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Getting Your Loved One Cycling With You

At Lakeside Bicycles we have heard that there are activities other than cycling.  We don't believe it, but we have heard.  It may even be the case that your significant other is "unfamiliar" with the karma improving joyousness of cycling.  Again, we don't believe it but, we have heard.  In that unlikely event, when you're crazy about cycling you want to share it with your loved one. However, this may not be as easy as it seems.  Here are some thoughts:

Patience is a Virtue
Click to enlarge!No quality better helps you get your new bicycling buddy 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 crush them. Take it slow and easy and always keep it fun.  Remember:  Someday they may be stronger than you!

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 them, be supportive, listen and give them the time to learn, practice and feel comfortable.

Click to enlarge!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, which commonly intimidate 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 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.

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
Click to enlarge.
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 feel comfortable riding alone out in the middle of nowhere. It can ruin the experience and sour them to cycling.

It is 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 while they watch you disappear over the horizon. To prevent these issues explain that you're going to stick together, then keep the pace easy and ask 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, head bobbing, and heavy sweating and set a friendly pace.

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 they succeed on every ride, have fun with you in a surprisingly short time they will be able to keep up better and do your favorite rides with you.

Tips: Plan rides with your loved one on easy days for you. Then the ride can be a fun, social event. If you must get some training in while they are still learning the ropes, be sure to tell them so they understand and then try these tricks: 1) Ride a heavier, slower bike than them so you have to work harder at their pace; 2)3) Let them leave early, or let them ride ahead and chase them down, then repeat. Plan rendezvous spots so they know you're just up the road.  and remember to give them a chance to catch their breath, there is nothing more frustrating than killing yourself to catch up and then to have the group take off while you are still bleeding from your ears.

Keep Them Motivated
Your 15 minutes into a 20 mile  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 (killing them and leaving them in the ditch is not an option as it is illegal in most states)?

Be upbeat, supportive and especially, positive. Tell them, "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. 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.  Set easily achievable intermediate goals . Be sure to ride in front if it's windy (be careful not to drop them). You can also push them up the hills by riding alongside and resting your hand on the small of their back, though ask first.  A rider on the rivet can react violently when touched.

Click to enlarge!Get your ridding buddy to join a group of similarly able riders.  Their  competitive instinct will kick in speeding their fitness, skills, and even more important, their ability to relate to you.

Get 'Em the Good Stuff
This sounds REALLY self serving coming from a bicycle shop,  however:  get your partner nice stuff, better than yours if possible.  They may protest and tell you that they don't need a "fancy" bicycle or cycling gear like shorts, gloves and a helmet to try riding with you. Ignore them.  A quality bike and the right gear can make the difference between enjoying this new activity or giving up on it. Plus, if you're riding on the good stuff, they're at a disadvantage on a heavy clunker from the seventies you guys pulled out of the basement.  What's more, it is much easier to sell that new superbike purchase if your partner has personal experience with the difference nice equipment makes.

If you don't want to buy a new bicycle just yet, maybe you can borrow one from friends (though I would rather borrow a toothbrush). Just be sure it fits correctly. Also, be sure they at least have their own helmet.  A well used "loaner" helmet can be un-hygienic: and the smell!  If you're riding for more than an hour, it is time for cycling shorts.  They will 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, introduce them to the colors and look of cycling clothing and gear.  Encouraging them to express themselves can further improve the overall cycling experience.  Just remember to gently teach them the "Inverse Cubed Law of Cycling Kit".  While wearing your kit "Your Geakiness increases at the cube of your distance from your bicycle"

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.  

Click to enlarge!

Set Them Free
Once they have the basics down and have 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.  In addition you will probably be in deep need of some quality time on your own lest frustration and declining fitness lead you to an act of unkindness or violence.

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.

And, if you did your job right, they may even wait for you when they surpass their teacher.  Ride Safe!