Thursday, March 18, 2010

Brainstorming makes my butt sore

Five years ago, Pythagoras sat me down for the all-important talk.

“You’re turning 30 soon,” he informed me as though this might have escaped my attention. “What do you want for your birthday?”

I thought about it for a minute. A woman only turns 30 once, after all. This was my opportunity to request expensive jewelry, or maybe a vacation.

“I want a tandem bike,” I heard myself say.

Pythagoras stared at me. “A tandem bike?”

“Yes, a tandem bike. So we can ride together.”

I could see the wheels turning in his head. They weren’t turning fast enough for his liking.

You may recall from an earlier blog post that Pythagoras is a bit overzealous when it comes to exercise. In an average week, he cycles maybe 250 miles on his own. Last summer when I told him I wanted to visit my parents for a weekend, he was strangely delighted.

“Great idea,” he said. “You drive, I’ll bike.”

It’s 140 miles each way with narrow, winding roads and a 5000-foot mountain pass in the middle. Just a casual bike ride for Pythagoras.

So a tandem bike seemed like a good way to level the playing field. An opportunity for me to cycle with my husband without collapsing on the side of the road and being devoured by buzzards while he programs his cycling computer.

What I didn’t realize five years ago is how many other benefits there would be to tandem bike ownership. Aside from equalizing our differing fitness levels, it also equalizes our marriage.

Pythagoras is not the most decisive man on the planet. Had we not won a wedding twelve years ago, I suspect he’d still be contemplating whether to propose. Every decision – from where to have lunch to which brand of motor oil to purchase – is a major thing for Pythagoras. That means I end up making most decisions in our household.

But not on the tandem.

“Which way, right or left?” he’ll demand as we approach a stop sign.

“You decide!” I sing from the rear of the bike.

“Well where are we going?”

“Don’t know – where are you taking me?”

But even that isn’t my favorite part of tandem bike ownership. No, my favorite part is what I fondly refer to as the bike ride brainstorm.

The bike ride brainstorm works like this: we hop on the tandem, start peddling, and start plotting.

I outline the basics of my story for Pythagoras, and because he’s not able to flee, he’s forced to give the ideas some consideration.

“What do you think?” I’ll shout to my captive audience. “I was going to have the ex-husband should be the winemaker, but would that be weird?”

And Pythagoras will mull it over, making a few suggestions as we chug our way up a hill.

After awhile, he’ll start to get into it. “What if you threw in a twist somewhere near the middle where—“

We’ve been at this for awhile now, so Pythagoras has learned not to be offended when I shoot down eight out of ten of his ideas.

He’s realized by now that I shoot down nine out of ten of my own.

By the time we return home from a 10 or 20-mile ride, we’ll both be sweaty and a little saddle sore from the uncomfortable bike seat. But I’ll also have some element of my story figured out. Maybe it’s just a character trait, or maybe it’s a sticky plot point, but I always come back with something besides an aching butt.

So as our weather turns nice, I find I’m looking forward to tandem bike season once more. I’ve got a new story to plot out, and a whole lot of miles to peddle.

Anyone know where I put my cycling shorts?

21 comments :

Flannery said...

The last time I lost my yoga pants, I found them on a bookshelf wedged behind some Nora Roberts and the seventh Harry Potter book.
So maybe check there?

(Also, love your blog.)

Candyland said...

You're so freakin' cute!

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Wah! I want a tandem bike. Except then I'd have to trade my husband in on one who's willing to peddle me up hills. Sigh. And just when I've got him almost how I want him.

Harley May said...

I adore this. Completely. Can we be neighbors? And I plot while running! Its wonderful that your husband contributes or that you've discovered a way to make him contribute. Teach me your dark ways.

KAK said...

The pic is great. You're all geared up for the ride and P's in cargo shorts and running shoes.

~wiggling fingers~ do not believe the image ~spooky laugh~

Tawna Fenske said...

Flannery, Nora Roberts and Harry Potter, huh? Will check my bookshelf immediately. Hopefully mine yields something similar. Thank you for the suggestion.

Candyland, cute? CUTE?! Who are you calling CUTE?!

Kari Lynn, another great thing about having the husband peddle in front is that he makes a great windbreak. Don't share this with yours if you try to talk him into a tandem.

Harley May, I was planning a follow up blog post tomorrow titled "Brainstorming makes my butt feel good." You'll have to come back tomorrow to find out what that's about :)

KAK, this is because I was actually READY for the ride, but Pythagoras was still hunting for his helmet. And his shoes. And his sunglasses. And his...

Tawna

Candyland said...

Um, you? Sorry, Ms. Fenske,(she says falling to her knees with her head hung low; waving arms as Ms. Fenske pats her head and says "Iss alrighyyt chile. Don't let it hahpin agin").

Ms. Fenske is apprantly Jamaican in my head.

kristina said...

I love the thinking I can get accomplish out on a run. Something about the inherent numerical patterns I start using. (In 1, Out 2, In 3, Out 4, etc.)

Alas, my butt will never look that good, no matter how much I run.

Girl, you be gorgeous! :)

Xuxana said...

You won a wedding? You lucky thing! I'm so jealous. But I shouldn't be. Not even a pre-paid wedding could get my so called fiance to own up!

TMI? Oh well.

*shrugs and blushes*

Linda G. said...

I wanna tandem bike! Okay, mainly so I can sit in back, and only pretend to pedal. Sounds like the perfect way to enjoy a bike ride to me. ;)

Patrick Alan said...

I have concerns about your seeming joy about hubby riding up front and breaking wind.

Patrick Alan said...

I'm sorry, but what part of hubby riding in front breaking wind makes you happy?

Jen said...

You're so fun!!!! I just found your blog and I'm already loving it! And your blog title made me literally laugh out loud, that equaled a must follow immediately!!!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Love it! You need one of those custom made gel seats so it doesn't hurt so bad. ;)

Tawna Fenske said...

Candyland, I've always wanted to be Jamaican! Just not cute.

Kristina, there's definitely something about fresh air and exercise that gets the creative juices flowing. BTW, my butt thanks you for the compliment.

Xuxana, I'm pretty sure I'd still be waiting if it weren't for the phone call that allowed me to say, "honey, we just won a wedding next Friday, want to get married?"

Linda G, I do love the tandem. And yeah, I'll secretly admit I have my moments where I'm not peddling as hard as he is. Don't tell.

Patrick, thank you for filling my weekly quota of fart jokes. Same time next week?

Jen, so glad you're enjoying the blog. Come back tomorrow for "Brainstorming makes my butt feel good."

Karen Amanda, Pythagoras has one of those fancy gel seats on his road bike, and occasionally puts it on my half of the tandem when he's feeling generous. I haven't found it makes a huge difference. Just have to build up the butt callous every year!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Tawna

Rhonda said...

I seriously love the tandem bike! :) I tend to plot when I'm driving (this is not always the safest thing to do) because when I'm biking I'm usually too focused on whether or not my fat, tired butt is about to have a stroke to think about my plotting issues.

LR said...

When we go cycling, my husband always leaves me in the dust and it drives me crraazay!

Once we even lost each other and wound up in two totally different places. Thank God for cell phones.

Patrick Alan said...

I will be back with more fart jokes!

susan said...

Love the husband, bike, pic, post and you.

Tawna Fenske said...

Rhonda, the tandem bike is hands-down the best birthday gift I ever received. I highly recommend it!

LR, I had this same experience with Pythagoras and a cross country ski trip. After awhile, I think he forgot I was even with him. This is why the tandem works nicely. It forces him to stick with me!

Patrick, I think my mom wants to adopt you now. She likes your fart jokes.

Susan, I'm rather fond of all of those things as well (especially me!) Thanks for reading!

Tawna

Melanie Sherman said...

When I was about ten we went to a police auction because they had a tandem bike on the list of auction items. I prayed, actually prayed we'd have the winning bid. We didn't. Just as well. My sister would never have ridden with me and I'd have had to peddle the dang thing myself. Glad you have someone who will actually peddle you around and suffer through the brainstorming sessions. :)