|On a Bicycle Built For Two|
Friday, August 19, 2011
Although not exactly on any sort of “Bucket list”, riding a tandem bicycles is something I have never done, and to be truthful, it wasn't really something I wanted to experience, but when after wandering Mackinac Island on foot for a while I was noticing all the tandem bicycles, and so I guess I must have been susceptible to suggestion, because when Regis started thinking aloud about how we should spend our time on the island, I suggested perhaps we try a tandem bicycle.
To step back a bit, you should know something about Mackinac Island. (Pronounced Mackanaw). This is our third trip to this area, and our second trip to the island. The last time we were here was with the children and we had our own bikes, and we enjoyed a ride around the entire island. The island is about a mile from shore in Lake Michigan, and is about 8 miles around by bicycle. Actually bicycle is the only practical way around the island, because there are no vehicles except fire engines on the island. No cars, no motorcycles, no trucks. They use horse & buggies, and bicycles. If you want to learn more about the Island, I do intend to write another blog about it. It is a spot that deserves a blog entry.
Anyway, after exploring the town and having lunch with Dad & Sharon we decided to go our separate ways. An interesting expression, since Regis & I actually ended up very much attached together.
There are many bike rental places all over the little seaside town where the ferry docks, and we scouted them all out. The prices seemed the same, but the quality of the bikes was not, so we chose a place that seemed to have newer bikes, and upon closer inspection we found they had not only traditional tandem bikes but also newer “multi-speed” models for only $3.00 more. We chose this type, and after getting everything adjusted up for us we were ready to set out around the island.
Now a “bicycle built for two” has to be ridden by two people. That means one person steers, but both have to pedal. To make it work properly you have to work together. It is not as easy as it sounds. Just getting started takes co-ordination, and with so many other inexperienced bike riders also trying to get the handle on riding bikes, the area around the bike rental shops is a bit crazy. You start, wobble back and forth across the road, trying not to hit the other wobbling bikes until you sort of get the hang of it.
Now for those of you who know Regis, you know that she likes to be in control, but she had a glass of wine for lunch, so allowed me to have the handlebars that actually turned the tire. It took a while before she actually gave up control however, and we had to stop at least once to readjust her “stationary” handlebars back to the right spot – I think she was trying to steer. I could feel her tensing up and leaning against my steering and trying to balance on her own. Once she relaxed and allowed me to steer, we did the eight miles around the island with no problem. We had a few stumbles as I shifted gears without her knowing, or she stopped peddling without telling me. but generally we worked it out. She had to keep peddling when I did, so this kept her from falling asleep like she did on the motorcycle one time, and we got a nice work out as a result.
I don't think I'll go out and buy a tandem bike just yet, but it was a fun experience.