Today, I’m sharing another local park with you. Before this summer, I had never ridden on a two-person bike before. That all changed with an afternoon at Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville…
The park is some kilometres south of Montreal, in the town of Boucherville. It’s made up of 5 small islands set in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Like all national parks of Québec, it costs $8.50 for an entry pass. If you make of day of it, I think the fee is worth it. There are cycling and walking trails, canoe and kayak rentals, and tons of picnic tables. There’s even a small beach volleyball court!
When Julien and I visited Parc des Îles, it was a weekday and the park was amazingly empty and peaceful. Well – peaceful except for a relentless squirrel who kept trying to get at our food!
After we ate, it was time to rent a bike ($19.75 for an hour ride). I have to admit I was a little nervous. I didn’t feel like making a fool of myself in the middle of a public park! The guy who gave us the bike assured us that riding tandem was intuitive enough, but I knew better (nothing that requires coordination is intuitive for me).
I guess it makes sense that riding two-by-two should not feel the same as riding solo, but it was instantly far more comedic than I expected. I sat in the back, clinging to my handle bars with my life, while Julien took the front pedals.
The pedals are connected using one chain, so that means that both riders are forced to pedal at the same speed, and one can’t stop pedalling while the other is going. Occasionally we would forget this, resulting in one of us getting whacked in the foot by a wild pedal. Ouch!
One chain also means one brake, so the rider in the back can’t stop the bike. If you give tandem riding a try, make sure you trust your biking comrade. If you’re in the back seat, there’s little you can do to slow down the bike except for scream in protest (which, as I discovered, isn’t very effective).
We cycled around the trails for about an hour. At one point, I got on the front to see what it was like – but this arrangement didn’t last long. Note: It is far more frightening and difficult to balance from the front seat!
The highlight of the ride was when we came around these beautiful fields and saw a mother deer and two calves peering out at the road. We were able to stop and watch them for a while before they disappeared.
So that was the account of my afternoon at Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville, and the testimony of my first time tandem biking. If you haven’t tried two-by-two biking, you really should give it a go. It’s great for a laugh, and if you get the chance to see some impressive scenery while you’re at it, even better 🙂