My first day as a pilot

Have you ever tried to ride a tandem bicycle? With someone you love?

One day last fall, John texted me to say he was thinking of buying a tandem bike. I said yes, go for it! Instantly I started imagining bike rides to the park where we would spread out a blanket, unpack our little lunch, drink champagne, and watch our chihuahuas frolic nearby.  Basically I thought I would be living an Anthropologie photo shoot.

Shortly after that text, John brought the bike over so we could go for a little cruise. He had to be downtown in 30 minutes so my photo shoot would have to wait. The bike was everything I could have wanted in a tandem: vintage Schwinn, yellow, and room for a front wicker basket- you know, to carry our champagne and chihus. As I had never been on a tandem, but rode my own bike daily, I overestimated my ability to ride a bike with another person. First there’s the displacement of weight and pedals, and trying to get moving forward without toppling over. Second, there’s the steering, or as I call it, avoiding parked cars. Also, there is the fact that we could not lower the seat in back, which meant I would pilot the ride and John would be the stoker.

After several wobbly attempts, we made it out of my apartment parking lot and were steering down the hill. Sharing the bike with him was exhilarating! I was so glad we did this, how could I have been afraid… wait, are we turning? It was a smooth turn into another parking lot where I tried to power the bike from the back, tried to be the stoker. The seat was absolutely too high, so I resumed my position up front. This time only two shaky starts and we were rolling towards the hill I had loved at the beginning of the ride. As we approached I panicked, asked that we walk it up the hill, and hopped off the front. Pushing the bike, I realized that we could have climbed the hill. We both had the strength in our legs to get us there. What was weak was my belief, and I let doubt creep in and spoil our maiden voyage on the yellow Schwinn.

What I learned from this terrifying yet amazing (and somewhat-thankfully short) ride:

1) Being a beginner again is fun.

2) If you want to succeed, you must communicate where you’re going.

3) Starting is the toughest part.

4) Finding a good stopping point can be tricky.

5) Accomplishing something is better with someone you love (and that someone can be yourself).

6) Self-doubt is quick to spoil your plans.

Admittedly, writing is a little different than a bike ride. But how many creative projects have you put on the shelf because of doubt, or not started because you have to go to the grocery store, or clean the house, or watch this show on Bravo? What would happen if you just started writing? Or taking pictures? What is it that you want to do?

On our way to the ballet in style. It was the only tandem at the bike rack.