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by Verita Stewart
February 14, 2017
Photography by Jered Gruber
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
Forget chocolates, flowers and cheesy cards. Here at Ella our true love is cycling and even the most beautiful bouquet of flowers cannot compare to a day on the bike. Even better is when you get to share that ride with your partner…or is it? Verita Stewart shares the good and the bad about having a significant other who rides.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones, because my partner rides, too. I think this is an added bonus in a relationship as cycling is a huge part of both our lives and we understand each other’s cycling needs. After all, to the rest of the world cyclists can be strange right?
We have had some fun times together side by side on the road, we have seen some amazing parts of the world on two wheels, gone on amazing holidays together, we get to train together and we sometimes even race against each other. There are so many good things about having a partner who rides, but admittedly there are also some things that aren’t so good – like that extra level of competitiveness on the local climb. Bragging rights matter, even when it’s your partner.
There are some mornings when the alarm goes off and it feels like it’s only 3 a.m. The thought of getting up makes my body feel like lead and I want to pull the quilt over my head. Maybe it’s because it’s cold, raining or windy outside; or I’m just fatigued from my training load; or maybe I’m just too sleepy. It would be very easy to find an excuse and hit the snooze button. These are the mornings when I am thankful that my partner is getting up to train too, and will nudge me out of bed. Having a partner to motivate and encourage me out the door is sometimes all it takes to change mindset and have a great training session.
2. Company when training
Having a partner who rides is great for those long days of base building. Knowing my partner will happily accompany me means I never feel I have to convince friends to spend 5-6 hours on a weekend morning training or go out solo. These long rides are always better when shared, and having my partner there always makes the time pass quickly.
3. Understanding when you are tired and grumpy from training
There are some times, usually at the end of the week or at the end of a training block, when I am exhausted, both physically and mentally. These are the times I am thankful that my partner understands the stress of balancing training and life. This understanding is shown by things such as cooking dinner and, more importantly, accepting that on a Friday night I will be asleep on the couch by 8 p.m. This consideration also extends to bursts of ‘hangry’ when out training. We may have the occasional snap because of lack of food but we always understand where it comes from.
4. Fewer ride-time deadlines
It’s quite common for people who have partners that don’t ride, to feel time constrained because they know their other half is waiting for them at home on the weekends. I have often been out riding with friends who have had to cut our ride short, sheepishly saying they are on the clock as their partner wants them home. This is a difficult topic for many people who want to spend their weekends riding but whose partners don’t quite share that enthusiasm. When you have a partner that rides, you rarely encounter this obstacle – unless of course they have to do five hours and you three! The only time my partner will put a time restriction on my cycling is if we have commitments with our extended family or friends. In these cases, we both just head out earlier than usual to allow time for everything.
5.Shared kid/pet duty around cycling
I have a few friends that share the minding load. One goes out early, while one goes out later on in the day. Both relate to the drive to get out on the bike, so they are happy to make the effort to make sure the other can fit in a decent ride.
6. Cycling talk
It’s good to be able to, firstly, stay up late watching the big races on the TV with someone and, secondly, have someone to discuss the ins and outs of the race with afterward. I know when I start rabbiting on to my friends or family that don’t ride, the conversation usually includes lots of unconvincing nodding as I talk about how Lizzie Armitstead won a race again. But my partner, on the other hand, at least nods knowingly and maybe even engages in a conversation with me about her attack.
7. Holidays always involve cycling
Watching Grand Tour races and seeing the pros conquer the most famous climbs around the world is a favourite pastime of many recreational cyclists. I definitely fall into this category. So when it comes time to planning holidays, high on my list is an overseas trip to test myself on these famous climbs. Having a partner who shares this passion means that holiday destinations are easily agreed upon. Not just travelling overseas, but weekends away close to home always involve taking the bikes and exploring new roads. These are some of my most memorable rides, and I’m thankful to share them with my partner without having to negotiate fitting in training while on holiday.
8. Never feel guilty buying bike stuff
Cycling isn’t a cheap sport. There are always new kits, socks and accessories to buy. Not to mention the n + 1 rule! Having a partner who rides means I don’t have to hide my receipts or tell a white lie about how much that new kit cost. Don’t laugh, I have friends who do this, because they know the reaction they will get from their other half. But the flip side – they actually know how much things cost – so justifying that new S-Works mountain bike when you really don’t ride trail very often gets a little harder!
While I’m unquestionably an advocate of encouraging your partner to love cycling as much as you do, there are some pitfalls:
1. Comparing your strengths and weaknesses on the bike
Some friendly competition is healthy, but don’t let it become a wedge between you.
2. Hijacked training
Don’t get caught up in the ride and end up doing your partner’s training when you have a different program to follow. I’m often doing sneaky long rides following my partner around, which is sometimes counterproductive to my current racing goals. Especially when I’m supposed to do 3 hours, not 5 hours.
3. There is such a thing as being too competitive
There is that awkward conversation after beating your partner, or them beating you, either in a race or the local Strava segment. There are times when it pays to keep that competitiveness in check.
4. The final scoop
Your partner might use the last scoop of recovery powder and not leave any for you. This is a dilemma that applies for all kinds of food, so never eat that last chocolate biscuit or banana without offering to split it first.
5. Double the clothes
Your washing machine will always be full of Lycra and there might be more cycling clothing in your wardrobe than regular clothes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but make sure that you purchase the washing liquid in bulk and say goodbye to any spare wardrobe space.
6. Interior decoration
Your house will become full of bikes and the decor will slowly change to a cycling theme. Don’t try and fight it, it’s inevitable. Between my partner and I, we have 9 bikes and a spare room where the bed has made way for bikes.
7. Rain, rain go away
Come winter time, you might find you are fighting over the indoor trainer on rainy days. The easy fix is to just buy a second one.
8. Fuelling the ride
Your grocery budget will increase, and a good portion of that budget will go to ride nutrition, like those bars, gels, protein, organic peanut butter, beetroot juice and coconut water. Athletes have needs after all!
9. Coffee conflict
My partner doesn’t share my love of one cycling essential: coffee. So there is the occasional butting of heads when I want to stop for a coffee on the way home. Let’s just say compromise, order one coffee and one smoothie perhaps … my shout!
Cycling is a large part of who I am. I love having a partner that shares this passion. While it doesn’t define our relationship, it is a bonus to be with someone who shares a love of cycling. I encourage you to get your partner out on a bike, and share your passion with them, even if it is just a roll to the coffee shop for a smoothie.
Does your partner ride? Has this helped or hindered your cycling experience?
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 Women’s Racing. She has quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing. 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.