The OMG Tandem Experience – revisited – Weerribben, NL

I promised to return and blog about this tandem bike experience from earlier this month that is still traumatizing me.

There it stood in front of the camping office the tandem bike.

I was thinking, No problem, I ride a normal bike all the time.

Hubby was blah, blah, blah about how I had to determine if I wanted to be in the front or sitting behind and what each position would mean as far as control.  The control freak in me wants to see what is coming at me and so I opted for the front seat.  Meaning I had control over the brakes and could have a clear view of the road.  The person sitting in the second seat only has to peddle and the handle bars are only there for the “Oh crap” moment (not that it would help in that very moment!).

As we paid the bike rental and the camping host explained that we had to be careful if we went over the narrow bridges along the canal.  I remembered from another visit to the area you really had to be on your best cycle game if you rode on the single path along the canal and over the very small bridges.

Again I thought No problem, I have done that before, not that hard!  Lets just get this done, it is only a bike ride.

The view of the road from the rear passenger

The view of the road from the rear passenger

I have done some pretty cool adventurous stuff in my life.  I mean not many women my age can say they have flown in a helicopter map of the earth, or repelled off of buildings taller than 2 stories or whitewater rafted. So, this experience was not on my radar screen as maybe dangerous or adventurous. It was the very first time I would be riding on a tandem and that is amazing as they seem to be everywhere in this country of Dutch bike riders.

So I climbed on the bike, my hubby climbed on the back and instantly I felt uneasy as I tried to get the bike going.  Managing and balancing my weight on a bike is one thing but now I had another entire adult human behind me and he was giving me instruction.  OMG the front of the bike wobbled, the peddles seemed not to work, I broke out in a sweat.  My heart was the only thing I could hear with a distant sound of my hubby’s voice laughing from the rear of the bike.  Then came our first corner.

Lean into the corner… I faintly heard from the instruction from the rear of the what I now had determined as a death trap.

What the HELL was he thinking?  Was he finally trying to scare the Hell out of me to leave this relationship of 11 years?  There are better ways to get rid of me than to kill me on a bike ride.  I thought as the fear gripped me.

We made it onto the road and I firmly told the rear rider that I was not going along the single bike route that ran next to the canal outside of Kalenberg!

Maybe that is a good idea then.  The rear rider agreed as he now could see how white my knuckles were holding the handle bars.

Then came a car right towards us! I exited the road and quickly stopped!

Trying to calm my nerves after exiting the road

Trying to calm my nerves after exiting the road


What are you doing? 

I am stopping to regroup.  I am sweating, nervous and look my hands are shaking!  Who’s idea was to try this death trap?  Are you out of your mind? What have I done that you want me dead?

Calm down dear, we can wait here for a bit and then we can only take the wide road towards Kalenberg.  I thought you were a Tough Chick?  He stated with a small laugh as I stood there paralyzed by the entire experience so far.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Took a small drink of water and after the few happy snaps (happy for him) to capture the one moment of fear on his partner’s face, my hubby loaded up and we set out again.

This time it was a bit easier.  The breeze coming off the flat reed grasses cooled my sweat soaked clothes and I started to get into a rhythm of peddling with the passenger sitting behind me. I still gripped the handle bars with an unnatural force making my shoulders ache in pain from the stress hold.  Over and over I was making promises with an unknown God to get me safely to our destination.

One of the boat launch sites into the Weerribben along our route

One of the boat launch sites into the Weerribben along our route

More cars passed us and we pulled into Kalenberg and I was never so glad to be off the bike. My hubby seeing that I was a bit frazzled asked if I was ready for a cup of coffee.

Only if it contains a shot of whiskey! What the heck were you thinking with this tandem thing?  Look I am still shaking! as I showed him the proof that my hands were still shaking from the 5km pure terror of the ride.

Kalenberg, having coffee on the dock

Kalenberg, having coffee on the dock

We walked around Kalenberg, sat in the sun along the dock as we drank our coffee (it was a bit early for whiskey and also after consideration – drinking and tandem bike riding might not be a good mix).



The rest of our 20 km bike ride was uneventful through the Dutch countryside and after the coffee I did enjoy the ride a bit more as my confidence built in our ability.  The encouragement from he rear of the bike helped.

More confidant never the end of our 20km ride

More confident near the end of our 20km ride

Maybe he wasn’t trying to get rid of me…

Maybe he was trying to prove to me how much he trusts me as a partner and what a good team we are together and that I shouldn’t doubt it no matter the situation.

Things I learned:

  • Tandem bike riding is not as easy as it looks.
  • You have to have a strong understanding partner or it could end up as a relationship ender.
  • That at 52, I still have things that can scare the heck out of me!
  • That I am not as tough as I think when I can break out in a cold sweat just thinking about riding a tandem.
  • I will never laugh at another couple on a tandem- ever!  I will view them with understanding eyes!
  • That I am safer on my own bike alone…maybe…

Would I recommend tandem bike riding?

I think if you have not tried a tandem bike ride it is an experience like no other.  So, yes, I would recommend as long as you do not have a heart condition, and do not want or need a divorce/relationship ender in your life.


Photo credits on this piece go to my devoted Hubby and tandem passenger.

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