, we were riding our tandem and my wife spotted a beautiful stream passing under the road. It was so gorgeous she couldn’t help but holler out. I checked traffic was clear and whipped the bus-like bike around and we took a ten minute break to take in the scenery. It was amazing. More selfies and regular photos.

It was shortly after I realized my “Get-there-itis” was capable of being “cured”. In the changes I’d gone through, I learned I could have fun with my wife on the journey to the destination… without messing with the thrill of getting to the destination. My vacation time was literally extended by the length of the trip, both to and from.

Friends, my “Get-there-itis” ceased being something my wife and kids had to put up with. Now I watch for its signs so I can stomp the anxiousness out before it has a chance to start because it messes with some great time spent with my wife and kids. My life is vastly more enjoyable without it.