Bucket list adventures: tandem bikes

(Wikimedia Commons Photo)

My freshman year of college, I made a list of 100 things I wanted to do before I graduate. I quickly knocked some items off like rock climbing, Tai Chi, making my own invisible ink and learning Morse code.

Entering my senior year of college, however, I realized I still have a ton left to do. This last weekend I accomplished No. 86: learning how to ride a tandem bike.

I rented a tandem bike from Varsity Donuts in Aggiville. The idea of selling donuts and renting bikes always seemed strange to me – there never seemed to be much of a correlation between the two. Brooke Haas, Manhattan Christian College alum and Varsity Donuts employee, said it allowed Varsity to “stand out and be unique.”

“Varsity … has been opened for three years,” Haas said. “We started renting bicycles since we opened.”

It might seem like a weird combination of services, but they go well together.

“Sometimes, people will come in a sit down to eat a donut and then rent their bike,” Ali Peil, freshman in kinesiology and Varsity Donuts employee, said.

Josh Wise, 2015 K-State alum, and I thought the concept seemed simple enough: rent and ride a bike. There is something about coordinating between two people, however, that makes it infinitely more difficult.

Peil warned us that other customers stated it was hard, and Haas mentioned that the difficult part is often learning to balance and communicate with your bike partner.

The steering was completely in the front, and this bike only allowed for pedaling based on the front person’s pace, where typically tandem bikes allow both participants to pedal separately. There is definitely a learning curve. As Wise and I struggled to kick off that first time, I immediately had flashbacks to skinned knees and bruised elbows from when I first learned how to ride a bike.

For the tandem, we found that the ultimate key was communication. Once we started talking about where to go and when to stop, and even what side we were dismounting from, it got immensely easier.

The ride was incredibly enjoyable. There’s nothing quite like a leisure Saturday afternoon bike ride through City Park and down Poyntz Avenue. It was totally worth the initial struggle of learning.

The hour raced on by us and soon we had to return the bike. But this activity became more than just an item on a bucket list: it is a peaceful experience that I greatly look forward to doing again.

Rachel Nyhart is a senior in anthropology.