‘I want to bike the bridge,’ I said for the twentieth time. My parents exchanged an exasperated look. ‘We’ve already gone over this,’ Dad told me.
‘We’re not going to ride bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge.’ ‘Why not?’ I demanded. Our vacation in San Francisco had been interesting thus far. We had spent the day at Fisherman’s Wharf, and I knew we had plans to go to the Exploratorium, the beach, and the zoo, but I wanted to rent bikes and go over the bridge more than anything else.
‘Rachel, your little sisters can’t ride that far.’ I glanced at my youngest sister, nine-year-old Rebecca. It was an eight-mile ride across the bridge one direction. She probably couldn’t ride that far alone.
Just then, I watched a couple ride past and got an idea.’I’ll ride tandem with Rebecca!’ I said.’What’s tandem?’ Becca asked.’A tandem bike has two seats,’ I told her. ‘You can ride behind me.’Mom and Dad sighed. ‘Let’s go see how much it will cost.’Blazing Saddles was a small bike rental shop on Pier 41.
‘We need one tandem bike and four singles,’ Dad told the girl behind the counter. ‘How much will that cost?’In a lilting Irish accent, she explained that the tandem would be eleven dollars per hour and the singles seven apiece. ‘How long will it take?’ Dad asked.She bent over the counter and showed us a map of the route: down Pier 41, along the beachfront, over the bridge, and down to the town of Sausalito.
‘It takes approximately two hours,’ she told us. ‘Most people ride across and take the ferry back.’She looked at us thoughtfully. ‘You guys could rent three tandems,’ she suggested softly.
‘It would be easier for the little ones.”What do you think?’ Dad asked.Katie, my thirteen-year-old sister, nodded. ‘I think that would be fun.’Eleven-year-old Monica agreed. ‘Let’s go!’ she said enthusiastically.The Irish girl grinned at her and pulled out the insurance paperwork.
Ten minutes later, another employee was pairing us up: Monica and me, Dad and Rebecca, and Katie and Mom. It took a few tries, but at last, all six of us were in our seats and ready to go.Dad and Rebecca led the way as we biked along the asphalt path. The weather worsened rapidly.
Five minutes into our ride, the sun went behind a massive cloud, and the wind picked up.The tandem bike took some getting used to. Turning took a lot of practice; the first time I tried, I ran us into a pole. By the time we reached the end of the sidewalk, though, Monica and I were professionals.It was a steep climb from the windy beach to top of the hill and onto the bridge. At the top, we turned onto the bicyclist side of the bridge and began our journey across.If it was windy on the beach, it was a tornado on the bridge. The wind buffeted us, trying to tip our bike over. Monica and I pedaled quickly, barely keeping our balance. We passed the rest of the family and rode ahead. I steered, and she waved at the cars going past, keeping track of how many drivers waved back.
Every so often, another biker would pass us. One man grinned at us; ‘I’ve never seen anybody have as much fun in the wind as you do!’ Monica and I tried to high five and almost tipped our bike over.At the end of the bridge, the path sloped downward almost immediately. It was a steep, curvy ride back to sea level. I wanted to go fast; Monica was shouting at me to slow down. At last, I gave in, and we coasted the final ten feet at a reasonable speed.The short trip to Sausalito was uneventful. We were getting tired, and every hill made us groan. But as we crested the last hill, we could see the seaside town of Sausalito and the ferry chugging toward the harbor.’If we ride quickly, we can ride back on this ferry,’ I told everybody. We didn’t hurry, but we coasted into Sausalito as the ferry was boarding. We climbed off the ferry back on the mainland and rode back to the Blazing Saddles shop. The Irish girl smiled at us as we came in. ‘It’s the Tandem Family!’ she said. ‘Did you guys have fun?’ I grinned. ‘You bet we did!’
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