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The art of getting your partner into road biking (and doing it well?)

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The art of getting your partner into road biking (and doing it well?)

Old 05-10-22, 10:00 PM
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yaw
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The art of getting your partner into road biking (and doing it well?)

So I wonder, how many on here managed to get their significant others into cycling, or perhaps even have been introduced to the sport by their partners? How did it happen, and are there any perennial truths to share? Things to avoid?

I've been trying to get my partner to the point of picking up a bike for a while now, and whilst she was always generally open to the idea, it never really was a priority, nor did I get that much attention whenever I babbled on about cycling stuff. However, despite her young age, she has some back pain and disc issues (I blame dentistry) and the physio/doc played into my hands and recommended cycling (maybe that's what's actually behind the stereotype after all). There is some evidence that cycling can lead to beneficial core adaptations whilst obviously offering low impact aerobic exercise to replace her current high impact sports, so that has now accelerated the matter and we are arranging an in-depth bike fit with consideration of CT scan results. It was not easy to shop and compare with this woeful bike shortage, the wait for another Emonda for example would have been close to a year here in Australia, but her SuperSix Evo is now being built and will be ready for the weekend.

Now the magic will lie in facilitating for her to fall in love with the activity to make those dreams of multi hour couple joy rides in the sunshine a reality. Part of my problem is that I am a near daily rider graced with those trusty childhood bike handling skills and whilst she is very fit, she has very little bike experience, none on road bikes. And I run at a serious risk of overdoing it out of excitement

So I thought I run my assumptions past the forum to get some feedback, perhaps based on your own experiences on getting your partners into it:
1. Bike setup wise, I think we can start with dual sided SPD pedals on the lightest setting as these are incredibly easy to get out of compared to SPD-SL on the lightest spring settings. But I am second guessing whether it's still possible to forget and fall with those which could be a turn off. Do people normally start with flat pedals? I still had SPD pedals lying around and we already got her SPD shoes, but we can obviously fit flat pedals first. Not sure.
2. Replace the poor 25mm stock tyres with 28mm GP5ks for added comfort and grip. The frame itself is said to be quite smooth fortunately.
3. For the first rides, I am thinking a 10-20km all flat return route on bike paths, no cars to worry about but some pedestrian/cyclist traffic on partially narrow paths to zip around. Doing the same ride in dry conditions a few times to build some confidence on a known route before venturing on. Starting slowly letting her dictate the pace and then pushing it more as her skills allow.
4. Doing some parking lot drills for any apparent technique issues, taking the stress out wherever possible.
5. Probably best to keep any sensors/stats off the bike at the beginning to solely focus on riding, watching out for good shifting habits, efficient cadence, posture, and so on and filtering in tips and observations bit by bit.
6. Thinking about setting some form of training goal, like one of my extended morning ride routes or an easy event a few months away, to provide a bit of a target to work towards.
7. Showing her bike maintenance tasks as they come around so she can look after the thing (but I already know it will be my job no matter what illusions I have about it).
8. Balance her wheels

Tips? Tricks? Stories? Advice?

Clarification based on responses:
To clarify some obvious miscommunication here, she now wants to cycle, wants a road bike specifically, and is excited about training and achieving on it. She's a competitive and sporty person in her late 20s. It seems like a lot of people project the preferences and personalities of their partners onto mine based on the nature and tone of their advice here.

I always wanted the final call to get a bike to come from her, for her to ask to go to the bike shop, which never happened among all the other things going on, until she was recently advised that it would be a good idea to replace some high impact sports for a while. Now this was the impulse to change things up, she asked for it, hence it 'played into my hands'. I am very happy about it, and I am here to learn about how people went with getting their partners into it, making it fun, helping the passion grow, and to avoid pitfalls. This is, as was said, a bit different for everyone, but it is still good to hear about it.

She likes 'training', wants tips and information, does not care about the colour scheme of a bike, and road biking was specifically discussed with the physio/docs in this context.

Last edited by yaw; 05-11-22 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 05-10-22, 11:22 PM
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Don't have a partner, but if she doesn't ride a bike and has back problems maybe a more upright bike would be better. It sounds like you already bought her a bike, but maybe also get a cheap hybrid or even a step through cruiser type thing? If she wants to go faster she can ride the road bike. I also suggest platform pedals until she decides she wants to upgrade. The best way for her to get fast is to enjoy riding and a road geometry and cycling shoes can be intimidating. I also would also be careful about making suggestions about cadence and posture. Thats just my two cents though, good luck!

I think going from not riding to road bikes is a jump most people don't take, heck road bikes intimidated me when I first rode one and I had been riding for years. Don't worry about her not being able to keep up on the hybrid

Last edited by LarrySellerz; 05-10-22 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 05-11-22, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz View Post
maybe a more upright bike would be better
A physio colleague of her current PT (who is apparently a bike fitter and racer) suggested that the horizontal position on road bikes would actually suit in this case. This sounds plausible to me since enough hip flex makes this position comfortable without any unhealthy kinks and 'stacks' your spine less. My bike fitter removed all my spacers and put a -17deg stem on for best fit, and I very happily go even lower into the drops for extended periods. It's a bit different from forcing it for aero gains when the body isn't suited for it. But I will get this confirmed by my go-to trusted bike fitter as soon as we get a chance.

As far as bike type and geometry, she's definitely interested in road bikes for sporty ambitions - but I get your caution. We'll get a chance to fit and test ride the bike before taking it home, they did not have one her size on the floor to test ride. This will indeed be her first time riding on a road bike geometry other than sitting on mine at home, but I don't think she'll want a hybrid/cruiser anyway.

I also suggest platform pedals until she decides she wants to upgrade.
Yeah we'll see and decide on the day, easy enough to swap around.

I also would also be careful about making suggestions about cadence and posture.
How so? Would you point these things out later so as not to overwhelm a beginner? What I meant by this was simply pointers to suitable gear selection and staying relaxed on the bike.

Last edited by yaw; 05-11-22 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 05-11-22, 04:51 AM
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Get a used bike. Something with flat pedals that she can doodle around on at her own pace. More importantly, she can doodle around on her own terms. Then she either takes to it, or she doesn't. No amount of nudging/suggesting/mansplaining is going to magically make her want to cycle. Don't make a big production out of it, or you're setting yourself up for failure. Let her discover it on her own terms. She shouldn't be obligated in any way.
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Old 05-11-22, 05:12 AM
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Unless he comes back to edit his post to advocate her riding without a helmet and shirt, I pretty much agree with Larry on this.
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Old 05-11-22, 05:15 AM
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Old 05-11-22, 05:24 AM
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If you have an indoor trainer, ask her if she'd like to try it out to get used to sitting on and operating the bike - clipping in and out, positioning, shifting, etc.

Starting out, the first few rides should be strictly fun. Make them even shorter than 10 km. I'd suggest 10-minute rides at first so that she starts to get used to being on the bike but doesn't begin to get discomfort from the saddle or the position on the bike. When she's ready for longer rides, she'll tell you.

Don't barrage her with well-meaning suggestions. Answer questions, but go easy on the unsolicited advice.
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Old 05-11-22, 05:28 AM
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If my wife wanted to do something she would do it. Forcing her to bike sounds ******g awful.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:19 AM
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I got my wife into riding at the same time I got back into it after a many-year layoff due to raising a family. I built her a custom classic racing bike from mostly used parts and upgraded as she got more confident. Started with her wearing sneakers and regular shorts, replaced over time with gifts of cycling shoes and clothes. Eventually built her a modern racing bike, so she had two bikes. When she met people for the first time she'd often get around to say "I am a cyclist".It was wonderful and romantic.


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Old 05-11-22, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
Unless he comes back to edit his post to advocate her riding without a helmet and shirt, I pretty much agree with Larry on this.
Well, at least the part about the helmet.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:36 AM
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Let HER buy Her Bike. She will if She wants to ride.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:39 AM
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I married an athlete (former state champion track runner) that ran a lot-- and when we were younger, that was an activity we could share. As I grew older knee problems caused me to quit running altogether and up my cycling time, mostly off-road but on-road as well. We always owned bikes and she would join me and the kids on MUP/rail trails, etc. but never felt like it was comfortable to her (She never even owned a bike when she was a kid, which to me was hard to fathom). Shifting gears and bike handling were so foreign to her, and over the years I tried to coach/teach, but she only wanted to stay on flat paths without traffic on her old steel MTB.

Fast forward a few years and our kids are both in college. Suddenly lots of extra time -- and I suggest road Cycling and taking some trips, etc. We rented hybrid bikes for her 45th birthday and cycled Napa & Sonoma-- the quieter roads and beautiful scenery of Sonoma got her hooked, but the hills and shifting were still a major sticking point. After we got home I ordered her a road-based hybrid and we found some flatter courses around us to ride regularly. At the same time she found a ladies cycling group and she began to ride with them, as well as me, and we started doing some longer charity rides. Her confidence grew every year and at some point we added clipless pedals (2-bolt SPD) to her bikes.

I thought about mountain biking because that's my first love, so I paid for some guided rides in Bend OR 0n the beginner/intermediate terrain. Unfortunately, although she is super-fit and could climb well, the handling required by a MTB didn't allow her to relax and really enjoy the flow. So she stays on the road or trails only. Her hybrid is still around for trails, but she wanted a a true road bike and we've upgraded that twice now to a Spesh Ruby with Ultegra. She now rides 3 or more times a week an loves it as has upped her miles every year in the last 5. Just before the Pandemic she completed a century, one of her goals, at 15mph average. For the past 5 years or so we plan our warm-weather vacations around cycling-- we are heading to France this summer to do some riding and see a stage of Le Tour (she's become a fan of racing as well ) Pick some great places to visit and bring or rent bikes.. it's a natural fit. She still runs up to half-marathons, where I become the support crew.

The total elapsed time for the above to happen? About 12 years. Good luck on your journey!

Last edited by redcon1; 05-11-22 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:45 AM
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If I had a mild interest in an activity, nothing would kill it faster than a partner who tries to manage and manipulate every single aspect of its development.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:49 AM
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when I ride w/ Wifey it's about spending time with her. everything else, is secondary
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Old 05-11-22, 06:55 AM
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We love laughing at the wife on a bike struggling behind the husband and kids clearly not enjoying it when we are out for walks together.
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Old 05-11-22, 08:10 AM
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There are all different styles of riding. Even on a road bike. Your wife might not currently like, and may never like riding the way you do.

If she currently doesn't want a bike, then I wouldn't try to make her ride one. If she has friends that like to ride, you might try hinting to them that you'd like to get your wife riding. Though that can be dangerous too and backfire. However she'll probably start riding a bike for her friends and peers before starting to ride a bike for you.
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Old 05-11-22, 08:36 AM
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1. Make sure her bike fits her well, and don't hesitate to buy multiple saddles for her to try.
2. Don't make faces if she buys a lot of cycling clothes.
3. Get her a custom bike, and let her design the paint scheme.
4. Put an electronic group set on her bike, to make shifting as easy as possible.
5. If she asks to go for a ride, forget about your training ride and ride with her instead.
6. Let her set the pace on uphill sections. You can pull on flats and downhills, but make sure she can stay on your wheel.
7. Give riding tips sparingly.
8. Clean and adjust her bike regularly.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:29 AM
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My wife biked long before I met her, so this doesn't directly apply, but recently, what helped enormously for her was getting a roadish e-bike.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by yaw View Post
So I wonder, how many on here managed to get their significant others into cycling, or perhaps even have been introduced to the sport by their partners? How did it happen, and are there any perennial truths to share? Things to avoid?

I've been trying to get my partner to the point of picking up a bike for a while now, and whilst she was always generally open to the idea, it never really was a priority, nor did I get that much attention whenever I babbled on about cycling stuff. However, despite her young age, she has some back pain and disc issues (I blame dentistry) and the physio/doc played into my hands and recommended cycling (maybe that's what's actually behind the stereotype after all). There is some evidence that cycling can lead to beneficial core adaptations whilst obviously offering low impact aerobic exercise to replace her current high impact sports, so that has now accelerated the matter and we are arranging an in-depth bike fit with consideration of CT scan results. It was not easy to shop and compare with this woeful bike shortage, the wait for another Emonda for example would have been close to a year here in Australia, but her SuperSix Evo is now being built and will be ready for the weekend.

Now the magic will lie in facilitating for her to fall in love with the activity to make those dreams of multi hour couple joy rides in the sunshine a reality. Part of my problem is that I am a near daily rider graced with those trusty childhood bike handling skills and whilst she is very fit, she has very little bike experience, none on road bikes. And I run at a serious risk of overdoing it out of excitement
The fact that she has not shown any particular enthusiasm for picking up cycling (it is still not a priority despite being married to someone who is an avid cyclist) means that it is likely never going to be something she is all that into and the best course of action for you may be to simply accept that.

With that in mind, my comments are below in red:

So I thought I run my assumptions past the forum to get some feedback, perhaps based on your own experiences on getting your partners into it:
1. Bike setup wise, I think we can start with dual sided SPD pedals on the lightest setting as these are incredibly easy to get out of compared to SPD-SL on the lightest spring settings. But I am second guessing whether it's still possible to forget and fall with those which could be a turn off. Do people normally start with flat pedals? I still had SPD pedals lying around and we already got her SPD shoes, but we can obviously fit flat pedals first. Not sure.
Absolutely start with flats. Clipless when (and only when) she asks for it.
2. Replace the poor 25mm stock tyres with 28mm GP5ks for added comfort and grip. The frame itself is said to be quite smooth fortunately.
That might help
3. For the first rides, I am thinking a 10-20km all flat return route on bike paths, no cars to worry about but some pedestrian/cyclist traffic on partially narrow paths to zip around. Doing the same ride in dry conditions a few times to build some confidence on a known route before venturing on. Starting slowly letting her dictate the pace and then pushing it more as her skills allow.
Good
4. Doing some parking lot drills for any apparent technique issues, taking the stress out wherever possible.
Drill = work and not fun. Offer once in a while, but do not push it.
5. Probably best to keep any sensors/stats off the bike at the beginning to solely focus on riding, watching out for good shifting habits, efficient cadence, posture, and so on and filtering in tips and observations bit by bit.
Yes forget about sensors, Strava, data tracking etc. Not just at the beginning, but pretty much EVER unless SHE asks for it. I am sure she has heard you drone on about this stuff in the past, and already knows it exists.
6. Thinking about setting some form of training goal, like one of my extended morning ride routes or an easy event a few months away, to provide a bit of a target to work towards.
Training = Work and not fun. Don't even utter the word unless she asks.
7. Showing her bike maintenance tasks as they come around so she can look after the thing (but I already know it will be my job no matter what illusions I have about it).
Good plan.
8. Balance her wheels

Tips? Tricks? Stories? Advice?
Accept that your "at first" steps may be as far as this ever goes (flat pedals, short rides, and some bad technique/habits), and learn to be happy with short rides, and riding with someone at a beginner level for the duration of your lives together. If your expectations are exceeded, great.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:36 AM
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Don't even mention the T word.

If she has some back problems, you should start taking yoga classes together.

Last edited by seypat; 05-11-22 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Don't even mention the T word..
I impulse-bought one. Boy was THAT a mistake. Fortunately it was useful for the kids.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:41 AM
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This is your social, financial, sexual, mental, and all encompassing bike hobby...not hers. I felt like I was reading a GANTT chart looking at your post. I'm guessing you might overwhelm her a bit with this.

No "trackers". No training...for God's sake, lol. Do all the **** you want to with her bike (I do for my wifes bike) but don't bore her to death by explaining it or even telling her about it. You want to balance her wheels (Jesus) then go do it, she's not going to care about that kind of stuff. Tires? Won't mean a thing to her. Pick a MUP for your first ride with some nice scenery. You're not going to get any Strava KOM's so take this chance to...you know...enjoy some time with your wife. Don't watch her shifts, don't critique her "fit" and all the other crap type-A cyclists do.

Just enjoy the ride.

Most of this crap will works itself out. My one piece of advice for the "serious" cyclist is that unless your wife has already done training and tends to overdo things like we do and cycling is likely to become an obsession for her, just get her an e-bike. I think about cycling, daydream about it, watch races, "train" in the winter, train in the spring, learn about physiology all of it. But my wife likes her Hot Yoga, walking her dog everyday and doing Orange Theory with her sister. She alread is active with her own hobbies. She does like to ride with me or on group rides. But since she doesn't "train" like I do she feels bad being the "slow" one. So I got her an e-bike. Now...no worries she can hop on the bike in the Spring and she keeps up on the flats and motor paces everyone up the climbs. We love it (when we're not tired). She'll enjoy it more if she doesn't feel like a hinderance.

Here's my wifes bike. As long as it works, is charged up, and there's some Purple on it...she's happy.



Good luck, hope you get to enjoy some fun cycling times with your wife.
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Old 05-11-22, 11:29 AM
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If I were to project "heavy encouragement" for getting a S.O. into bicycling, I would also start looking into a divorce lawyer.
Hobbies/personal activities are determined by the individual.
You could help fund & provide your time to coach (teach) someone your interests, but it may be all for nothing *if they just don't have the passion.
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Old 05-11-22, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by yaw View Post
... I've been trying to get my partner to the point of picking up a bike for a while now, and whilst she was always generally open to the idea, it never really was a priority, ...

... she has some back pain and disc issues ...

... the wait for another Emonda for example would have been close to a year ...

... her SuperSix Evo is now being built and will be ready for the weekend. ...

... I think we can start with dual sided SPD pedals on the lightest setting ...

... Doing some parking lot drills for any apparent technique issues, ...

... Showing her bike maintenance tasks as they come around ...
Sorry, yaw, but based on the above points, I think you may be delusional.

If you want your partner to "pick up a bike", best let her choose a bike, then go ride with her on a similar bike. Starting with any road bike -- especially one with a racier geometry -- is probably not the way to go, even if her physio/doc (who is obviously a fellow cyclist) "played into [your] hands and recommended cycling," I doubt that he or she meant road cycling.
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Old 05-11-22, 11:44 AM
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Polaris OBark
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Originally Posted by aplcr0331 View Post
Here's my wife's bike. .
That's what mine got, too.
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