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St. Paul Pioneer Press news 8/2/15
Blackbird Bikes EZ Quadribent

"Mother and daughter are always side by side - thanks to a fancy bike"

Blackbird Bikes Quadribent in St. Paul Pioneer Press news 20150802

Viola Carlson, 91, and Barbara Mattson, 65, are a mother and daughter who have found a way to keep active together, thanks to the Quadribent Side-by-Side Recumbent Bikes, a system invented by a Minnesotan that attaches two EZ-Classic recumbent bikes to make a "Sociable Tandem." (Courtesy of Jen Amundson)

Mother and daughter are always side by side - thanks to a fancy bike

By Molly Guthrey
Posted online 8/1/2015, published in print Sunday newspaper 8/2/2015
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Barbara Mattson still remembers how her mother, Viola "Vi" Carlson, taught her to ride a bicycle.

"She ran beside me out on Highway 32," Mattson says.

Now it's Mattson, 65, who helps her mother, 91, ride a bicycle on the trails around Wyoming, Minn.

"When she started having trouble walking, I started researching tandem bikes," Mattson says. "After saving up, I bought one in 2013."

It was an investment, for sure: Mattson paid $3,000 for the side-by-side, tandem recumbent bicycles.

The side-by-side Quadribent is a patented invention by Jim Black of Blackbird Bikes. The Burnsville man is a pilot, aeronautical engineer and inventor who also has designed airplanes and ultralights.

"The side-by-side Quadri-bent," says Black at, "makes it possible for people to enjoy biking together."

The Quadribent certainly has made it possible for Mattson and Carlson (who wears a seat belt to make the ride even more secure).

"It's really two bikes fastened together," Mattson says. "It fits in my minivan."

"It's nice," Carlson says. "She can do all the pedaling."

"But I don't," Mattson says. "When she gets cold or I get tired, I make her pedal. She's definitely gotten stronger since we started riding together."

Just don't ask Carlson for directions.

"I always tell her, 'I'll ride with you, but I don't know where we are,' " Carlson says.

The women usually stick to dedicated bike trails on the Quadribent -- recent rides have ranged from 7 to 11 miles.

"We go a nice pace, 5 to 7 miles per hour," Mattson says. "But everyone still passes us."

Sometimes, they stop traffic.

"People always want to know where we got the bike, how much it cost and where we've gone with it," Mattson says. "Her friends also want to try it out."

The mother and daughter go riding two or three times a week during good weather. They run errands as well as take joyrides down trails or to the lake.

"We rode to get her groceries recently," Mattson says. "We can store them on the cargo platform between us -- as well as our water bottles or a picnic of sandwiches and cookies. It's nice because it's good exercise, but we're still sitting down."

Last week's hot, muggy weather kept Mattson and Carlson home, though. Well, one of them was home: Mattson took a break from her garden to pay a visit to her mother at the senior apartments at Meadows on Fairview in Wyoming.

In a sitting room off the lobby, as the women chatted about their unique bicycle, Carlson clarified that she is still quite capable of mobility.

"I can walk," she says. "I can run."

A neighbor laughed.

"I want to see that, Vi!" she said.

Carlson smiled.

"I like to be outside," she said with a shrug.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of good days for Carlson to bike, walk and run before the snow flies.

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