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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.
I know, I know, I said I was going to take a little more time off in yesterday’s post…
My low-grade fever broke (99.4, I usually run about 97.8) early yesterday morning. As the day wore on and I felt better, taking the tandem out for a spin with my wife looked pretty fantastic. She’s two days ahead of me, as our bouts with Covid went, so she feels a couple of days better than I do. She also wanted a nice, slow, short return to riding so the tandem was the perfect choice.
We only did eleven miles at 15-ish-mph, but that was perfect. My lungs didn’t bother me a bit and we had a lovely conversation along the way.
I also brought Gatorade with me in lieu of my normal plain water. That agreed with my throat a little more than anticipated.
And so it was, my wife and I out on the tandem for a short little spin to shake the cobwebs out. There’s no place I’d rather have been. It was beautiful.
Life on two wheels is a blessing.
The Story of How My Wife and I Found Happiness on a Tandem (While Finding Each Other Off It) Part One of Two.
We brought our first tandem home on May 13th of 2016.
To tell you the truth, it doesn’t look much different today. We’ve got a nice saddle bag on the seatpost and we’ve got fenders on it, but other than that, it’s the same bike we brought home.
I was excited to start riding with my wife and kids right away. My wife and I struggled mildly with a power/control issues too numerous to bother with. We started off graciously enough, but over time I think it’s fair to say we both allowed some off the bike resentments to get in the way of our enjoyment of the new tandem. As the resentments built up over time, they made our time on the tandem tougher. Even through all of that, I’d catch a glimpse of how excellent we could be on the bike and that made me love it.
I wanted for us to flourish on our tandem.
After that, though, call it 2018, we shelved the tandem except on the rare occasion. It was in the spring of 2020, the pandemic, that a friend suggested we should ride the tandem more. With an unknown amount of time off for CovidPanic, we decided to give it another go. We fared much better through the pandemic. I’d like to think I softened a little bit and my wife got stronger. We also started a “Sunday Funday” where we’d drop the pace from an expected 20-ish-mph down to 17 to 18-mph. This meant we didn’t have to struggle so much to keep the pace and our friends got a break from the hammer-fests.
We flourished, even choosing to ride the tandem on successive weekend days – even on weekdays now and again. I was really enjoying riding the tandem at the end of the 2021 season and we were both looking forward to 2022’s spring session as the snow started to melt in late February.
Then, in March, through a series of seemingly fluke events (that we choose to see as God helping us do what we couldn’t for ourselves), I came to realize that, while I was a decent man and a good husband, I was woefully self-centered and I could do a lot better. Once I saw the full extent of my transgressions, I broke down. I called my wife and asked her to meet me so we could talk about a few things I’d come to realize. I was in tears by the end of the call.
Early March was the beginning of a complete transformation of our marriage. With those changes, my wife and I went from tolerating each other to wanting to be together. We fixed almost all of what had been keeping us at arm’s length from one another… and that translated to riding the tandem.
March turned into April and April into May and we were on the tandem more days a week than on the single bikes. We even started taking the tandem to the Tuesday night hammer-fest in Lennon.
As May turned to June, Jess and I were starting to fire on all cylinders off the bike and that translated into fantastic times on the bike. We were 100% in love again. We renewed our vows a few days after our 25th Wedding Anniversary, and after ordering a new top-of-the-line gravel bike tandem with a spare set of road wheels to mark the occasion. Our Silver Anniversary present to each other is a new super-lightweight tandem.
The real kick to cement our relationship and our love of tandem riding came at a mid-June tour. A tour we went on alone, not knowing or having ridden with anyone else that was riding. We volunteered as well (as it turned out, to handle registration). This was the trip that showed us both that things were going to be different, and vastly better, for the rest of our lives together. We also took the tandem for our first solo road trip… and I knew we were going to have to ride the medium routes so we didn’t wear ourselves out to bring the tandem.
My wife checked the navigation and there were two ways up, one a little slower than the other but far more beautiful of a journey. I asked if we could take the back way, up the coast through Au Gres, Tawas and Oscoda, Michigan toward our final destination of Alpena. My parents rented a cottage on Lake Huron in Oscoda every summer for several years running and my grandmother used to live in Alpena where our parents would send us for a week or two every summer to get a break from us. I imagine my wife almost fainted when I asked for the scenic route!
Then, on the way up, we passed a beautiful park beach heading through Oscoda and my wife asked if we could turn around to walk on the beach for a minute. I can’t remember what I said specifically, but it was resoundingly affirmative. Let’s say, “Heck yeah”! And we whipped around at the first gas station we came to and headed back to the park.
We took a few selfies on the beach and went for a ten minute walk, and even did a little wading before heading back to the car. As we headed up the road, my wife asked what I’d done with her husband that I was willing to take the scenic route and stop along the way to take a look at the scenery. She asked where my get-there-itis went.
I took a minute to gather my thoughts and put it simply that the change was real and I was just happy to be with her, that we could take as long as she wanted. We both got misty over the exchange.
When we arrived, we set up the camper and headed over to pick up a few subs for lunch – one each for us and one for the ride coordinator.
We headed over to start with our volunteer work. My wife asked to do the registration and I asked to work alongside her. I said as long as we could work together, I would work as long as they needed us. We worked from 1 in the afternoon till almost 8:30 in the evening and we absolutely rocked registration out. It was astonishingly smooth.
My wife started crying as we drove to dinner after I spoke to a local to find a great place to eat. She couldn’t believe I would work beside her, for that long, without even a complaint about how long we were working – she was sure I’d have wanted to work at something else. I welled up and the floodgates opened. I explained that I was not the same guy anymore. Working with her on the registration, was a blast. Even though we were working, we were side-by-side, working together, so there was a connection that made it good enough just to be together. We ate dinner at a fine restaurant, choosing a booth, sitting next to each other so we could hold hands… and we shared our appetizer and entrees.
I don’t know what time we got back to the camper, but it was late. We turned in and cuddled tight. You couldn’t fit a piece of paper betwixt us…
Originally, this was going to be a one part post but it’s already getting long. I’m going to split it here and say, “Stay tuned for Part Two” due out Friday.
My wife and I
have had a limit of about 50 miles on the tandem. Once we hit 40-ish miles, she starts getting… erm… angry. Yes, that’s a good word to use. We both had saddle issues once we hit that distance, but I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the last year getting both dialed in the best I could and especially for my wife over the last few weeks. Let’s say I’ve dedicated myself to her setup with the same enthusiasm I throw at my own – actually, a little more.
And so, with that, I gently worked my wife up to riding the big Independence Day route with the group on the tandem. My wife was a lot nervous, but I assured her that I had her and if we ended up getting dropped, out there by ourselves, I would be perfectly happy riding with my best friend. She agreed to ride…
And we absolutely rocked ass.
I made a slight saddle adjustment in the parking lot at her request (and I mean slight) before rolling out, moving the saddle back ever so slightly and nosing it down just a hair. This is the result:
We had an awesome group, probably our biggest ever for the Independence Day ride, consisting of at least twenty cyclists on 17 bikes (three tandems!) and we were all matched for pace and ability excellently (one of the wonderful benefits of an invite-only ride).
The start was amazing and we quickly hit 22-mph and stayed there for the most part. With such a big group, maintaining speed was fairly easy. I could tell the saddle adjustments we’d made were well received – the Rear Admiral was putting awesome power to the pedals and we were perfectly in synch with each other. We held our speed easily.
The morning couldn’t have been better. Warm temperature, but not too warm. Sunny, and just mildly breezy… and my wife and I were riding as good as we ever had. We pulled into our second rest stop with a 19-mph average and plenty in the tank.
Shortly thereafter, we ended up chasing an old friend down and and kept a playful manner throughout the whole ride. The group held together excellently well, too, though we weren’t without our issues. Chasing down that old friend took a toll on one of the tandem couples and a couple of others on single bikes. I should have sat up and called for everyone to leave him be, but even Jess was drawn in by the carrot just off the front of the group… you can’t help by chase a guy down.
We ended up getting an emergency call from Jessica’s dad just after our last stop so we let the group go and stayed back in the shade on the sidewalk to talk things through. Diane and Jeff, and Mike K came back to round us up and the five of us headed toward home. We still had better than an 18.7-mph average with tailwind all the way home.
I’d expected Jess to be absolutely smoked in the last couple of miles but she remained upbeat and happy. I snapped this photo shortly after we rolled over 62.4 miles:
The ride was all over but the shouting… our first 100k on the tandem. Dinner (and ice cream) were extra special last night. We ended up watching a couple of episodes of Castle out in the backyard on our bench swing in each others arms.
Our status as a tandem couple is set and we couldn’t be happier. We worked hard for this… and you can bet we’re enjoying it.
That’s all that needs be said, my friends. Enjoy your day. My wife and I will spend much of it on the tandem. There’s no place I’d rather be.
…And hotdogs for lunch… the one thing the politicians, pandemic and supply chain hasn’t been able to screw up. WOOHOO!
In a sport replete with peacocks, the question must be asked, is it gaudy (or outstandingly awesome) for tandem couples to match their cycling kit (clothes)?
I suppose I could start this post out with, “if your answer is gaudy, well, it’s unfortunate your being wrong and all”…
My wife and I do match quite often (mainly for weekend and big ticket rides). In fact, we’ve now got four matching sets of kit. We can match every day we ride on the tandem.
That last iteration, with the photo taken atop Presque Isle’s 1840 lighthouse, is obviously not a perfect matching kit, we call that our peacock kit, it’s close enough for government work.
Fellow tandem riders, embrace your inner nerd and match your spouse when you ride tandem (or even on single bikes). Off the bike, it’s kinda creepy (I’ve seen it, too, right down to the shoes and belts – shit is spooky weird). On the bike, however, it’s outstandingly awesome.
Thou shalt match kits on a tandem, was ever thus. Oh, and smile a lot – because tandems are awesome.
Wednesday night, my wife decided to take a day off from riding so I headed out with my buddy, Chucker, on the Venge. As one would expect, after five days in a row on the tandem, the Venge felt strange and twitchy… though the free speed was marvelous, I am grateful for how “off” it feels getting back on one of my single bikes.
Chuck and I talked the whole ride and it was quite nice, but it wasn’t the tandem with my wife.
Last night, because we have a big weekend coming up with Independence Day, I chose to spin it out for twelve miles to keep my legs going with my wife working late… and I wanted to put the Trek through its paces. That poor girl hasn’t seen the light of day in quite a while, and she’s riding great. And so it was. I got dinner (steak, sweet corn, sweet potato home fries and a salad) prepped and ready to throw together when my wife got home and headed out the door.
The Trek has a bit more of a relaxed geometry to it so the ride is quite nice compared with the Venge, though the power to the pedal always plays second fiddle to the Specialized. Oh, what 14 years of technological advances in carbon fiber design did!
I used that solo time to meditate on our marriage and to thank God for being free from my bondage of self that held me back from being truly happy with my wife. I am so thankful for the man God made me today. I wrote in a love letter to my wife that God “knocked a bunch of dirt off me, polished me up and gave me back to her” to describe some of the changes I’ve gone through and that seems an apt way to describe it.
I’m looking forward to a long weekend on the tandem with my wife (and Rear Admiral). It’s a wonderful way to spend a bike ride. I still can’t believe how much I prefer that steel behemoth over my svelte, aero, carbon fiber Venge… but that has more to do with the Rear Admiral than the bike.
Thank you, God. I needed this.
My Rear Admiral and I are neck deep in our tandem and we’re both loving it. My wife worries, a little too much (IMHO), that I need my normal buddy rides but I’ve tried to let her know that there’s no place I’d rather be than on the tandem with her. I do have some big rides coming up, of course, that will be on a single bike with my friends. The Assenmacher 100 pre-ride, the Assenmacher 100, DALMAC… but the way I see it, I’m following my heart, here.
That I’m actually paying attention to what my heart wants is a small miracle in and of itself and my heart wants me on that tandem with my wife, it feels that’s where I am happiest on a bicycle. I love being a tandem couple all the way down to my baby toes tucked in our matching socks.
We rolled out Sunday morning to a perfect setting. Not too hot, not too cool, a little bit of sun and the rain from the night before had dried up. Even the wind was behaving (for once). We ate most of the headwind at the beginning of the ride, then settled in for an awesome stretch of tailwind on the way home. We’d had a 17-ish-mph average when we made the turn and pulled into the driveway with better than 18.3. The ride was an absolute blast.
For Monday, now this one was a kicker to my ticker; my wife had to work from home because she had some business in town to attend to in the late morning. She could have ridden early on her road bike with my buddy, Mike, but she opted to ride in the afternoon with me, on the tandem, instead. She made sure to lay down the Rear Admiral law, though; no speed demon crap – she wanted nice and easy. That’s what we always do on Monday, right before the big event Tuesday, so I was pleased as punch to comply. We talked about things of consequence the entire time we were on the bike, an hour and five minutes – and we still maintained a 16-mph average.
We got a great “spinning” ride in and talked about everything we had coming up that needed to be kicked around. We never would have had time to do both separately and we would have missed half of what was said on single bikes. Chalk up one more reason to love the tandem.
Now there’s tonight… we’re doing the tandem this evening so we can be the “B” group. Our A-Elite and A groups have merged, so there’s some lamentation that the “B” group has gone. Well, my wife and I are going do our part to resurrect it.
And that’ll be our fifth day in a row on the tandem.
You can’t see it, but I just did a little happy dance. Thanks, God.
I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on in the coming days so I’m going to fit posts in where I can. I’ve got detailed posts working on a lot of fun and exciting stuff from our weekend at the Sunrise Adventure Tour with the League of Michigan Bicyclists. This was the best tour I’ve ever ridden in terms of stunning scenery and excellent roads. The roads were even better than down in Kentucky.
For now, I’ll leave you with some of the highlights from the trip…
And yes, my wife and I matched each day. And it was awesome! As you can gather from the smiles in the photos, my wife and I have found peace, happiness and serenity on a tandem. We won’t give up our individuality on our singles, but we have come to shine on our Co-Motion. At my request, my wife refers to me as “Oh Captain, my Captain”… and at hers, my wife has come up with and lived up to being my “Rear Admiral”.
More tales from the tandem soon.
I’m going to put it as simply as I can; my wife and I found each other again, after several years. It’s better than that, really. We’ve learned how to talk to each other to find peace with one another, rather than to beat the other. We’ve learned how to listen and to work things out so we can be happy together. I’m so grateful, I find it difficult to put into words. After 3,000,000 words on this blog, I’ve never been so happy and stuck for words to describe it. It is love and joy and relief, and it is good.
My wife and I spoke yesterday morning after I’d been at the office a while. We both expressed what a wonderful evening we had the night before. It was a perfect evening together that ended in us watching our favorite show, holding hands and falling asleep on the couch. My wife asked how we could possibly keep this going at this pace without burning out (now, there’s a good context and a bad context to that question – her context was delivered in the good way – as in, “Please, Dear God in Heaven, how can we keep this going because it’s awesome?”). Thankfully, I’d already had the same thought and fear and meditated on it thoroughly. I had answers. I know what we have today is doable, and I am freaking stoked about it.
[As a rule, I refuse to use the work “sustainable” outside of my conversations with my wife who “gets me”, because it’s generally a fair bet a person who uses that word in a sentence has no idea what they’re talking about.]
Anyway, the evening before, I’d asked my wife if she’d ride the tandem with me on Tuesday night. She was working from home and attending one of my daughter’s rare early tennis matches so I had a feeling she’d ride Tuesday night, but I wanted to really ride with her. Not just on singles. My wife said she’d like to tandem during a phone call early Tuesday afternoon, and so it was.
The main A/A-Elite mixed group went off first, then we followed a minute later. We flew going with the headwind and did well north and south, but struggled in the headwind, relying on Big Joe and Dave to handle some of the up front duty. On the second mile, something occurred to me and I decided to share it with my wife rather than risk forgetting it – one more reason we’re going to make what we have last. To keep it simple, we’ve never had anything resembling what we’ve built over the last few months. Best of all, we’ve made it safe for each other to express that love however we feel it. The passion is real and it is fantastic… but that can also be terrifically horrifying in that, the general thinking is; if it burns hot, it burns fast… then burns out. And so, my thought that hadn’t occurred earlier was this; we’ve learned to talk to each other (and listen, my wife interjected) in a way we never have before. The way we talk and listen is set up to help us keep this alive and well. It was a significant point.
Anyway, we had a fantastic ride, the four of us and Jess and I headed home afterward to a wonderful dinner of chicken and gnocchi soup – leftovers from dinner the night before when my daughter made the soup from scratch. It was another wonderful evening together. It’s actually been a stretch of great days and evenings. We’ve needed this for a long time.
And a note to my riding buddies who read this page: I’ve been a little too selfish when it comes to what I want to do and how that relates to my marriage. I have to even things out a little bit with her before I find my new normal. I’ll be the same rider, just a little less self-centered. Thanks in advance for your patience while we get this sorted.