It Takes Two to Tandem!


I used to work out constantly! I was teaching 8-10 group fitness classes a week, running a boot camp, and working out at home.  I was in the best shape of my life! I worked hard and I played hard!  Then, I started to lose my vision and my life. got. hard.

Tinywaist red shirt

I gave up teaching some classes, boot camp was too hard to manage, and I rarely worked out at home. I reverted back to old eating habits because it was easy and I didn’t care. Eating is what I did between bouts of crying and wondering “How the hell am I going to live this way?”.  I started to slowly gain weight. Shit, I was going blind… with no treatment or cure. Nobody, I mean, NOBODY would blame me for gaining a few pounds!! Right?!? Oh, I can justify anything! Well, those few pounds turned into a few more pounds as I struggled to find ways to cope with my vision loss. I was less active, I ate more, and here I sit today, 20 pity party pounds heavier. Damn, 20 pounds! What in the WHAT? I guess I can’t blame the dryer for shrinking my clothes! UGH!!

Anywaaay… enough about the extra junk in my trunk. Let’s move on. These days, I’m still teaching a few weekly classes, but, I need more exercise to get my physical health, my fat ass, back under control! I’ve spent too many years overweight in the past, AND I can’t let these uncontained curves add to the challenges I already have. Whatz a blind girl tah DO??

I heard about an organization called the “Blind Stokers Club” (BSC) some time ago. What is a stoker? Stay put, I’ll get to that! The club helps blind and visually impaired folks ride a bike with the use of tandem bicycles. Hmm… was it for me? Would I like it? Could I physically handle it? Okay… why not? I decided to try it! You know what they say…”You’ll never know, until you try!”

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I tried it, AND I LOVED IT! I am now a stoker in the BSC! I was matched up with Bradley who is an amazing captain! He has years of experience as a cyclist and I was confident he knew what he was doing right from the start!  We are both pretty outgoing and slightly competitive. Actually, he is super competitive and pushes me just enough tosee what I am made of. He has tons of confidence in me and I have tons of trust in him. But, I truly believe that the biggest reason we were matched up, is that he is just as much of a coffee addict as I am!! BONUUS!! (Check out his tattoo!) Many of our future training rides will undoubtedly involve a stop at a unique coffee house to “refuel”!! His wife, Rachel, rides with us on a single bike. She is awesome and I love having her on the rides too!

904c0ddd-258b-4667-bed4-14a909225bd0I’ve had people ask me what a Captain and a Stoker does as a team. I’ll tell you what I know at this point in my cycling career! The captain sits on the front of the bike and the stoker sits on the back. If you are going to captain, you have to be conscientious and hyper aware about the terrain ahead.

6c1b3882-837c-4f70-9d41-ca4cf841dc04The stoker has no control…gasp!….over the gears, braking, or steering so he or she relies on the choices made by the captain. The stoker really has to trust the person captaining the bike, and the captain has to rely on a stoker who is steady and responsive to what the captain says and does.

The captain communicates to the stoker what speed/power is needed or not needed and what’s coming up ahead. Bumps, stops, turns, cars, etc. need to be verbalized to the stoker. Sometimes the stoker has to shut UP if the captain needs to communicate something important. THAT’S never happened to me! Ha ha! Hey..I can shut up if it’s a life or death sitch!! After a while, I suspect that some of the cues may fade over time as the riders become a true team. Lastly, compatibility on a tandem bike is key! Bradley hasn’t kicked me off the bike as of yet and I haven’t felt the need to exchange him for a new captain!! So far so good!

Tandem-purplejacketI’m looking forward to riding many more miles with my captain and the BSC. So here’s to losing weight, gaining friends, and experiencing new adventures. I’m realizing more and more that I have to create my own opportunities to experience how to do things differently in this unexpected life. Be sure to keep a watch for us on a bright red tandem bike cruising down the road! 

For more information on the Blind Stoker’s Club, visit them at www.BlindStokersClub.org

Bradley’s coffee tattoo by Meg Knoble at Buju Tattoo.

14 Comments on “It Takes Two to Tandem!

  1. Isn’t she the Best…..Can’t tell you how proud of my eldest daughter that she continues to make her world better. Love. Mom

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  2. Thanks for sharing your BSC entry story. It becomes part of the membership mosaic and encourages others to try something out of their comfort zone. All are rewarded when good tandem matches are made.

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    • Thank you Dave! Your matching skills are right on target! Thrilled to be a part of this organization!

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  3. WAY TO GO MARIA……..PUT IT ALL OUT THERE (good bad and the ugly) AND THEN DEAL WITH IT ALL
    IN THE MOST POSITIVE WAY … AND RESOLVES IT. YOU ARE AWESOME. SEEMS LIKE COFFEE IS A SWEET HELPER
    LOVE AND RESPECT YOU SO VERY MUCH
    ERIN

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    • Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words! They mean a lot! Love and hugs!

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  4. Way to go MARIA! Rocking it as usual! Next time you’re up north…we’ll find us a tandem! You inspire me on my rides!

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    • Thank you Nancy! I’m really loving it! How about the next time you come south we find ourselves a tandem!?! I say yes!! xo

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  5. So proud of you Maria! Maybe one of these days I will get my booty back on the bike and join you for a ride… and some Starbucks of course! Miss you!

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    • Absolutely!! You can join one of our training rides anytime and coffee is always included!! Thanks for your support!! Hugs!!

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  6. again…you have re invented yourself….found an opportunityu and jumped in and made it fun, and made it work for you….i wish i had that incentive….you remain forever in my mind as MY HEROINE….love you maria

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    • You are one of my biggest supporters and I appreciate every single word you right to me on my blog site or on Facebook!! I couldn’t keep my head up and moving forward without family like you cheering me on!! love & Hugs! xo

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  7. During that long difficult climb Maria said to me “I’m stronger than I think I am”. It’s that type of attitude that got us to the top of that mountain!

    Let me tell you about that photo of us at Honey Springs Rd. Career cyclists have aversions to making that SEVEN MILE CLIMB to that road sign. Maria and I both were hurtin’ for certain – but we pressed on thru the pain, and crested that KOM (King of The Mountain).

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    • Thank you Bradley!! I could NOT have done it without your encouragement for that 7 mile climb!! When you dig deep you find your strength. And like I told you, I think I have more strengths than I thought… Mentally and physically… And that “Mountain” proved it!! I am grateful for you as a captain and a friend! As I said in my blog, Looking forward to many more miles! > TeamBAM Rocks! <

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