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When my passion for cycling re-emerged in 2001 whilst living in London, I soon realized that my daring riding style did not match the more limited confidence my wife had on road cycling, not part of the typical Arab girl upbringing. Yet, she offered us a weekend in Ironbridge, UK, where we had our first experience on a tandem in April 2004, cycling up and down the hills in some extraordinary countryside.
Ever since, I dreamed. We were already relocating to Dubai, so it took me a full year to order a red Bike Friday tandem Project Q (converts to single) even before buying our first car (a must in Dubai for the typical Western expat). A varied mix of events, and of course by then a suitable red SUV that fitted our red BF without dismantling, delayed our first real tandem travel experience until, in 2013, we put a deposit down for a tandem trip in Europe.
So we got the full tandem into a single bag (an over-sized bike by US standards, but that works perfectly in Europe/Middle East), with the benefit of not even disassembling the back wheel or the pedals!!!
We joined a trip organized by Santana, with mainly Americans couples, few Canadians and one Australian couple in July 2013 to cycle from Geneva all the way to Marseilles.
There was only another tandem Bike Friday (also red, pictured) and two single Bike Fridays, on an otherwise trip dominated by full-sized tandems, often lighter than ours, but where a tremendous group of people and couples proved that age doesn't matter when it comes to tandem cycling: we were amongst the youngest (in our late 30's) yet amongst the slowest.
By the end of the week, I know I'll tandem until my 80's and that every year I would be thinking about the same thing: When is my next tandem travel trip?
Only nuisance was to re-assemble the bike with the proper length (to the exact millimeter) for the timing chain and consequently all gearing/brakes to be tuned properly. Until we figured out that we didn't screw the frame tight enough, so it extended every time we sat, we struggled for 1-2 days with gear problems.
With a cruise boat taking us from place to place after we crossed the border from Switzerland to France, we had the advantage of luxury cruise travel (with five-course dinners) with plenty of cycling amongst the most amazing countryside scenery in Southeast France, from Chalon-sur-Saone in Burgundy region to Avignon and later Arles along the Rhone, close to the Mediterranean.
Great moments to remember: traditional Swiss dinner with fondue that never arrived, balanced promptly the following day with plenty of fondue; dinner at Paul Bocuse restaurant in Lyon (3-star Michelin for >30 years); afternoon with ex-Dubai expats in Lyon by the pool; bull ring show at Arles (not fighting); climbing to Baux de Provence; cycling past Pont du Gard (Roman aqueducts), etc.
I started this story hoping to make justice to how great this tandem trip was. I have no hope of being able to convey that unless I write a book, so my advice goes as follows: get a great convenient folding bike and start travelling.
If, as me, you want to be close to your partner, then get a tandem. My wife was not as keen on cycling as I was, but she ended up enjoying the cycling travel experience as much as I did, every single of the 50-60 miles/day, and she gave me the strength to stand up from the bed early in the morning and restart pedaling, every day. I am proud we made it happen.
I have now decided I want to repeat it, but soon with my son, and I'm in the process of receiving a triple from Bike Friday! Will give you an update in 10 years, at the latest! Have fun!
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- a BTO 'tikit'
- Bantam Friday
- Family Tandem Traveler
- Family Triple Traveler
- Haul-a-Day Custom
- New World Tourist
- Pocket Companion 2015 (fully adjustable)
- Pocket Crusoe
- Pocket Crusoe Petite
- Pocket Llama
- Pocket Rocket
- Pocket Rocket Petite
- Pocket Rocket Pro
- Pocket Rocket Super Pro
- Pocket Sport 2015 (fully adjustable.
- Tandem Traveler XL
- Tandem TwosDay
- Triple Traveler XL Tour
- uPocket Companion old 2014