Should I ride a tandem bike on the first date?
July 28, 2011 9:40 PM   Subscribe

Is it a bad idea to ride a tandem bike on first date?

I'm a fairly active albeit uncoordinated (klutzy) person. I'm going out on a date who is also pretty active, and he suggested that he pick me up (we're in a small town) on a tandem bike. He says he's pretty good at it.

On one hand, I'm figuring, why not? It won't be over 10 miles long and when am I going to get this chance again?

On another hand, what if this ends up being a really bad idea and turns the date really sour (or makes it go worse)?
posted by skybluesky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (36 answers total)
If you fall off, than you have a funny klutzy moment you can laugh at together.

If you succeed you get a moment usually only seen in romance montages and Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.

In other words,
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:41 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Go for it! Tandems are great fun.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:42 PM on July 28, 2011

if a captain's decent at riding a bike, it's pretty hard for even a klutzy stoker to fuck it all up. bikes are sweet. have a great date.

in love, partnered, and married 4+ years after a bike date
posted by entropone at 9:43 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Sounds cute. If it were a blind date or internet date, I'd say no, since you want to be able to make a getaway in case the person's a weirdo -- but it sounds like you've met this person previously, so go for it!
posted by sweetkid at 9:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd do it! I once went on a (deliberately time-limited) paddle in a double kayak (aka a "divorce boat") with someone on a first date.
It worked out totally fine, and it was a good way to learn about each other without having to awkwardly stare into the other's eyes.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:47 PM on July 28, 2011

If it's short and taken in the context of goofy fun (and not a "workout date"), you should have a good time. Just relax, and enjoy the scenery, the breeze, and the company.

You can be a help out as a stoker by not trying to steer and avoiding throwing your weight around.
posted by drwelby at 9:56 PM on July 28, 2011

I can barely ride a regular bike, and I had absolutely no problem being the back person on a tandem bike. If he's in front, you'll literally just have to pedal.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:10 PM on July 28, 2011

Eh, if becomes a bad date, then it's a bad date. Those things happen. Another vote for go for it. Wear appropriate clothing. (Remember that bikes eat pants.)
posted by anaelith at 10:21 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you'll be absolutely fine in the physical, bike-riding sense -- tandem bikes are probably more difficult than one would assume, but they're by no means impossible. If conditioning is an issue, you'll find it roughly averaged out by his fitness. I promise you you'll do fine on this front, if this was your worry.

But if your worry, like mine, is about the psychology and moral fiber of someone who chooses to ride tandem bikes? Well, you're very right to be deeply suspicious.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 10:31 PM on July 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

NO matter what happens, you'll be able to say you've ridden a tandem bike, so it's thumbs up and full speed ahead.
posted by davejay at 10:33 PM on July 28, 2011

Sounds like a cute idea, ten miles is not that long on a bike.

If it all goes wrong, catch a cab home.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:52 PM on July 28, 2011

My wife calls the tandem "the divorce bike."

I'm also skeptical of a first date where one of you spends the whole time looking at the back of the other's head.

That said, it's probably not such a terrible idea that you should reject it. I'd actually cut the guy some slack if it goes badly -- I think he's setting himself a really high bar here.
posted by bjrubble at 12:25 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah I think it would make for an awkward dynamic because you couldn't face to face talk to each other.

And I personally like to reserve the option to leave a date at any time, which becomes much more difficult if you're sharing a tandem 5 miles from anywhere.

I vote no to first date, yes to third date.
posted by crawltopslow at 12:48 AM on July 29, 2011

You both sound adventurous and awesome. Do it!
posted by superfish at 1:18 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You should do it. You can always take a taxi home.

As the stoker, your job is to pedal. If he's doing things that are making you uncomfortable (riding recklessly) then you also need to communicate that. Don't try to control the bike by resisting the pedals or leaning, you're just going to make the bike unstable.

But if your worry, like mine, is about the psychology and moral fiber of someone who chooses to ride tandem bikes? Well, you're very right to be deeply suspicious.

Pistols at dawn, sir.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:40 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'd be mixed. Have you ever met this guy before? Internet thing? If it were so, I'd say 2nd or 3rd date. Yes, it's nice to have a good exit strategy. Going around on a bike on a first date is sort of a physically controlling experience that I might not be up for.

If you know the guy, and trust him, then I'd go for it.
posted by sully75 at 5:17 AM on July 29, 2011

I like this idea for precisely the same reason some people advise having conversations with teens while riding in the car. It removes the obligation to sit across from your date and look into their eyes but oops not stare into their eyes and where do I look again, maybe I'll split my time between a point just above their eyes and something interesting over there, or the table, maybe, no, but I could fiddle with my drink and wish I had never quit smoking, because that always gave you a distracting focal point that didn't come across as evasive... am I looking evasive? I might be. Those years living in a country where direct eye contact was considered too direct have really wreaked havoc with my social skills; if only there was a kind of date in which the potential awkwardness of the usual conversation across the table could be replaced by an activity which obviated the need for eye contact and provided a steady stream of outside stimuli which could serve as the topic of comment or conversation.

Where was I? Oh, do it.
posted by itstheclamsname at 5:24 AM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

It'll also teach you something about him: whether he gets miffed at your lack of skill, whether he drives recklessly, whether he just enjoys the scenery or goofing about, whether he is fun. Do it!
At the very least he comes up with interesting dating ideas!
posted by Omnomnom at 5:31 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do it! He suggested it, so he's obviously into it. (If you were the person with the tandem wanting a first date to do it, I would have said no, but clearly that's not the case.)

Have fun!
posted by motsque at 5:44 AM on July 29, 2011

As long as you trust the person, go for it! Physical activity and a bit of nervousness about trying something new will add to the thrill of the first date and actually help you find him attractive. Big fan of doing something novel for first dates.
posted by BDoyon at 6:06 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

The great thing about tandem bike is that you are always close to each other and can talk. My bf and I really like also because he's in better shape than I am, and that way he doesn't have to constantly make sure we're still together.

I also kinda saw it as a test in trust though, because you have to trust the person in front since you have no control when you're in the back. You also have to coordinate your pedaling speed.

I say try it!
posted by domi_p at 6:33 AM on July 29, 2011

I say go for it, but with a slight word of warning if you haven't ridden a bike in a while. Even if you are active and in good shape, be prepared for having a whole different set of muscles worked than you are used to, even if your date does the majority of the work, and even if you are riding slowly.

So, don't be shy or embarassed if you need to call for a time out to rest your legs. Better to do that than push yourself and end up miserable and having no fun because you have achy legs. (Also be prepared to feel it the next day.)

Otherwise, sounds like fun!
posted by The Deej at 7:14 AM on July 29, 2011

I'm not into it. For me, a date is all about getting to know the other person. Riding a tandem bike isn't a great opportunity to talk so I couldn't see myself getting much out of it. It seems cute at first, but 10 miles?
posted by fso at 11:00 AM on July 29, 2011

Agree with bjrubble that spending the whole date looking at the back of his head could be a bit awkward. If you do decide to do this, make sure that non-bike-riding time is factored into the date so that you can actually talk. Maybe make the bike ride shorter (like, 20-30 minutes, NOT 10 miles!), and then you can go have lunch, get coffee, etc. The bike ride will give you something to talk about, which should combat any first-date induced silence.
posted by spectacularicity at 11:06 AM on July 29, 2011

Go. Riding together on a tandem is a great way to talk. I am assuming that your not going to be lycra'd and riding so hard you are unable to speak. Conversation should work fine. You will also learn lots about your date that you will never be able to find out through conversation alone. As will you date...
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 12:03 PM on July 29, 2011

Ask requires a post-date update :)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:15 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I say yes it's a bad idea because it's cheesy to do it out of the blue. Wait a few dates in and do a double date with a friend and her boyfriend. Have her say "you guys are so cute I could just picture you on a bicycle built for two"...and go from there.

If you brought it up as a first date thing, as a guy I would think " that's how she is."

Just being honest.
posted by carlh at 2:32 PM on July 29, 2011

carlh, the guy suggested the tandem bike. So he wouldn't think that.
posted by sweetkid at 2:33 PM on July 29, 2011

Yes, I totally noticed that I read the original question quite wrong but still, the opposite POV is still valid. If I were the OP I would still go " that's how he is."
posted by carlh at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2011

There sure are some lame, boring people in this thread. I say go for it! Tandem biking for a first date is fun and different. You'll still be able to talk and no more than 10 miles is NOT far at all. It seems like some people in this thread have never been on a bicycle before. And if it ends up being a bad date, then it probably would have been a bad date even without the bike. +10 to a guy suggesting a date that is something other than the unoriginal coffee/movie/dinner date.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:27 PM on July 29, 2011

Do it! It sounds like a great bonding exercise. Some people say it's weird to not be facing your date--I say it's a recipe for a good time and conversation fodder. You get to talk about interesting things on your route, have them teach you a new skill, and you get to find out how they treat you when you're vulnerable. Plus, I think you'd win points for being adventurous. If I asked someone to ride a tandem bike with me, and they told me that they were klutzy but up for it, oh man. Much respect. Worst case scenario, he'll become That Guy With The Tandem Bike and you'll have a funny bad date story to tell.

If you're worried about having an escape route, check out the route beforehand for convenient transit stops, make sure your phone is charged, and bring enough cash for a taxi or a bus ride home.
posted by millions of peaches at 3:41 PM on July 29, 2011

Thanks for all the input, everyone! I'm feeling more excited about this date after hearing your opinions on it. We're going on Sunday and then we'll go for a swim in the lake afterwards. We live in a small but densely populated college town, and if the date does turn bad, it'll be a fun walk back to my car (for real, the bike path is along the lake and leads to a beach and hiking paths).

We have a few mutual friends, and he seems really funny, which is one of the things that made me agree in the first place. We're both really familiar with the town, so hopefully all goes well and I don't try to steer too much from the back!

The staring thing with people you're first dating has its pros and cons for me. Every culture has different rules; in the US, eye contact is encouraged, but only for half a second or so, and then you have to look away. It takes a lot of intuition and coordination. So being behind him will be good. I hope the back of his head is nice to look at.

I will DEFINITELY post back here as soon as the date is over, however it goes! Seriously, though, hearing many different points of views here has really validated how I felt about the date in the first place. It makes me smile to think that you guys want to know how it turns out!
posted by skybluesky at 9:15 PM on July 29, 2011

Hey guys,

It was really fun! It was a lot easier to talk without eye contact while on the bike. The swimming was awesome, too. I liked him enough, but I'm not sure if anything will come of it. I'm glad I did it, it's definitely something I won't forget.

Again, thanks for all the advice!
posted by skybluesky at 7:17 PM on July 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

Carpe diem! So glad this was a good experience for you and that you had fun, thanks for coming back to tell us about it!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:22 PM on July 31, 2011

Thanks for helping take the leap!
posted by skybluesky at 9:00 PM on August 1, 2011

I'm glad I was wrong. That is great! Good for you :)
posted by carlh at 11:43 AM on August 3, 2011

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