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The right pair of wheels

| Thursday, September 25, 2014

Because I live in Carroll Hall, people tend to regard me as a bit of an oddity. Because I live in Carroll and do not own a bike, skateboard, longboard, pennyboard, roller blades or scooter, people tend to regard me as insane.

But I have never wanted any form of transportation besides my own two legs. When the winter hits, all a bike will do is get buried under snow or slide out from under you. Any set of wheels you can get is just not worth it. Well, any set but one.

There are few sights in the world as beautiful as a tandem bicycle operated to perfection, gliding across South Quad to DeBartolo, passing other, pathetic, single-seat bikes like they’re stuck in mud. As a freshman, trying my best to speed-walk to O’Shag in time for a 9:30 a.m. class, I felt like some peasant from the Middle Ages seeing cars whip down the freeway.

From then on, I knew that the only bike I would ever ride at Notre Dame would be a tandem one. There were minor quibbles, of course, like, how would I pay for it? Where would it go in the winter? What should I call it? Who would ride with me? Would it be weird to ride alone?

But these worries felt meaningless when I imagined the effortless joy of rolling out of bed three minutes before class, hopping on the back of a two-seater and drinking coffee, while the guy in front did all the pedaling and we still made it to lecture on time.

Now, you might say I could accomplish almost the exact same thing on a regular bike, but I would argue that a tandem could go twice as fast as any pitiful one-seater. Thus, only a tandem is worth it.

At least, that’s what I would have said for the better part of two years until last week when my roommate and I bit the bullet and actually did it. We found a deal on Amazon, split the cost, ordered our bike and waited. When it finally came, I was pretty sure that all my dreams were about to come true.

And then I, along with my brother, tried to ride my tandem bicycle. We did not fly. We did not cruise. We did not double the speed of a regular bike. We wobbled and swerved and almost crashed at least three times. When we came to a turn, instead of risking a catastrophic shift of the handlebars, we stopped and walked.

It turns out that tandem bikes take a fair amount of practice and patience to master. Somehow, in my two years of waiting, I had failed to realize this. A setback? Certainly, but not a defeat. I am determined that someday a freshman will look across the quad, see a sleek two-seat bicycle whizz by and think, “Hey, I want one of those.”

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

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