A Woman's Tips for a Successful Mountain Biking Date
This entry was posted on May 19, 2015.
As a female road cyclist who rarely ventures onto the trails but seems to constantly be dating guys who love throwing themselves down rocky trails on their bikes, I've had my fair share of successful and unsuccessful couple mountain bike rides.
If you're thinking of taking your relationship to the next level and becoming an "adventure buddy" couple, here are a few tips for before you start in. (These tips apply mostly to those couples where one person is already involved in biking or any other outdoor activity but the other is not. If you both already love biking and are quite competitive, that's a whole different can of worms.)
1. Make sure you both know what you're getting into.
It's no fun to show up to the trail unaware and unprepared for the rocky 3,000-feet elevation gain in the first three miles, only to drop back down that in the last three. It's also no fun to have seriously underestimated your significant other's athletic ability and propensity to whining. Be clear about the trail, judge your significant other's capabilities beforehand, and figure out a trail you can both feel comfortable on.
2. Have a "safe word."
It's easy to convince yourself that when your partner says they aren't having fun anymore, it's just because they're in the middle of a hill. Once they get to the top, you know they'll start having fun again, even though what awaits them at the top of the hill is yet another extremely technical decent followed by another hard uphill. Having a safe word that either of you can say when you aren't having fun anymore helps you to take one another's feelings seriously. As soon as one person stops having fun, being able to say so and have it be taken seriously by the other keeps you both happy and having fun.
3. Communicate clearly and sincerely.
Some people say "Oh, feel free to go ahead," and are then irritated when they struggle up the trail for twenty minutes by themselves.
For me, if I say, "Go ahead," I do actually want the other person to go ahead and power up this hill that's going to take me a bit longer to get up. Then he can wait for me at the top, not watching me struggle up. Make clear expectations about communication (It's not fair to get mad at me for going ahead if you said I could!), and ultimately, do what your partner says.
You didn't learn mountain biking in two seconds; you learned through observation, tips and experience. Remember that fact as you convey what you've learned, and try not to overwhelm your partner or make them feel bad.
4. Kindly give helpful tips.
It's probably a good idea to go slowly enough at first so that they can follow you, learning your technique and how to pick lines. But after they've mastered the basics, chances are they could still use some tips. If you notice something that will make their biking experience easier and more enjoyable, share it! But share it in a non-patronizing way. You didn't learn mountain biking in two seconds; you learned through observation, tips and experience. Remember that fact as you convey what you've learned, and try not to overwhelm your partner or make them feel bad as you do share these tips.
5. Make sure they have proper gear.
While you're flying up and down hills on your $6,000, carbon fiber bike, your girlfriend is slugging away on your old hard tail that's definitely too small for her and weighs a ton (not that I've necessarily experienced that…). Of course she's going to be slower than you are! If you're going to expect any sort of performance out of your significant other, you need to make sure that you've both got well-fitting, properly functioning bikes.
All in all, what it comes down to is patience, communication and a good attitude. Watching someone you care about become better at an activity you care about is an awesome experience, so next time you can't find anyone to ride with, consider asking your partner. Who knows, it might become your new favorite activity!
Anyone have experiences (good or bad) with introducing a significant other to mountain biking? Share them below!