Just in case you thought yuppie couples couldn't spend any more quality time together, take a look at your nearest bike path. Tandem cyclers are taking to the streets in record numbers--hundreds of bicycles built for two were sold in Los Angeles last year. Their riders, usually couples who look as if they just wrapped up a Club Med ad, pedal along in harmony, cycling faster and farther on one bike than they could on two, laughing and sweating together, getting in quality exer-time.
But those of us who have never doubled our biking pleasure have got to wonder: Are these couples really having as much fun as they seem? Don't they fight about how fast to go or when to shift gears? Does the woman--who, in most cases, rides in back--get sick of looking at her partner's sweaty T-shirt?
It can be a problem, says Jerry Woodruff of Downey Cyclery. The person who sits in front is in charge; whoever's in back can't steer or brake. And since the rule of thumb is that the strongest person takes the front, and that person is usually the man. . . .
"I've seen women insist on sitting in front, even when strength-wise they aren't up to it, because they couldn't stand not to be in control," Woodruff says. "Some couples come back from the ride and the woman will say, 'Forget it, I don't trust this guy.' And this when they've been married for 10 years."