Tandem riding is exhilarating. If you want to feel what it is like to ride at the speed Bradley Wiggins zips round a time trial course – ride a tandem. When two of you are riding together really well, the feeling is awesome. I like to get the bike closer to the edge of the road to feel the sensation of speed as you rush past the hedges. And then there are the descents. There is a beautiful hill near me that descends into Kingsclere. It’s not particularly long or difficult. It starts with a cracking view across the valley before some gentle sweeping curves drop you to the valley floor. Click up to top gear, hunker own onto the tri-bars – both riders giving it beans and soon 50mph is left behind. The bike shimmies and the forks flex in an exhilarating ‘better than any funfair’ ride. There are places we go faster, hills that are steeper, but there is something about the beautiful view and flowing nature of the descent that makes this hill so enjoyable.
Then there is the joy of the miles covered. Since riding with Glenn Longland we’ve not done a ride of any duration at an average speed of less than 20mph – and often quite a bit more. I simply can’t do that average speed consistently on my own, and neither can Glenn. But together, it’s the norm. Of course it makes planning training rides a bit more of a challenge because the distances covered are always so much greater than on a ‘half-bike’ (as we tandem riders like to call ‘normal bikes’). The pleasure comes in planning routes through parts of the countryside we rarely get to visit. I’ve started to create themed rides – our ‘white horses’ route takes in as many white horses as I can find in Hampshire and Wiltshire. Whilst the ‘Stunning Bridges’ route meanders over to Bristol and into Wales passing over iconic river crossings. It’s amazing where you can go on the long weekend rides.
Even though we are training for a very specific sporting challenge, there is always time to be an aesthete as well as an athlete.