Adjusting Instincts

It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the newest member of our family.  She’s a beauty…

I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first got the tandem a few months ago.  It’s the kind of the thing that could go one of two extreme ways: (1) it drives you crazy and you end up headed for D-town, or (2) it brings you together and you end up loving it. 

Recognizing this risk, we started off with a base model, Craigslist special.  After just a few rides, I knew we were on to something great!  Not content to leave good enough alone (when have we ever done that?!?), this meant it was time for some upgrades.  But, with the upgrades also came downtime.  Three weeks to be exact. 

As (pleasantly) surprised as I was by how much we enjoyed the tandem, I was even more surprised by how much I missed it.  We have our own bikes — four of them, in fact — so it’s not like we couldn’t ride.  But, I really missed the tandem rides.

So many people have seemed shocked and questioned why that it got me wondering, “What gives?

Some of the benefits are obvious and expected . . . 

We get to do the same ride together.  Alas, no matter how much I improve, Brad will always be a stronger rider than me.  He has two years of experience on me.  And, I’m a petite girl, so I will never match his strength.  (This is probably a good thing because I’d look pretty silly with his legs!) 

It’s also a great way for me to learn how to ride.  Being around experienced riders definitely fast-tracks my ability to learn how to ride in a group, take corners at speed, and draft.  (Not that I get it all right, but I least I know what I’m doing wrong out there!)

But, the best benefit is the not-so obvious . . .

The tandem has seriously improved our marriage.

We are strapped to the same bicycle for several hours, trying to stay in sync and match each other’s power so that we are putting down about the same effort, all while dodging traffic and maneuvering a group of 10+ other riders. 

You have no choice but to communicate every single little thing that is going on around you.  On average, we are traveling 20-25 mph.  There’s no time to think about whether you should point out the bump ahead, the green light that’s changing to yellow, or the fact that you’re about to grab a water bottle to take a drink.  Instead, you have to learn to instinctively call out everything:  RightLeftSlowingStoppingStandingDrinkingEatingAdjustingMore gearLess gearI’m dying here!  You name it, and we’ve probably said it.  🙂

Before long, these new instincts carry over to life off the bike, too. 

If you’re like me, you don’t realize how much you hold back until you are forced to really communicate.

There is a whole host of reasons that we hold back from people — whether a spouse, a friend, or a family member.  You don’t want to trouble them with the details.  You don’t want to seem needy or clingy.  Or, the most likely culprit, you take them for granted. 

Once you’ve spent several years with someone, it’s easy to assume that they get it, to think that they know you well enough to know what’s going on, or to fear that they’ve lost interest.  But people change.  If you don’t grow together, you almost certainly will grow apart.  And, letting someone ‘sense’ that they know what’s going on is a far cry from caring enough and trusting someone enough to tell them all the little details.

I think this is one of the reasons that the people in your running/riding group quickly become some of your closest friends.  You may not carry on deep, meaningful conversations on the road; in fact, sometimes you may not even know what they do in ‘real life.’  Yet, you instinctively tell them all the small stuff — not only the stuff they need to know be safe, but also the little stuff that’s on your mind that day. 

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that everyone rush out and buy a tandem… although that would make for a hilarious afternoon!  

Just take a moment and think about whether your instinct is to share or to hold back.  Making just a tiny adjustment could completely change your ride.


About Beth

Wife, daughter, big sis, aunt, friend, attorney, runner, cyclist, amateur chef & aspiring photographer. Thanks for keeping up with my life on the run!
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