In honor of National Bike Month, I thought I’d share my sound advice on bikes and marriage…
As most of you know, I’ve had a five-year struggle with my weight. Before children, I weight 90 pounds, which for my 5′ frame was a little too thin anyway, but now, uh yeah, I could stand to lose a few pounds. As December came to a close, I was determined this year (2012) I’d do it. I’d not only lose it, but I’d KEEP it gone. Two years ago, I lost it, but then it came back… So this time it was going to be definite.
I started the year walking three miles a day.
Sadly, that didn’t help me with anything.
So I started riding a bicycle.
It helped some, but it was easy to get discouraged.
That’s when I was talked into joining the OK MS 150–a 150 mile bike ride from Tulsa to Oklahoma City along Route 66 that helps raise money for research on Multiple Sclerosis. (More details on this to come in future posts.)
Now, I’ll be honest, after having two children, my body isn’t quite what it used to be and riding for longer than about three minutes on a standard bike hurts places it shouldn’t. This led me to look around the Internet for a more comfortable seat or techniques for how to ride so I don’t end up hurt when I stumbled on recumbent bicycles. You know, those bicycles where the seat looks almost like a stadium chair with a full square to sit on (some with, some without foam padding) and has a reclinable backrest? One of those.
But all I was doing was seeing pictures of them, never in person. So with a bit of skepticism, I drove more than three hours away to a bike shop that carried these little jewels. (And yes, Bob came, too!) Risking the professional image everyone might have of me, my husband Bob and I rode these funky things all over this small town. Down this street, then up the other. They’re kind of difficult to get used to as the handlebars are wider than on a regular bike; instead of leaning forward, you’re leaning back; and it’s really wide and somewhat heavy. The owner of the bike shop kept getting onto me for holding onto the handlebars too tight, saying, “Loosely wrap your hands around the grips and point the bike where you want it to go. Don’t have a nervous death grip or it’ll jerk and you’ll ride right into the wall.”
Of course I had to try that out once (or twice)… And wouldn’t you know, he was right! Death grip=jerky steering=crash into stationary object. Fortunately, I narrowly missed the side of the police car and rammed into the brick wall of the police station! Also to my great fortune, after seeing I was laughing and uninjured, the policemen found the entire incident humorous, too, and my husband and I were back riding again.
I checked my watch and saw we only had an hour before we had to leave if we were going to be able to pick our kids up on time, so we headed back to the bike shop.
Then we saw it…
Toward the back of the little shop by the cash register was another recumbent bike with TWO seats. Yes, yes, they make tandem recumbents.
We had to try it.
Indulging us weirdos, the shop owner helped us navigate this “limo of bicycles” out of his store and onto the street.
Let me just tell you now, this was the most horrifying experience of my life! (Which naturally resulted in my husband insisting this was the bike we should get! Which we did.)
I’ve never been on the back of a regular tandem, so I can’t speak for what that’s like, but this thing was scary. All the tandems I’ve ever seen has a set of handlebars in the back where the second person can at least hold on. Not this one. No, it has to very short handles down by the seat to which you hold on for dear life because not only do you not have any control over where it’s going, but you can’t see where it’s going anyway! At least I can’t, anyway. Due to Bob’s tower-like build and me being vertically challenged, this is all I can see while riding normal, turning, struggling to get up hills, or zipping at a record 34 mph going down a hill:
This was taken while we were literally pedaling down the road. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Bob’s curly hair, but… If I want to see anything else, I have to turn my head.
Not that it bothers me so much, I guess.
As we’ve been riding this bike, we’ve become much closer. While still not mind readers of the other, we’ve both had to learn to communicate and trust the other much better. If one stops pedaling, intent to coast, the other does, too, or we’re likely to crash. If one starts pedaling harder, the other had better, too, or their feet will slip off the pedals–and believe me it’s hard to get them back without stopping. Being in the role of “stoker” (the back person on a tandem), I have to trust Bob not to crash or to warn me to hold on because we’re about to go over a bump. As the “captain” (the person in the front) my husband had better make sure to keep me informed of all those bumps, not drive like a crazy-man or say a disparaging comment or the stoker will stop pedaling without his knowledge! (See, each role comes with some sort of perk!)
Anyway, as I mentioned, this bike has made a difference for us and how we’ve learned to trust each other and communicate. Much better exercise than if we’d gone to marriage counseling. (Probably cheaper, too!)
All right that’s all I have on bicycles other than a handful of stories where Bob and I were NOT in harmony on the bike. With only a week left of National Bicycle month, may you each consider riding at least once before the end of the month. It’s great exercise and even as an adult it can be a lot of fun!