Cycling Into The Sunset – part 1

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Barb and I on McKinzie Summit, Oregon,

in the summer of 1990

Barb and I love our tandem bike. We still own it. But in recent years Barb has developed arthritis in her knees and I haven’t grown any younger. So we’ve set it aside for now. Maybe we can give it another whirl during our next lifetime?

We’d been married thirty plus years when we realized our health and stamina were going that-a-way. Maybe cycling would correct the situation? It was worth a shot. We owned a couple of bikes we’d brought back from Puerto Rico – a British Danault 3-speed, and a Sears Free Spirit 10-speed. They’d been stored in the barn so long that the tires were flat and the chains were rusted. We hauled them to local bike shop for repair. Two days later we had them back, and we were ready to take up where we’d left off, who remembers when.

Our first destination was a small country cafe some 12 miles distant. We’d pedaled there before. It was a piece of cake. We couldn’t wait to get started.

We were less than a mile from home when my legs were screaming to return home. Obviously, we needed to enlist a more modest approach. Following an old adage: you can’t eat an elephant in one bite, we began a series of short rides, building our strength and endurance by the inch.

But after a few weeks another problem presented itself. I was gaining these physical attributes more rapidly. If I didn’t wait on Barb she pedaled her heart out. In short, she wasn’t having much fun. We soon agreed that a bicycle-built-for-two would solve the problem.

We found a bicycle store specializing in this type of bikes, as well as a manager with some tandem bicycle racing experience. We weren’t interested in the speedy part, but we could certainly use his long bike knowledge.

He was a big man with a large voice. After patiently listening to our problem, he pulled a Burley Tandem off his display rack. We were stunned at the cost, and I told him so. Undaunted, he said at this point the price didn’t matter and he encouraged us to take it out for a spin, suggesting a deserted alley two doors to the west.

The alley was deserted, as he predicted. I was a bit wobbly, balancing for two. I told her it was nothing to be concerned about. She didn’t share my confidence, and pointed out that she had no brake leaver. She couldn’t even steer the stupid thing from her so called “Stoker Seat”.

“I’ll do the braking and steering for us both,” I assured her.

She didn’t buy into any of that mumble jumbo. She wanted to see where we were going, and then complicated matters by leaning to the left to see around me. Realizing what was happening, she tried the other side.

The alley was wide enough for a truck and car to pass, but not,wide enough for us to pedal a bicycle.

I know he was disappointed when we pushed the bike back to his store, but I’m sensed he’d seen all of this before.

[More to come in part two]

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