In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’d like to highlight those who ride the Trail “in tandem.” Tandem riders come in all shapes and sizes on the Trail. We’ve seen father-son duos, couples, friends, and more! We reached out to some tandem riders to share their stories about why they ride tandem bicycles together.
Jim and Martha Gullo are one of our Trail Ambassador duos. We have lots of happy couples that volunteer for the Trail Ambassador program and choose to do their Trail patrols together. It’s always good to have an extra set of eyes and ears when patrolling the Trail.
The Gullo’s say, “riding tandem is a great way to stay together and share a common experience.” They have traveled to different states to participate in several tandem rallies. They say the tandem community is friendly and makes quite the impression when 120 tandems ride through town during rallies. Jim explains, “The person in the back is the ‘stoker’ and handles all of the directions. Just like marriage, communication is essential for the ride to go smoothly!”
Jim and Martha are planning to ride their tandem from Yorktown to San Francisco starting June 1, 2019 with Bike the US for MS. They say, “It will take us 62 days, but it will be a ride of a lifetime!”
Joel Spencer and his wife Maura, affectionately called Buzz, frequently ride the Trail in tandem together. Last year they rode 1200-1500 miles on the Trail on tandem and have already ridden twice this year. Their rides vary from short rides to overnight rides to Williamsburg. They have upcoming tandem rides planned including a week near Austin, Texas and 10 days in the Loire Valley of France.
Joel says, “Some of our tandem rides are like dates. It's just us and we talk and enjoy being outside. After a "date ride" we usually have lunch and our favorite lunch spot is the deck of Conch Republic (weather permitting). All in all it is a pretty cool day to go out for an early ride followed by a guilt-free lunch at Conch Republic and then home for a shower and often a nap. Life can be pretty good.” Some of the couple’s other favorites places to stop for a bite to eat include Cul’s Courthouse Grille, The Fork on Five, and Upper Shirley. They have plans to do a tandem ride to Indian Fields Tavern in the near future.
In addition to riding tandem, the couple also rides solo as well. Joel stays busy on the Trail as the co-coordinator of the west end Trail Ambassadors. In 2018, he rode a total of 5,700 miles of which 2,000 were on tandem. When asked how they feel about riding tandem Joel responded jokingly “I won’t speak for Buzz, but we do joke about a difference of opinion. Buzz likes riding the tandem as she thinks it is easier to go up hill on a tandem while I find I am of the opposite opinion finding it harder to climb hill on a tandem.” Buzz added, “Since we ride single bikes at totally different speeds (he likes to go fast and I prefer a more moderate pace) it's difficult and frustrating for both of us to ride single bikes together (unless we ride separately and meet up along the way, which isn't much fun!). I love riding on the tandem! Also, we've made good friends with other tandem riders and enjoy riding with them on trips.”
Joel and Buzz are also members of the Richmond Area Tandem Society (RATS) and participate in their monthly rides whenever they can. Joel says, “the RATS have been known to play on the VCT.” Last year the couple led a RATS ride from the Stone Brewing parking lot in Richmond that used the Trail as well as local roads.
Tandem isn’t just for couples- it can be a family affair as well. That’s exactly how the Gorondy-Toderico family likes to ride. Ben and his wife Denise ride tandem with their two sons attached on their tandem trailer in what looks like a self-described “Dr. Seuss mobile.”
The couple got into tandem after Denise was struck from behind by an SUV almost two years ago on June 5, 2016. She was thrown in a farmer’s field and left there for over an hour before a passing cyclist saw her and called for help. Denise was then transported to the hospital where she spent the next 40 days. She continues to work on her recovery from injuries, which include a severe brachial plexus injury that left her right arm paralyzed.
Ben states “In spite of that day being the worst day in our lives there is so much that went right and positive on that day. Starting with the cyclist, the field being able to support a helicopter landing, the community support, VCU Hospital, my wife's will, and my experience in exercise physiology and strength and conditioning.”
Denise has been quite active during her recovery including racing a 5k, horseback riding, hiking, and downhill skiing. Prior to the accident, the Gorondy-Toderico family was very active and frequently road their bikes together. They came up with the idea to ride tandem due to Denise only being able to use her left arm. The couple rented a bike and tested in on the Capital Trail and instantly knew this was the way to get the family biking again. Today the foursome continues to ride tandem together on the Trail in their special setup (as pictured below).
Don’t forget tandems are allowed in Cap2Cap and you can signup a friend when you register yourself! Do you have a story of riding tandem with someone you love? Share it in the comments below!