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Wife Doesn't Like Biking: Suggestions?

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Wife Doesn't Like Biking: Suggestions?

Old 01-08-16, 01:17 PM
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habilis
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Wife Doesn't Like Biking: Suggestions?

We are retired and in our late sixties. I've read this advice from a woman: Riding With Your Wife | CyclingTips . The advice is great, but I'd like to hear from more people on this subject.

We are both reasonably fit and active. She plays tennis every week. I don't like tennis and probably couldn't learn to like it much (her doubles partners would never put up with me). Now flip this around and substitute "biking" for "tennis," and you have our situation. I am interested in all things bicycle-related, but I'm only a casual cyclist: 20-40 miles once a week, on roads (road bike or fixie) and easy trails (mtb). She could easily live without biking.

She still rides the Dunelt 3-speed step-through frame her parents gave her when she was 17. With her permission, I have modified it to make it lighter and more comfortable by swapping out steel components for alloy ones. It now has 3-speed Shimano IGH, alloy rims and handlebars (upright touring style), and a Brooks B-17 women's saddle. Wheels are 700c with 1-3/8 tires. The weight is down to 25lbs from 28lbs. I will be replacing the cottered steel crank with cotterless alloy in the near future, which should save another pound.

I would gladly go $1,000+ on a new bike for her, but she wouldn't hear of it. She loves the Dunelt, mostly because of the sentimental value and the candy-apple red paint. I've tried to address all of her preferences of seat height, hand position, gearing, etc. Her ideal biking scenario is riding on the seaside boardwalk on a warm, sunny day with the Dunelt in its original 28lb glory and 26" whitewalls. In that configuration, the bike was unsuitable on even moderate hills, and she has no interest in improving her endurance. Since we live 50 miles from the ocean, and the weather isn't always warm and sunny, her ideal conditions for biking are hard to achieve. (Winter cycling? You must be kidding.)

So now, with the revised bike, I can coax her out once in a while, but she is clearly not enthusiastic, even on easy rides of 5-10 miles on moderate terrain. On longer rides, her favorite part, aside from the lunch stop, is returning to the car. She is willing to ride in LIGHT traffic but is very uncomfortable with it. Yet, she refuses to use a mirror, which I'm sure would boost her confidence. We sometimes ride on a local MUP (10 mile round trip through woods, very pleasant scenery), which she prefers to street riding but doesn't enjoy a whole lot.

When we ride together, we are the slowest things on the road when starting out, which is okay with me - I'm just happy she's out there with me. She speeds up dramatically on the return leg.

Here's the paradox: If she rode more, she would gain skill and stamina and like it more, but she doesn't ride enough to achieve those improvements.

Does anyone have suggestions, or is this as good as it gets? Thanks for your patience reading this.

Last edited by habilis; 01-08-16 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:29 PM
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What's the problem?
She likes so she plays tennis
You like cycling so you ride a bike.
If you were newlyweds I could understand the need to be together all the time, but at your age?
As we used to say in the sixties.
You do your thing and she will do her thing.
Oh, and I'm with your wife about 'improving" I like myself just the way I am, thank you very much.
By urging her to "improve" you are really coercing her to change.
Let it be.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:29 PM
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Man you're in a tough spot. Does she wish you played tennis with her like you wish she rode with you? If she does then you two should come to an agreement that you'll play tennis X amount per week with her if she rides X amount with you per week. Give and take. Also, just buy her a new bike if you're ok with it. It may change the way she feels about riding.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:30 PM
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My suggestion is stop pushing her to ride, and stop fiddling with her bike/suggesting she get a newer fancier one. None of those things will make cycling any more attractive to her... likely more the opposite! Oh, and sign up for some tennis lessons!

When we ride together, we are the slowest things on the road when starting out, which is okay with me - I'm just happy she's out there with me.
There you go! Maybe get yourself a bike more like hers for when you are together... You can rip the road up when out on your own.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by avidone1 View Post
What's the problem?
She likes so she plays tennis
You like cycling so you ride a bike.
If you were newlyweds I could understand the need to be together all the time, but at your age?
As we used to say in the sixties.
You do your thing and she will do her thing.
I don't agree with this at all. They're sixty-something, not dead.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
I don't agree with this at all. They're sixty-something, not dead.
He's not suggesting they buy his and hers coffins - just that he respect that she is old enough to make up her own mind about how she spends her leisure time. And he is also not trying to pull her out of her ass prints in the couch for the first time since she sat down to watch Gilligan's Island - she wants to play tennis and he wants to go biking. They should both do what they want and meet for dinner & sex afterwards.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:41 PM
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I can relate. when I ride with Wifey it's a slower experience and I try to enjoy it for what it is. when I say I'm going for a ride and she asks if she can come, what more is there to wish for? I've grown more modest in my expectations from life and have become more accepting.
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Old 01-08-16, 01:45 PM
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there was the Counterpoint tandems ... the stoker had the best seat , up front, recumbent ,

the handlebars were right behind the front seat the rear position regular bike like ..

there was the advantage of being to talk to each other while riding..
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Old 01-08-16, 01:58 PM
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Here's my experience as the "wife", we are some decades younger but my SO was into cycling before I got into it. He learned to ride a bike in college and since then he's been hooked and tried to get me on it too. At first he wanted me to get a MTB, a more robust bike for our city (crappy roads and hilly) but instead I got a dutch style bike. It was huge and heavy and impractical and eventually I grew out of that bike and got an entry MTB, a Trek Skye. Now we're averaging 300-350kms a month and I'm already plotting spending $1,500 on a cyclocross bike.

So my advice is, let her ride at her pace and in the bike she likes. Maybe she'll catch the bug, maybe not today or tomorrow but don't push it. Or maybe she won't, people are different and sometimes our interests collide. Good luck!
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Old 01-08-16, 02:04 PM
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Here's an idea: suggest you take a leisurely ride together to the courts. While she plays, you go for ride, come back, and ride with her home.
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Old 01-08-16, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by habilis View Post
I'm just happy she's out there with me....

Does anyone have suggestions, or is this as good as it gets? Thanks for your patience reading this.
I've always loved riding bikes, my girlfriend doesn't really care for it. She gives it a go every now and then for my sake, but doesn't usually enjoy it very much. Luckily the first time was an exception, we rented hybridesque bikes and rode a downhill rough dirt road outside Stehekin, a tiny and remote mountain community. It was the setting she liked most. The next attempt was on a road bike, which made her lady bits hurt, so we'll try a mountain bike next, but that won't be 'til summer.

Beth loves hiking, enjoys skiing, and also art. Sometimes we go on trips, we'll get a hotel room, spend a day hiking together, and she'll spend a day in the hotel working on a painting or watching a movie and relaxing while I go out and ride. Same thing after work, I'll go out and ride for an hour while she does things that are important to her. We spend plenty of time together, it's ok to spend time apart too.

So, be happy your wife rides with you when she does.
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Old 01-08-16, 02:18 PM
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Old 01-08-16, 03:06 PM
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You cycle, she plays tennis. Enjoy that you can be independent and have different interests. Find a third activity you can do together.
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Old 01-08-16, 03:13 PM
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I had this same problem. My girlfriend and I enjoyed running together for years but after I suffered a knee injury, this was no longer an option. Additionally, riding together was not an option as she got very nervous controlling her bike at higher speeds and traffic made her nervous.

On vacation, we rented a tandem and she loved it. I purchased an old burley for about $800, and now we ride once or twice a week together. Try renting a tandem sometime and see how she likes it. If she does, great, if not, don't push it and search for a different activity to do together.
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Old 01-08-16, 03:14 PM
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Go find a buxom beauty in cycling kit, and introduce her as the team leader of your new cycling club, membership: two.
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Old 01-08-16, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by avidone1 View Post
What's the problem?
By urging her to "improve" you are really coercing her to change.
Very true. If I want change, I should probably invest in tennis lessons. However, if she still feels the same way about biking, then I should "let it be," as you say.

By the way, lots of entertainment so far reading everyone's responses. Lots of good insights and suggestions. Thanks! I knew BF would come through.

Many of you are very lucky in your choice of a significant other - tell them I said so. I'm very happy with my choice as well. Absolutely no chance of a divorce, but I still envy those couples I see on the road together. I don't mind riding alone, but still....

Another point: neither of us is new to biking, although we had a long lay-off (due to jobs and moving to a location less conducive to biking). Back in the 1980s. we took some day trips of 40 to 50 miles with our oldest son, who was in his early teens. Everyone including my wife enjoyed those rides. Her interest has seemingly dropped off, and her fears of falling or being hit by a car have worsened.

Believe me, I know coercion doesn't work. In good weather, I invite her to go on a leisurely ride. If she says no, I leave it at that.
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Old 01-08-16, 03:50 PM
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My wife is not fit and doesn't really like to ride much.

I will ride someplace and meet her at the destination and then we'll do something there.
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Old 01-08-16, 03:56 PM
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Seems to me the crux of the problem is you not liking tennis.
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Old 01-08-16, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ajkollme View Post
I had this same problem. My girlfriend and I enjoyed running together for years but after I suffered a knee injury, this was no longer an option. Additionally, riding together was not an option as she got very nervous controlling her bike at higher speeds and traffic made her nervous.

On vacation, we rented a tandem and she loved it. I purchased an old burley for about $800, and now we ride once or twice a week together. Try renting a tandem sometime and see how she likes it. If she does, great, if not, don't push it and search for a different activity to do together.
The tandem rental is a great suggestion - I'll fly it past her.
@fietsbob, the Counterpoint could be the solution to the problem. I'll look into it.

Earlier this year, we talked about a packaged bike tour in Holland, on "Dutch" bikes, of course. One of her friends had done this a few years ago and enjoyed it. My wife said she was willing, but I sensed that it was strictly to please me, so I let it quietly die. Unless you are at least moderately enthused, a week on a bike - even with time off in museums and the option of a sag van - might be a miserable vacation. Me? I daydream of biking from one end of Europe to the other.
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Old 01-08-16, 04:11 PM
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By now you should know "Happy wife, happy life". Bicycling isn't everybody's cup of tea, and there's nothing wrong with that. Arrange your life so you're out biking while she's playing tennis, and you can both be happy without any loss of time together. OTOH - you both might want some solo time, so bike when she's NOT playing tennis, and she'll play tennis when you're not biking, and you'll both get to enjoy your hobbies and have some solo time to boot.

As for the bike, she's happy with it as is. Nothing you'll do will make her happier, and may actually make her less happy, or refuse to ride with you out of a sense that you're pushing too hard.

You both have managed a successful marriage so far ---- don't tamper with the formula that has worked so well for so long.
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Old 01-08-16, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by kevindsingleton View Post
Go find a buxom beauty in cycling kit, and introduce her as the team leader of your new cycling club, membership: two.
This would end the problem, but not in a way I would enjoy. I'd be drawn and quartered, and the pieces would be mailed to different parts of the country.
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Old 01-08-16, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
By now you should know "Happy wife, happy life". Bicycling isn't everybody's cup of tea, and there's nothing wrong with that. Arrange your life so you're out biking while she's playing tennis, and you can both be happy without any loss of time together. OTOH - you both might want some solo time, so bike when she's NOT playing tennis, and she'll play tennis when you're not biking, and you'll both get to enjoy your hobbies and have some solo time to boot.

As for the bike, she's happy with it as is. Nothing you'll do will make her happier, and may actually make her less happy, or refuse to ride with you out of a sense that you're pushing too hard.

You both have managed a successful marriage so far ---- don't tamper with the formula that has worked so well for so long.
You're not just a good bike mechanic, you're also a good analyst of the human psyche.
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Old 01-08-16, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by habilis View Post
The tandem rental is a great suggestion - I'll fly it past her.
@fietsbob, the Counterpoint could be the solution to the problem. I'll look into it.

Earlier this year, we talked about a packaged bike tour in Holland, on "Dutch" bikes, of course. One of her friends had done this a few years ago and enjoyed it. My wife said she was willing, but I sensed that it was strictly to please me, so I let it quietly die. Unless you are at least moderately enthused, a week on a bike - even with time off in museums and the option of a sag van - might be a miserable vacation. Me? I daydream of biking from one end of Europe to the other.
If you do decide to try renting a tandem, I recommend you peruse this Sheldon Brown page: Tandem Bicycles

i mi would also explore the tandem pages here. Tandem technique is very different from regular cycling and can be unnecessarily challenging if you don't have a little prior knowledge. Reading these rules before you go will definitely enhance both yours and her experience
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Old 01-08-16, 05:35 PM
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I'm an enthusiastic DIYer. Some time ago, I was intrigued by Sheldon's description of building a home-brewed tandem by joining two singles. My wife's reaction: "Meh." But renting a tandem has promise. I've never ridden one and would love to try it.
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Old 01-08-16, 05:53 PM
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We've been riding 'in tandem' since 1975 and are now on tandem #5 and have covered over 240,000 miles as a duo.
At ages 83 and 80 we are stil riding TWOgether!
Rent/borrow a tandem. Learn how to ride it solo first before putting her in the stoker (rear rider) position.
It handlles a bit differently than a single and good communication and patience is the key to riding as a duo.
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