The tandem bicycle: An exercise in trust


My husband has been trying to get me to buy a tandem bicycle with him for years. I suppose I should be flattered that even in our early days of dating he was willing to make such a public statement about how he feels about me, but I’ve resisted the bicycle built for two.

That is, until this past weekend.

bf535308fea0ecc8798b7b85abab0d53Invigorated by warm weather on Saturday, we stopped by a bicycle rental place in our neighborhood. And there is was. A long celery-green tandem bicycle on display in the front window. I knew I wouldn’t get off easy this time, so before he even started his plea I held up my hand and said “OK, just to rent for the day.” He was so giddy I was wondering why I hadn’t offered this up as a birthday or Christmas present. I could have really milked this, I thought…

vintagebikes17…but once out of the shop, I felt I had made a big mistake.

It hadn’t occurred to me that I was handing over complete control with him in the front seat. I could not turn my handlebar. I could not break. I could not see over his back to gauge what was ahead of us–curbs, cars, hills. I could not even pedal independently. Why hadn’t I realized that the pedals on a tandem bike are connected? When he moves, I move.

“You can just relax,” he said over his shoulder, when I pointed out all these things.

I don’t think of myself as a control freak, but relaxation was out of the question.

So, I gripped my fake handlebars, gritted my teeth and tried to stop whining as we made our way up the western side of Lake Geneva. Tourists, traffic cones and Yorkshire Terriers whizzed past my side without warning. They, too, were surprised to find that the grinning man on the green bicycle was actually a part of a twosome. Children pointed at us, saying regarde! Look! One child even dropped his ice cream cone when I yelped at hitting a bump without any prior notice.

When we pulled over for a break at our halfway point, I was shaking. I couldn’t keep my upper lip stiff any longer and my husband realized the back was not as fun as the front. Instead of pushing me another 10 miles to our destination, he agreed to make the halfway point the end. I wanted to be fun, up for anything–the cool wife–but I was miserable. This wasn’t going to be “our thing.”

I feel badly about ending his dream for us to be the couple on the tandem bicycle, but sometimes you simply have to say “this is my limit.” Have you been in a similar situation?

I hope you are having a more peaceful day. For now, a few links:


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