Thursday, 24 November 2011

A bicycle made for two

As a birthday treat for me, we decided to hire a tandem.   The day before my birthday my Mum dropped us off at the hire shop, leaving us to ride the tandem back. I was very excited but really REALLY anxious as I've never been on one before. I don't ever remember being so nervous about anything! I felt SICK!

There was no time for nerves though -
we were in a busy car park with loads of people around us, so I just had to get on and ride. No time for panic attacks!  As we attempted to set off we noticed that the pedals were out of sync. This made it pretty tricky when trying to set off; not sure why we didn't just sort it out there and then, but instead, the bike hire guy held me and the bike upright and then Mikey was in charge. Hehehehe! We were off!

Arrrghhhh! Then panic hit as we had to stop and do a right turn out of the car park and on to the main road.  Eek! How the hell do we stop? I just didn't know what to do.  I hated having no brakes of my own, so I dragged my foot on the floor. Ooops, this made steering difficult for Mikey and when we did finally stop I flew straight off the saddle into his back!

Somehow, after safely making it across the junction, we successfully set off again! Hahaha! Now we were moving it was fun, but I was soon petrified again as I quickly noticed that as my right foot went forward Mikey's right foot came back. One slip on the pedal could have ended in disaster! After turning off the main road, we stopped (again I hurtled into Michaels back on stopping) and Mikey did a quick repair. He also sorted out my handlebars which were slightly askew and making me feel like we were steering/leaning to the left constantly. Yay! With all the adjustments made I felt a little more relaxed. Weee! This was fun. Eek!... Hang on.... there were now some tricky tight sections of bridleway to navigate (with bollards to weave through). I bottled it!

By the time we made it home, I was feeling slightly more calm and looking forward to my birthday adventure. However, more practise really was needed so I would be confident on the birthday ride. We really needed to master the stopping and setting off. Something that is so damn easy on a normal bike.

We went out for another pootle.  After nipping down the road to drop something at my Mum's we attempted to get back up the hill, but on setting off uphill and trying to negotiate all the parked cars and the moving traffic, disaster struck and we nearly took a tumble. It really knocked my nerves and after three more failed attempts I'd completely lost my nerve! In temper I demanded we set off down the hill instead and amazingly we took off straight away. Phewph!

Trouble was, downhills on the tandem were horrific. Being the co-pilot I had no control over the speed and it always felt far too fast. I squealed all the way down every hill and even shut my eyes on some!

Other than that things were becoming a little easier. The strangest bit was that I had to do the opposite thing to what I'd normally do to balance a bike. As the rear of the tandem is more jumpy I had to counteract that jumpyness by balancing my weight in the opposite way to what felt normal. Once I'd mastered this it became a bit easier and Michael said that it became smoother for him to steer and balance at the front.

The other issues to quickly overcome were learning Mikeys cycling habits, as a seasoned athlete (ahem!) he rides considerably differently to me and at first cornering was tricky as unlike me he pedals all the way through a corner whilst normally I'd freewheel into it and then pedal out.

Thankfully, we finally mastered the stopping malarkey.  I just had to put all my faith into him and let him stop and let the bike come to a complete halt before putting my foot down. It was really difficult, but somehow I got to grips with it.

The highlight of the ride for me was a very steep hill, its a tricky little hill, nicknamed b*****d hill for its sheer steepness, usually it kills me.  Before getting the tandem, I'd heard that going uphill was tricky, due to the weight of the heavy tandem and the extra rider weight, but so far we had conquered every hill with ease, but this one would be different. This hill was steep and usually required getting out of the saddle to "dance" up it. I knew there was no way that we were good enough to co-ordinate that. I was anxious. Why the hell were we attempting it? There's a slight run up; with a short downhill, but usually even that momentum can't get you over a quarter of the way up. My heart started to sink. But then as we pedalled hard, we started to fly. I started to laugh. It was definitely nerves I was still pedalling hard. We were over halfway now. Normally by here, I'm breathless and out of the saddle. The laughing became hysterical.... but we continued pedalling upward. Mikey wasn't sure if I was hyperventilating or laughing. Neither was I!? We got to the top and I was still laughing. I couldn't breath any more, but it was not due to over exertion it was the laughing!

We got home with about 15miles on the clock. I was a happy bunny. It hadn't been easy but it had been good fun. I still had a lot to learn, but the birthday ride the following day should be easier.

Sadly the following morning was busy, seeing the rellies and doing birthday stuff and by the time we finally got out at about 2 the heavens had opened. The sky was grey and it was WET. We attempted to go out on the tandem, but it was awful. We didn't even make a third of a mile before I gave up. The wet roads were hellish and the back wheel kept skidding; everything I'd learnt yesterday about the weight distribution didn't work.

I screamed all the way out of the village, before getting off and stomping back up the hill on foot!

After sulking for a few minutes I decided that we would still go on our annual birthday ride to the beach for cake, but JUST not on the tandem! After all I had new VeloCake bike kit to wear. ;-)


trio said...

Totally fab!

SS:Mntbiker\Olskoolrodder said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY,my friend (unless I misunderstood?)!

I've never ridden a tandem either,this was a very interesting read,and thnks for the laughs,my wife kept going "Shh! I can't hear the show" LOL!