Double Your Fun
Couples Can Play Together -- If They Work at It
By Rita Zeidner
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, May 25, 2004; Page HE01
Frank Anders was so eager to cycle with his new bride, he bought her a bike as a wedding gift.
"She had shown an interest and I thought, 'Here's my chance,' " said Anders, who had been a serious cyclist for years before their marriage.
Kathy Anders was pleased -- at first. But after being left in Frank's dust too often, she lost enthusiasm.
"It's just that he rode so much faster," she said. "I didn't feel like it was something we did together." Soon her bike was consigned to the basement.
If you feel you've been in the Anderses' saddles, you are in good company. In a time-pressed world, it may be natural to try to combine two of life's pleasures: exercise and time with our honeys. But that's not easy when your idea of exercise is an all-day mountain trek and hers is a stroll to the corner coffee shop. Despite the best intentions, hurt feelings (or murderous ones) can result when couples of different interests or abilities try to recreate together.
But wait. What if there were a way for you and Sweetie to get together on an activity that each of you does at your own pace? There is, say some who have turned traditionally solo endeavors like cycling, kayaking and even yoga into couple-friendly activities.
Nearly 25 years into their marriage, the Anderses became converts to this approach after a ride on a friend's tandem bicycle showed them its potential to level their skewed abilities. They visited their local bike shop the day after their test ride and bought the only tandem the merchant had on hand. "It was raining," Frank Anders recalls, "so we didn't even take it for a test ride."
They weren't disappointed. These days it's not uncommon for the two to spend entire weekends in the saddle, pedaling 30 to 50 miles a day in the hills of Maryland's Howard and Frederick counties or on the flatter Eastern Shore. They've taken cycling vacations in Europe three times in the past five years, even treating themselves to a tandem that disassembles, packs and assembles easily.
"Before, she had things that she did and I had things I would do," said Frank Anders, who is 62. "Except for raising our daughter, we didn't have much experience working together as a team. But riding the tandem, we found we liked that, especially the dependence and trust we had to place in each other."
That sense of partnership is often shared by couples who engage in other tandem sports -- if they make it past the learning-to-do-it-together curve.
"We initially had some discussions about what gear to pedal in," said Frank Anders, who, like the male in most tandem teams, sits up front and has the gear shifters at his fingertips. (The arrangement is not just a macho throwback, tandem riders insist. The bikes seem to work more efficiently when the stronger cyclist takes the helm.) On a single bike, he said, he was accustomed to "pushing a big gear, pedaling really hard on the uphill." Fifty-five-year-old Kathy Anders, on the other hand, prefers a smaller gear where the pedals spin more easily but move the bike along more slowly.
"It took some adjusting on both our parts," Frank Anders said. "But not too long, because if I forgot [to shift to a mutually agreeable gear], she'd let me know."
Equaling Things Out
Paddling on quiet rivers or through secluded wetlands is the sport of choice for Washington lawyers Cynthia Johnson and Janice Schneider. The couple of 13 years prefers one kayak outfitted for two people over two smaller boats.
"I like that it requires us to work together," said Johnson. "Plus, it's just so great being on the water."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
In a time-pressed world, it may be natural to try to combine two of life's pleasures: exercise and time with our honeys.
(Sarah L. Voisin - The Washington Post)
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Transcript Allen Muchnick, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation was online to discuss bike safety.