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  1. #1
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    Advice needed- girlfriend and I just cannot ride together in a civil fashion...

    I have been cycling off and on for over 20 years. My GF had always wanted to try it so I helped her get into it, but when we ride together she turns into a 12 year old and pouts because 'I will never be as fast as you.' Direct quote. I think she has made really good progress, despite the fact that she simply doesn't ride enough. No she will never be as fast as me and I don't expect her to be.
    We finished last night's ride about 150 yards apart because she reverted to junior high again, at least until I came back for her because we were losing daylight and she doesn't have any lights. Which of course pissed her off- 'I don't need a chaperone.' Well, yes you do because you have no lights and even though I would like to strangle you right now, you need to be safe.
    She admitted that she thinks I purposely try to stay ahead of her, apparently for my own ego I guess, but I almost never look at my computer for anything. I generally have no clue how fast I am going, and she wants to ride behind me! She wants me to lead, so I stay far enough ahead that she has room for variations in her speed. Sometimes I ride beside her. I always tell her that she should tell me to go faster or slower, whichever she needs. Sometimes she does.
    The ego problem lies with her, not me. She hates to not be good at something, and even worse, she hates to look like she doesn't know what she is doing. This woman has a law degree and another master's degree, so she is not an underachiever. I have zero expectations of her, except that she puts effort into it, and does her best...but she is so busy saying I can't, I can't... She admittedly has no patience for anything or anyone. I have tons of patience and it is wearing thin. I have given up trying to help her.
    At the top of a pretty good hill she asked me how I climb so fast...so I explained to her what I do; how I use my legs, alternate between pulling and pushing on the pedals, blah blah... She said I do all that. So then I am trying to explain gear management to her, for the millionth time. We are both pedaling at the same speed but my cadence is higher and I can she see is putting too much effort into the pedaling. She is about 3 gears higher than me so I say, drop down a gear or two and spin with less effort. She does that- 'but now this pedaling makes me tired.' She won't get the concept of spinning....
    I told her that I couldn't really teach her anything else, maybe one of our local shop buddies can ride with her and teach her something. She can sometimes be the kind of person that looks for reasons to be pissed off...and I've just about had it.
    Apologize for the length, but any thoughts? Constructive thoughts, that is...

  2. #2
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    If you have a hobby that you both enjoy and do it together, that's one thing. But when one partner tries to pick up a hobby that the other partner engages in (and typically has for some period of time)...it almost never works and typically ends up exactly in the manner you are experiencing. This plays out the same way whether the hobby is golf, tennis, cycling, hiking.

    I figure, interests you share are things you can do together. Interests that you don't have in common aren't opportunities to pick up a new hobby, they are an opportunity for some alone time in the relationship.

    One thing you can try but is not at all guaranteed to work is to hamper yourself with a disadvantage to "level the field". If she's riding a road bike, ride a MBT with knobby tires or a single speed cruiser. That way you'll have to work a lot harder to go faster than her.
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  3. #3
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    I hate to say this, but she sounds a bit like me. In my head I know I will never be as strong as my hubby, but that doesn't stop the feeling of inadequacy and frustration with myself when he can climb up the hills like it's nothing and I'm huffing and puffing.

    The best thing you can do is to just go slow and allow her to draft off of you. Don't offer advice while she's struggling, she may be too frustrated to take it in. Hubby has told me a hundred times over the last 30 years to spin, but it took until I joined the RBR for it to sink in.

    Do both of you have good bike computers or GPS's? If so, you can set a pace that is good for her so she's not working too hard. Since I've gotten my Garmin with cadence, I can now see (because I had to see it for myself that I wasn't spinning at 80 as i imagined I was) what cadence is.

    Getting her in a group ride with other ladies in her category would be helpful. She may be more apt to take advice from others than you.
    While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. - Stephen R. Covey.

  4. #4
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    I can sympathize with you on some of this. I've gotten the " I will never be as fast as you" line. When my GF decided she wanted to start riding, I made sure she understood that it was her decision. I didn't request or expect her to be a cyclist. But if she wanted to, I'd be glad to teach and support her. Anytime she would express her frustrations, I'd be sure to remind her this was her choice and I have no expectations of her.

    My GF is pretty competitive. She was a former runner so she gets endurance based activities. She's a yoga instructor by profession, so much of her day is dedicated to pretty intense physical activity. When she mentions not being "fast enough" I have to remind her that in order to get faster she has to ride more often and at a harder level. In which she replies, "I can't because I'm too busy with, or tired from, yoga." Her competitiveness makes her want to perform at a high level in both. So I tell her she has to prioritize which is more important, which is her yoga practice. It also doesn't help the she weighs 90lbs soaking wet, so she doesn't have the ability to put out the power I can.

    What's helped with us is getting her doing some group rides with others at her level. She's learned from others the same things I would tell her so that's helped reinforce my instruction. She's accepted the level at which she rides at now. But she's always trying to ride faster (which is a good thing). She knows we won't be riding at the same level and is ok with that (even if she wishes it wasn't so).
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  5. #5
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    Have you considered getting a tandem? Or at least trying one before you buy? Surely that is a great leveller of abilities. On a solo bike the chances of her being able to match you are slim (lots of women have whupped my arse over the years) so why would she want to continually subject herself to this torture?

    Maybe your wife is just too high maintenance where cycling is concerned (mine would be for sure) so why not cut her loose and insist that she ride with a group (preferably women) of her speed? This has got to be no fun for you either so why do you keep doing it?
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  6. #6
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    Thank you. I get what you are all saying... I no longer have any other bikes; gave them all up because she bought me a Tarmac that I didn't really want anyway, and she doesn't want a bunch of bikes sitting around. My last road bike was an old steel frame I built up with newer stuff and I could hang with people on their fancy CF bikes even though I had to work harder. She has $4K invested in a Specialized Alias and she doesn't even ride it enough to justify the darn thing.
    But I would wager everything I own on the following: Say I borrow the cruddy old Fuji mtb I gave to my son and ride with her on that, she will be pissed off because I am mocking her!

    I ask her what she would like me to do differrently, what I can do to help her. The answer: She doesn't know. If you don't know, how am I supposed to figure it out? She won't ride in front, she gets pissed if I ride behind her because she knows that she is slowing me down. Ok, fine. I don't mind going whatever speed you want...but like one of you said- if you want to get faster and/or better, you have to ride with someone that makes you push a little bit.

    This is what happened on the last Tuesday night bike shop ride: She won't ride with the C group because they are too slow and she has not tolerance for them. So we rode together in B. It always starts single file up a hill in traffic and some people were passing us; one of the shop lackeys, who was trying to help, got in front of her and said hug my wheel but then he went too fast for her (admittedly not helpful). That pissed her off. So get to a point about 1.5 miles into it and she is pissed, says to me you finish the ride I am going home. I say what? what do you mean? you are doing fine. No, I held everyone up on the hill and I am leaving (She cannot tolerate being last, even though she wasn't). B group are jerks and I don't like that. I said that was the hardest part of this ride, just finish it. Nope; she turned and went home. Then I had to listen to her ***** about that guy and his rudeness for a week.

    She has a really good computer, cadence and everything. She has top-notch everythign... I am just not sure she really wants to be a cyclist. She said before we started last night that her last ride by herself cadence was 70 and asked if that was good. I said hey that is an improvement, it's better. You want to shoot for being 80+ at some point. I don't really need a computer; don't care that much. I just need time of day, speed and miles. Sometimes I don't even look at it. I tell her all the time, you pick the route, you set the pace. My computer wasn't even working last night. I try to give her options, let her have control...
    Maybe it's just not our thing to do together, as chudak said. But between our kids, work and life, we don't get that much together time. I am afraid it's becoming an allegory for our relationship.

  7. #7
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by tailgunn View Post
    Maybe it's just not our thing to do together, as chudak said. But between our kids, work and life, we don't get that much together time. I am afraid it's becoming an allegory for our relationship.
    So who's idea was it to share this hobby?
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  8. #8
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    It was her idea. When she found out that I am a cyclist, she said she had always wanted to try it and I offered to help.

    For someone else a tandem might be a great idea. I have shown her tandems before and her reaction isn't good. She has a chip on her shoulder...has the mentality that everyone is looking at her. Besides, when she tells me to piss off and just go, I can't if we're stuck nose to butt!

    Mike T, this is my girlfriend and I am thinking she is just too high maintenance period! lol...I am just at a loss here.

  9. #9
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    With all due respect, I think she has issues that go beyond cycling and cycling is so frustrating for her that this is where they boil to the surface. I think you need to do some serious thinking and soul-searching.
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  10. #10
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by tailgunn View Post
    It was her idea. When she found out that I am a cyclist, she said she had always wanted to try it and I offered to help.
    Then put the onus on her to define what she wants out of riding together. Let her make the "rules" on what speed you ride, where you ride, etc. You'll ride with her so long as she follows the rules. Should be easy for someone with a law degree.

    Mike T, this is my girlfriend and I am thinking she is just too high maintenance period! lol...I am just at a loss here.
    Is this just a cycling related issue or an everything issue?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    With all due respect, I think she has issues that go beyond cycling and cycling is so frustrating for her that this is where they boil to the surface. I think you need to do some serious thinking and soul-searching.
    Yeah, she sounds pretty...volatile.
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  12. #12
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    It would seem to me that the obvious answer is to not bike together.

    You could bike at the same time, but not together.

    You could bike while she does something else.

    Or, you could keep smashing your thumb with the hammer.

    I'd opt for a or b, rather than chewing up thumbs on c.

  13. #13
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    If you are out for a ride together, then I'd encourage riding together, with the possible exception of hills, but regroup at the bottom of the hill.

    The stronger rider can ride side-by-side when traffic is appropriate, then pull ahead or behind when a car comes.

    Speed should be a taboo issue for discussions. I wonder if it is not just the GF, but also how you interact with her. However, it sounds like she has little patience for people who are not exactly like herself.

    I think the problem is that your GF apparently doesn't want to ride with you, nor does she want to ride apart. It sounds like some bad relationship signs.

    The tandem idea sounds like a worthwhile option to try... assuming you like your GF enough to get that close.

    Most tandems have the pedals attached synchronously. Both people have to pedal, and at the same rate. It could be good training for pedal cadence, but it could be an issue if both of you have very different pedalling styles. I'm seeing notes on the web about a few asynchronous tandems. That certainly would be worth exploring. Perhaps there would be a way to try both styles.

    Getting bikes to level the playing field sounds like a good idea to me. Riding the MTB isn't mocking, it is simply levelling the playing field, and will give you a workout. Many games, chess, golf, whatever, have a way of giving a player a handicap. Perhaps find an MTB that will actually put you behind her a bit, although she may not have the patience to wait for you.

    As far as spinning, I've never been a spinner... I've tried it some, but it just knocks me out. The notes I'm seeing indicate that one has to work at it... perhaps a month or so trying. I don't know. I can certainly go the distance, 100+ miles without spinning. Anyway, she knows your opinion on spinning. Don't push it.

    Not all rides have to be together. You can ride solo, or with your favorite group sometimes without her.

  14. #14
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    Yes, the thumb-smashing is getting old... and yes, it spills over into more than just cycling... she doesn't want to make the rules, although I try to let her set them. I honestly feel that sometimes she sets me up for failure. Maybe I will tell her that she needs to come up with some parameters for this or we just can't ride together anymore.

    She spent $700 for wheels on Sunday simply because they were 40% off... so they stuck her old wheels on my bike, which saved me a pound and they are stiffer. I never really thought it was that big of a difference, but I could feel it last night...so she was mad that she gave me the wheels because now I am even faster!

    So where do i send money to pay for this counseling session?

  15. #15
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    Clifford, I do those things you suggested. Last night we climbed a pretty steep hill and we regrouped at the top. I even told her I thought she had good pace, and did good. If it's not a single-file road, I ride next to her, then I move in front or behind when there is traffic... I never mention her speed. I always tell her that our pace is fine for me. You may not think riding an mtb would be mocking her, but she would. She asks me questions, wants help, but then gets pissy and tells me she can't do that... ok then, you can't. I got nothing else for you then. I coach hockey, not cycling. My advice is limited.

  16. #16
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by tailgunn View Post
    Maybe I will tell her that she needs to come up with some parameters for this or we just can't ride together anymore.
    Maybe
    Why isn't that an "Absolutely, I won't ride with her otherwise".

    So where do i send money to pay for this counseling session?
    Send me some money and I'll send you a hammer... so you can continue smashing your thumb.
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  17. #17
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    That's too bad about riding the mtn bike while she rides her road bike. I made my hubby do that when I first got my road bike, gave him quite a workout. And if we shoot pool, he's not allowed to make any straight shots. If hubby wants me to golf with him, he's not allowed to offer advice on the course. . Like tig suggested. Let her make the rules and don't offer any help unless she asks for it. She's probably more frustrated with herself.
    While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. - Stephen R. Covey.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post

    The tandem idea sounds like a worthwhile option to try... assuming you like your GF enough to get that close.
    When azpeterb and I bought our tandem, we heard from several different people that what ever direction your relationship is headed, a tandem will get you there faster.

    We love our tandem, and enjoy each other. It's been a good thing for us.

    I decided to try cycling just over a year ago...the boss has been cycling for 30 years or so and I will never be as strong or fast as he is. Big deal? I love riding and am getting stronger every day. He encourages me, gives advice and is teaching me how to do maintenance on my bike. He supported me buying a CAAD 10 Di2 after only a few months of me riding. I am very lucky to be married to him!! We ride together occasionally, have a great time. He adjusts his pace for me. Sometimes I'll send him on ahead if he wants to try and get some real speed on the downhill. Sometimes he rides ahead and takes my picture on my way up a big hill.

    I'm sorry you're having so many problems. Seems to me it's your GF's problem, though now it's yours. My only advice is for her....grow up!
    Don't tell me I'm not supposed to be here, because this is where I am.


  19. #19
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    Thanks, I have my own hammer! We are riding separately more and more now, just because I don't like riding with her... and I'm not willing to totally give up my own fitness or passion for it. My son has a hybrid at our house, maybe I could try that... platform pedals...

    I like the quote about the tandem, LindyB. I think cycling in general may be doing the same thing.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindy B. View Post
    what ever direction your relationship is headed, a tandem will get you there faster.

  21. #21
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    Advice needed- girlfriend and I just cannot ride together in a civil fashion...

    Reading this makes me very grateful that my wife transitioned into the sport successfully and with a relative minimum of drama. It first she would give me hell if I didn't stay with her, but as her skills and confidence have developed along with her circle of riding companions that has become much less of an issue. On days when I race she rides with her own groups. Sharing the sport and the riding companions gives us a lot more in common than we had before.

    My only advice is to counsel patience and recognize that most of this behavior is probably coming from fear, of what you or other people think, of vulnerability, of failure. Getting her introduced to other women riders so her whole experience of the activity isn't funneled through you might help.
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  22. #22
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    She doesn't really know any other women that ride, neither do I. If she would ride more often, maybe she would meet some... and she'd get better. I am not disagreeing with anything you all are saying. She just puts a lot of obstacles in her own way. I will try some of the suggestions.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tailgunn View Post
    She spent $700 for wheels on Sunday simply because they were 40% off... so they stuck her old wheels on my bike, which saved me a pound and they are stiffer. I never really thought it was that big of a difference, but I could feel it last night...so she was mad that she gave me the wheels because now I am even faster!
    It sounds like she is trying.
    Do you race?

    Riding shouldn't be about a competition. Just go out and enjoy a Sunday ride. Smell some roses, watch the birds. Have fun.

    $700 wheels at 40% off... that puts them at about $1100 wheels... Hmmm...

    One thing this forum, and life in general has taught me is that you don't need to go out and spend thousands of dollars just to have fun. A carbon wheel set might be great for racing, but I don't think I'd use it for touring. A professional racer might be interested in shaving a few grams here and there so they can shave a minute off of a 3 hour race. But, you certainly don't need that to get exercise, or to enjoy a ride. Just relax a bit for touring.

    I went out for a "hill climb" a week ago. Problem was that the base of the mountain was 50 miles from my house. I got to the mountain, and about 12 miles up the mountain by the time I deemed that it was too late to keep going, and I had to turn back for the 60 mile ride back home.

    I didn't make it to the top. But, it was a good ride. I enjoyed it. You know, I'm just fine with that. Next time I'll start an hour or two earlier, and make it to the top. Or, perhaps bring a sleeping bag so I can go over the top and find a place to camp on the other side.

    I was riding alone, but I suppose I'm writing this because life isn't just about always getting to the top of the mountain. Sometimes it is more about the voyage getting there.

  24. #24
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    You should always be wary of getting attached to someone who doesn't know how to set realistic expectations. It'd be cool if my girlfriend rode with me, but we both know that wouldn't be fun when put in practice given the speed difference. Therefore, I keep to my hobbies of cycling and video gaming, and she keeps to her hobbies of crocheting and baking (at which she is a master ).
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  25. #25
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    Don't marry her, these kind of problems / issues only get worse, not better......just sayin'.
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