Randonneur- and Real-Life Spouse

As one of a small group of women who likes to ride long distances, I’m often exposed to conversations about “the wife.” I almost hate to write “the wife,” since I feel so strongly about it, but I’m writing what I hear and there you are.

Sometimes “the wife” is referred to in other ways, such as “the other half,” or “my better half.” Either way, you get the idea. Since I’m in my reflective vest and ankles bands, I must blend in as one of the guys. I am the incognito wife.

What did “the wife” say about your ride? Did she “let” you ride? Did “the wife” notice your new bike and, if she did, did she buy your story that your new bike really cost $599? These are real-life conversations I’ve overheard.

I’m not saying all randos or riders are like this, but enough that I’ve taken notice over the years. I’m not trying to turn myself into a pariah or anything by touching this topic, but guys, I’ve been listening. I’ve heard you.

D.C. Randonneurs 300K. Photo by Bill Beck
D.C. Randonneurs 300K. Photo by Bill Beck

When Felkerino and I ride tandem, particularly when we tour, men approach us and ask about our tandem. “Did this bike make your wife ride more?” Hello guy, I’m standing right here.

Our tandems do make me want to ride more, but not because we bought a tandem and Felkerino just threw me on the back. No, it’s because we own some bada$$ tandems and I like riding bikes. I liked riding bikes before I even knew who Felkerino was.

Over the years we’ve had incredible adventures on our bikes, and I’m not even going to hyperlink to them all because basically all the rides I’ve written about on this blog fall into some category of awesome, and many of them have been on tandem. But even if we didn’t own tandems, I’d still ride.

My gender and propensity for tandem riding occupy a somewhat unique place in randonneuring. No I’m not a rand-bro, out on a single bike adventure with the boys. Instead, it’s me and my randonneur- and real-life spouse. And our incredible tandems.

I love riding with my randonneur- and real-life spouse. It’s a fulfilling exercise in teamwork as well as endurance, and I love it.

D.C. Randonneurs 300K. Photo by Bill Beck
D.C. Randonneurs 300K. Photo by Bill Beck

For some, maybe a rando ride on a bicycle built for two categorizes it as something unpalatable, since really, who needs true love on a brevet? Bleah. That’s for the birds. Bring on the rand-bros! Bring on the Instagram hashtags of awesome, of men and bike rides. #randbros

Sorry not sorry to interrupt the rand-bros rendezvous. For me, randonneuring by tandem is how it’s almost always been, except at the very start. I joined the randonneurs and a few months later rode a flèche in 2005 on an all-women’s team. On my single bike (a Rivendell Romulus). #thatsrando

An all-women’s team, people, how awesome is that?! How many all-women’s flèche rides have you been on? Let me know in the comments.

Felkerino and me. Training ride/century

Soon after, Felkerino and I began building our randonneur future on tandem. A full Super Randonneur series. The Cascade 1200K. More Super Randonneur series’. Paris-Brest-Paris. High Country 1200K. A couple of 1000K rides. Summer tours that serve as our randonneuring payoff almost every year. All on tandem. All incredible. #thatsrando

Sometimes I take it for granted, but on days like today I know what we have is a rare treat.  We have each other for the long rides. My randonneur- and real-life spouse. I will never be part of the rand-bros club, but ours is a different experience.

Felkerino and I don’t ask permission, we just do. Together. And that, dear readers, is its own kind of awesome. See you on the road. #thatsrando

26 thoughts on “Randonneur- and Real-Life Spouse

  1. Me, Lesli Larson and Asta Chastain formed an all women flèche team in 2013. The Ladies Tea and Crumpet Society. We all wore bike dresses. And the organizing principal behind the ride was no gas station controls. We ate good food, often at sit down places. 🙂 we are civilized.

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  2. You ARE awesome, thanks for sharing your stories with us. It is silly some (too many) men still assume the women needs the man to lead/support them. We know better than that, don’t we! While I don’t ride the distances you and F. do, you still inspire me.

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  3. BAH! ‘she’s not peddling’ ‘do you know there’s someone back there?’ ‘bet you love taking it easy and doing nothing’ i’ve heard it all and it makes me seethe. at this point in our lives, my husband has retired from racing, we have both aged out of ‘stupid competitive’ [63 and 57, our bones take longer to heal than they used to] but i’m the one pushing for more miles, harder miles. sorry for the gripe, but the assumption that as a female stoker i’m not a bicyclist just pisses me off. and yes, we DO work out issues on the tandem, discuss kids, work, my MFA studies, geographic relocation and most important, any disagreements get calmed by the soothing of the miles.
    he has learned when i say, stop, i want to take a picture, he has to pull over NOW. i’ve had to relearn to trust his handling skills after a few serious crashes.
    i’m often the only female in a group ride, which means i also get the ‘man i wish my wife would ride, maybe i should get a tandem …’ my response is, if she doesn’t ride already, you better adjust your speed/daring to a tolerable level. if you plan on weaving in and out of traffic or winning the sprint points, you’re going to regret it. or she may love it and leave you in the dust.
    still, i love it. if i ever retire, we’re getting a cargo wagon and criss-crossing the states. if we average 80 miles a day, it’ll be cake.

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  4. I have, for decades, very much disliked the term ‘the wife’, ‘her indoors’ etc. with all their connotations. I’ve never been on an all women’s flèche team, cause then it wouldn’t be, but it’s great seeing the rise in women’s cycling. Folk, male & female, sometimes say to me ‘you’re too fast for me to cycle with’, my response is I can always peddle slower.

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  5. There is no greater friendship than the friendship found on a tandem. I have ridden with many partners both male and female. It is an endless conversation, Many of the worlds problems are solved, conflicts are resolved and world peace is seen on the horizon. If you haven’t had the pleasure you are missing out on the fun. There is no way to fully describe the “bicycle bubble” that riding tandem creates. It is an act of team work and friendship. A great team rides with cycling intuition. I am happy to say I have been a part of many a great team. Mary your not “the wife” just the second captain. Enjoy.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Joel. Yes, you have had a variety of tandem partners, too, so you have lots of knowledge in this area!

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  6. Love this! I have managed to be on a 50% women flèche team. I am pretty sure Katie R and Janice C had an all female team at one point. And of course Katie is the captain on the tandemator which really turns peoples heads. I’m pretty sure her male stokers don’t get hassled the way you do!

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  7. Me, me, me!!!! I have been part of an all female fleche team. Not just all female, but all on fixed gear bikes. We were the Fixie Chicks in 2008. The next year we allowe a guy to join us, and we were Three Braids and a Beard! One of the best parts of doing a fleche is coming up with the team name! Injury and illness have curtailed my long distance riding in recent years, but the tandem has been a blessing in that regard as I have been able to rebuild lots of strength while riding with my partner. We love our tandem!

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    1. Always love seeing the pics of you and John out on the tandem, too, although I see you have a new single bike that recently joined the fleet. So many bikes so little time!

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  8. A high point of 37 years of marriage to Jan Bull was the two years we spent randonneuring on the tandem together. Too bad osteoporosis has put the kibosh on that.

    Does anyone really use “the wife” except ironically? I guess they must or you wouldn’t have noted it 🙂

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  9. Hi thanks for a great article.
    How you guys cycle so far is beyond me as I struggle to cycle 50 miles. It’s funny you should mention how you dislike how some people refer to their wives as a friend of mine always refers to his wife who I have never met by her first name which is Jane. My wife SWMBO sorry I just had to and she’d kill me if she reads this also hates being referred to other than by her first name as well.
    As for me I don’t mind what you call as long as it isn’t rude.
    Look forward to reading further reports.

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  10. Just dumped “the wife” on a rail trail of all places! People do stupid stuff! Anyway, her helmet strap broke, but, the CAT scan came back negative. My road rash is 50% healed, I guess its time to get back on the tandem, no tandems were hurt making the accident! I enjoy reading your blog, we are mid distance 50-70 mile people, so like other readers, you guys inspire us. Keep the blog rolling and I’ll keep reading.

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  11. Well, my wife, Laurie, is one of those women who has fallen out of love with riding the tandem. After a loaded tour from Jasper to Salt Lake she just doesn’t dig it. And she doesn’t ride her single much either. I always invite. She always declines. After almost 30 years of wedded bliss, I am resigned to riding solo. There aren’t many folks I like talking to for hours on end beside my wife (and very few of those cycle). When I mention someone’s female stoker it is always in good fun. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying, “Hey, she’s trying to pass you dude! Pedal!”

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    1. Hmm, sorry to read she fell out of love with riding, but there is so much to experience in life that it’s best to spend what parts of it you can doing what you like…

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  12. Just discovered your blog! It is an awesome reassurance for all the things I am going to try out. I got into brevets a while back and she will be doing her first 200k next month.

    We don’t see any tandem bikes where we live and would love if you can point me to some resource(s) on what to look for in a good tandem.

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