Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – In Tandem Bike

For various reasons, we were unable to tandem bike ride this spring, and I truly missed it. Additionally, it was a tremendous blow when we learned that the charismatic leader of the then Achilles Tandem Bike Program, Mr. Artie Elefant, had passed away. It seemed so sudden to us as we had no idea he was ailing. We were stunned into silence before we began sobbing. My last sweet memory of him was his playful antics as we completed the Summer Streets Bike Ride. As I stood cooling off, I felt cool water dripping onto my head and down my shoulders. There stood Artie, wickedly grinning. I shrieked, but, of course, ended up laughing. How could I have known it would be the last time I would see his smiling face? We thought surely the tandem program had died with him. Thankfully, we were wrong.

Ms. Ayesha McGowan and Mr. Matt Molina, dedicated captains, took on the Herculean task of reviving the program in Artie’s name. Obtaining new bikes, sponsorship and captains, they got the program rolling again.

Maria and I were asked to do some promotional videos and pictures for the newly-named In Tandem Bike website (www.intandembike.org). To my knowledge, we are no longer affiliated with the Achilles program.

A charge went through me as I read the email that the Tandem program would be reborn. It would take time to recruit captains and contact stokers but it would happen. Finally, on a chilly October morning, there we stood, waiting at the familiar Engineer’s Gate in Central Park. How exciting to hop on a new bike and once again go whizzing around the park in all its Autumnal splendor. In addition to new bikes and captains, we now must sign insurance forms each time we ride. My captain is an employee of a group of our most keen supporters. Little did I know that I’d soon be visiting their offices.

Googling Maria and I, Ayesha learned that we sing as the MaLyn duo and invited us to perform at an inaugural event for the program. Coincidentally, it would be held at the offices of the aforementioned captain in the New York Times Building. What floor? 44?! From the moment I heard the number, I went into freefall and panic mode, so much so that on the night of the event, I grabbed Maria’s new guitar instead of my familiar Fender. Somehow I kept myself together as we rapidly ascended in an elevator without buttons. Guess one could say I literally rose to the occasion.

It is my hope that this vital program continues gathering participants and popularity and that it engenders the spirit of camaraderie and wellbeing that Artie intended.

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