"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

‘Two wheels, two seats, four pedals, two riders equals double the fun’

By on June 26, 2021 in Outdoor Fun with 2 Comments
Chuck and Michelle Carey love wearing their colorful jerseys from their ride in Cambodia. It gives them a worldly look as they ride the local Apple Capital Loop Trail in Wenatchee.

Story by Linda Reid 

When Michelle and Chuck Carey began looking for a place to relocate for retirement, they knew it had to be a bicycle-friendly place. 

They were also seeking pleasant weather to help propel them onto the trails and roadways they hoped to explore. To these criteria Michelle added, “I wanted to live in a community, not a resort.” 

They were also looking for a community that would be welcoming and friendly. They recently decided on Wenatchee and are currently renting a home in East Wenatchee while they build their retirement dream house.

When Chuck and Michelle met, she was an avid skier and hiker, while Chuck’s go-to sport was biking. Although they continued to participate in these activities as a couple, Michelle readily admits that when it came to biking, they were very much “separate riders with unequal skills.” 

Then something serendipitous happened. 

A little over a decade ago they were visiting their friends Tony and Julie on Whidbey Island, who happen to be tandem bike riders. They had two tandem bikes, so the four of them went for a ride. 

Chuck and Michelle were immediately smitten by this new bicycling experience. 

The great advantage turned out to be that Michelle would no longer be left behind to catch up with Chuck, and Chuck would no longer be looking for her in his rear-view mirror and waiting for her. 

After their introduction to tandem riding, they started looking for the tandem bike that would best satisfy their wants and needs. They found it in Bend, Oregon and traveled south to purchase it. 

With the tandem bike came new titles for both of them. 

Chuck became the “captain” (sitting up front), and Michelle became “the stoker.” The stoker’s job is to get the bike started. 

When they begin from a stopped position, the stoker is clipped in and the captain is not, so the stoker is the power that moves them forward so the captain can clip in. 

Tandems are fast on the flat and fly going downhill. They do not do as well going uphill, even with two peddling. 

Michelle says, “My second job as stoker is to be the energizer bunny and give us the boost to get us to the top. Chuck’s job is to drive, which includes steering, braking, gear shifting, and watching for traffic and other safety hazards on the road.” 

Communication is one of the keys to success in this partnership. 

They soon came to realize, as Chuck put it, “Tandem riding is a metaphor for marriage, and not all couples are meant to be on a tandem bike. Riding a tandem takes your relationship to where it’s going, only much faster.” 

They discovered this tandem partnership worked almost flawlessly for them. Michelle had no problem giving over control to Captain Chuck. “He does more of the work so I can socialize more freely with other riders.”

One of the unique things about tandem riding is that Michelle can’t see what is directly ahead of her. She can only see Chuck’s back and everything that is to her right and to her left. 

Michelle is grateful for how he handles this. “Chuck is always talking to me about what he sees ahead, such as hills, turns, and bumps.” That helps her to be satisfied with her limited forward view. 

Soon after they started riding tandem, they joined the Evergreen Tandem Club (ETC), located in the Puget Sound area, to take advantage of the organized rides they sponsor and to make new friends in the tandem riding community. 

When they ride with other tandem pairs the group is usually 4 to 12 tandems. 

She describes it this way: “These group rides are a social club on wheels, that is two wheels, two seats, four pedals, two riders equals double the fun. There is always food and drinks at a stop during the ride, or at a minimum it will end with food and drinks.” 

Their first organized ride with ETC proved to be more strenuous than they were anticipating, with many steep hills. The good news was it was more of a “ride… stop to eat … ride … stop to eat event.” 

Taking the ferry to Vashon Island is one of their favorite ETC rides. 

Over the past decade they have also participated in larger Northwest Tandem Rally events. Starting rendezvous have taken them from Bellingham to Klamath Falls, to Seattle, to Boise, and to Albany, Oregon. 

Michelle and Chuck visit Saravoan Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during a break in their tandem tour of the Asian nation.

Michelle describes it this way: “These rallies can have as many as 400-plus bikes, which means 800-plus riders! They are held around the Fourth of July and are three to four days of riding and hanging out with other tandem riders. The mass start is quite a sight with hundreds of bikes and riders lined up. 

“Usually, we have a police escort and intersection management as we flood the streets until we reach the outskirts of town.” 

In addition, they have enjoyed taking their tandem bicycle to far-away places. 

How do they manage that? Chuck explains, “Our bike has quick disconnects on the frame which allow it to be taken apart to fit into a large case for flying.” 

Their tandem then returns the favor by transporting them through those places, such as they experienced on their first “cruise-for-tandem-riders” around Croatia in 2014. 

They met and bonded with another couple who were also on the Croatia cruise. It just so happened that these new friends (Randy and Michele Moseley) were long-time residents of East Wenatchee. 

These new acquaintances have now become an important part of their circle of friends and had an impact on Chuck and Michelle’s decision to move to East Wenatchee. 

Their trip to Croatia as well as a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2018 have been with a company who hosts tandem tours. “We pick the ones where we travel by boat. That way we only have to unpack once, and we ride in one or two different places each day,” Michelle added. 

They have tentative plans for another cruise adventure with their tandem to Greece in October of this year. The question that first comes into Michelle’s mind as they hope they will be able to do this trip is, “Who will we meet?” 

The word “tandem” has many positive connotations such as: partnership, unison, collaboration, cooperation, in concert, and in sync, but the last word about tandems, comes from Chuck: “Both riders on a tandem can feel, with every pedal stroke, the contribution of the other person. 

“So, while some passers-by call out that the stoker isn’t peddling, they miss the sharing of efforts, goals, strategies, meals, drinks, friendships and adventures that are essential to a successful tandem partnership.” 

For these two new residents of NCW, the good life comes in part from their synchronicity on two wheels. 

Linda and Ken Reid live in East Wenatchee and are regular contributor to The Good Life. Chuck and Michelle’s passion for tandem riding captured Linda’s attention when they recently moved in next door. 

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  1. Rob Carey says:

    Great write up on my younger brother and his wife. I am well aware of his travel adventures and I am very happy for both of them in this next chapter of their lives together. They are living the dream and I wish them all the very best.

  2. CINDY KELLY says:

    I’m so happy Chuck and Michelle are having such a fabulous time in their ‘new’ community! Dear friends and wonderful people. Wenatchee is lucky to have them!

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