At the end of our ride I bid farewell to Jack, approached Nicolette and exchanged numbers. We agreed that I’d peruse the Potomac Pedalers rides and see which one fit best. I explained that I’d be riding the tandem solo to the ride start so we’d almost certainly do a ride that originated in Ashton or Olney. I didn’t explain that we’d have to start close by because I was carless, the reason wasn’t relevant, and Nicolette smiled while Geoff scowled as they drove away with their bikes atop their BMW 733i.
I cycled the five miles from Sherwood High to home, put the tandem away, (it was my most expensive possession) showered, grabbed some food and, since it was Saturday and I didn’t have to wait until after 11:00 for rates to go down, phoned Jean.
“Hey, baby,” I said into the phone, “how you doing?”
“Good,” she replied. “Just getting some last minute wedding details planned. You’re still planning to make lasagna for the rehearsal dinner at Marie’s, right?”
“Yep. Lasagna Florentine. Gotta Popeye it up.”
“Great. We can go shopping when you get here. You’re driving up with your folks?”
“Uhm, maybe?” I responded. “We’re all coming so I should have plenty of people I can catch a ride with. Maybe John and Brooke. Guess what I did today?”
“Heard from a school in Atlanta!?”
I exhaled heavily. “No. Sorry. Nothing yet. No. I went on a group ride with Jack on the tandem.”
“Oh. Yeah?” Jean responded non-committed. Jack was not one of her favorite people.
“Yeah. Potomac Pedalers? The bike club? We rode the tandem.”
“Cool. Have fun?”
“Yes. I’m looking forward to tandeming with you in Atlanta. Had a gal express interest in a tandem ride with me and so next week I’ll probably ride with her.”
“Oh, yeah? Somebody you know?”
“Not really,” I replied. “We’ve been on rides together, but we haven’t talked much. She usually hangs with her body-builder boyfriend.”
“Oh. Cool! Well, have fun! I got stuff to do. Talk to you later?”
“Absolutely. I should be home tonight. Call you around ten?”
“Perfect. Love you!”
“I love you, JPT. Later,” I said, waiting for her to hang-up before disconnecting.
I consulted my Potomac Pedalers newsletter and found a ride that started from the Olney Theatre and called Nicolette. Geoff answered. “Hi. Is Nicolette there?”
“Tony Kneel. I’m supposed to arrange a tandem-”
“Nikki!” I hear Geoff call out. “It’s the tandem guy.”
Nicolette gets on the phone, we agree to meet at the Theatre on Saturday the twenty-fourth and go about our days.
Saturday May 24th brings another beautiful not quite summer morning to central Montgomery County. I cycle to the Theatre and find Nicolette waiting with Geoff who scowls. “Hey!” I say, “how are you this morning? You have water bottles?”
We place her two bottles in the stoker’s waiting cages and we three sign the ride log. I explain the basics of being a tandem stoker and then we’re off, heading northwest toward Old Baltimore Road. It doesn’t takes long before the ride group splits into a slightly smaller faster portion, and a larger slower part. Nicolette and I leave Geoff behind in the slower part as we motor through the mostly rolling byways of rural northern M.C. With nearly twice the horsepower but almost no additional aerodynamic drag, tandems allow riders to go faster on flats and fly downhills, with the flip-side being a more precipitous slowing on ascents.