Lessons Learned While Riding a Tandem Bike

My husband and I celebrated 18 years of marriage this past September. Last year for our anniversary, we spent a weekend near the beach and rented a tandem bike for the first time. These are the lessons learned about myself and my marriage from those few hours of Tandem bike riding.

On a rare weekend away, sans kiddos, one of the ways we celebrated was riding a tandem bike together for the first time. It was revealing and convicting. Renting bikes for our anniversary weekend wasn't planned. We tried using Airbnb for the first time and they stated that there were bikes available for use so we didn't bother bringing ours. Unfortunately, they turned out to be unsuitable (rusted, flat tires, and children's bikes versus adults). We decided to rent bikes near the beach. On our way, we decided to try a tandem bike.

My husband is a very experienced bicycle rider. He's been riding in the city as a child, adult, and bike courier. Biking is one of his strengths. When the man who rented the bike to us asked who would sit in the front, I pointed to Gabriel without hesitation. He gave us a map and pointed in the direction of the bike path off the boardwalk.

Learning to Let Go

Initially I was riding the tandem bike similarly to how I would ride a bike by myself. I was paying attention to the road ahead of me, gripping my handlebars and pedaling. Eventually I realized that I was gripping the handlebars as if I had the capability to steer. When you're sitting in the back, you are not in control of the bike. The handlebars are only there for balance, not for steering. I consciously loosened my grip and reminded myself that I wasn't in control. I didn't have to pay attention to the road ahead of me as if I was alone. Gabriel was there. He was steering and guiding us. I could look around and enjoy the beautiful sites around us.

I let myself enjoy not being in control. I trusted my husband to take care of us, and listened to his instructions. He was very good about communicating what he was doing - when he was changing gears and how fast we should pedal. I watched his legs and would pedal to match his speed, particularly when we were going up hills.

Working together on the Tandem Bike

We took turns resting and pedaling towards the end when fatigue was setting in. We worked together and both pedaled hard on a particularly steep hill. We were amazed by how a tandem bike was heavier, but required less effort because there were two of us.

Those few hours we spent on a tandem bike reminded me in a totally different way what I knew 17 years ago - that I chose a trustworthy partner. 

I was reminded that we make a good team.

I was reminded that with good communication and teamwork, the hills that we encounter in our life together don't have to wind us.

I was reminded that my fretting for control in life off the tandem bike was a choice. Was I living life as if I was all alone?  I realized that I can choose daily to loosen my grip, enjoy the scene and people around me and breathe.

Have you ever ridden a tandem bike? What was your experience? I'd love to know!

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