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Getting Your Loved One Cycling With You

March 24, 2010

When you’re crazy about cycling it’s only natural to want to share it with your loved one. Here are a few things I have learned in my relationship that may help you. Keep in mind that I am a guy, but these tips can go either way. Thank you Sarah Arnold. Please feel free to comment and leave your tips for others or things that helped you when you were learning.

Be Patient

If you really want to encourage your significant other to start riding, then patience is the key to your success. Do you remember how long it took you to get where you are today? My guess is that it took some time to build up your endurance.  A common mistake is forgetting how long it took you to master basic cycling skills. Another common mistake is assuming your partner will ride for the same reasons you do. Remember, you want to share with them.

Start with the basics like getting on and off, safe braking, using the gears, scanning the road to avoid hazards, and so on. Then start with really easy rides.  If your goal is to spend time together, start by riding to a nearby coffee shop, café, or movie theater. Are there things that you currently drive to that are within 3 to 5 miles of your house? Those are good options that keep it fun.

Tip: Easy stuff isn’t easy if you’ve never done it before, and there are many skills needed before hitting the road or trail. Instead of getting frustrated or rushing her, be supportive, listen and give her the time to learn, practice and feel comfortable.

Teach, Don’t Just Tell

Assuming she wants to take on greater challenges, like weekend group rides or charity rides, you may be in a position to dole out more advice. As you’re doing so, don’t overwhelm her with too much information too soon. Cover the basics first and make sure she’s got it before moving on. Take flat tires for example, one of the common things that intimidate new riders. You need to explain that they happen and make sure she has what she needs to fix a flat. And, you should actually let her fix one at home so she has enough hands-on to feel confident out on a ride in case you’re not there. 

Sometimes it may be better to hook her up with one of your female cycling friends. They will be less likely to “parent” her and more likely to listen to her questions and any objections she might have. Another option would be to enroll her in a class. Austin Cycle Camp is a great resource for cyclists of all abilities. Everyone learns their own way and hearing their concerns and adapting your teaching to suit them will go a long way toward their success and enjoyment. If off road riding is your thing the Bicycle Sport Shop Mountain Bike Team is a great resource.

Tip: Start with the easiest teaching scenarios so they can succeed. Practicing raising the inside pedals in corners is much easier in an empty parking lot than down a steep hill with traffic. And, riding with a small group of friends at first makes much more sense than joining a larger, faster group ride.

Don’t Leave Them Behind

One of the challenges of riding with someone less experienced — maybe less fit, too — is staying with them. But, it’s important to because they may not have the confidence to feel comfortable riding alone out in the middle of nowhere, and it can ruin the experience for them and sour them to cycling.

It’s easy for experienced cyclists to ride too fast without realizing it. The beginner can keep up for a while, but it’s soon a struggle even though it’s easy for you. To prevent these issues explain that you’re going to stick together, then keep the pace easy and ask her if the pace is okay. Keep in mind that egos can get in the way of good judgment. As the teacher, it’s up to you to watch for signs of fatigue like deep breathing, wobbly riding and heavy sweating and set a friendly pace that doesn’t ruin the fun.Your goal is to keep it fun so that they enjoy the rides. You may have to go slower than you want at first or ride less hilly loops. But, if you do it this way, she’ll succeed on every ride, have fun with you and in a surprisingly short time be able to keep up better and do all your favorite rides with you.

Tips: Plan rides on easy days for you, when you aren’t looking for a workout. That way, the ride can be a fun, social event.

Keep Them Motivated

Okay, you’re 15 miles into an easy-for-you 20-mile road ride, and your partner is ready to give up. You’ve tried your best to set a manageable pace, but they’re done and ready to call it a day. What do you do?

Be upbeat, supportive and especially, positive. Hollering or goading won’t work. But saying, “you’re doing great” while you give them a chance to rest is often enough to make them feel better and be ready to keep riding. Usually eating and drinking helps too by boosting their energy and mood. And never underestimate the power of a little humor. Another trick is changing the subject to something fun going on after the ride to get their mind off the present.

Tip: Breaking the end of the ride into smaller chunks can make it easier to keep going. You might say, “Let’s ride easy for 10 more minutes and then take another break.” Or, if there’s something to see or do, make reaching it the first goal so they get to succeed. Be sure to ride in front if it’s windy so they don’t have to work too hard. You can also push them up the hills by riding alongside and resting your hand on the small of their back.

As I mentioned before, it may be good to introduce her to a women’s group. It’s likely she will do all she can to keep up with the ladies on that same ride she didn’t think she could finish with you. Don’t take it personally. It’s just the amazing motivating power of peer pressure. Ladies, use this to your advantage by getting your man riding with other men and his competitive instinct will kick in speeding his fitness, skills, and even more important, his ability to relate to you.

Get ‘Em the Good Stuff

I have worked at the bike shop for a few years now and it always surprises me when a husband and wife come in and the husband says “ She doesn’t need a “fancy” bicycle or cycling gear she’s just a beginner.” If you really want her to love it as much as you, get her the good stuff. It’s not only exciting and motivating to ride a good quality bike, but a quality bike and the right gear can make the difference between her enjoying this new activity or giving up on it. Plus, if you’re riding on the good stuff, she’s at a disadvantage on an inferior bike.

For many new riders, getting to actually pick out the perfect new bicycle and cycling clothing can provide all the motivation they need to get out there with you. Introducing her to cycling fashions can help get your woman even more excited about cycling. There’s a lot to choose from. Gone are the days when your only choice was skintight spandex.

Tip: Stop by one of our locations and spend some time with one of our staff. They are eager to help you find what best fits your style.

Set Them Free

Once your she has the basics down and has done a few rides with you, encourage her to ride on her own. Because riding on her own is another confidence booster. Plus, she’ll be able to go where she wants, choose her own pace, learn from her own mistakes and maybe even meet new cycling friends.

As she expands her cycling horizons she’ll like riding even more and she’ll better understand why you like it so much.  Chances are, you’ll find yourself riding together more and having more fun than you ever thought possible.

If you have experience getting your partner into cycling, please share your tips or advice and good luck!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 9:32 pm

    But what about us ladies who would like to help our guys ride more?

  2. cartertx permalink
    March 24, 2010 9:39 pm

    Most of the tips above are gender neutral. Is there a specific hurdle you are facing regarding getting your man to ride?


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