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Old 08-25-10, 07:16 PM   #1
monkeymartin
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Getting the Wife/Girlfriend into bicycle touring

My wife and I rented bikes on our vacation. After a very short time she was looking tired and complaining about the hills. My wife is very interested in touring and talks about going on a long tour with me.

My question is how do I get her into touring?

What bicycle would you recommend? (Comfort being the number one priority)

She always talks about a big comfortable seat and handle bars.

Thanks
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Old 08-25-10, 07:26 PM   #2
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You want to tour with the wife or with the girlfriend? The former will be less complicated.

Of course, coming from me, the answer is very simple: most any good tandem, meaning at least Shimano components. Then you'll complain equally about the hills! Suspension seatpost for the stoker, aftermarket available. Because of the rate of marriage and relationship breakups, used tandems are very available.

No tractor saddle. They look comfy, but they are not. Terry Butterfly saddles are very popular and well designed. They even look soft. Cowhorn stoker bars are unintimidating.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:31 PM   #3
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Yeah, but leaving the wife at home while touring with the girlfriend is sure to be more interesting. Especially if the wife finds out about it.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:13 PM   #4
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Hey Martin, I just had a huge success introducing my wife to touring. I did a three week trip down the west coast avg about 60/70 miles a day.. Something my wife would have never been able to do right now. She drove to Arcata Ca, left her care there and friends drove her north to meet me at Elk prairie campground in the redwoods, we then rode south to her car over 2 days. twenty miles each day with some minor hills. I already had a tent, stove, food, ect. she just carried her cloths and sleeping bag. It was so much fun. I loved the easy days and the company and she fell in love with touring. She can't wait to go again and she had not been on a bike in twenty years. It really helped to pick out two BEAUTIFUL campgrounds Elk prairie and Patricks point and to pick some very scenic and relatively easy terrain. She does not think she will ever get above forty miles each day... but she has the bug for sure. I think with time and good planning she can go pretty far.

As far as equipment, we bought her a trek fx 7.3 with a rear rack and she loves it. We changed the stock handlebar stem for something more upright and so far she likes the stock saddle. I wish you luck and would be happy to answer any questions. It was a great thing for us.

http://flic.kr/p/8vvaUh

Last edited by tanslacks; 08-25-10 at 08:24 PM. Reason: add pictures
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Old 08-25-10, 08:13 PM   #5
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Not sure if I would want my wife to get into cycling. Not a lot of upside. The hard saddle seems like a very good barrier to entry, so why mess with a good thing.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:33 PM   #6
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My wife and I have been on many tours together, the longest being 74 days and 3650 miles. She is the best touring partner I ever had! She came into touring gradually, but once bitten; touring turned into her passion. We leave next week for a couple of weeks on the Pacific Coast. The big trip for us will be next summer when we start in northern Norway and end up about 4,000 miles later in Moroco. At least that is the plan today.

We've been climbing , canoeing, working and skiing together for 26 years , and it does not get any better. However, there is one thing we both argee on-- we would not last more than an hour on a tandem!

Start gradually, and make it fun. We used that philosophy on our kids for snow camping and extended ski trips. Once a few good trips are experienced, adverse conditions and tough days do not seem to matter very much.

Good luck in your venture.
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Old 08-25-10, 09:55 PM   #7
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Limit your mileage at first to make the days unintimidating -- we did several 20-25 mile days when starting out. I also carried most of our gear for the first couple of tours together.
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Old 08-25-10, 10:23 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the great advice. I agree with Doug64 on the tandem.
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Old 08-26-10, 02:16 AM   #9
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I brought up the idea of us touring Hawaii for our 20th next year. That seemed to hook my wife pretty good We are now training, ok I am and she's commuting to school on her bike...
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Old 08-26-10, 03:03 AM   #10
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My wife and I rented bikes on our vacation. After a very short time she was looking tired and complaining about the hills. My wife is very interested in touring and talks about going on a long tour with me.
How much riding had she done before you rented bikes on your vacation? None? Well, no wonder she was looking tired and complaining about the hills. If she has not done any riding in recent history, and managed, say, 10 km ... she was doing VERY well.

Before worrying about touring with her, get her out riding regularly so she can build up her fitness level. It doesn't matter what kind of bicycle she rides, as long as SHE feels comfortable on it, and as long as it fits.

Oh, and ... a wide saddle is not likely a good idea. As Carbonfiberboy says, they may look comfy, but they are not. Get a saddle wide enough for her sitbones to settle nicely on the saddle, but not too wide. There's a happy medium.
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Old 08-26-10, 06:39 AM   #11
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Limit your mileage at first to make the days unintimidating -- we did several 20-25 mile days when starting out. I also carried most of our gear for the first couple of tours together.
+1. I introduced my wife to touring in Ireland about 15 years ago. The key was going somewhere she always wanted to visit and limiting the mileage at the beginning. Our first day was 15 miles, our second day 20 miles (though a bit hilly). Once she got the first 3-4 days under her we were in good shape. Compromise is important, we credit card toured so B&Bs were the call for accommodations. I preferred to find a place in the afternoon through the local tourist office, assuming that rooms would be available. This was true but she was uncomfortable with the uncertainty. About half way through we began making reservations in the morning before we got on the road.

On something not to do . . . we then went to England (Yorkshire Dales and Lake District) 4 years later and the secondary roads had significant grades (a 1 in 4 climbing to a pass in the Lake District was the straw that broke the camel's back). She was not a happy camper and that put the kibosh on touring for a while. Make sure you understand both her capabilities and interests. For her, the bike was convenient transportation between things to see and do. For me it was the primary activity on the trip. Took us a while to sync that up.

John
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Old 08-26-10, 02:05 PM   #12
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Start small. Just ride with her. Then weekend credit card trip where you carry all the gear. After that you'll get a feel for what constraints are show stoppers.

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Old 08-28-10, 06:35 AM   #13
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Brooks saddles, good bikes, and patience.

We just got back from a cycling trip yesterday.
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Old 08-28-10, 08:30 AM   #14
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I once encountered a couple climbing Rainy Pass from the west. It's an easy climb, but long, about 4500' in 25 miles. They were in the steepest part, near the beginning, on singles with front and rear panniers. Her face was contorted in pain. She was obviously way overgeared, and that look on her face said, "Next time he stops, I'm going to kill him." And that was at the start of the climb. Don't do that. Pretty girl, too, with idiot guy.

I once met a couple with full loads at a restaurant about 40 miles before that climb. They had a road map. They asked, "Are there any hills on this road?" Don't do that, either.

We leave in 3 days for our 300 mile tandem tour. I'm a planner type so I drew it out on bikely yesterday; bikely shows only 9000' of climbing. We're starting to get excited.
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Old 08-28-10, 08:41 AM   #15
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My wife and I rented bikes on our vacation. After a very short time she was looking tired and complaining about the hills. My wife is very interested in touring and talks about going on a long tour with me.

My question is how do I get her into touring?
First you have to get her into bikes and by that I mean if she isn't a decent around town cyclist she's not going to enjoy 100kms a day fully loaded! Let her ride around town where there is no extra weight on her bike, there is no distance goal and she can get used to riding. She needs to dial in her bike fit [big wide saddles are not comfy past the first 20-40mins] and develop cycling fitness. She needs to learn how to use the gears and brake effectively.

I would work her up to the distance you want to ride on tour riding her unloaded bike close to home. When she can do that happily then start thinking about touring.

While you are doing the city riding start getting your groceries by bike so she can get a feel for carrying a load, but just for short distances to start with.

When you start touring do as folks above have suggested: do a credit card tour so she isn't carrying much, then graduate to loaded touring, but you carry all the group gear....see what happens.
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Old 08-29-10, 02:15 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the great advice. I agree with Doug64 on the tandem.

Be wary of the tandem, rent one first before shelling out money. And make sure you have a secure relationship! My man and I rented one, and it was scary as hell. There's no way I would let him be the captain! I could see why a lot of women do not like tandems if they get stuck as the stoker.

As for comfort bikes for touring, look into getting a crank forward such as a Rans Dynamik, then she can have instant comfort and a performance bike. If you don't want to look into crank forwards, I would suggest a look at the Brooks B-67 saddle, its awesome. make sure you explain that despite the fact the saddle seems hard as a rock its actually a lot more comfortable in the long run.
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Old 08-29-10, 08:48 AM   #17
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Be wary of the tandem, rent one first before shelling out money. And make sure you have a secure relationship! My man and I rented one, and it was scary as hell. There's no way I would let him be the captain! I could see why a lot of women do not like tandems if they get stuck as the stoker.

As for comfort bikes for touring, look into getting a crank forward such as a Rans Dynamik, then she can have instant comfort and a performance bike. If you don't want to look into crank forwards, I would suggest a look at the Brooks B-67 saddle, its awesome. make sure you explain that despite the fact the saddle seems hard as a rock its actually a lot more comfortable in the long run.
Yeah, the tandem thing is all about trust and ability. The good thing is that the weaker partner can fly, which can be incredibly liberating. The downside is that to be liberated they have to give up instant control. The rule is that the stoker is always right, which is some compensation, but the captain better be good enough to never cause the stoker concern and good enough to earn the stoker's respect. And the captain will respect a stoker who gives it up for the cause, not easy either. It's a team sport, like any other.

If the partners are equally matched in ability, the lure for teams in a relationship is, well, the intimacy of having their pedals connected. It's not sex, but it's pretty good. The lure for equally matched uninvolved teams is cruising at 20 instead of 16, or 24 instead of 20.

One of my favorite sayings is that all human relationships are, at base, all about control. Successful ones are also all about respect. The fun of mountaineering, also true of life, is that it's all about choices and that they are irreversible. Be careful out there.
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Old 08-29-10, 12:04 PM   #18
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She may not want any more discomfort than a day ride, push against that lack if interest ,
and she may find another guy who flies 1st class to 4 star hotel stays.

after a number of bike builds and Ex GF's I went alone.
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Old 08-29-10, 11:19 PM   #19
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My wife was a serious tourist before I met her. She did 6 month plus tour, on Salvation army grade gear, and a strong attitude. Been married over 20 years, and never been on a tour together. Actually we did do a few MTB overnight tours on snowmobile trails. That was fun, but ended with the kids. Now I just leave her with the kids - she wanted them.
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Old 08-30-10, 12:47 PM   #20
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+1. I introduced my wife to touring in Ireland about 15 years ago. The key was going somewhere she always wanted to visit and limiting the mileage at the beginning. Our first day was 15 miles, our second day 20 miles (though a bit hilly). Once she got the first 3-4 days under her we were in good shape. Compromise is important, we credit card toured so B&Bs were the call for accommodations. I preferred to find a place in the afternoon through the local tourist office, assuming that rooms would be available. This was true but she was uncomfortable with the uncertainty. About half way through we began making reservations in the morning before we got on the road.

On something not to do . . . we then went to England (Yorkshire Dales and Lake District) 4 years later and the secondary roads had significant grades (a 1 in 4 climbing to a pass in the Lake District was the straw that broke the camel's back). She was not a happy camper and that put the kibosh on touring for a while. Make sure you understand both her capabilities and interests. For her, the bike was convenient transportation between things to see and do. For me it was the primary activity on the trip. Took us a while to sync that up.

John
The Lake District, although beautiful, is NOT the place for a fully loaded tour!
It's the most hilly part of England!
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Old 08-31-10, 12:57 AM   #21
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( luxury option) Get a pair of Moulton TSR 30s.
Full suspension ( she will like that ) touring bikes that split in half if you want to get a train between stages.
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Old 08-31-10, 07:42 AM   #22
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The Lake District, although beautiful, is NOT the place for a fully loaded tour!
It's the most hilly part of England!
Funny, it wasn't so much the hills but the grades that did her in and I'll take the knock for that one. We wanted to avoid the A roads for some quiet cycling but I didn't research the backroads as effectively as I should have. The positive is that during the trip she fell in love with the art at Grizedale Forest and, when she saw a photo of someone crossing Striding Edge in the winter, it set the stage for a walking trip there the following year (in the summer, fortunately). One of our best vacations.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:07 AM   #23
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Before worrying about touring with her, get her out riding regularly so she can build up her fitness level. It doesn't matter what kind of bicycle she rides, as long as SHE feels comfortable on it, and as long as it fits.
^^^ this
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Old 08-31-10, 09:02 PM   #24
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don't do it, let her do it and let HER set her comfort limits. Meeting yours is likely to leave her tired and uncomfortable until she has your fitness/familiarity. If YOU cannot slow down then you're the one who has to adjust. My ex-wife did a couple tours after we split. My sweetheart doesn't like riding long distances/hills and we've ridden enough together for me to know it's not worth doing together.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:07 PM   #25
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I got my wife into bicycling by just buying her a good bike (a Thorn Sherpa.) She started riding to work and now she's doing it every day and marveling at the weight she's lost. My trick when we're riding together is to let her set the pace. Even though this is her first summer on a bike - and she had not been on a bike since she was 9 years old - she can still manage 60 km+ around town. I made sure to spec her bike with a nice sprung brooks saddle and to buy her a good pair of cycling shorts. Comfort comes first, then she can stay on the bike all day long.

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