Tag Archive | tandem biking

Tandem Living: You Never Know So Much That You Can’t Learn From Someone Else

tandem bike drawingIt’s been a very busy season in our household as school has started for me and our three kids. David and I are restarting our weekly date nights which we had let go during the summer. I apologize for my prolonged absence as I have attempted to figure out what my normal for this school year is going to look like. So far in this series on Tandem Living, we have looked at the importance of going in the same direction, communicating, trusting, being an example, weathering the storms, working together, and getting tune ups when needed.

Today, I want to say that, even though David and I have been riding a tandem bike for nearly 20 years, we certainly have a lot still to learn, and though we’ve been married for a bit more than 22 years, we would be the first to admit that we certainly do not know everything there is to know about marriage. There are always those who have more experience than we do. The day we decide we have nothing more to learn from anybody better be the day we die.

We might know the basics about biking, but we haven’t researched tips and techniques to making our riding experience better. We haven’t taken cross-country trips or even gone more than 30 miles at a time. We’ve never crashed. We’ve never had a flat tire on the tandem. We’ve never had it stolen.

In our marriage, we’ve never had to navigate the waters of infidelity. We’ve never lost a child after it was born. We’ve never had a major, life-threatening illness. We’ve never gone through a bankruptcy.

God forbid we would ever have to go through any of those trials, but we’d sure like to know how to handle them well if we did. We may have things we can teach couples who have not been married as long as we have, but we also have so much we can learn from those who have been married longer. But when we went through counseling several years ago, our counselor was a single woman. That didn’t mean she didn’t have something to teach us; she did because she had education and life experience. We didn’t hesitate to listen to her just because she’d never had personal experience as a spouse.

Seek out those who know more than you about being married, just as we need to seek out help from experts in the field of cycling if we plan on improving our ride.

Tandem Living: Even the Best Bikes Need a Tune Up Every Now and Then

tandem bike drawingWe bought our tandem bike in South Africa in 1994. Since then, we have changed the seats a couple of times until we found ones that are comfortable, we have gotten new handle bars that sit us more upright, and David has cleaned it and adjusted some things every now and then. After 19 years, it needs work. It’s a very heavy bike, so it’s not one we would consider high quality. But it gets us where we want to go. David often talks of selling it and getting something better. I’m kind of sentimental and want to hang on to it. For right now, it’s working for us.

Now, my husband’s road bike and our Townie and cruiser bikes, those are a different story. I mentioned before that David is a bike snob, so he bought those with special attention to quality. They’re not top-of-the-line, which we can’t afford, but they’re not Huffys, off the rack at Wal-Mart. But what would happen if we just let those bikes sit out in the rain and sun, never cleaned them or made sure their gears and brakes and tire tubes were in good shape? Well, we wouldn’t have them for long.

One day recently, both David’s road bike and my Townie got flat tires on the same day. And I did something to mine that caused my brake to start dragging on the front tire. And then there was the near spill I had that broke the bottle cage. All these things needed to be fixed before the bikes would be truly road worthy again. (Well, the bottle cage is still waiting to be replaced.)

The same is true of our marriage. Many years ago when our kids were still little, for Christmas I gave David the gift of agreeing to see a marriage counselor. We didn’t have huge, divorce-on-the-horizon problems, but David had been pushing for us to talk to someone about some issues that just were’t going to go away without help. Our marriage needed a tune-up. We loved each other, we were committed to each other, but we had some things going on from our histories that were putting roadblocks in our future. Those needed to be torn down.

I have a friend who has been married just short of a year whose husband refuses to go to counseling because he thinks that seeing a counselor means that you’re crazy.

It doesn’t. In fact, it means you’re very smart. Although David knows a lot about bikes, he still takes our nice bikes to a bike shop for a professional to work on, because he knows that he doesn’t know everything. He wants what he loves in the hands of those who know what to do with it.

There are people who’ve been married a lot longer than we have. There are people who have been trained to ask the right questions and dig beyond the surface. They’re the ones to whom we want to entrust our most valuable relationship. And counseling isn’t always necessary. Sometimes just attending a conference like FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember or The Art of Marriage, or joining a couples Bible study, or reading a marriage book together will highlight some areas where work needs to be done. (Comment below if you’d like some ideas of books to consider.)

Keeping our bikes road worthy is a priority as we spend a lot of time on them. Making our marriages shine is even more important.

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: Weathering the Storms

tandem bike drawingSo far in my miniseries on tandem living, I’ve talked about the importance of going in the same direction, how communication is key, that trust is essential and that people are watching us. Today I want to talk about what happens when you get caught in the rain.

A couple of years ago, on our biennial trip to Colorado, David and I were riding our rented tandem from a meeting back to the apartment where we were staying. We knew the potential for a storm was there; we were hoping we could outrun it. No such luck. We got drenched. And, unlike Florida rainstorms, this one came with some chill to it. So wet, cold and still miles from home, we could have gotten really grumpy with each other. But what good would that have done? It’s not like either one of us planned to get caught in the rain. It was simply the circumstance. We were here, and we needed to get there, and the only transportation we had was our bike. We either weathered the storm together, or we found a place to hide out and never got to where we were going until it was too late for whatever it was we were supposed to do next.

It would have been good if we had known it might rain and had been better prepared. This past summer, we knew there was a stormy day in which we would have to ride, so we had two weatherproof jackets with us. Though the rain this time wasn’t as hard, we still would have been much more wet if we hadn’t had those jackets. Preparation for the storm helped.

Before we were married, David and I attended a FamilyLife marriage conference. One of the things I most remember from that conference is one of the speakers telling us, “Your spouse is not your enemy.” If we determine to see ourselves as members of the same team, we’ll be able to face whatever confronts us much stronger. In the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, King Solomon, the writer, says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:12). The third cord is God.

For four years, from 1992 to 1996, David and I battled infertility. Month after month we hoped to be pregnant, and month after month we were disappointed. When we finally did get pregnant, under the care of an infertility doctor, I miscarried. That was certainly a storm we needed to weather together. And it made us stronger.

Strong enough to endure two more miscarriages over the next several years. Strong enough to face David’s chronic ulcerative colitis. Strong enough to weather the storm of my parents’ deaths 16 months apart. Strong enough to handle the divorce of David’s parents after 48 years of marriage.

Storms, whether actual or metaphorical, are a part of life. Without the rain, things don’t grow. Without trials, our character cannot be molded. How we face those storms in tandem living–with perseverance and partnership or anger and an adversarial outlook–determines our ultimate character. Knowing those storms will come, and having whatever tools we need to help us better face them, makes a big difference.

Tandem Living: People Are Watching Us

tandem bike drawingIt never fails: As we’re riding our tandem bike around town, people stare, smile and often comment. Kids especially. They’ve never seen such a thing. One boy exclaimed, “Cool! It’s like two bikes stuck together!” Even construction workers smile at us. There’s something about the retro feeling a tandem bike brings, but I think there’s also the aspect of togetherness that people think is cool. That’s the term we most often hear: Cool.

If, while we were riding along, we suddenly fell into a ditch, or started bickering about which way to go, or stopped altogether and decided not to go on, people would notice. I think what we were doing wouldn’t be seen as quite so cool anymore. Maybe people would decide that riding solo is much better.

We don’t ride our tandem bike to show off to other people. In fact, that has never once entered my mind. “Hey, let’s go take a ride on our tandem so that we can have people think we’re cool and they’ll smile at us and we’ll make them happy.” That would be ridiculous. We ride because we like to do things together, and because it’s fun, and because it’s good exercise.

We didn’t get married so that we could fit into any certain crowd, or get a bunch of gifts, or save on our living expenses. We got married because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives with each other, supporting each other, serving each other. We figured we could be better together than we were apart. But the fact is that people see us. If they know we’re followers of Jesus, they’re looking to see if that makes a difference. According to the statistics, it doesn’t make enough of a difference to most. We pray our marriage is different. We’re committed and we have a lot of help, but ultimately, we can’t make it without the grace and hand of God.

We like it when people comment to us when they see us riding our bike. We like to encourage people to give it a try themselves. We’re happy to help people learn how.

Same goes for marriage. We’d be very happy to mentor engaged or newly married couples. We haven’t really gotten a chance to yet, but we figure we might have some things to share after 22 years. Until that time comes, though, we can certainly do all we can to work on our own relationship and make sure we’re keeping away from the ditches. We know others are watching.

Next: Sometimes you have to weather the storms