Love at first bike: Cycling with your partner

Cycling with your partner is great fun if you get it right. Image by Ben Freeman.

Riding with a partner can be amazing, fun, challenging and even romantic. Aoife Glass shares her experiences and tips on how to get the most out of cycling together.

My other half loves bikes. He has loved them since he was 12, which is more than half his life and we originally bonded through a mutual love of biking. It’s now our main ‘coupley’ recreational activity. This is brilliant: it gets us outdoors, fitter, healthier, and we have lots of fun together doing something we both love. But, there are the occasional areas of strife.

If you’re going to ride together with your other half, you may want to discuss the points below. It will make the experience better for everyone.

1. Agree the purpose

Is this a fun relaxed ride for the two of you together, or are you racing to recapture your King and Queen of the Mountain positions on Strava? Although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for a ride to be both, I’d suggest it’s unlikely. Raise this pre-ride, so neither of you is gasping at the traffic lights screaming for the other one to slow down.

2. How far ahead or behind is too far?

Personally, I find there’s nothing quite so depressing as seeing your other half disappear off into the forested distance, on an unfamiliar trail, as the darkness falls, leaving you on your todd. Particularly if said other half happens to have all the snacks in their bag.

Come to a consensus about how far ahead or behind is enough. Agree to always wait for the other at a suitable juncture, at the top of a climb or bottom of a descent, as long as there isn’t a sharp climb out the other side. Just remember to carry your own secret supply of snacks.

FLIP SIDE: Chasing them down will make you to ride harder and push yourself. You never know, one day, the tables may turn.

3. Technical ability

One of you can happily hurtle off 6-foot rock drops and hop fallen trees without breaking a sweat. The other meanwhile takes 10-minutes to pluck up the courage to roll over a rock, equivalent to dropping off a kerb.

Choose a trail or route that you can both enjoy without scaring yourself silly, killing yourself or killing each other. Some mountain bike trails, like those at Llandegla, Dalbeatie and Laggan trail centres, have branching sections with harder features running alongside easier sections. This means you can still push yourself and ride together at the same time.

FLIP SIDE: You have, potentially, your own personal coach. Session a few features, get feedback and try again. Before you know it, you’ll be kicking their rear end, unless they’re Tracey Moseley or Gee Atherton.

4. Bike mechanic in shining armour

I love playing and tinkering with my bike, I may be slower than the average bloke, but practice makes perfect. However, when you’re in a cold, rainy trail centre car park, it really is lovely to have someone to put the bikes together, fix things and pump up tyres etc.

FLIP SIDE: Sharing tools and having access to a decent home workshop, if you don’t already have one.

5. Bike kit arms race

He loves bike stuff. I love bike stuff. He gets new shiny think; I want new shiny thing. I get new bike; he wants new bike. This gets expensive after a while, a very short while, if new bikes are involved.

FLIP SIDE: If you don’t mind sharing, you’ll end up with access to a much bigger stash of kit. Items like GPS systems are expensive, one between two works fine.

6. Ride with more people

It’s lovely riding with your other half, but mix it up a bit. Ride with friends, groups, at organised events, or even off on your own. You’ll have different experiences, with varying ride atmospheres and it’ll help you ride in different ways.  You can gauge your abilities and fitness against a range of other people, maybe pick up some new skills and, ideally, have a laugh.

FLIP SIDE: Adding yet another new route to the already long list that you want to go back to do together

7. Cake stops?

Yes. Always.

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