My wife likes to let me know, from time to time, how much it means to her that I took the time and care to introduce her to cycling at her pace.
She’s almost as fast as I am now. If I want to take her in a sprint, I have to work for it. No more 27-28 mph, I’ve gotta get north of 35 if she jumps at the right time.
Such wasn’t always the case.
I wanted to have some kind of hobby my wife and I could share to stay fit since we started dating more than 22 years ago. I chose my wife because she’s smokin’ hot (and like most other guys, because she picked me) and if we know anything about aging, it’s that most people don’t do so gracefully. At least with a fitness hobby, we have a chance.
Running worked for a while but I grew bored with and gravitated to cycling via triathlons. I fell in love with bikes almost immediately and eventually I wanted to get my wife into it, so she could experience the joy and freedom I felt.
This is exactly where it gets messy for many.
My initial desire, or hope, had my wife jumping into cycling like I did, both feet, as fast as she could go, increasing mileage from day eight, all the while learning to fix problems with the bike… A lot like most guys approach cycling. That’s not how my wife worked, though.
I am a part of a very fast group. Normal clubs publish their “A” rides at 19 mph. Our B group averages between 21 and 22. Our A group is at 24. It took me four years to be able to keep up with the A group for 20 miles, there was no way my wife was just going to jump into that.
Starting the season after I gave her a shiny, new bike for Christmas, I would go ride with my buddies on the weekends, say 50-70 miles, then I’d come home and go back out with my wife. We’d do 15-20 miles at her pace. I would reassure her regularly, because my wife thought I was a “fast all of the time” kind of guy, that I didn’t care about the pace, that I was simply happy to be out riding with her.
I earned a lot of saddle sores doing that, but they were, every one, worth it because, unbeknownst to me, I’d earned a lot of honey points as well. My wife and I started going on road trips together, or would take our bikes with us when we went on weekend vacations. We visited a rail-to-trail near her mother’s house when we took the kids up to visit or we’d take the mountain bikes up to ride over Thanksgiving vacation.
We began riding on weeknights together, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, she picked the pace. I would encourage her and reassure her that I got plenty of “fast” on the weekends and Tuesday night, that I was just glad to be riding with my wife and I needed recovery rides anyway.
After a while my wife got faster. She began holding her own on the reasonable weekend rides. 40 miles at 18-19 mph? No problem. Well, she’d get home tired, but she got home. Then came the Tuesday night club rides and her first shots at 20-21 mph. She’d do well on days where the wind wasn’t too tough and get dropped when it was windy, but she didn’t give up – and I never stopped encouraging her. I think she’d say, “I never stopped being supportive”.
Now she’s doing centuries, metric centuries, and almost anything we can come up with. She’s picking routes and volunteering with the club. My wife is one of the gang, same as me.
It’s not all roses, rainbows and happy thoughts but as long I keep my eye on the only important thing; that my wife and I have a hobby that keeps us fit and active that we can enjoy together, that we’ll have something when the kids are grown and moved on to their own lives, that our fitness time together is play (and that we even have a fitness activity)….
One of the most challenging endeavors I’ve taken up in cycling has been sharing it with my wife because I had to take me out of it. Taking three hours on my first derailleur adjustment pales in comparison to the patience it took to figure out how to help my wife into the sport. The key was help, rather than bring, force or horse her in.
All of those good things listed above, to be able to share cycling with my best friend in the whole world, well friends, that’s something to fight for and protect. That is good times and noodle salad. It’s as good as it gets.