When she returned, the two 25-year-olds started kissing. She tried to yank the door handle, but realized that the power locks were on. “I couldn’t breathe and I started to panic for my life,” she says.She reached for the gun Sanders kept under the passenger seat.
When they get back, Betty jumps up on her, giving one of those greetings dog owners live for. We have to be a team and work together.” That was especially necessary on their longest trip two years ago when they rode from Princeton to Philadelphia for a cheesesteak and then turned around and rode back.
“We took a very scenic route on the way back and it was a spectacular day,” recalls Conde, for whom the memory has turned bittersweet: “It was one of the last rides I did with some sight.” Not long after, she had an accident at home and lost the partial vision that enabled her to perceive some light, color and shapes.
“Life goes on,” she says, looking on the bright side.
n the night of December 17, 1991, Kim Dadou’s boyfriend, Darnell Sanders, drove up to her mother’s house.
On a Saturday morning in March, Conde, who is 55, lives in Woodside, Queens, and works at the VA Medical Center, is sitting on a bench by Central Park with Sweeney, a 47-year-old chef based in Astoria, Queens. “Over the course of time, people here develop friendships and want to ride together,” says Stanley Zucker, In Tandem’s co-founder and executive director.
They’re waiting for a bike and chatting, while Conde’s guide dog Betty, a five-year-old golden retriever (whose own impressive tale was told in a previous Narratively story), is burying her face in Conde’s lap, sensing the impending separation. He leads Conde to a bike, helps adjust the seat and helmet, counts down – three, two, one – and they’re off. Wearing a light blue All-Night Donut Ride T-shirt, Zucker, 61, a semi-retired film producer, flits about with clipboard in hand, cracking jokes and playing dispatcher as he helps riders find partners, bikes and helmets, and logs everyone’s mileage.
Now she is adjusting to living “in total darkness,” she says.
Before the accident, she got around more fluidly and could enjoy some scenery with her own perception, seeing sunlight rather than just feeling it.
The organization, supported by donations and corporate sponsorship, provides 25 high-end tandem bikes, as well as training, logistical support and anything else needed to make the rides happen – for free.
Zucker was there at In Tandem’s inception, helping his friend, Artie Elefant, get it started.
(Last year, the group clocked about 29,000 miles.) Zucker says the pairing of captains and stokers (who ride in the backseat) is “like a dance,” as they draw from a pool of who’s around at the moment.