Lean in and let go
you're not in control
I always thought it was a death trap.
Yellow and old with seats side by side, ‘the buddy bike’ sat for years in a dusty corner of the shop.
Ever ridden one?
They’re a tandem bicycle - a bicycle built for two. Only with the buddy bike, the riders sit side by side.
Both riders have pedals and cranks that were connected through a central bottom bracket.
Both have handle bars.
On one side the handle bars control the steering.
On the other side they’re there to give the rider something to hold on to.
And this particular day?
It was a radiant pre-spring Dartmouth day.
It was that day at the end of winter when the sun was out in all its glory. We were wearing t-shirts. Best of all, it was a Friday afternoon.
The mood, was just shy of jubilant. We were popping with giddy excitement.
I always found it alarming. How do you balance that thing?
How do you keep it going?
What happens when you stop?
Pair by pair the crew circled the parking lot.
Finally it was my turn.
“Go with Hank. You two are about the same weight”
For a buddy bike, this ‘similar weight’ was important.
Hank took the steering position. I got on and held my handlebars. They didn’t move at all.
“These are useless,” I announced to the gang.
With a bit of trepidation, off we went. Slowly at first, but with increasing confidence we made our way around the parking lot.
I was terrified. I didn’t know where we were going. I was on a bicycle and I had no control. Nor did I have the intuitive sense of following the rider that you get as a passenger on a motorcycle.
It was like dancing a tango without ever leading, without ever pushing back. My job was merely to pedal and follow.
I let go of the bars and leaned into Hank.
“Pedal. Pedal. Coast. Turning left. Lean in”, said Hank.
I let go of the bars and let out a holler of delight.
The honey-sun of the afternoon and the attention of passersby was overwhelming. I couldn’t help myself. I started to sing at the top of my lungs:
Mommy’s alright / Daddy’s alright / They just seem a little weird / Surrender! Surrender! / but don’t give yourself away!
More laps. More leaning in.
With every trip around the parking lot behind the shop, riding became easier.
Enjoy the ride.
It’s like the old saying goes:
You’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.