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  1. #1
    eternalvoyage
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    Ways of Improving Male-Female Relations While on Tour?

    Are there women out there who can speak to this? What can men do to make the touring more harmonious or compatible or enjoyable? Are there things that men tend to do (or not do) that you would like to see improved?

    Guys: Are there areas where you think we could do better or they could do better? Are there things that bug you that women tend to do or not do? How could they improve their compatibilities as riding partners?

    ***
    [Small request: please do try to keep the posts and the thread mainly positive in orientation -- if there is some imperfection, or something that needs changing (in the so-called opposite sex, or in the same sex), please feel free to say so, but also focus primarily on the solutions, or on possible ways of improving things. (So the thread doesn't take a turn into something predominantly complaint-oriented, rather than solution-oriented.)]
    Last edited by Niles H.; 04-22-09 at 01:48 PM.

  2. #2
    370H-SSV-0773H linux_author's Avatar
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    wait until you're 50+ to start touring?

    :-)

    seriously, i would posit that it is the rare woman (or even man) who is really into touring... that said, most of the touring couples i have run across here on the local (80-mile+) trail are most likely well into the 50s/60s

    a good sense of humor and positive spirit will always win out...

  3. #3
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    I don't see the utility in framing compatibility/conflict issues in term of gender as much as individual personalities,,since that is who are riding together, individuals. When my daughter went on a bike trip with a girlfriend she was worried about feeling burdened with monitoring her friends bicycle care and planning, so she relaxed that assumption of responsibility and was pleased to see how well her friend was doing.

    I have done some touring with my girlfriend and it's honestly not pleasant because she finds the activity too stressful. There's nothing I can do that will change the discomfort she experiences when a car drives by at 50mph, there's nothing I can do that can reduce the nature of climbing long hills. I've tried being quiet, talking, riding with her, in front of her, behind her. The solution is pretty simple, not to plan a ride with her until she can ride in those conditions comfortably.
    Last edited by LeeG; 04-22-09 at 02:08 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    I don't see the utility in framing compatibility/conflict issues in term of gender as much as individual personalities,,since that is who are riding together, individuals.
    Yeah, I think this is right. I think the person to person differences are going to swamp the averaged across male to averaged across female differences.

    Speedo

  5. #5
    eternalvoyage
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    There seem to be some gender issues that keep coming up, though. Some may not be able to see the utility of looking at the aspect of gender; others can. There are certainly individual differences as well, and that is another way to look at it; but gender is a reality too, as are gender differences. Sometimes it can be helpful to be aware of gender differences and positive ways of dealing with them. And {being aware of gender issues** and {being aware of individual issues** need not be mutually exclusive. One of them need not deny or exclude the other. And there are also additional ways of looking at it -- other than simply 'individual differences' -- that can be useful.

    ***

    I've heard women over and over say that the guys tend to ride too far ahead, and they don't feel comfortable riding together. Sonya and Aaldrik are among the couples who have run into this.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    I've heard women over and over say that the guys tend to ride too far ahead, and they don't feel comfortable riding together.
    As most of you know I did the TA with two young women, one of them my daughter. We always rode together, drafting when it offered an advantage (which was most of the time). I wish I could say that I was strong enough that I was able to ride too far ahead most days. Maybe I could have in the beginning. While we all had days where we were the strongest rider, my daughter was the strongest most days once she hit her stride.

  7. #7
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    As most of you know I did the TA with two young women, one of them my daughter. We always rode together, drafting when it offered an advantage (which was most of the time). I wish I could say that I was strong enough that I was able to ride too far ahead most days. Maybe I could have in the beginning. While we all had days where we were the strongest rider, my daughter was the strongest most days once she hit her stride.
    Riding together is part of the fun, or can be.

    When one rider is naturally faster, it seems that it makes sense for that person to adapt, and learn to enjoy a slower pace and help the situation out, since it is harder for the slower rider to adapt to a pace that is too fast.

    And drafting can certainly be part of the solution to this.

    One of the most enjoyable rides I've had was with a woman who was drafting me very closeby, and talking up a storm the whole way. It felt like dancing together. It was fun. We both enjoyed it.

    The panniers and the extra airflow seemed to give some extra drafting power.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    I don't see the utility in framing compatibility/conflict issues in term of gender as much as individual personalities,,since that is who are riding together, individuals. When my daughter went on a bike trip with a girlfriend she was worried about feeling burdened with monitoring her friends bicycle care and planning, so she relaxed that assumption of responsibility and was pleased to see how well her friend was doing.

    I have done some touring with my girlfriend and it's honestly not pleasant because she finds the activity too stressful. There's nothing I can do that will change the discomfort she experiences when a car drives by at 50mph, there's nothing I can do that can reduce the nature of climbing long hills. I've tried being quiet, talking, riding with her, in front of her, behind her. The solution is pretty simple, not to plan a ride with her until she can ride in those conditions comfortably.
    Wow! Is you girlfriend my wife? Described her perfectly...
    DP
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  9. #9
    eternalvoyage
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    Sonya and Aaldrik:

    ...We'll be in Laguna Beach for Halloween. A tailwind throws us along Route 95, but I'm still not fast enough according to Aaldrik. He is at least ˝km in front, which I don't like at all and which he professes to everyone he never does. When I finally catch up with him I question why he needs to be so far up front:
    Why are you going so fast?
    Why are you going so slow?
    I'm not going slow.
    Yes you are.
    No, I'm not. I'm travelling between 15 and 18 kms per hour.
    Man. it's downhill all the way, you should be going faster.
    It isn't down hill all the way, otherwise I would be in harder gear.
    Why can't you slow down a bit for me?
    Why should I have to. Why do I have to brake all the time?

    I take off and Ali sulks behind me keeping his distance. I slow down to let him catch up and suggest we stop for a drink. It's hot and I'm ready for a toilet break and a stretch of the legs. We've been riding for nearly two hours. Ali replies with: "No, I don't feel like it", so I cycle on a bit longer, but the need for a pee is way too great. I stop, but he just continues. He does pause, but well off in the distance and I can't see him from where I am standing. At the historical Route 66 junction, he stops. When I ask him what for, his answer is: "I thought you wanted to stop somewhere".

    At first I think stuff it, I'll just go on, but then I change my mind. It is way too hot to waste my energy fighting about something so ludicrous as this. It is probably the sole cause of most of our roadside arguments: me riding too slow according to Aaldrik. Why am I riding slow? heat; slight incline; boring trip; my legs are tired. Heck, I don't know. All I do know is, if I could pedal faster, I would. Firstly, I hate these confrontations with Aaldrik and secondly, it's not the most hospitable countryside I've been in so the sooner I get through it the better.


    A bit farther along:

    ...Amboy Road takes us all the way to Twenty Nine Palms Highway and along another relentlessly boring stretch of road. I find it really difficult to keep my legs pedalling and Ali finds it really difficult to cope with my slower than his cycling speed. He screams at me to "Keep cycling!" on several occasions and either dawdles well behind or punches way ahead of me: whatever position, it rubs salt into my wounds. He waits somewhere in the distance and as I pull up says:
    You should listen to me more.
    Why, what haven't I listened to this time?
    He ignores my question and gestures with a flip of his wrist that I should just cycle.
    You are not always right you know.
    Yes I am.
    No you are not. You don't know everything.
    Yes I do.

    This, "I am the best" arrogance and that finger flicking motion he has adopted lately really makes me want to ring his neck. I just get on my bike and cycle silently for the rest of the journey into 29 Palms. A green park with life-saving water fountains is our break of silence. We guzzle a couple of litres between the two of us. It doesn't hit the sides. Cool and refreshing: water never tasted so good!


    from: http://www.tour.tk/on-the-road-0810-cycling-usa-3.htm

    It sure would be nice to solve these sorts of things before they get out of hand. In my experience (and I don't think I'm alone in this), when it starts going downhill, and ways are not found of resolving or improving things, it tends to get less and less pretty -- which is a shame. It seems like there should be better ways of handling it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    What can men do to make the touring more harmonious or compatible or enjoyable?

    Put a smile on her face every night.

  11. #11
    soncycle tourdottk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    I've heard women over and over say that the guys tend to ride too far ahead, and they don't feel comfortable riding together. Sonya and Aaldrik are among the couples who have run into this.
    Let me reply to this one personally... I, Aaldrik, am the man in our company. I am taller than Sonya, younger than Sonya and stronger than Sonya... I carry more stuff than Sonya too, to slow me down a little. But this is not enough. I think I am also bolder than Sonya, which means I take more risks (like say in overtaking vehicles, judging whether I can get across on a yellow light etc). So, I CAN be a lot faster than Sonya...
    But... we never cycle far apart from each other (except for one or two occasions maybe in the last two and a half years). We always have eye contact. I even slow down going downhill these days, ever since Sonya broke a spoke going down into Death Valley and I was too far ahead.
    I know people that just leave their partner behind on a steep and long climb, but we stick together. And sure, I can tell you that it can be quite boring sitting behind your wife who goes up a hill as if she were a snail, but I'm learning (she will reply later )
    I don't think you will ever overcome these differences, unless you put two extremes together (female triathlete, male couch potato)

    The athletic differences between men and women are just too big!
    But it also means, that at the end of the cycling day, the man has still some power left to go and lift the bikes and bags to the fourth floor of the hotel, while the misses is waiting patiently downstairs

    But it sure takes a long time to get over that and to acknowledge the gap between the sexes.

    Sonya will be with you soon, no doubt, regards from Mexico! Aaldrik
    www.tour.tk - what a wonderful world tour - cycling around the world since July 2006

  12. #12
    soncycle tourdottk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    It sure would be nice to solve these sorts of things before they get out of hand. In my experience (and I don't think I'm alone in this), when it starts going downhill, and ways are not found of resolving or improving things, it tends to get less and less pretty -- which is a shame. It seems like there should be better ways of handling it.
    Hi Niles, but THIS has nothing to do with the differences between men and women, THIS has something to do with having a bad day. Don't forget that we've been on the road since July 2006, we have had four days of being without each other during this time and we used to be very independent people, living together, doing our own thing.
    NOW we (both as stubborn as hell, Sonya a little bit more than me) are in each others face 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 and a bit weeks a year, for nearly three years now! Mind if we have a bad day every now and again? And write about it... because cycle touring is NOT all beautiful, ladidi-ladida stuff, you know?! But most people just don't write about it... but we (well Sonya really) do!

    More from Sonya later
    PS married for 13 years, on the road for nearly three
    www.tour.tk - what a wonderful world tour - cycling around the world since July 2006

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Get a tandem.

  14. #14
    Lanterne Rouge
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    I don't know if I read it here or on a crazyguyonabike diary, but someone pointed out that if you start getting snippy, you probably have low blood sugar and it is time to have a snack.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaDan View Post
    I don't know if I read it here or on a crazyguyonabike diary, but someone pointed out that if you start getting snippy, you probably have low blood sugar and it is time to have a snack.
    Rowan and I have mentioned it here.

  16. #16
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    Easy:

    Get a tandem with Independent Coasting System, so she can just sit and look at the scenery, peel an orange, chat on the cellphone, whatever.

    You can push as hard and fast as you want. She can choose not to pedal uphill.

    The only problem I've experienced so far after 3k miles is that her endurance (on the tandem in the stoker position) is far greater than mine. For instance, after an 80miles day with hills and headwind, she'll be the one saying: "Come on, honey. Don't be a wimp. It's only another 20miles."

    And on top of the tandem, be sure to splurge on a few posh nights in pricey hotel.

    So, in summary, buy a tandem, prepare to be a happy workhorse, and triple your traveling budget.



    Ever since I wised up, two-wheeled travels with my gf have been spectacular and peaceful

  17. #17
    soncycle tourdottk's Avatar
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    all creatures great and small

    And now a word from the female point of view:

    Firstly on an objective level, I need to point out that there are so many factors that come into play in this discussion.
    1. Are the couple touring for a few weeks, a month or years?
    2. How much weight are they carrying in proportion to their muscle mass?
    3. Are they married; recently fallen in love; father and daughter/ mother and son; found one and other from a 'I need a cycling companion' advert; or met up in the middle of the sahara when their lips are cracked and all they have seen for the last few weeks is sand and sun and blinkin' camels.
    4. Do they share the same tent or accommodation every night?
    5. Do they have to listen to one and others farts everyday? (sorry about that one, but it is the truth!)
    Does everyone get my drift????

    There is nothing in this world that aggravates me more than not being as strong as the person I'm working with. And here I don't just mean physically. That can work with you and work against you, depending on who you are cycling with; what your mood is that day and what sort of terrain you have cycled in the last days/weeks. But, long term bicycle touring is not just about strength. In fact I don't think any bike touring is, but I have met a few thrashers out there and well if they can keep it up good luck to them. Most of them are very young.

    More importantly, your mental capability plays an even bigger role. I have cycled with novice male tourers and I am undoubtedly a stronger cyclist. But that's because I know how to get to the top of a hill using the body I have got. And that pissed them off no end, I can tell you. But that is temporary, because the problem arises when you are with someone else with that same knowledge. I have to take things slower than Ali because I can't push my body to the same extremes: his legs are longer; they are stronger; he is taller; his chest strength is so much more powerful, but mine has nicer softer curves and considering he likes those bits very much he just has to put up with my lack of power in that department.

    There are mental factors that contribute to how 'hard' you cycle as well and I'm sure you all know about them. But when push comes to shove, men are simply stronger than women. There's probably a lot of fems out there just ready to pounce on me for saying this, but they are the cold hard facts. Otherwise they'd have mixed track events at the Olympics. So girls, unless you are pumping the steroids, cycling with you 55 year old Dad or you drop a couple of teaspoons of epsom salts into your partners morning coffee, there is little hope of keeping up with a man that has travelled the same distance and terrain as you for the same length of time.

    And though we would like to find some other excuse for it, it is strength or lack of it that causes half the headaches. He's going too fast for you; you're going to slow for him. Then he starts telling you how you should cycle; and you tell him to f**k off. These situations mostly arise when you are at a difficult point in the trip or close to a physical limit. Or you simply got out of the tent on the wrong bloody side that morning. And no matter how hard you try to stay calm, you can't because there is nothing left inside of you except this raw untamed energy after traversing your 45-50kg bike up 1500 altimeters in 30 kilometres on a maniac highway.

    If I can use Ali as an example, I also have to agree that men seem to take greater risks. They tend to go faster downhill, jump traffic lights more often; not worry about really close and fast moving traffic and navigate dangerous paths adeptly. Though I'm probably not a good example of a female bike rider since I'm not a good cyclist at all (I just use it as a means of travel), Ali definitely came out his mother's womb with a two wheeler between his legs. This means that if someone like him is up front, the gap between you and him will get greater, no matter how hard you push the pedals round. Then all you'll hear for the next few kilometres is: "you go up front otherwise I have to keep turning around to see where you are". And so you go up front and all he'll do is keep running into your back wheel or panniers, blaming it on your inconsistent pedalling. What I don't understand about this is: why can't he pedal at a slightly slower rate up front? Why must it always be all or nothing?

    I don't think there is any one solution for these differences, they are going to plague you on and off for your entire journey and each couple, whatever relationship they may have will have to work it out for themselves. Sometimes, we just cycle on in silence for a length of time and that is probably because we need our solitude. In general though, one of us usually gives in and says something stupid or makes the other person smile and then it is immediately over.

    I do think though that men (and I'm not talking father's here) need to realise that while their partner may not be able to perform to their standard, it does not mean she is at all weak, which is the impression I get from time to time when I'm having difficulty coping with particular terrain. This only causes stubborn reactions on my behalf that generally don't help the situation. Everybody has a limit and only you yourself knows what that is.

    BUT, anyone that dares to load their bike up and take to the road as a means of travel has not only got guts but my admiration too. It is a tough way of doing things though an extremely rewarding way of seeing the world and if you happen to have a partner that wants to share that experience with you then you should be grateful for their companionship.

    All creatures great: it's your job to wait up and be patient; and
    small: be happy there's someone around to help out when you need it!

    Sonya
    www.tour.tk - what a wonderful world tour - cycling around the world since July 2006

  18. #18
    Senior Member ricohman's Avatar
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    Here is how I would do it.
    Leave my wife at home to do whatever she wants.
    Have a great tour.
    Return home a happy rejuvinated man and take my wife on a vacation somewhere warm in the winter.

  19. #19
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    Sonya,

    Well written. Thank you.

  20. #20
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedo View Post
    yeah, i think this is right. I think the person to person differences are going to swamp the averaged across male to averaged across female differences.

    Speedo
    +1.

  21. #21
    soncycle tourdottk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricohman View Post
    Here is how I would do it.
    Leave my wife at home to do whatever she wants.
    Have a great tour.
    Return home a happy rejuvinated man and take my wife on a vacation somewhere warm in the winter.
    I expect you are lucky then that your wife doesn't want to go on tour with you!
    www.tour.tk - what a wonderful world tour - cycling around the world since July 2006

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    I think with any touring partnership, whatever the genders involved, the most important thing is that there is clear communication about what each person needs, and about what they are going to do. After that, just be a team player - do what you can, do your share of all the work, accept help if needed, don't always have to get your way. And give yourself and your partner a break - it's easy to be grouchy when you are tired, and bike touring makes you tired. So if you act grouchy at each other, apologize and move on.

    Of course, if I was to tour with *my* man (who doesn't ride a bike), then, what jimblairo said ;D
    ...

  23. #23
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tandem is the ultimate solution for riding TWOgether.
    We used to ride tours/centuries on our single bikes.
    On our 20th wedding anniversary (1975) got us a tandem and been riding as a duo ever sine. Have covered over 225,000 of touring/riding/centuries on tandems.
    Happily married for 54+ years and still riding tandem around a 100 miles a week.
    Great solution fo us!
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    I've heard women over and over say that the guys tend to ride too far ahead, and they don't feel comfortable riding together. Sonya and Aaldrik are among the couples who have run into this.
    My partner and I ride together often, just short stuff but...

    In the daytime... He's consistently faster on the flats. He also *likes* knowing that I'm close and ok. He feels left behind if I pass him and don't wait for him. I'm consistently faster in hilly terrain. I don't mind if he races ahead most times... either we have an agreed upon route, or he'll stop at an obvious turning point and wait for me. All I have to do to keep him happy is wait at the top of hills.

    At night, he gets more adventurous, and I get more cautious. I'm a morning person and have a lot of trouble with glare at night, so I get more anxious because I can't see very well and am very tired. His night vision is a lot more useful, so he's pretty good about sticking close.

    A lot of it is personality. It doesn't take a ton of bending from either one of us to have a happy ride.

  25. #25
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Martha and I toured together for the first time recently, and we're just starting to get a touring dynamic going. She's faster than me off-road, I'm a better hill climber.

    She's a newbie touring cyclist, so I have to be patient and respect her limits - we take breaks a little more often, and I slow down a bit on the asphalt flats. She has a particular fondness for camping, so I'm looking forward to our first non-credit-card tour.

    We mesh well when it comes to directions and routing. I enjoy maps and GPS and dealing with miles between turns, etc; she doesn't. My sense of direction is mediocre at best (The Historian could relate some good stories about that!). She has no interest in counting the miles or looking at cue sheets, and has a better sense of direction. Learning to use these differences is a key part of making a day on the road enjoyable.
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

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