Last summer my wife Nettie suggested we try tandem bicycle riding. Now we ride most Saturday mornings for a coffee at our local bakery.
To find out about Nettie’s passion for tandem riding, I asked her some questions.
Ben: What do you like about riding a tandem bicycle?
Nettie: Lots of things: it’s fun getting out in the fresh air doing something together that we both enjoy. It’s relaxing. We can go as far as we like or as short as we want.
Ben: So how did you come to start riding a tandem?
Nettie: I was on holidays and came across a video of an older couple in Europe doing a tandem bike ride together.
I thought that’s something I’d like to do when I’m older. But then I thought I can actually do it now. It’ll be fun.
I wondered if we could try out a tandem. The next weekend we took a hire tandem bicycle for a test ride. We followed the Yarra River, had lunch at Southbank and got ice cream at St Kilda beach.
Ben: And what was that first time like?
Nettie: It was exciting because it was something new. And it was kind of scary at the same time because I thought how are we going to start riding this bike? But thankfully I googled a YouTube clip. And we did alright on our first day (big smile).
Ben: So what’s it like riding with another person?
Nettie: I like the conversations we have. And you feel like you’re actually having the whole experience together.
One person’s not riding off ahead and the other’s trying to pedal up. We’re actually riding together.
Communication is really important. The stoker – the person at the back who pedals – needs to be in tune with the captain – the person at the front who steers – so they are aware of what’s ahead.
Ben: Have you had any memorable experiences?
Nettie: On our first ride we were going up a small hill on a shared path and I thought I needed to put on a little bit more power.
On top of the hill we had to stop suddenly for some walkers and you nearly went over the handlebars.
Ben: What advice would you give to someone considering riding a tandem bicycle?
Nettie: Give it a go. It’s fun. It’s a positive experience. It hasn’t broken up our marriage. It has enhanced it.
I’ve been thinking about future adventures. I would love to go to Holland: it’s where my father’s from, the roads are flat and it’s made for bicycles.
I feel there’s a level of safety there, and understanding of bikes. It’ll be a really nice place to ride around.
Ben: What do your friends think about it?
Nettie: Oh, they love it. They want to see more of our experiences on our bike I call ‘Tandi’. They think it’s really fun, inspiring. I think they want to go and try it out as well.
By Ben Shue