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Two old bicycles make one tandem. Selfmade!

Oct 04, 2023

The first time I got an invitation for a scout-leader-camp I was too scared to join. I was fourteen, had zero self-esteem and preferred staying in our own scout division. The “hiking and sleeping outdoors in selfbuilt tents” - camp I went to instead was so good for my body, soul and heart and I learned how to hike for hours without complaining ; ).

A year later I was READY to go to the camp with scouts I didn’t know from other divisions. The goal of the camp: Learning about how to organize and lead a camp for the younger scouts. 

The theme of our camp: “2 bike or not to bike”

The invitation arrived via mail in a heavy metal pipe-piece “closed” on both sides by a big hammer. (Yes scout camps in Switzerland start interesting only by getting the invite…) I needed a metal saw to get that letter out of that pipe 😂 😂 😂 😂.

The leader team later told us that the post office refused to ship these kinds of “packages”. When they threw all the pipe-pieces into one mailbox the post returned them to the sender with a note: “Not shipping these!” They were toooo fond of us all sawing the pipes open to get the letters and all that hammering work was already done, so they dashed around on their bicycles in different areas to throw them into mailboxes one by one… that’s when the post gave up and we got that heavy mail delivered.

Bicycles were the clue. We had a weekend prior to the camp and got asked to bring one old but functioning bike with us. Teams of two were made and we cut off the front at one and the back at another bicycle and welded them together. Tataaa: We officially built a tandem.

Yep, this is me… and also in the green sweatshirt : ). The pipes they used for our invitation delivery were the ones we used to weld the two bicycles together!

The trickiest part was putting the chains from pedal to pedal together. They had to be tight but not too tight. We broke many chain links until we got ours right.

Have you tried riding on a tandem? It takes a little practice but then it’s sooo cool! If you sit in the front you have to be a very present “driver” as always on a bike AND with the responsibility of your co-rider. In the back you have no other job than pedaling and going with the flow. One guy in our group even read comic books in the back saddle when we started our big journey from Zurich to Bern.

Our backpacks for a week were in the support vehicle while we rode our rides without any extra weight. How luxurious! Beautiful weather, so much fun. I can remember how I was feeling so good and started getting a glimpse of feeling safe within humans I didn’t know. You know the quote: Strangers are friends I didn’t meet yet? I just looked it up: "A stranger is a friend you haven't met yet” attributed to Irish poet William Butler Yeats, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. There we go : ).

The quote I live by now every single day was a new discovery for me back in 1993… I’m very grateful that I’ve built my confidence and self-esteem from the inside up within the last 30 years! All the tools I used besides just living my life are distilled within Joy Academy. It’s like a tool-shop you pay once and within your Joy Academy year you try them out, you test them and pack into your personal toolbox only the ones which worked for you, which you love and which you are inspired by…

…back to our ride to Bern. For some tandems no tools helped them to get working again and the pile on that bus got even bigger than in the picture. 

I’m proud to tell you: Our tandem MADE IT and was functioning for many years after that. We had such a great week in Bern in our scout house, learning, playing, connecting… I had a big crush on the guy in the green shirt, the girl in the red shirt too.

We both managed to get into the “hike-group” with him : ). A hike was a BIG thing (still is nowadays). In groups you go on “an adventure” on your own without any money or knowing where you’ll sleep that night. You take your sleeping bag and mat with you, that’s it. I don’t remember how far ahead we’ve planned for our street-music-gigs as we obviously had our instruments with us!? I do remember that we made a decent amount of money and could buy us food! We felt so rich! There are many great stories of hikes I can tell you another time. I always experienced fun but modest ones. I think we just slept in a forest as it was nice weather …. Others went dishwashing in a 5 star-hotel and got a free suite for free to stay overnight. One thing some groups did was starting with a piece of paper and swapping it into something slightly more valuable. And then again. And again. Very cool results came from these challenges.

I came home from this camp as a new person. Doing things with your hands, building a tandem in a team, riding this rattly vehicle over 100 kilometers (a bit more than 60 miles), meeting new people, liking to spend time with them, (falling in love), going on adventures without any grownups, finding some inner self worth you didn’t know it was there. Feeling comfortable within a group. I had so many take-aways which helped me for my “normal life” at home.

“Well done, little red Ronja! You will get so much better with people. You will actually LOVE it so much you could be with people all day long and have the best time ever. You will also realize how much you cherish the alone time and that this is important to you too!”

I’m cheering myself on from the future when I look back on these memories. I celebrate that I acknowledged my fears were too big to go to the camp with “strangers” the year before and that I jumped into the unknown the year after.

What would you want to say to your 15 year old self right now?
What would your future self in 10 years say to you “calling” lovingly and supportingly from 2033?

If you write down your answers you get extra points : ). Not from me, but from your future self, because journaling and spending time with your thoughts and questions like these have a big impact on your BEING and how you create your life.

You don’t know where to start and are thinking of that personalized tool-box I was talking about earlier? You know where you find me. Send an email to ronja(@) with your questions, your concerns and your thoughts about joining Joy Academy. It’s one year. It’s a one time investment of $ 3333 and your life will be transformed within these 12 months. If you want to know more: Go to And I’m ready to answer your email with your thoughts, questions and concerns. My promise to you: Joy Academy works. My most important promise: I’ll never try to CONVINCE you to join. That’s your decision only.

2 bike or not to bike… let’s make this world more colorful, playful and joyful by doing things we’ve never done before, by sometimes leaving our comfort zone and by doing more of the things which bring us JOY!

Take good care of you and talk to you soon,

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