How to love cycling with your partner
Over Cycling UK’s 140-year history thousands of people have met and fallen in love with someone they met through their local cycling club or their love of cycling has brought them together like Pamela and Jack White.
In an ideal world, if you love cycling the love of your life will agree too, but before you think compatibility on a hobby or mode of transport is a recipe for bliss, remember that love and relationships are rather complex.
If one of you loves cycling and the other doesn't
Dee Holmes from Relate explains why it is so important for couples to communicate about how they feel: “If cycling is a new obsession and one partner is consumed by cycling, the other person may be left out and feel that something else is now more important than them and that they are second best.
“When couples come for counselling, some explain that when other things are the sole priority eg. work/children/or even a hobby like cycling, the one who is left out can feel like their partner is having an affair. The solution is to talk about how it makes you feel, without arguing or sulking and explain that cycling is leaving less time for you both as a couple. If you find yourself drifting apart it's great to try and take part in a hobby together."
Ideas to try:
- Arranging to meet at the end of a ride for a pub lunch
- Meeting up with the partner’s new cycling friends
- Arranging a ride with another couple
- Buying the other person a nice bike and encouraging them to cycle too
- Supporting the person with their cycling even if you don't want to do it yourself
- Booking a treat for the non-cycling person at the time you are usually out riding
- Making sure you spend more time as a couple as you do cycling
The partner who rides less sets the pace at the front and you go somewhere the partner who cycles less wants to go. Too often, with both these things its the other way round!
Dan Joyce, editor of Cycle magazine
If you go for a ride together, Cycle magazine editor Dan Joyce recommends: "The partner who rides less sets the pace at the front and you go somewhere the partner who cycles less wants to go. Too often, with both these things its the other way round!"
If you both love cycling, but one of you is fitter and faster
I’ve always loved riding my bike and I’m lucky to be married to someone who loves it too. However, he has always been fitter, stronger, much faster and finds technical mountain biking much easier than me, so that sometimes means cycling together as a couple has its challenges.
In the almost two decades we’ve been cycling together I have been encouraged to go that bit farther and push myself to discover I can do more than I would do alone and he gets to admire the view from the top of hills for a bit longer than he’d normally do!
So neither of us gets disheartened on a cycle ride together here are some solutions we have come up with:
- I might join him for the last 20 miles of a ride when he is a bit tired and we are both the same speed
- He carries most of the gear to slow him down a bit (I add a few bricks in when he’s not looking), I carry a snack and my own tools so we can take separate routes if we need to
- It’s good for us both to ride separately and that’s ok
- It's ok for him to fly up a steep hill, if he waits at the top and doesn't complain I am slow
- We pick our own lines when we are mountain biking that suit our abilities
- We plan our routes together, so neither of us is frustrated that it’s either too slow or too arduous
- We always stop for lunch so we can chat
- He’ll ride somewhere with lots of hills, I will meet him with the kids have lunch and we’ll all ride together gently for an hour or so and it will be a sort of warm down for him and warm up for me and I will ride home at my own pace
- We sometimes borrow a friend's tandem
- Most importantly if we get lost, we admit we are lost and laugh about it!
In a relationship you should be comfortable enough to try something and if it’s not for you know that you can just get off and walk and be secure that the other person will be OK about that. This takes a bit of time, as at the beginning you may just want to impress the other person, but if you plan your rides together you should discuss how each other might react if the other person finds it too much. Cycling together should be enjoyable for both of you.
The kind of cycling we do together is a bit different to what we’d do by ourselves, but part of the fun is just spending time together and now that we have children it also serves as an opportunity to model how we should love, care, show kindness and encourage others regardless of their ability..
If you both love cycling and are both as strong, fit, fast and skilled as each other
Dee Holmes warns against competing with your partner and that, "It is always good to recognise your strengths and weaknesses. Try and work together as a team as this will strengthen trust between you."
Is compromise the answer?
Talk about what you like best about a bike ride and try and incorporate it into your ride. Dee explains: “If you share a pastime like cycling you shouldn’t always compromise. For example if one of you loves red wine and the other white wine – don’t compromise all the time and drink rose, as neither of you will get want you really want."
Therefore, if one of you is a roadie and the other a mountain biker, don’t just cycle on the towpath! Take it in turns to choose cycling routes and rides that you like and explain why to your partner, like Sarah and Carl.
"Don’t be overly critical," says Dee, "Or push your partner too much to keep up with your pace and be respectful of the other person if they say they don’t want to or can’t do something – it demonstrates to them that you support them and care."
Dee’s partner is a keen cyclist and although she cycles she’s not as in to it as he is. Her advice is: “Whether you share the hobby or just support it – it's about give and take.”
Or you can take the advice of Cycling UK Vice President Josie Dew, "I find it helps to be the one who does the route planning and map reading. So when the other half asks 'How much further?' I can reply with confident assurance: only another two mountain passes to go!"