On Sunday I rode the Giro Della Donna, which is a stunning loop out of the town of Warburton, Victoria, consisting of 105 kilometres and 2700 meters of climbing. Fair to say, it was a tough day out for me and my riding crew. We had planned to ride this for months and were super excited to ride somewhere new, rather than our normal weekend routes. We wanted to ride together, soak in the scenery and in general have a nice weekend away.
We ride together all the time, so we know each other. We understand each other’s moods, we wait for each other, we steal each other’s food and we laugh at each other’s (bad) jokes, we even offer on-bike hugs and singing lessons!
Sunday’s loop was a very challenging day in the saddle for all of us. Lots of climbing and lots of hurt. During a day like this we all go through a variety of moods, from elation to fatigue to ugly hunger flats. We talk, and sometimes we don’t (heart rate too high), and a little friendly competition sometimes comes into play. Some days we are all feeling strong, other days we need to rally around someone who is not. We are always there for each other and Sunday I was again reminded about how awesome my riding buddies are.
So, what makes an awesome riding buddy?
Here are my top 5 characteristics of a great riding buddy:
1. They’re reliable and turn up on time.
There is nothing worse than constantly having to wait for someone. Even worse is someone who commits to a training session, only to bail the night before. Being able to rely on someone and knowing there is someone waiting for you, not only makes it easier to get out and train, but it also makes you more accountable. They will give you a reason to get out of bed, and make you feel guilty for sleeping in (rightly so!).
2. They still love you when you are tired and grumpy after a hard day in the saddle.
Training hurts at times. Some sessions turn you inside out and make you not the most pleasant person to be around. These sessions are often easier shared with a training buddy, who can keep you motivated and on track (and maybe try steal your Strava QOM). Let’s be honest, we aren’t always great company when we are in the midst of training for a target race or goal. An awesome training buddy will know how to handle you, and not to take your mood personally. They will know when you need some mindless chatter, and when silence is golden.
3. They challenge you.
A good training buddy is preferably someone who rides at your level, or perhaps slightly stronger than you. This allows you to be regularly pushed out of your comfort zone, which will improve your strength quickly. You want someone who brings out the best in you and doesn’t allow you to be complacent and lazy, as this will create bad training habits. I love training with friends that are stronger than me as it gives me a butt to chase uphill! There is nothing like a bit of friendly competition to bring out your best! A little bit of healthy competition between friends never goes astray.
4. They will lend you a spare tube or gel when you need it.
A bit like the Snickers advertisement, an awesome training buddy will know what you are not yourself and you need some food before you bonk beyond repair. Even better, they will lend you a gel or some riding food if you are running short. There is an unspoken agreement that you will return the favour on your next training ride. A good training buddy will do this without hesitation, as they know what your mood is like when you hunger flat. Same goes for a spare tube if you flat more than once. You would lend your training buddies food or a tube without hesitation, and it is nice to know what your training buddy also has your back.
5. They have good selfie / photographic skills for Instagram.
I might be biased here, but this definitely gets a mention in my Top 5. As you know, I love social media, particularly Instagram. I’ll always take a moment to take a snap or admire the view. I love finishing my ride and looking at the images I have captured. These images form part of my collection that I am able to look back on and remember the day. A training buddy who can capture a great photo or master the selfie angle is someone to be cherished forever.
Some additional qualities to make the perfect training buddy:
- Training buddies should have similar goals
- Common interests, can talk for hours
- Laugh at your bad jokes
- Keep your ego in check
- Wait at the top / bottom for you
- Share your passion
- Enjoy some quality coffee shop chamois time
- Added bonus: Good at changing a tyre and possess mechanical skills.
Finally, a bit about my training buddies: We are a motley crew, who met each other through our shared passion for riding. We met through mutual friends, through coaches, cycling clubs and found each other on the road. We are all different, and that’s what brings us together.
How’d you meet your riding buddies? What do you think makes a good riding buddy?
About the author
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on twitter and instagram and strava.