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Day 3
Yuma, Arizona to Gila Bend, Arizona
118 miles, 1620 feet climbing

The next day, we rode from Yuma to Gila Bend. There was a road race scheduled for that day and John and I had planned to enter the race before our bike broke down. We had gone back and forth about whether or not to race on the borrowed bike, since odds were that we'd need to stop a dozen times to change saddle heights.

At breakfast we decided we would race, but apparently my nervousness about racing made John think I didn't want to race, and we ended up having an enormous fight that started out about the race and ended up covering every little problem in the last 6 months. Tandems have a reputation for exaggerating any little differences and have been known to end up in divorce settlements. This typically happens to a couple who doesn't communicate well off the bike. For a couple that does communicate effectively, tandems can really enhance a relationship since they can work together as a team for a common goal, and really share in the rewards. I have to say that this is usually the case for us, but this time, we simply failed to let each other know what we really wanted. We stopped twice and sat on the side of the road, while I generally lost my cool. We got back on the bike, and I tried my hardest to not work. I soft pedaled and even pulled my feet out entirely for a while (Hey, John owed me 5 miles from the night before anyway), but I actually found that riding this way is more painful, since all the pressure is on my butt. On top of all this, we were on this very small and cramped bike that left me even grumpier. I really, really wanted to get off that bike - and would have given anything for a single.

But to John's credit, he refused to take the easy way out and we stayed on the tandem. But we hardly spoke for an hour. Then John blew a shift. We'd been having a similar problem with the front derailleur on our own bike, where we could occasionally overshift off the big ring. John kept blaming the bike. When it happened on Susan's bike too, I said that it had to be him ! Now, I suppose this could have made things worse, but it actually served as an icebreaker, and we finally started talking again. Had we been able to get off the tandem and on singles, we might not have ever resolved the problem, but by being forced to finish the day on the same bike, we had the time and the proximity to work it out.

Last year when I first mentioned to a friend that we planned to take the tandem on a cross country tour, she warned me that it could be difficult, since if we had differences, we couldn't get away from each other, and it is certainly a concern. But what we learned from this experience was how important it was to really communicate and that the tandem doesn't always have to make a fight worse !