Bicycle built for two.

Riding Tandem

"When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark,
you don't throw away the ticket and jump off.
You sit still and trust the engineer."
-Corrie Ten Boom

Teaching a child to ride a bike can be difficult. I watched as my daughter worked with her son as they went back and forth on the street in front of the house where we were all staying on vacation. I sighed wistfully as I watched because it didn’t seem that long ago that I was doing that very thing with her.

We were on Hilton Head Island and there are bike trails everywhere but Ben hadn’t yet gotten the hang of riding a bike on his own. I guess we could have found some training wheels somewhere but Ben was getting old enough that he wanted to ride without them.

Since we were in a strange place, we decided that Ben just wasn’t ready to go on the bike trails alone yet. There are lots of hazards out there with other bikers on the paths, streets to cross, and animals we might run across (hopefully, not literally).

There were all kinds of places to go on the bike trails but it was also another challenge to figure out how to get where we wanted to go from where we were. There were lots of choices such as the beach, the petting zoo, shops, and points of interest.

We decided the best way for Ben to go would be for him to ride tandem. There was one bike in the garage that had an attachment of another bicycle where the person in the back could just sit and peddle without worrying about anything else…or so we thought.

I never knew it could be such a big deal to just get everyone on the bikes and off down the trail but we had to get the little ones all helmeted up and in the child carts that pulled behind two of the bicycles. We got lined up to go with Ben wobbling about on the tandem bike with his Mom riding in the front, and then there was me who hadn’t been on a bike in 15 years who had to find a bike that “felt just right”. Thirty minutes later we were off down the trail with my son behind me laughing and commenting that I rode like a drunk and a daughter who cheered, “Go Mom, You can do it!” every time I slowed down on a hill. Well, okay, it was only a slope.

The tandem situation was not doing so well either. In order to ride tandem, you must look straight ahead and not lean or the person in front can’t guide the bike properly. I kept hearing the same words repeated from Ben’s Mother, “Ben, look at me…Ben look at me…Ben look at me!” Then, “ Keep your eyes on me. Don’t look around at other things or try to see around me, just look at me or we’ll have to stop and it’s late in the day, so if you don’t quit looking around and look at me, we won’t get to the petting zoo today. Ben, look at me. Keep your eyes on me.” Variations of these same words were spoken over and over for a long time until somewhere along the way I began to notice the words were not being said as frequently. Ben was catching on! He still needed to hear his mother’s voice from time to time but he was doing better. His mother didn’t have to shout so much now because Ben began to sense when his mother was going to stop or turn because he had gotten used to following her lead instead of fighting against what she was doing.

As I thought about it, my life is a lot like riding a tandem bicycle. If I allow God to be on the front seat and me on the back, He will take me on a great adventure to exciting places I have never known. I have to learn not to try to look around Him to see where the bike is going, or He will have to stop and it will just take longer to get there. I sometimes wobble about and I become distracted by the things in the world around me. Sometimes He has to shout, “Look at Me, keep your eyes on Me!” However, if I listen, learn to pay attention, and keep my eyes on Him, I’ll make the trip just fine. Maybe, like Ben, I’m catching on a little bit too!

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
-A hymn by Helen H. Lemmel- 1922

~ Pamela Perry Blaine ~
© September 20, 2009

About Pamela:  She enjoys writing, music, and country living.  She writes"Pam's Corner" for the local newspaper and many of her writings have been published on the internet and in several books. Pam says, "I have loved music and writing ever since I can remember. I play piano at church and I'm an avid reader. One of my goals is to be able to write for my children and grandchildren so special memories will not be forgotten."  She has a CD entitled "I'll Walk You Home".  It's available by freewill donation.  More info, and a clip from the CD, is on her website at:
[ By: Pamela Perry Blaine Copyright © 2009 ( -- from Pamela Perry Blaine ]

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