I knew the lead group pulled away even though I can't see them. I couldn't hear the whirl of their rear wheels, the galloping of their bikes and heavy breathing. I't wasn't until we rounded a corner that my suspicions are confirmed and they were 50 yards in front of us and growing. The view from the back of the tandem is limited - mostly of Ben's butt and back and if I'm not bleeding out my eyeballs trying to push as hard as possible, I occasionally glance around.
I feel a sense of shame when I know we're no longer with them. The competitor in me longs to be - so I keep pushing. I don't give up. I keep my head down, focused on the pain and continue to strive for more power. If I had been on my own bike, I'd likely have given up long ago - but on the tandem, I keep pushing.
That's the strength and beauty of riding the tandem. The knowledge that your partner is reliant on your effort. I will fight to the very end for Benjamin. And I love that even if that's not enough, even if we fall off the lead group and have to chase like hell, he's there for me.
It's funny how self-doubt and criticism seats in when you least expect it. How I genuinely felt let down we couldn't keep pace with guys whose power output is double, if not triple, what I can do. Even when you combine our power and Ben's strength - it's still not enough. I'm the weak link. Ben made a comment about having a guy on the back and how fast they would go and a sense of panic sets in - I don't want to be replaced. I know that's irrational but the doubt starts as a seed and from that continues to grow.
Do you ever feel like you're not good enough for your partner? That you're letting them down not rising to their hopes and expectations? And do you let that little demon of debt snowball into other parts of your life?
Me neither. Ha! (Just kidding.)
It takes courage to bring up what makes us vulnerable. To have those conversations - with our self and others - so that you end up giving voice to the monsters, which in turn shrinks the power they have over you.
Ask the questions. Bring up the subjects that seem silly and petty. Even if it's from the back of a tandem where you can't see much.