When you're crazy about cycling it's only natural to want to share it with your loved one. However, this is trickier than it seems, so we're here to help.
Patience is a Virtue
No quality better helps you get your partner riding with you than patience. A common mistake is forgetting how long it took you to master basic cycling skills, and in your enthusiasm to show them how fun it is, rushing them into rides that are easy for you but not for them.
Avoid this trap by starting 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. Keep teaching sessions short, fun and positive, maybe 30-minutes twice a week. Once they've grasped the basics, you can do a bit more. Your goal is not to intimidate or burn them out. Take it slow and easy and always 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
As you're doling out advice to your enthusiastic student, don't overwhelm them with too much information too soon. Cover the basics first and make sure they've got it before moving on. And be sure to let them actually try each piece of advice for themselves, which is actually more fun for them and also reinforces the learning process.
Take flat tires, for example, one of the common things that intimidates new riders. You need to explain that they happen and make sure they have what they need to fix a flat. And, you should actually let them fix one at home so they have enough hands-on to feel confident out on the trail in case you're not there.
Really listen to the questions and any objections they have, too. 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.
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.
Also, 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 him if the pace is okay. Keep in mind that egos can get in the way of good judgement. 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, they'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 with your loved one on easy days for you, when you aren't looking for a workout. That way, the ride can be a fun, social event. If you must get some training in while your squeeze is still learning the ropes, be sure to tell him so he understands and then try these tricks: 1) Ride a heavier, slower bike than them so you have to work harder at their pace; 2) Plan rendezvous spots so they know you're just up the road; 3) Let them leave early, or let them ride ahead and chase them down, then repeat.
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.
Tips: 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.
Want to hear another crazy motivation? It's getting your girlfriend to ride with a women's group. It's likely Honeybunny 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
Your husband may protest and tell you that he doesn't need a "fancy" bicycle or cycling gear like shorts, gloves and a helmet to try riding with you. But, a quality bike and the right gear can make the difference between him enjoying this new activity or giving up on it. Plus, if you're riding on the good stuff, he's at a disadvantage on a heavy clunker from the seventies you guys pulled out of the basement.
If you don't want to buy a new bicycle just yet, maybe you can borrow one from friends. Just be sure it fits correctly because an improper fit can make it harder and even less safe to ride. Also, be sure he at least has a helmet for safety. And, if you're riding for more than an hour, cycling shorts make a huge difference in comfort.
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. And, don't overlook how easy modern bicycles ride and how comfortable and stylish the clothing is.
Speaking of style, introducing her to cycling fashions can help get your woman even more excited about cycling. There's a lot to choose from and they can even color coordinate with their bike. For men and women, there are all styles too. Gone are the days when your only choice was skintight spandex.
Tip: We're happy to show you our wide selection so they can actually experience modern bicycles and try some great new clothing on to fully appreciate the advantages of good gear.
Set Them Free
Once your husband or wife has the basics down and has done a few rides with you, you should make like Sting and set them free. Because riding on their own is another confidence booster. Plus, they'll be able to go where they want, choose their own pace, learn from their own mistakes and maybe even meet new cycling friends.
As they expand their cycling horizons they'll like riding even more and better understand why you like it so much and you'll be able to share experiences and get closer than ever. Chances are, you'll find yourself riding together more and having more fun than you ever thought possible too.
May you pedal off into the sunset together!