LIFE IN TANDEM
Author: Jackie Winter
Publisher: Chantries Press
Price: Kindle £1.99 Paperback £6.77 plus p&p
A cycling book written by someone who cannot ride a bike is, to say the least, a little unusual. Yet Jackie Winter never learned to ride as a child and does not want to ride a solo machine. It just goes to show that tandeming is another world where things are done differently. In fact, as stoker Jackie points out, not being a cyclist has distinct advantages.
Jackie was dragged into tandem riding by her husband during a stroll to the pub which began on foot and ended on a borrowed tandem. To say that she never looked back would be overdoing things. One of the joys of this book is that Jackie did not see herself as a cyclist or even a tandemer; there’s a strong scepticism, diminishing as the stories unfold, but never disappearing. So, there are slightly side-ways looks to the “Real Cyclist” and the equipment, garb and attitude required to qualify as one; cycling in all kinds of weather, missing out tea-shops, cycle-camping and many of the things some “Real Cyclists” take for granted.
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
Of course, setting out in the nineteen-seventies was a different matter. A first tour of the Yorkshire Dales in the blistering drought of 1976 was a baptism of sunburn, but it cemented a friendship that holds. That, as with all cycling, is a strong element of any tale. Cycling, often in mixed groups of solos and one or more tandems, on the whole at a touring pace, many of the characters familiar in any group of cyclists start to emerge; the young race-snake, the avuncular veteran, bike-cleaning man and others. Yet, Jackie draws them as individual characters as they pedal through Dorset’s rolling country.
Jackie did get the competitive spirit once or twice, but this is really a story of tandeming and the ups and downs of life to which it is subjected. It is, too, a story of companionship and love, and not solely of the tandems Jackie has stoked. Alongside the love story there are practical tips to be picked up on the practicalities of tandem ownership and the hardship of saying farewell to a bike, let alone selling it.
Jackie, it is safe to say, likes guide-books. Combining with a career in libraries, she is a font of knowledge about people and places found along the many miles she has pedalled. The book is modestly subtitled “Tales of cycling travels”, and though it is more than that, readers are likely to pipe up with a shrill, “I’ve been there,” as the pages are turned.
Thirty-two years after their first ever cycle tour with friends Jess and Theo, Jackie and Allan, toured with them again. At the end they promised not to leave it for another thirty-two years. The day Jackie sent me the book to review she was just back from a fifty-six miler.
And that is this book; amongst all those ups-and-downs through which life rolls, tandeming has been a relief, a chore, ecstatic, exhausting, but always a part of life. Touring cyclists will empathise and recognise. This is an enjoyable read; the next page beckons and the last page arrived too soon – rather like a good cycle tour.
Grand grass-roots cycling fare.
“Life in Tandem; Tales of cycling travels” is available on Kindle and in paperback or directly from the author.
Contact Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01929 459207
REVIEW FIRST PUBLISHED 2014