Intro: Meet Gil Johnson, Senior Advisor, Critical Issues, American Foundation for the Blind, CareerConnect mentor AND an energetic, avid biker!

The Story: The feel of wind on my face; riding alongside running water or waves; the exhilaration when cresting a steep hill or racing at top speed down the other side; exploring new terrains; the companionship of two riders out for a leisurely or strenuous bike ride; and the physical well being after completing a ride of whatever distance, are almost addictive. These are some of the joys that have made tandem bike riding almost a necessity for me for nearly 40 years.

When people not accustomed to riding a bike hear me say that I have ridden 20, 30, 40 miles or more in one afternoon, they will often shake their head in disbelief and wonder where I get the energy and stamina to do that. It is not as crazy or physically taxing as it may seem. Riding certainly requires that a person be in relatively good physical condition, has access to a two-seater (tandem) bike in reasonable repair, and is teamed up with a compatible sighted team member who steers the bike and has good bike handling skills.

After the first few rides, stamina begins to build and skills such as starting and stopping safely and developing coordination with the other rider, improve. Tandem bike riding begins to become an activity to look forward to—even a necessity.

I have ridden my bike in four different states, in all kinds of weather from near zero to nearly 100 degrees, in varying terrains, and with many different captains. I have explored rural terrains and ridden on heavily trafficked streets. My estimate is that over the years, I have ridden 30,000 miles, and to date, have not had an accident.

In addition to feeling physically fit after every ride, the most enjoyable aspect of bike riding is the companionship with my captain. Working together to effectively negotiate turns, mounting and dismounting gracefully, smoothly changing gears while climbing or descending hills, is a real accomplishment and requires teamwork. Using the time while riding together to discuss books, current events, sports, surrounding scenery and people, religion, or whatever interests the two of us, is the true value of riding a tandem with another like-minded person.

If this sounds like something you might want to do, find more detailed information on the sport in the Tandem Biking section on AFB Senior Site.

The Contact: Gil Johnson