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Riding together, to spend time apart

Dave Smith on why couples cycling together really should cycle TOGETHER… you know what he means

Last weekend I was out for an easy spin, and joined up with a couple on a ride together. I say together…

As seems to be the norm, the woman sat on the guy’s wheel, until he opened a gap and kept motoring. Eventually he looked round and looked pissed off. Eventually she closed the gap - no words were exchanged. Then the whole thing repeated itself several times. I was on a recovery ride so I sat behind both with an occasional chat with the woman. At one point I paced her back up to him, which seemed to annoy him a bit.

I don’t know the dynamic, I don’t know if they were a couple, but I know that when I see a man and woman on a ride, they are invariably riding separately. The classic scenario is the guy on a nice road bike and the woman on a heavy hybrid, 50 meters behind – they’re usually both riding at the same speed.

Call me a clueless hippy but I don’t get it. It’s hardly encouraging to the less fit or experienced. Maybe that’s the point - make them hate cycling so they don’t want to ride with you again. I know it’s frustrating to ride really slowly. Walk down the street at your normal pace, then slow to half that, and keep going for an hour. It’s unpleasant. But if it’s that unpleasant don’t bother riding with your partner. Let them ride at their own pace with others who will not make them feel inadequate and you go off and do your strava warrior stuff on your own. Maybe talk to them as you ride. They might be interesting.

My club, Square Wheels, has grown massively in the last 12 months by offering a few rides each week that suit novices - and now the Sunday group rides are laced with former novices. No one was harmed in the making of this revolution. No one got pissed off or felt inadequate. Cake was consumed. Fitness improved.

I must admit to having a chequered past in relation to getting partners into cycling. The current score is one concussion and two broken elbows. But also four or five successful conversions. And I really don’t like riding slower than my normal pace if I’m on my own. But if I’m in pleasant company it’s like a nice chat, but on bikes.

And that’s better done without a 50 metre gap.

Dave Smith has been involved in coaching cyclists in all disciplines for more than 25 years. A former GB national and Olympic road coach, Dave has trained Tour stage winners and Olympic medallists, world champions and numerous national champions. In addition he has applied his quirky and counter intuitive thinking to help dozens of regular cyclists, polo players and F1 drivers. He rides 250 miles a week on and off-road in all weathers.

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