A Tale of Two Blogs: Motorcycling vs. Tandem Cycling

As many regular readers know, I have two blogs: one is primarily related to our motorcycling adventures and interests and another related to our interest in tandem bicycles and cycling.

20150426_190855 Although they may seem like polar opposites — pedal power vs horsepower — they’re really not all that far removed from each other in terms of why we find both appealing: we simply enjoy doing things together, being physically active, having our knees in the breeze and searching out people with like interests.

britonbeach If someone was to ask, “Which do you like better, motorcycling or tandem cycling? we’d probably be hard-pressed to come up with a definitive answer. It’d be like asking someone who they loved more, their spouse or their children.  There are clearly some huge differences between the two groups, but at the same time there are also an awful lot of similarities.

 Both groups include people who all work hard and play hard. In terms of educational and career diversity, both groups cover all of the bases: high school to advanced degrees, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, IT professionals, bankers, program managers, construction, aircraft mechanics, flight attendants, retired military and so on.

11194486_10152759138797617_1647748387003470327_o 

But, there are also a lot of differences; you’d never mistake a gathering of our motorcycling friends for a gathering of our tandem cycling friends and not for the reasons that you might think.  However, it’s these differences that define the groups and make them uniquely different.

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If I had to find some way of conveying the difference between our very different groups of friends, it would probably come down to very subjective terms like “passion, love, brotherhood and commitment” to describe the feelings we have about our motorcycling friends AND our tandem cycling friends.  But, that said, if I had to be completely honest, as I think about both groups of friends all of those terms become capitalized and are followed by an exclamation point when I think of our motorcycling friends.

sharkysFor example, we have a great deal of love for many of our tandem friends, but we openly share an immense amount of love with our motorcycling friends. no one is bashful about that. They are very open and passionate about spirituality, patriotism (many are veterans like myself), civic duty, good causes and close ranks to help friends and family when they are in need.  To a person, everyone has everyone’s back and that’s not just talk; you get a true feeling of  community where everyone looks out for everyone else.  It’s been a very long time since I can recall that, like back in the 60’s when everyone in a neighborhood knew each other, watched out for each other and understood the value of being a member of that community.  It was also that way in the military and still is, at least in many of the specialty MOS’ and elite forces.

Our tandem friends and friendships tend to be a bit more subtle and feelings are a bit more guarded with just a few exceptions. The tandem community feels a lot more contemporary and seems to have almost an unwritten set of standards for acceptable and unacceptable subjects so as to not offend, at least when there are large groups. Perhaps it’s because the tandem community is politically and socially more diverse and tends to be more white collar in terms of the working environment.  Quite a few members of the tandem community are also veterans, but you’d never know it and most seem to have clear political and spiritual belief systems but you’d never know unless you had a few cocktails at a small dinner gathering.  And, it’s not that I don’t think our friends “have our backs” as we have friends in the tandem community who are more like family than family and they know who they are: it’s a mutual feeling and understanding.

Below are a few photos that include some of the members of our tandem family, noting that there are clearly a few members of the family missing from these photos. Note: If one of those close friends happens to see this blog entry (noting that it’s on the motorcycle blog), please don’t feel slighted my omission: I probably couldn’t find a photo with y’all in it without going through hundreds of rally photo collections.

    But, those relationships are the exception and not the rule.  In the motorcycling community, it tends to be the other way around and perhaps that’s because we’ve simply been blessed to find ourselves with an amazing group of friends: no kidding.

11182746_10152759116842617_9069789947487275675_o 11059555_10152759126732617_7286703278232212030_oDespite the trials and tribulations we all must deal with — and let’s be honest, none of us are immune from tests of the will, spirit and love for family and friends —  at the end of the day and after we have made the transition to whatever lies behind the world that we live in, we will be remembered by and for the friends we made on our journey.  Let me just say that at this point in time, I’m good with that!

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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2 Responses to A Tale of Two Blogs: Motorcycling vs. Tandem Cycling

  1. Robert Warnke says:

    I enjoyed the comparison of “who has your back” – tandem friends vs. H-D friends. I’ve gone through the same thinking process and concluded this; aging process. Since you no longer ride with the big dogs on the tandem you are now in tandem no mans land, are group-less and lost your identity. With the H-D crowd all you have to do is ride in a safe manner and twist your wrist to keep up. The same happened to us in sailing, tandeming and motorcycling. Welcome to the club and good luck.

    • TG says:

      That’s an interesting observation and it clearly has merit.

      I was also into competitive sailing when I lived in California and as I moved from C fleet into B fleet and then had a good long run in B fleet I was having a blast. However, once I moved up to A fleet the party was over: I was definitely out of my depths with professional-level sailors who had the gifts, experience and commitment to the sport that as a hobbyist I did not. But, at the same time I also lost my long-time “crew” who I worked so well with and shortly thereafter relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, which was hardly a hot bed for competitive sailing. So, I’m not sure it was aging that killed sailing or even losing my competitive edge. It was a combination of things that said, in aggregate, it’s time to close this chapter.

      So, that brings us to tandem cycling, something I took up after deciding that I needed a hobby I could share with my wife. In this regard, it’s not so much that we’re not able to run with the big dogs as I’m not really sure who they are anymore other than the ones we could never ride with in the first place; we’ve never been the strongest in any group… just strong enough. Moreover, the relationships we’ve made since the 1990’s are all still there with the folks who still attend rallies and still very strong since all of us have aged together. Moreover, with a few exceptions and despite the lack of regular training, we can still ride well enough to hang with most of the same people we’ve ridden with for the past 10 years. I say most because there are a few dear friends who no longer attend the rallies and that may be part of the problem as they tended to be our partners in crime on and off the bike. So, once again, it’s probably a combination of things that has caused the tandem rallies to lose their luster rather than any one thing… and it’s Debbie who has really lost a lot of the passion more so than me. All that said, the tandem chapter is far from being closed… it’s more or less being re-evaluated and recalibrated at the moment.

      Admittedly, the motorcycling and motorcycle rally thing still has the wonderful new-hobby look and smell. I’ve been riding motorcycles my entire life and have been riding them to work every day for over 16 years. The change came when we embraced the dark side with the Harley in the summer of 2011 and Debbie came to rediscover the joy of riding two-up. Since then, motorcycling continues to gain momentum as we branch out and find new ways to enjoy it. But, you are right in that motorcycling doesn’t necessarily have the natural selection process that often times comes with activities that require physical abilities or highly-refined, natural skills. It simply requires a motorcycle, strong skills supplemented by good training and the right personality. Noting that I’m hardly “a biker” by anyone’s definition and any measure, the folks we’ve fallen-in with aren’t hard-core bikers either. Even the hardest-core looking bikers we’ve met turn out to be really nice folks with big hearts and good jobs that give them enough free time and resources to pursue their passion for riding and spending time with like-minded people. Oh yeah, some of them will kick you ass in New York minute if you threaten their loved ones, friends or other things they hold dear… and I’m good with that. Again, as a diminutive, scrawny cyclist I look like I have no business being on a Harley or at a motorcycle rally so “fitting in” is hard enough, never mind ever being a lead dog. No, it’s the allure of the camaraderie and friends that have captured our passion as much as the pure joy of just being on the big bike together. Like tandem cycling, Debbie and I simply enjoy being on the bike together… alone or with friends. In fact, the two of us will be heading to Key West by ourselves via Orlando in a few weeks.

      In closing, I guess I’ll have to re-read what I wrote to see what point — if any — I was trying to make. I’m pretty sure I was “thinking out loud” as I tried to compare and contrast the two activities which are truly more a like than they are different. Again, perhaps it’s because motorcycling and the motorcycling friendships are still new that it seems a bit more intense. After 17 years we still are very passionate about tandem cycling and our tandem cycling friends, but different.

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