A Bicycle Built for Two

Biker humor:  Jack and Jill were riding a tandem up a hill, but making heavy weather of it. At the top, Jack said: I didn’t think we’d make it! Jill replied, Neither did I – what a good thing I kept the brakes on, or we would have slid all the way back down!

While riding my bike on a trail near my home, I have several times passed an older couple coming towards me on a tandem bicycle.  They are always wearing matching outfits.  Last time I saw them it was striped shirts.  Today it was green plaid shirts and jean shorts.

Today my husband and I encountered the couple pulled over; we stopped to see if they needed help.  While the gentleman was putting a bandage on his wife with tape from my husband’s medical kit (their chain had slipped off cutting her leg), I decided my chance had come to satisfy my curiosity.

Previously, my husband and I had debated the age of the riders.  They are gray haired under their bike helmets and sit stooped over the seat and handle bars.  But they are pedaling away.  Turns out they are 78 years old.  And they have been riding like this for 15 years.  Most days, they go for 30 miles.  Thirty miles at any age is quite a ride!  Today they were only planning 25 since that is exactly how many miles it would take to bring their total to 55,555 miles.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Over 55 thousand miles of tandem riding for these senior citizens. (And, they proudly shared that they reached the 55,000 milestone on their 55th anniversary!)

Several thoughts went through my head.  First, my husband and I were clearly slacking with our own rides of between 21 and 25 miles lately.  Second, I saw our future.  Maybe not on a tandem bike, because one of us has control issues.  (Both of us really have control issues but only one of us will admit it and she knows she would not like riding on the back of a bike with no way to steer.)  But still working out and still doing it together.

Maybe hubby and I won’t be biking.  Maybe we will be walking or doing yoga.  Something, anything, for our bodies.   And I hope that we will be young for our years, thanks to taking care of ourselves now.  I love the idea that we will be staying fit together, riding off into the sunset as the music plays.  And at the end of the day we will gently lower our exercise weary bodies into a pair of rocking chairs on our porch overlooking the water as we anticipate a visit with our grandchildren.  (Okay, that part did not run through my mind until I was sitting here typing.  But I like the image.)

Do you have a vision for yourself and your exercise routine years into the future?

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45 Comments

Filed under aging, exercise

45 responses to “A Bicycle Built for Two

  1. Oh. My. Goodness! That is so awesome!

    When my husband and I were in Italy several years ago, we were having breakfast in Florence and we met a couple that was biking through Tuscany, celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, retracing their honeymoon..on bicycle!

    Last year, we were on an Alaskan cruise and there was this ancient couple whooping it up on the dance floor every single night. She was completely decked out..hair, makeup, sexy dress and super high heels.

    My parents go to Hershey every year and there is an elderly couple that does ballroom dancing at the Hershey Lodge every saturday night..they have their hair dyed the same shade of red. My parents see them there year after year.

    I don’t know what my vision is, but I want to be active then..which means I should be now!

  2. Ali

    That is magic! What an amazing couple. Does really make you think into the future and life is really what you make of it. I completely agree with your last statement. I feel the exact same way.

  3. Loved the story. It’s funny, a week or so, while we were biking, DH suggested that we might get a tandem bike. It’s probably so that he doesn’t have to scribe circles down side cul de sacs, waiting for me to catch up, but I HATE the idea. Control issues. He’s much more likely to zip through an intersection, while I’d rather wait for the horizon to be clear of cars. I can just see myself breaking for all I’m worth while he’s trying to blaze new territory. Running doesn’t work at all as he’s way faster than I am. We actually like hiking and walking together–the better to have good conversations–that will probably be our together exercise into our golden years.

    • Karen

      Oh my husband can soooo out ride me but he graciously lets me set the pace. Our rides are much more of a workout for me than for him. We actually workout at home together too: he runs on the treadmill while I plod away on the elliptical next to him. I really like that we workout together – and that surprised me.

  4. You might as well have put, Dear Sharon, on the title of this post since I’m reading it exactly one week before my 55th birthday. Mr. B and I hope to be biking, hiking and traveling pretty much full time 15 years from now. My first challenge is getting him to agree to retire! Looking at the longevity of our parents and barring tragedy, that should happen especially if we take care of ourselves. Let’s just agree that 15 years from now, we’ll plan a group ride in a central location, admire each others slim and trim bodies, then ride off in the sunset on our NOT-TANDEM bikes!! (I’m with you and Tish on the tandem thing.) I’ll be able to keep up with the date – it’ll be exactly one week before my 70th birthday!

    BTW, how kind of you to engage that couple in conversation. I bet it totally made their day to have someone express an interest and be able to share their story.

    Sorry for the long comment – couldn’t resist!!

  5. Great story!!! Imagine the trust ad compatibility which has to be cultivated from all of those miles together!

    When I turned 40, I took the day off and performed a long list of fitness related things which included running, lifting, biking, and surfing. I wrote down all I did and how well I did it. At the end of the day I put the list in my desk, and swore I would repeat everything I did, and just as well, on my 50th birthday.

    I will let you know how it goes in about 10 months….

  6. sunnydaze

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this story! It made me smile and warms my heart! Not only does their exercise together keep them young and fit, it’s probably part of the reason that they have been together for over 55 years. I love that the husband was the one bandaging his wife’s leg, too. So sweet.

    I keep telling myself that if I ever meet someone again that he must be someone who exercises regularly so that we can push each other to stay fit because my couch potato days are over and I don’t want a lazy man dragging me down. LOL

    • Karen

      I think at our age it is probably more important because if he is not exercising yet, he probably is not going to change. Of course, many of us are late exercise bloomers.

  7. That’s 30 miles, not 30 minutes? I feel so inadequate!

  8. Genie@dietof51

    Very interesting stuff to learn about your fellow bikers!

    My future vision for exercise is power-walking on Crescent Beach in Sarasota, FL. (No, we don’t have a condo there, and we can’t afford to retire there, but I can dream!) And, maybe water aerobics. If I can ever get over that swim suit thing….

  9. Great story! And so lovely that they’ve been doing this for so long.

    I got a big yuk about the “control” issues – my husband and I can’t even work in the kitchen at the same time. The only thing he does is make great salads, but if I come in and start doing something else, he gets a bit huffy and says, “Leslie, you asked me to do this…”. So when I hear about couples who can partner that way, it makes me wistful. But hubster is a great guy, and I’m usually the major controller who KNOWS who wears the pants in the family. Thanks for posting this.

    Oh – my husband would love for me to take up golf so we could do it together. NO WAY. Boring, and he’s been tireless in his “helping” me.

    • Karen

      Well since my husband reads this I will just keep my mouth shut! He and I both tried golf lessons. Fortunately he does not like it anymore than I do.

  10. Oh my goodness what a great story (reminder) that we all need to stay active in order to live longer.smile.

  11. I LOVE this story! I am going to have to think about the lesson.

  12. I think this is a really great story!

    AND I have visions of me teaching my kids how to do a three-legged race, how to roll down a hill, and how to play hopscotch. All the stuff that is active FUN kid stuff…I want to be an active mom.

    I want them to know that activity is fun. 🙂

    • Karen

      I think that is a great plan. I was not active when my kids were young; I didn’t started exercising until later in life. Sometimes my husband will suggest the idyllic image of having our boys bike with us to some picnic destination but I see an image of them complaining the whole way. Some day I may have to post about the year we did a 5K walk on Father’s Day. It was not pretty.

  13. Couples like that inspire me and lift me up! It’s all in the attitude!

    With there being no Mr.Tippy Toe on the immediate horizon, I picture my future riding or walking or lifting solo. It’s nice for controlling the pace, not so nice if I need a bandage applied or break my hip 1.75 miles from my car. 🙂

    Whatever the future holds, it will be wonderful!

    • Karen

      I soooo thought of your story today when my hubby got his flat tire and I rode back to the car for the big bike pump, then rode back with it precariously perched on my handlebars.

  14. I actually think I’m going to cry! That is the sweetest story I’ve ever heard! Me and my hubby love playing tennis – it’s so much fun being healthy together. That sounds weird, but I really enjoy just getting out and getting exercise with him!

    Great story!

    • Karen

      Not weird sounding to me at all. When my hubby and I started riding together a few years ago, I loved that we had that as something we did, the two of us.

  15. I loved this since I am a lot closer than some of you! 🙂

    Me, I am going to be one weight pounding & lifting old mama! 😉

  16. Karen, this is my favorite post that you’ve written. I love the story of the cyclists and how it makes you think of the future ahead for your family with fitness. My goal is to be active for the rest of my life. Fifteen years ago, that meant gleefully spending 2 hours or more at the gym on the weekends punching it out as hard as I can. Now, it is more about balance…pilates and strength training is as important as cardio. When I’m in my 70’s, 80 and hopefully way beyond then, I want to be the fit woman at the gym who seems much younger because of my vitality.

    • Karen

      I agree that those other pieces of exercise are important and become more so as we age. How about Tai Chi?

      There are some women at my gym who are in their 70s and taking classes. One woman, in her 60s, did cycling class with her arm in a cast because she was planning a ride across Colorado with her grown son soon!

  17. Awwwww!!! Isn’t love grand???

  18. That is so sweet.

    I could never ride with anyone of one of those bikes. I’m a major control freak….I have a hard enough time being the passenger in a car…seriously.

  19. Before reading your wonderful post, I didn’t have a vision for myself (or for my husband and me together). I’d better get crackin’ on that, as I’m only a few weeks from turning 68. Amazing how the miles can add up when one rides every day! I love this story… and am inspired to at least think about 5 years from now.

    The only vision I do have is to walk 68 miles during the week of my birthday… 68 miles on the roads of the island where I live. That will be quite a challenge because right now I’m suffering plantar fasciitus (heel pain) which gets horrible when I walk very for more than 10 minutes. Might load up on Ibuprophen and try it anyway.

    • Karen

      Ouch! My husband had that a few years back and I remember him trying so many things to heal. (No bad pun there.) That is quite a goal and I hope you get a chance to meet it, but maybe you should delay it until the pain is gone.

  20. My husband and I were just talking about bike riding with the kids when they are a little older. We run now but are foreseeing knee and hip problems later in life. Thinking bike riding might be less demanding then pounding the pavement? Guess only time will tell….this was such a sweet story. Glad I stopped by from LBS. Have a great weekend.

    • Karen

      I do think it is easier on many body parts! I started more seriously when I had foot issues from step aerobics. The bike is pretty much non-impact. (Except when I fall.)

  21. Joy

    Right now, my husband and I each try to jog a few times a week. We can’t go together though because I’m so incredibly slow. I think I could speed-walk faster than I jog. But I hope that one day, when I am faster and the kids are old enough to leave alone in the house (will that happen? I hope so!) we could go together. And if our knees don’t hold out, at least we could walk with our dog. I love hiking, but he loves his air conditioner more, so I’m not sure if we’ll ever do that together.

    Great to meet you! Found you from Lady Blogger Society.

    P.S. I was hoping you’d ask why they wear matching outfits. 🙂

    • Karen

      I didn’t think to ask that but I can tell you that the husband, who did all the talking pretty much, told us that he and his wife are both twins! I wonder if they dressed matching when there were growing up.

  22. Hello, I’m here from Lady Blogger’s Tea Party. I enjoyed your post, especially since my husband recently bought a bike for me! You’ve inspired me to ride my bike even more. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Linda at Bar Mitzvahzilla

    Karen, love the sheer romanticism of the couple riding for so many years and, literally, so many miles! I always tell my husband that we need to take a yoga class together or something, but he has thesebguy legs that really don’t bend! He’s a committed swimmer and I’m a committed Jazzerciser, though the other day we were both riding exercise bikes next to each other for awhile!

    • Karen

      Mine tried yoga with me this past winter when I first started, and liked it! Then he tried pilates with me! I think it helped that there were some other guys there now and then.

  24. Dropping in from Lady Bloggers Society. Love your romantic story of the bikers. Makes me want to get my bike out of the cobwebs…after this heatwave subsides. Enjoying your blog and looking forward to exploring further. Thanks!

  25. Awww! If I weren’t a bitter divorcee, I’d find this sweet. It’s sweet anyway!

  26. I think about it a lot when I’m walking and I see an older woman. I’ll be doing that. I could never do a tandem with my husband. Great story!

  27. I like that story Karen! I love to see older people exercising together! I see them at the gym sometimes, or outdoors walking holding hands. That’s what I want to be like with my husband. I could picture us still playing tennis together when we’re older too!

  28. My husband and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary in a few weeks, and we’ve decided to make it a tradition to do a race (or something active) every anniversary. This year it’s a bike race, which neither of us have done before!

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