Tag Archive | Tandem bikes

Tandem Living: Being There For One Another

20130718-162721.jpgOver the last couple of months, I’ve been talking about how marriage and tandem bicycling mirror each other. It’s been pretty fun for me. There is one more thing that I thought I would talk about as I wrap up this series. More often than not lately, David and I have been riding our individual bikes. I ride as early in the morning as I am able, before it gets hot, and David needs to go to work. But even on weekends, we ride our separate bikes, because the workout is better. We’re still riding together, just not on the same bike.

What matters in our individual riding is that we are attempting to make ourselves stronger. What makes that bearable—especially to one who is not an exercise fanatic—is that we know we are on each other’s side. David is cheering me on in my attempts to be healthier. I pretty much have couch-potato tendencies if I don’t really work at overcoming them. I need all the encouragement I can get.

The same applies to how we approach our family life. I spend so much time focused on others, that I really have to work at taking time for myself. That’s really hard. Responsibilities never go away, and, in fact, more keep wanting to jump onto my already overflowing pile. Ignoring them isn’t an option; controlling them is crucial. When I feel overwhelmed by my responsibilities, and have to focus on them rather than David, I need to know that he’s on my side.

We just got back from a week of working in California. The day after we got back I had to jump right back into teaching, grading papers, getting ready for report cards and doing my magazine copy editing. Thankfully, David was able to take some comp time and go to the grocery store, clean the house and do some loads of laundry. Because we value the couple of times a year that we can work together out of town, the responsibilities when we return have to be shared.

We have to have each other’s backs. If I felt like my husband resented my responsibilities, I would be lost. I have to know that when the responsibilities are again under control, he will still be there, because he’s been encouraged before to be strong, and he’s been encouraging me the same way.

Previous to the both of us working at this out-of-town conference, David had been gone for 10 days. That left all the duties of the household and the kids on my shoulders. But that’s OK. He needed to be gone; I needed to pick up the slack. That’s the way it’s done. He encourages me to stand strong, and I encourage him.

Right now, our old tandem bike needs a lot of repair. We haven’t been riding it because we don’t know if it’ll make another trip before we have a chance to fix it—or replace it.

Thankfully, our marriage isn’t in the same boat. Yes, this has been a busy time since we returned from California. We haven’t spent any time alone. We haven’t talked through any issues that are weighing on us. We haven’t had a whole lot of fun. But that’s OK. It happens sometimes. We know we’re not in trouble because we are committed to each other and are on each other’s team. Sometimes we find ourselves simply standing on the sidelines, cheering on the other person. And sometimes that cheering is all we can hear.

And in the end, absolutely none of this would be possible without the strength that God gives us. The Holy Spirit is essential if we are to keep going. Does my husband feel loved by me? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do I have the strength to face the pressures of each day? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Can we get back on track with those pesky responsibilities put in their places and the priorities back where they belong? Absolutely, because not only are we on each other’s side, but we have the Creator of the universe right there with us.

Tandem Living: Riding Out of Sync

tandem bike drawingHave you ever seen anyone riding a tandem bicycle where the pedals weren’t calibrated? When one person’s foot is up on one side, the other person’s is supposed to be up also. If they’re off, it looks really strange. It doesn’t feel any different, and you can still go along your merry way, but something is just not right.

David and I recently were apart for 10 days. That might not seem like very long to some people, but when you’re used to living side by side, 10 days is a long time. I felt very out of sync. I was handling all the kids’ issues, I had to attend our boys’ open houses without him, I was doing every errand, I was doing all the thinking about our days and, because of a 3-hour time difference and a busy schedule, David and I rarely got to talk.

But sometimes it doesn’t take a separation to make us feel out of sync. Sometimes it might be a disagreement that hasn’t been resolved. Sometimes, it’s just a lack of time alone.

Because our tandem bike is old, several times on the last few rides we’ve had trouble with our chain. In the midst of shifting gears, it will fall off the cog. We have to then stop wherever we are, of course, because without the chain engaged, the pedals just spin. And if we don’t pay attention when we’re fixing that chain, we don’t make sure the pedals are in the same position and therefore they have that weird look of not being in perfect alignment with each other.

In tandem life, we can apologize if an argument happens, but there’s more to getting back in sync. Sometimes it takes digging a little deeper, turning those pedals just a little bit more to fix the root of the problem. Much as we may try to hide it, when we are out of sync with our tandem partners, people notice. Something just doesn’t feel right. We may move along just fine, completing the duties of our everyday lives, but the harmony, unity and beauty of synchronicity is missing.

It’s worth it to take the time to get off the bike, take off the chain, and get those pedals back in alignment again.

Tandem Living: It’s a Team Effort

tandem bike drawingOne day recently, my 14-year-old son and I were driving down the road when we saw a couple on a tandem bike ride by. Nathan said, “That’s the teamwork bicycle. If one person gets tired, the other can do more of the work. If the other person gets tired, the first person, freshly rested, can take over.”

I kid you not: those were his exact words. Deep observations. And completely accurate.

If I want a strenuous ride, especially here in flat Orlando, I go on my single bike. If I’m on a rest day, or just want to go on a shorter ride in the evening, we ride the tandem. Honestly, David can’t help it if he does more of the work. He’s stronger than I am. He just naturally pushes harder. Most of the time I don’t mind just coasting along, but if I know I need a tougher workout, I can’t really ride with him. He makes the ride easier.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Marriage is a 50/50 relationship. We each need to give equally to make it work”? Well, that’s either someone who has never been married, or someone whose spouse is not thriving in their relationship. Marriage is a 100/100 relationship. You have to be willing to give your all at any given moment, because your spouse might need you to. Not everyone can function at 100% efficiency all the time. We get sick. We get stressed. We just get plain old tired.

That’s where the teamwork comes in. If one falls down, the other can pick him up. Together, we are stronger. When David and I went to marriage counseling several years back, our counselor told David that he was not allowed to ask me what I did all day. If I needed to just sit and read a book, I needed to have the freedom to do that. If all I accomplished all day was getting out of bed, getting the kids off to school and maybe getting dinner on the table, that was good enough.

My husband is strong. He’s apparently tireless. He doesn’t like to just sit around. I’d be very happy sitting around the greater part of the day. But I’m not idle. I’m working on the computer or folding laundry or working on school tasks. But my jobs aren’t physical. So it can appear that he takes on the heavier load of responsibilities because he sheds the most sweat. If he were to look at me as a slacker, he could grow bitter.

Like on the tandem bike. We often get comments about how he’s doing all the work and I’m just along for the ride. It’s not true. If David stopped pedaling, we’d still have forward momentum, albeit a lot slower, because I am actually contributing to the ride. If David ever wanted to test that, he could simply take his feet off the pedals and see what happens. But he doesn’t choose to do that. He pedals and trusts that I’m pedaling too, even if my effort isn’t as great as his. I’m contributing what I can at that point of the ride. And if I want to work a little harder? The word, “upshift” tells David I’m ready to take on a little more.

Letting your spouse know you’re ready for an “upshift” in your marriage might just do you a world of good.

Next time: Even the best bikes need a tune up every now and then.

Tandem Living: Have a Little Faith!

tandem bike drawingSo far in my tandem cycling and marriage series, we’ve seen how tandem cycling–and marriage–require that you go in the same direction and that you communicate. Today, I want to talk about a 3rd requirement: trust. I trust that my tandem partner is not going to lead me somewhere dangerous. I trust that he is going to tell me when there’s a hazard in the way. I trust that he’s going to get us where we want to go. And I trust that he knows what he’s doing, not only because he’s been riding for a long time, but because he has leaned upon the wisdom of others.

David is a big Googler. By that I mean that he likes to look things up using the Google search engine. He recently bought a motorcycle and has spent a lot of time on websites and forums seeing what other people are saying about his particular model. He also borrowed a DVD about riding safety from a neighbor who rides.

He has had occasion to Google things about cycling also. When he wants to buy a new bike, he will search online and weigh the merits of different brands. Because of his thoroughness, I trust that he knows what he’s talking about. If I question every decision he makes, our rides would be very unpleasant.

Trust and communication go hand in hand. I need to be kept in the loop. If he chooses to go a different way than we usually go to get somewhere we’ve been before, just the words, “I thought we could try a different route today,” go a long way to diffuse any concern I might have. Getting me involved in the decision works even better. The more we communicate, the greater the trust level is going to be.

The same holds true for marriage. If David doesn’t answer his phone, I need to trust it’s because he’s busy, not because he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing and doesn’t want me to know about it. If I go shopping, he needs to trust that I’m not spending money haphazardly and wastefully. He trusts me to be in charge of our budget. I trust him to lead our family in an upright and godly manner. He needs to know that I trust him to care about our well being. In order for him to know that, I need to tell him. In order for me to know that he trusts me, he needs to tell me.

I trust that David doesn’t wake up in the morning and think, “How can I annoy/bother/disrespect/hurt/whatever my wife/kids today?” When we jump on our tandem bike together, I trust that he’s not thinking, “What hazardous/arduous/sticky situation can I ride us into this time?”

Think the best, trust the other person, have a little faith. It goes a really long way in tandem cycling–and in marriage.

Next time: How people react when they see us riding our tandem–and enjoying a happy marriage

Tandem Living: Going in the Same Direction

tandem bike drawingIn 1994, my husband, David, and I made a trip to South Africa. He was going to show the JESUS film in villages along the Zambezi River, and I was going to interview some people and write up some reports on how the film was being used in the area. While we were there, staying with friends in Pretoria, we went shopping and came upon a tandem bicycle made by Peugeot. Doing the math, we decided we couldn’t pass up such a great deal on a tandem since we had enjoyed the riding experience on a friend’s bike before. So we bought it.

That was 19 years ago, and the bike is still going strong. It’s a behemoth, not like the light-weight models you can find today, but it has served us well. At one point, when our boys were little, we had one kid’s seat on the front and one kid’s seat on the back. We were the mini van of bicycles.

David grew up riding his bike alone. He was used to just getting up and going wherever he wanted, pretty much whenever he wanted. I grew up riding my bike also, but I rarely did it alone. What’s the fun in that? When we got married, we both willingly gave up our solo lifestyles to blend into a tandem life together.

Over the years, we’ve both learned a lot about what it takes to ride in tandem with someone, both on a bicycle and in married life. In the next several weeks, I’m going to focus my posts on how tandem bicycling mirrors marriage. You might be surprised by what I come up with.

My first observation is that, in order to ride a tandem bike, you must be going in the same direction. Now, that might seem obvious to you, but in marriage, some might think it’s OK to have two different paths. Before we started dating, David and I were both on the staff of Cru, a group of compassionate Christians desiring to connect people with God all over the world. He is an engineer, I am a writer. He’s good at math. I’m not. He’s an introvert, I’m an extrovert. We have a lot of differences. But we both were following Jesus wherever He would lead us, therefore, our paths easily converged. If I had wanted to make my way in the secular publishing world, and David was called to be a missionary with Cru, our direction would not have been the same. Even more striking, if I had been a follower of Jesus, and David had not, our paths would have been very different. Going in the same direction is vital.

There are still many times when we ride our single bikes, but our commitment is to tandem living. We can’t ride our tandem bike and go in different directions. If we’re not both pursuing Jesus, our marriage will falter. If we’re both not staying on the same road, we will crash. Head in the same direction, follow the same road, have the same objective. The riding is a lot smoother that way.

Next: Tandem Living–Communication is Key

tandem bike drawing from http://www.etsy.com