Barb Earns Her Amateur Radio License – 4

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The person occupying the front saddle is usually called the Captain. The person behind is often known as the Stoker (some stokers prefer to be known as the Rear Admiral). Perhaps RA better fits our situation. While I steer, shift gears, and handle the brakes, Barb does more than contribute additional power. She is navigator, photographer, entertainment director, and weapons officer. With the latter means defending us against vicious K-9s (pepper spray) when a loud voice and threatening gestures fail to turn our aggressor. But wait! There’s more.

I’d earned my radio license a number of years earlier. Barb has considered testing for her ticket, but until she became aware of Bicycle Mobile Hams of America did she did not truly put her shoulder to the wheel, as it were, and become KC7BSY. As the holder of a Technician Class, she transmits on the VHF bands and above, offering smaller, solid-state transceivers as well as true mobile antennas. It’s a proven fact that female voices fetch more responses than male. She is often a very busy communications officer,

Once, while pedaling to a distant tandem rally–distant for us–Barb read aloud several chapters from Stephen King’s book, The Shining. Hence, entertainment director. We always thought that would become even more useful, should we find ourselves pedaling across Wyoming or the Dakotas.

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The Team We’ve Come To Be – 3

The following evening we set out from our home in rural Oregon. One would think getting down the road would a simple matter of pedaling, but it became considerably more complicated, causing me to reflect on a distant memory.

Some years prior, long before a tandem bicycle was a consideration, I’d read a rare book published in 1885, entitled Cycling To Canterbury. It was written by Elizabeth Pennell and illustrated by her husband, Joseph.

After their marriage in Philadelphia, the couple traveled to the UK to honeymoon in London and embark on an adventure. Armed with a newly purchased Covington tandem tricycle, they set out for Canterbury, following the course set by Chaucer’s characters in The Canterbury Tales, five hundred years after the fact.

Joseph, an experienced cyclist, was physically fit. Elizabeth, however, was not. She struggled the entire trip learning the ropes and getting in shape. Joseph grew so impatient with her that at least once accused her of back pedaling.

We, too, with our new Burley, struggled while learning the ropes.

Our real test, however, was that of conquering Bailey Hill, an ten percent grade lying between our home and town. For weeks, in spite of our best efforts, we were forced to push our steed to the summit.

We did overnighters, pedaled to picnics, and even shopped for groceries. But not until we’d logged more than two-hundred fifty miles were we triumphant.

From that point on we achieved together what neither of us could do alone.

Ahead stands a hill
I know not its name
Only that the incline
Makes our legs flame.

Now we have started
Climbing this steep knoll
And with each down stroke
The slower we roll.

We continue on pressing
With but one common hope
That we can reach the top
Before we reach our rope.

Ahead lay the summit
And I hear a low sigh
From my faithful stoker
The apple of my eye.

Now we have reached the zenith
And I touch my stoker’s knee
Telling her I am thankful for
The team we’ve come to be.

The Team We’ve Come To Be – 3

The following evening we set out from our home in rural Oregon. One would think getting down the road would a simple matter of pedaling, but it became considerably more complicated, causing me to reflect on a distant memory.

Some years prior, long before a tandem bicycle was a consideration, I’d read a rare book published in 1885, entitled Cycling To Canterbury. It was written by Elizabeth Pennell and illustrated by her husband, Joseph.

After their marriage in Philadelphia, the couple traveled to the UK to honeymoon in London and embark on an adventure. Armed with a newly purchased Covington tandem tricycle, they set out for Canterbury, following the course set by Chaucer’s characters in The Canterbury Tales, five hundred years after the fact.

Joseph, an experienced cyclist, was physically fit. Elizabeth, however, was not. She struggled the entire trip learning the ropes and getting in shape. Joseph grew so impatient with her that at least once accused her of back pedaling.

We, too, with our new Burley, struggled while learning the ropes.

Our real test, however, was that of conquering Bailey Hill, an ten percent grade lying between our home and town. For weeks, in spite of our best efforts, we were forced to push our steed to the summit.

We did overnighters, pedaled to picnics, and even shopped for groceries. But not until we’d logged more than two-hundred fifty miles were we triumphant.

From that point on we achieved together what neither of us could do alone.

Ahead stands a hill
I know not its name
Only that the incline
Makes our legs flame.

Now we have started
Climbing this steep knoll
And with each down stroke
The slower we roll.

We continue on pressing
With but one common hope
That we can reach the top
Before we reach our rope.

Ahead lay the summit
And I hear a low sigh
From my faithful stoker
The apple of my eye.

Now we have reached the zenith
And I touch my stoker’s knee
Telling her I am thankful for
The team we’ve come to be.

Getting Educated – 2

Burley Tandem

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.

Bicycles Revisited – 1

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Barb and I enjoyed a long-term love affair with large motorcycles. One day, we realized that we were missing much of what was truly important to us. We needed to find a way to slow down. Bicycle was the first topic that came to mind.

From the barn, I retrieved a British, 3-speed Dunalt we’d purchased in the West Indies and a Free Spirit 10-speed from Sears. Their condition was appalling–the chains were stiff with rust, the tires were flat and weather checked. Reconditions was beyond my capability, so I loaded them into the pickup and hauled them to a local bike shop.

After returning home, we agreed that we should visit a small, county café located some seven miles to the southwest as soon as the bikes were finished. We’d cycled there before. The course involved a couple of hills, but in all it was a relatively easy trip.

With our bikes in top shape we set out for coffee. I was hardly a mile from home before my legs screamed to go back home. Failure was a bitter pill. Had we waited to long? Had life passed us by?

Unwilling to announce our defeat so early on, we began a physical-conditioning schedule: pedaling a mile on Monday, walking the same mile on Tuesday, then repeating that schedule on Wednesday and Thursday. The speed of our recovery was astounding. At the end of the second week a trip to the café was in order. It was a new beginning.

We branched out, cycling to other destinations. All was well except that our strengths didn’t develop in a linear fashion. While Barb pedaled her heart out I was forever waiting on her. One evening she mentioned that owning a tandem bicycle might solve our dilemma.

That seemed simple enough. “Let’s go buy one,” I said.