Upon the seat of a bicycle built for two

I have a minute here to write the promised story of my ride through Stanley Park on a tandem bike.

A few years ago I read an essay somewhere–can’t for the life of me remember where–about how a tandem bike ride nearly destroyed a marriage. It was an amusing article, as I recall and it seemed credible. Yet, I did not consider the possibility that it could happen to me. After all I’ve been married for 25 years and my husband and I are both experienced cyclists, riding almost daily in good weather.

It shouldn’t be all that different to ride one bike with two seats. If you believe that, you’ve never ridden a tandem. Here’s the truth–it’s a tricky adjustment. We rented the thing on an impulse when we spotted a bike shop on our way to walk through Stanley Park. We considered renting two bikes when we spotted the tandem and decided that would be more fun.

Now, the store owner knows better. He offered–multiple times–to let us try the bike before we committed to it. But we both said we were happy and would take the beast, er tandem bike. So, after finding helmets that fit and adjusting the seats, we hopped on expecting to zoom down the trail. Instead we started to wobble like a first time rider. I honestly thought we might go down. After rolling ten yards or so, we did get going, but it was very awkward.

Vancouver 09 Part Deux

On the back seat, I immediately found that I couldn’t see and had absolutely no control. The front seat steers, brakes and controls the pedals. In the rear all you can do is follow. You must pedal when he pedals and stop pedaling when he stops. This makes perfect sense since the rider in the rear really can’t see very well. It would be silly if the driver put the brake on and the rear passenger kept pedaling.

So–here is the test of the marriage. Riding in the rear I was forced to have complete trust in my husband. He was kind enough to offer to switch places half-way through, but I declined. There was no way I could straddle the bar in the front. The smaller rider is meant to be in the rear.

As we made our way around the trail, we both relaxed and found our balance.I learned to trust and he learned to keep me informed of what was ahead. Each time we stopped for a picture, we improved until we made stops with ease. And then at the end of the trail when we remounted the bike and headed back to the bike shop we experienced a smooth, perfect launch without a wobble. It was exhilarating.

Yes, a ride on the tandem bike is truly a test of marriage. A small test. We’ve experienced many more serious wobbles and even some crashes. It’s the love and trust that enable us to pick the bike up, dust ourselves off and find the joy of riding together.


  1. Great site. Plentyy off useful info here. I am sending
    it to several friesnds ans also sharing in delicious.
    And of course, thanks on yourr sweat!

  2. chrisrust says:

    Hi Teresa, thanks for this. My partner and I are seriously thinking about a tandem as we approach retirement so it was interesting to read your comments. Yesterday we went for a first try of the machine we are thinking of, which solves the problem of the person on the back seeing mainly the pilot’s back so you might find it interesting.

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