John and Noel Riding in Tandem

Here are some random lessons learned last week riding along the Cannon Valley Trail behind my husband on a bicycle built for two:

  • If I throw my weight around, we wobble and swerve.
  • My initial “seasickness” eases when I quit resisting and let him lean the bike into curves and turns in the path.
  • I often feel as if I’m not really adding much to the effort. But I must be doing my part, because if I lift my feet, he feels it and asks, “Are you still there?”
  • My instinct is to press harder on the pedals to make sure I’m carrying my share of the load. But when I do, he says, “Slow down. Don’t push me so fast.”
  • Looking over his shoulder, I can see a lot of what he sees, but not what’s immediately in front of us. Good thing he’s the one steering, braking, and changing gears. On the other hand, I’m more free to look around and point out the mile markers and the turtles basking on a log.
  • I can’t brake or steer, but I do have the power to stop the bike and ruin the ride. If I stand still on the pedals and refuse to move, he can’t make them turn.
  • I love it when we’re on level ground and using a gear that sets a slow, steady pedalling that surges us forward. But I need warning when he changes to a setting that requires fast foot strokes. When I’m caught off guard, my feet are slung from the pedals and it’s a trick to get them back in place without snarling the progress up a steep hill.
  • When I realize I’m gripping the handlebars, I have to remind myself, “Let go! You’ve always wanted to ride ‘no hands.’ Now you can!”
  • When I’m ready to turn back, he’s aiming for one more mile marker. When I’m ready to finish easy, he says, “Let’s see if we can beat our record.” With that kind of encouragement, I do what never would have happened if I’d been on my own.
  • Near the end, when I see one more hill, I open my mouth to say, “Let me off. I’ll walk up.” Then I realize how foolish we’d look, me plodding alone and him trying to keep the bike going by himself. So I shut up and keep pedaling.
  • And I discover that, when we pedal together, impossible inclines become possible.

Perhaps the 19th century songwriter was wiser than he knew when he created a marriage proposal that said, “You’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.” It makes me think of what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”