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?