Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated 30 years of continuous companionship. She has, quite literally, shepherded me from my awkward and troubled late adolescence into this awkward and troubled middle-age. Along the way, I have ridden tens of thousands of miles, written hundreds of thousands of words, sold thousands of bikes, and managed also to get her out for a ride together upwards of six times.
Having a significant other is a time-consuming boondoggle, a messy collaboration at times, but on balance, I highly recommend finding yourself a guy or a gal or a non-binary pal, according to your tastes.
After some decades of successfully riding bicycles AND maintaining a healthy relationship, I’ve had friends suggest I write a relationship guide for erstwhile cyclists. Now, I’d love to be a celebrated author, because I’ve already fully enjoyed getting not-rich while typing words at break-neck pace and hurling them into the digital void. Think how proud my mom would be. But any time I’ve even considered writing a relationship advice column for TCI, I’ve had to ask myself, “Are you smart, or just lucky?”
I’ll bet you can guess where the Vegas odds-makers come down on that one.
Nonetheless, as part of this review, I will give you some of my hard-won advice for maintaining relationship comity while also shredding all the possible gnar.
Tip 1: If you’re in the emergency room or on your way to the emergency room, start whatever conversation with your SO by saying, “Hey, I’m fine, but my day just got a little weird.” You should say this, even if you are not fine. Your SO is going to freak the fudge out, but it’s critical you don’t lead with trauma. And contrary to common sense this move is not about softening the blow of coming to pick you up at the ER with 37 fresh stitches bisecting your face. This is about not triggering future panic attacks every time you call on the phone. In other words, you don’t want your SO’s first thought, upon hearing your signature ringtone, that you’re in an early grave. Stick to this script in all cases, except when you’re actually calling from an early grave, in which case, get straight to the point.
Tip 2: Know when you’re pushing your luck. You can get back from a ride an hour late, but you can’t do that on every ride. You can go away with friends to ride bikes, but you can’t do it every weekend. You can call from the ER (see above), but not more than twice in a calendar year. The thing is, your SO is likely a loving and patient person, but there are limits to both love and patience, contrary to what The Walt Disney Company might have implied over the last 50 years of animated happy stories.
Tip 3: Don’t hide new bike purchases. I had a customer once who said to me, “I can spend as much as I want on this bike, as long as it’s blue. When my wife sees it, she’ll ask if I bought a new bike, and I’ll just say, ‘No. It’s the blue one.'” Hilarious in the short term, deleterious to the care and feeding of a trusting relationship in the long term. The more honest you are about your bike problem, the sooner you’ll break the habit of buying a new bike every time the industry hatches another “innovation.”
Tip 4: Do not try to get your SO to love riding bikes. To paraphrase an old saw, an ounce of attraction is worth a pound of you ham-fistedly trying to jam cycling down your SO’s throat. You love this person. You don’t need them to love all the things you love too. This is advice I have failed to heed over and over again, with the net result that my wife rolls her eyes every time I suggest we go for a ride together. It’s not her. It’s me.
Tip 5: Don’t talk about bikes to your SO. You’re already going to be overdrawn from the SO Bank of Patience. Don’t exacerbate the issue by boring his/her/their pants clean off their body by explicating the case for disc brakes on a road bike. Realize that you are a horrible and horrifying bike dork, and endeavor not to get that all over the person you love most in this world. This is an extension of Tip 4, above.
Holy chamois cramp, Batman! I could do this all day. Maybe I will turn it into a column. Maybe I will be a millionaire one day. How I would love to take my wife to a celebratory dinner at the Sizzler all-you-can-eat buffet on the royalties!
And yet. And yet! I can imagine that “Relationship Advice for Cyclists” is right up there with “Gardening Tips for Sclerotic Dog Lovers,” or “The Orthodontist’s Guide to Comfy Bowling Shoes,” which are my other book ideas. maybe I’ll just keep my head down and keep this particular broom moving as long as I can.
In the meantime, I wish you great success in your relationship. Should you choose to reproduce, it’s good to have someone to share childcare duties with, by which I mean, someone to keep an eye on your progeny while you escape for the occasional cyclebound constitutional. Also a ride home from the ER (see above), and someone to feign being impressed when you tell them how many miles you rode on a given day (see above).
A significant other can help you ride 10% more, 10% faster, if only by letting you know that, if you’re late coming back one more time, they’re going to put your bikes out on the lawn with a “FREE” sign taped to them. In actuality, having you out of the house, by bike or by paying someone to fake kidnap you, is probably in their best interests as it affords them some valuable time to themselves and keeps them from getting entirely sick of you. In your mind, you’re always stealing time to ride bikes. In reality, your significant other cherishes that time away from you.
The more you know…