Before I moved from another state to live with my fiancee three months ago, I started warming her up to the idea of the tandem. I have a great old tandem I got a few years ago from a retired couple, and was excited that I’d finally have a full-time partner to ride it with. She, on the other hand, had just taken a step up in the bike game, purchasing a nice new racing bike for herself a month previous, and was itching to break it in instead.
Bikes already formed one of our mutual interests. We met years ago in Chapel Hill, and I just moved back here to be with her. In those earlier years, I’d helped foster her interest in biking- fixing up her around-the-town bike, setting her up with a road bike to try out, even took her for a ride on the tandem. She was game for anything, and loved it all. Before I moved away initially, I set her up with a speedy steel Allez, and she took it from there herself, becoming a dedicated rider and commuter.
Now I’ve returned, and our bike collections have merged. There’s her two road bikes – the classic steel, and the new-fangled aluminum carbon; and my larger amount of bikes that includes my our 1991 Burley Duet tandem, which will appear regularly in this blog.
She was reluctant to look away from the new bike, and we did a couple rides together on the single bikes. One agonizing ride on the Burley in the high heat of the early North Carolina summer after she’d been off the bike for a month while traveling did not bode well for my dreams of tandeming every chance we got. She was hot and tired, as was I, but I pushed hard and pretended we felt better than we did.
Then we started the commute. I had just moved from Chicago, and before that I’d always lived in town. My commute had never been more than three miles, so I could walk and bike everywhere. Now, we’ve decided to live in the country, about 20 miles from our jobs in Chapel Hill. Minimizing car trips is still very important to us, and that means planning in the bike commute. She’d already been doing for a year, which was reassuring.
The first tandem commute to work decided it – we are tandem riders. The tandem commute is right in so many ways: we can talk the whole time, so it’s a great way to ease into a day or decompress from work; we don’t get separated on the road; cars seem to give the tandem a little more respect; and we get to spend the extra time together, which is great since we’re really at the beginning of our relationship. Plus we get a work-out.
After a couple weeks into regular tandem riding, she gave me one of the most flattering comments I’ve ever received – and isn’t that what relationships are all about? We decided to ride our single bikes for a change. She was struggling up a long hill, and then started to chuckle. She’d been wondering why, as she went up the hill, was it just getting harder and harder, and the bike not making it any easier. Then she realized it was because I wasn’t up there shifting, and she had to do it. I know this doesn’t sound good for individual empowerment, but it sure made me feel pretty smooth.
And now it seems like an appropriate time to start a blog about tandem bicycle riding:
My fiancee and I have moved in together. I just started a new job. We have this great rural bike commute that takes the edge off the anxiety of a new job.
There’s a growing population around the country that’s deciding to replace more car trips with biking and walking, and clamor for better policies and infrastructure. And while these people are joining the noisy activists that have been riding their bikes and shouting “One less car” for years, we’ll be saying, “One less bike.”
And we’re planning a wedding. The next task is to convince my fiancee to agree to put a new tandem on the wedding registry.