2012-05-03 / Lifestyles

Bicycle built for view

Lois A. Corcoran

“I don’t stink, do I?” asked Dan as we cruised around on our bicyclebuilt for-two. He played “captain” while I, the “stoker,” sat downwind.

“Not too much!” I yelled back.

Like us, there’s nothing fancy about our hundred-dollar tandem. In fact, it’s kind of an eyesore with its dull red finish and no-nonsense milk crate fastened to the back. Maybe that’s why it elicits so much attention.

Whatever the reason, plenty of people stop and stare as if we just rode in from Mars. Others smile and wave as we ride by. Too bad traffic is not as receptive. Perhaps I should wear a “Slow Moving” sign for impatient types. Or possibly “Wide Load”.

Tandems aren’t for everyone. Unlike regular bikes, they require a serious team effort. Partners must get along well or at least fake it until they get home. Pedaling off in opposite directions is not an option.

A fellow tandem owner said his bike “led to massive arguments, and now [it] never leaves the shed.”

We have yet to experience any serious blow-outs, knock on wood. At 50-something, we use our wheels solely for local yard sales, and cart home our newly acquired junk.

Still, we must synchronize our efforts. The captain holds the bike steady, and the stoker brings the pedal to an upright position for take-off. She also serves as the official Backseat Driver, hollering helpful suggestions like “Slow down!”

Every movement affects steering, so looking over one’s shoulder is a serious no-no. With no one to supervise, the stoker can -- and does -- take periodic coffee breaks. Maybe her title should be “slacker” instead.

Given the passenger’s lack of vision, the captain must warn of bumps, etc. in the path. He may enjoy the best view, but he also functions as a bug shield.

Meanwhile, the stoker’s view never really changes. I’d like one of those tandems with back-to-back seating so we could both enjoy the scenery. They should call that a bicycle built for view.

Chen Yugang went one better. The tandem he invented features rotating seats. Sweethearts so inclined can ride face-to-face. (But who watches the road?, I wonder.) One can reverse that seating, says Yugang, “for when you fight and don’t want to look at each other.”

So we may trade ours in for that model.

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