Bicycle built for two

We finally rode that tandem bike . Yep, it had to be put off by yet another weekend, because John had forgotten about his out-of-townness last weekend.

How did we do?  Well, we got the thing rolling pretty well and managed to ride it with a fair degree of success around the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, and Tidal Basin (hullooo, Mr. Jefferson).  We managed to not kill, maim or otherwise injure ourselves, the people who stared at us while walking into our path (ummm… would you walk in front of a moving bicycle with one person on it?  Okay – double the mass: NOW would you walk in front of it?  Apparently, for many tourists in the Washington DC metro area, the answer to that question is a zombielike, "Yessss…. must walk in front of long bicycle…."), and in one gobsmackingly awful moment, a boy of 12 or so on a regular bike who navigated by a cunning sort of scrying of the ground directly under his own feet and managed to jackknife his bike facing us about five feet away in a crowded scrum of other bikes and pedestrians.  (As we rode past the rest of his family, his older sister said, "I am so sorry," with a stricken look on her face that bodes well for her citizenship in the human race.)

Cap’n John had an able hand on the tiller and managed to avoid all of these perils.  I acted as "stoker," pedaling along and making "eeyikes" faces when various perils were before us.

Quieter monuments, like the George Mason, were havens for long-bicycle freaks, and represented the only point at which I even felt like taking out the camera:

John with George Mason

It was a really pretty day, though hot.

I love a pergola.

Here’s the beast:

Da Tandem

The verdict: though we rode it well, it was really uncomfortable.  The handlebars of the stoker’s seat are arranged so they are neither the full drop of a road bike, nor the "sit up and beg" of an old-fasioned bike.  The intermediate position is really hard on the arms, back, and shoulders.  The length and limited maneuverability make for less fun as well.  We decided we’d probably have a much better time just getting up early on a cool fall weekend, loading our own bikes onto Metro (which allows bikes on board on weekends) and tooling around the monuments on our nimbler two-wheelers.

But it was fun enough, and now we can say we did it without any damage to our relationship.


  1. It was Code Red today! But yeah, if you’re not on a bike trail, separate bikes are probably better.

    Marilee J. Laymans last blog post..Hybrids by Robert Sawyer

  2. I’ve often thought that a tandem bike is a good test of a marriage. But Dave and I could do the bike, but not the marriage. So another perfectly good hypothesis dashed! ;) A perfectly comfortable tandem is WAY more expensive than two comfortable single bikes. So, yeah…that’s what I’d do too.

    Andreas last blog post.."Meeting" my Needs

  3. I always wondered what it would be like to ride one of those. Thanks for your review. I think I will stick to a one person bike.

    cicis last blog post..In Progress ……SOS Round 2

  4. The allure of a tandem bike simply eludes me–one of the things I love most about cycling is its solitary nature—

    But if you guys decide to give it another go, I did change out my handle bar recently from the style you describe to a more of a mountain bike straight rod with bar end grips—lots of good hand position and control of back position, too. It was a good move.

    khms last blog post..It’s Been….

  5. Thanks Kathy – we won’t be trying that particular exercise again, but it was definitely interesting!