Edwina's Inaugural Ride

Edwina's Inaugural Ride with VISTA
     by Anthony Arlidge

Saturday,12th February 2005, training day highlights"

I have ridden the tandem before at the inaugural Coventry ring road ride about 13 years ago,  but my sight and hearing has severely worsened since then...but it would be great to try and give it another go", said Edwina. Well we could have a training session couldn't we, I said, as VISTA's main objective is to enable others. Yes it was a long time ago was the response. Now was that Edwina deep in thought or had she not heard me. I repeated the question and said you must say 'Yes' or 'No' to my question. OK? OK! So we could have a training session then? Yes there are a lot of people here at the party! Oh heck! Am I getting through?

Anyway a couple of meaningful emails later and on a very windy Saturday morning in February we met at the Garage. Forgetting the technique, I fumbled getting the tandem onto the roller. Edwina was press-ganged into pumping up the tyres. She got on and had a twiddle whilst I changed gears. We talked about the hand signals that I would have to do to communicate with her, whilst I was riding one handed. The priority ones I judged were 'stop' and 'start' closely followed by 'turning left or right in about 30 yards'. It was a close call then as to which came next, 'pedal faster' (you lazy bugger) or 'raise your bottom off the saddle there is a big bump coming' (and your level of comfort may change sharply!). I chose 'pedal faster' as it would seriously affect my level of comfort! 'Setting the pedals' brought up the rear, but there was no actual signal for that other than the detected unathletic motion of me getting on the tandem as well. So having practiced these in stationary mode it was time to see if we made 'poetry in motion' and with the pre-ride details fully explained against a back-drop of a force 8 gale, we set off on the intrepid route down the drive and 5 figures of eight round the car-park and back to the garage.

Well, balancing had not been a problem and we managed to start well and end well. Doing that ride again would achieve no more gain so I decided the open road beckoned. I set the course out to be a single ticket only, out of the front gate right and then to turn right in about 30 yards and stop in 100. At the pause at the gate Edwina, now a highly trained stoker, kept her feet on the pedals, just as I like it, so that I can concentrate on just rolling off and interleaving with the traffic. Easy peasy or what!

I know this road (not very well), I think if I turn left at the end it will take me to the main Kenilworth road. After the turn though I saw another left, so we ventured round the block again before braving the access to that main road. Walking across the pelican crossing at first seemed alien to a long time cyclist but safety must come first. On the far side we ventured into the park where between laps we tested our gentle hill climbing and all the hand signals I had planned. Funnily enough, 'get off the saddle' was forgotten the first time, but seemed well remembered each time thereafter and 'Lazy bugger' really only applied to the one on the front (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent), but I did use the signal to encourage more effort on the slight inclines. Only with the heavier breathing did I realise the lack of a signal for 'are you OK?" but that was quickly resolved. Another odd thing for me was the lack of a conversation so I found I was regularly doing the 'are you OK?' signal, but it was not long before we began to enjoy the wind and the sun and the fun of the ride.

Our single had become a return ticket to there and back, as we arrived exhilarated at the garage. So what's next I could feel Edwina thinking .. you know I have a feeling we shall see Edwina on some of the forthcoming rides. Didn't she do well!