I mentioned that while I was in Fort Myers I would be taking the challenge of my first Tandem bike ride; just one more simple task to cross off my bucket list. But I was certain it would a piece of cake compared to the 13,000 feet jump from the airplane that I would be making the following day.
My cousin, Keith, seen below wearing a "Team Leapfrog" shirt as a proud new member of my team for the Bike To The Bay, thought it would be a great idea to ride this crazy two person bike in the Critical Mass bike ride they were holding in down town Fort Myers the night I got in town, because it would be a lot more relaxing for me than a single rider bike.
For the record... It. was. not! At least not at first... As soon as I got on this contraption I had the feeling that it might not end well... I think my exact words were "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!" I saw a major case of road rash in my future!What's the problem you ask?? I mean after all, it's just a regular bike only it had two wheels, two seats, two sets of pedals and made for two people. That would mean twice the man power and a chance for a rest every now and again.
That was the furthest from the truth. This bike was a real mental workout more than anything. Sure, seeing all the cool bikes with their colored lights and the Fort Myers sky line was amazing, but I'm not gonna lie; making that first turn of the pedal, in the dark, and not having control of where we were going, or when we would stop, was enough to freak anyone out. If you could imagine riding a bike while blindfolded; yea, like that... As nervous as I was about sky diving the next morning, I was thinking that would be less dangerous.
We know tandem means two people/one bike; and though my pedals were on the same chain as Keith's, the brakes and steering was all his, and I had no control. But that didn't stop me from trying to be a back seat driver...
Being that it was dark and I couldn't see what was ahead of me I had to go simply by my gut feeling. If Keith started to turn right, I would lean to the left so we didn't tip over. I know this is totally wrong, and I'm sure I was driving Keith crazy; but in my mind we were tipping, and I was just trying to straighten us out.
The beginning of this ride was like a three ring circus. It's true, the average person starts to pedal with their right foot, but you know I am anything but average. My left foot is the strong one, so every time Keith started on his right we had to back up and bring the left pedals up to the top and start over. And it wasn't long before I was yelling STOP! STOP! STOP!! My shoe lace was caught on the pedal. This was becoming a real side show:) Keith got off and freed my shoe lace from the pedal and in the attempt to avoid a repeat performance, strategically tied them in quadruple knots. we were not doing this again...
Oh, that little nap I planned to get in was out of the question. I soon discovered that there would be no slacking for me what so ever. Being that the back pedals were connected to the front pedals I was going to pedal whether I wanted to or not.
The half way point of this 13 mile ride took us to the Edison Center; and as the group of riders congregated for a quick pit stop, I was mesmerized by the gazillion colored lights.
While we were on our brief break, one of the other riders came up and tried to convince Keith that I wasn't pedaling; obviously she was joking, and we all knew that was impossible. Believe me I tried...:)
This bike ride was a true test on my part. We finally got into our groove, but it didn't happen until I trusted that Keith wasn't going to let us fall or crash. At one point backing up the pedals got old, and Keith told me being that I'm not that big, he could just hold the bike up without me putting my feet on the ground when we stopped. I really liked this idea; of course I could have taken offense to his backhanded compliment "THAT big"... but hey, if it gave me some "slacker" time I didn't care what he called me:)
By the time we had finished this ride I had learned that this wasn't about riding a tandem bike at all; it was about putting my trust in someone else. And once I gave in to the fact that our fate was out of my hands, I was actually very comfortable riding this bike. In fact, I could have very easily closed my eyes (I think I did once or twice...) I even began to lean right as we were turning right... funny how that works...
My whole life seems to be like that tandem bike ride; I try so hard to control my own destiny; but sometimes I just have to hand over the reins and put my trust in someone else. It might not be the path I planned, but I have faith that in the end it will all be okay.
Have a great day!!