We called around and learned that Collins Cycle Shop specializing in tandem bikes. The following day we drove to the shop to see what was in the offing. There were a number of brands–Burley, Co-Motion, Garcia, among others, as well as several models of each.
“They cost too much,” Barb protested.
“Of course they are costly,” Tom, the manager, stated, “but it’s not a dead expense such as a car is that begins depreciating the moment you sign the papers and then continues to cost with fuel, insurance, maintenance, and such. A tandem is an investment in your future. It’s a machine you’ll enjoy together for many years. It promotes teamwork as well as good health.”
“That may be well and good, but we simply can’t afford own one,” I stated.
He didn’t argue the point. Instead, he suggested that after driving into town we should try one out, recommending we take it for a spin in an alley two doors west of his shop.
Barb agreed that there was no harm is window shopping, so we pushed it to the alley and mounted up. Barb wasn’t keen with the fact she couldn’t see around me. In order to remedy that she leaned out, first to one side and then to the other. The alley was wide enough for two cars to pass. It was even wide enough for a truck and car to pass. But it was not wide enough for us to pedal a tandem.
We offered sincere apologies for wasting his time.
“At least you tried,” Tom said, smiling. In retrospect, I’m certain that he has hosted many wannabes.
After returning home we struggled with the two bikes, but they were simply not the answer. Tom sounded happy to receive our phone call.
He chose a different bike and than suggested we ride it on 14th Street. “It’s always too busy with college students pedaling to and from classes to accommodate automobiles.
Our session might have gone well had it not been for the traffic light. “Keep your feet up,“ I said. She did, but as the light changed to green and I stood on the pedal she put her feet down. I nearly went over the handlebars.
We returned the bike, again offering apologies.
Another week passed. This time Tom called. He’d located a black Burley Samba, a demo straight from the factory. We had to see it, he insisted. So we drove back to the shop.
“A Burley vice president and his wife took this bike on a group tour in Europe. It’s been thoroughly serviced. The wheel have been trued and new tires mounted. Though the name indicates it is a Samba, upgrades have actually changed it into a Duet–lighter, 48-spoke wheels, better pedals, and a pair of high-dollar saddles.” Tom suggested we push it to the river bike path for a spin. “There won’t be much traffic at this hour. Take an hour with it. Take two hours.”
We followed his advice and quickly got the hang of it. I was careful to inform Barb when we were turning and braking. She soon learned to trust me. An hour into our demo ride I started down a gradual incline. Our combined weight caused the bike to gather speed rapidly. I was approaching the edge of my comfort zone when I spotted two women at the bottom of the grade. They were consuming two-thirds of the path which didn’t leave me as much room as I would have liked. I held steady and as we passed I overheard the lady on the outside say, “stay where you are and we’ll be fine.” That was when I realized the one in the middle was blind. Good Lord!
We took the bike home with us.