Extra! Extra! Read All About it! Stoker Bites Man!
My Lovely Bride and I took up cycling in 1984, at the behest of Glen and Coleen, who are now living elsewhere under the Federal Witness Protection Program, he posing as a chiropracter and she as a professional sailboarder. But I digress. Up until that time, we had never ridden, let alone owned, bicycles with more gears and less weight than Debbie's '63 VW.
One day our lives (and financial situations) changed forever, as we mounted our friends' 12-speeds for a spin around the block. Within a matter of weeks, MLB and I were the proud owners of a pair of gray Fuji Touring Series IV bikes, 21 gears and light as feathers (as far as we knew, anyway).
We rode a lot, gradually getting into cycling condition, completing several centuries, experiencing a few Hotter 'n Hell Hundreds...the typical evolution of "serious" riders. Then, it happened. I started dropping MLB during our training rides. To add insult to injury, I would then circle back and ride with her for a while, before dropping her once again. Truth be known, I thought I was being considerate. I can't repeat what she thought I was being.
See, the problem was simply genetics. I had inherited the gene that makes one a crazed idiot, and she hadn't. No, wait...that's another story. I was just a stronger rider, while she had the distinct edge in endurance. If we had been an Aesop's Fable, I would have been the hare and she would have been the tortoise (albeit with much thinner skin, in my opinion). Anyway, we eventually got to where our rides together were as stressful psychologically as physically. Something had to change.
Enter the pinnacle of cycling evolution, the greatest advance in the history of humankind since the remote control. I'm speaking, of course, of the tandem bicycle. Caloo! Calay! O frabjous day! Our marriage was saved, and, more importantly, so were our workouts.
Our salvation came in the form of a lovely Cannondale with gold-flecked gray paint and tasteful gold decals. You've no doubt seen the 'Dales for Two, the bikes that look like they're assembled from drilling pipe. Ours proved to be a fine piece of machinery, and we became a finely-tuned operating team within no time at all. Everything was sweetness and light, once more.
Well...almost. Genetics reared its ugly head again. You see, with my usual penetrating insight, I soon realized that while our aluminum steed was slow as molasses on the uphills, that sucker fair flew down the other side. I began to have the biggest time up front, watching the numbers fly across the face of the computer, feeling the sting of the wind in my face, listening to the high-pitched keening of our 48-spoke Wheelsmiths slicing through the air. That is, until I realized that spokes didn't make high-pitched keening sounds at speed. Stokers did. Or, at least, mine did.
Well, I thought, reasonable men may differ about certain things, and life will go on. MLB and I will just have to agree to disagree in this one teensy area, and in the universal scope of things, it will prove to be no big deal.
To be honest, I did my best to empathize with her. No brakes, no shifters, no steerer, forward vision blocked by a less-than-scenic view of my south end as we headed north...not exactly ingredients to instill trust. But wait! Wasn't this all about trust, namely, her trust in me as "The Captain"? Did she really believe that I would endanger the life most precious to me in all the world, or hers either, for that matter? The answer to those questions was obvious to me, and I decided that the only solution was to force her, by George, to trust me. So we continued to zip down the hills, while wild animals scattered for cover before the huge shrieking beast flying toward them.
Then came that fateful day. It was a simple little ride, and a tiny little hill, just a block-long dip really, down Bluebird Road. Thirty m.p.h. max at the bottom, hardly enough to even register on the scale. But, there we were, I in my best aerodynamic tuck ("Going for 31 this time!"), she practically standing in back, trying to negate my aero-efforts.
Suddenly, I feel this most amazing pain in my nether regions, oddly reminiscent of...could it be?...teeth! It was true; my lovely bride and stoker-for-life had bitten me on the posterior (I'm trying to put all of this as delicately as possible). She later explained that she was simply trying to reason with me, and that particular area of my anatomy seemed to be where my primary cognitive facilities were located, so it only made sense to apply her communications accordingly. Or something like that.
Needless to say, I got the message. As a result, if you ever catch sight of us going downhill, you'll see that we are stately, controlled and sober, and I'm sure that we'll continue that way.
Until, that is, my new Kevlar-lined cycling shorts arrive. It's a matter of trust, after all.