The 99 participants of this weekend’s Canadian Tandem Rally pose for a group photograph near the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound Sunday morning before embarking on a day of riding north of the city. Denis Langlois/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Post Media Network
Denis Langlois / Denis Langlois/The Sun Times/Post Media Network
Tandem bicycles have played a role in some of the biggest events of Bill Moriarty and Ann West’s life.The Owen Sound-area couple started riding a bicycle built for two 27 years ago. About a year later, Moriarty proposed to West while they were pedalling down a road on a tandem bike.“And our first tandem was part of our wedding ceremony as well. We got married in 1994, so it’s 25 years we’ve been married, and we’ve been riding tandem since 1992,” Moriarty said in an interview Sunday morning.Since their wedding, the pair has cycled throughout the world on a tandem, including in multiple locations in Canada – from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia – and the continental United States as well as in Hawaii, Cuba, Guadalupe, Ireland, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Portugal and New Zealand.On the weekend, they were among the 99 people participating in the Canadian Tandem Rally, which took place this year in Owen Sound.Cycling enthusiasts from across Ontario as well as Quebec and the United States took part in the annual gathering, which has been taking place in various communities in Ontario since 2004.In all, there were 48 tandem bicycles and one triple-seated bike at the rally.Brenda Vandevelde, who co-organized the event with her husband David, said most tandem cycling pairs are husbands and wives or partners, but some family members and friends also take up the sport together.“With tandem, you ride together. It’s a great equalizer,” the Mississauga resident said.Moriarty said that’s one of the things that initially drew he and West to the sport.“I raced a lot and when I first met Ann, we found that I would be waiting for her to catch up. But being on a tandem, we’re both together and we both go the same place at the same time.”He said he enjoys events like the Canadian Tandem Rally because it’s an opportunity to meet others who share a passion for tandem cycling.“And you get to talk about equipment because there’s not that many tandems around,” he said.Mel and Barbara Kornbluh of Pittsgrove, N.J., are a vast source of knowledge when it comes to tandem bicycles.The pair has owned Tandem East, a business that sells tandem bikes, parts and accessories, for the past 31 years.They have been married for 46 years and travelled 322,000 kilometres together on a tandem.This weekend’s rally was the couple’s 80th. They also co-ordinate group trips through their business.“There’s nothing better than riding your bike with the person you love the most, getting exercise and seeing the scenery and meeting lots of people,” Barbara said.They joked that whatever direction your relationship is going – uphill or downhill – riding a tandem together will get you there faster.Mel, 72, who always rides in the captain or front seat, and Barbara, 68, who is the “stoker,” have cycled on a tandem in nearly every American state and in many other countries, including New Zealand.The Canadian Tandem Rally was last held in Owen Sound in May 2007.This year, all rides began and ended at the Best Western Inn on the Bay.West, who is president of the Owen Sound Cycling Club, and Moriarty served as area co-ordinators for the rally and also helped with the route research for the weekend rides.On Saturday, riders went to Wiarton or Wolseley and then met up in Kemble for lunch before heading back to Owen Sound via Balmy Beach.For Sunday’s ride, the cyclists headed to Sauble Beach, had lunch in Hepworth and then ventured back to Owen Sound.Brenda Vandevelde said the Grey-Bruce area is a beautiful place to cycle.