For all of us that ski, snowboard and ride mountain bikes there comes a time where we think "Man, Riding is soooo great I bet my girlfriend/spouse would love to do this with me!" This is a prime example of Man's optimistic mindset and His ability to overlook the means to get to his ideal end. The following is synonymous with any action sport we decide to share but since i like bikes more than any anything i'll use it as the base for the following scenario and steps.
Lets look at what we'll cover.
I. Why we think its a great idea to ride with our significant other.
II. How we typically go about teaching them.
III. How it turns out.
IV. Why it fails.
V. How to do it correctly.
Why we think its a great idea:
In our minds this is simple 1 + 1 = 2 Math. Take 1 thing we love, put it with another and wham, you have an awesome combo. Its just like adding chili to Mac n Cheese to make Chili-mac. Make sense?
Not only do you want to share the experience of riding but you also want to show all the cool stuff you can do on a bike. Lets face it pictures/video on the computer never do a feature or terrain justice and if your experiences are like mine your lady of the house starts to roll her eyes the more and more you yell "Hey come check this out!!!!" from the computer room right when she sat down to watch TV with some tea in hand. So how do we think we can solve this dilemma? Easy by bringing our girl along with us, thats how.
How we typically go about teaching:
We have a conflict of interest right away. We want to show off but we need to teach. So what usually happens is we drag our girlfriends/spouses on an "easy" trail that still has some cool stuff for us to ride. Things usually start off well by us giving a few pointers then its time to ride! We start riding until we come to the first corner, decent or whatever where our girlfriend is scared to do it. We try and reassure her that it is really easy but she won't try it. We get a bit frustrated because we "know" she can do it but we still move on down the trail. That is when we encounter the next section of the trail that is a bit over her head. The whole process happens over and over until you get frustrated to the point where she is pissed at you and you're ready to get home.
How it typically turns out:
Bad, she hates riding and thinks its even stupider than before.
Why it fails:
This fails because all we want to do is share the ride. We forget that we need to actually teach how to ride. We're lucky that with Mountain Biking your girlfriend may actually know how to ride a bike.. So this should be easy right? Nope... because mountain biking involves a lot more for just riding the bike. This leads me into my next point though....
How to do it correctly:
The first step is to get to the dirt but don't show up at the trails you like to ride, even many of the "skills areas" at your local trails may be too much. You need to find some dirt that is really really mellow.. so mellow that your student may find it silly. If she does, run her through it and then move on.. otherwise just keep riding in that area and then going on to more dirt that is incrementally more difficult as she gets comfortable. Here is the key that will make this a lot of fun for her, let her ride around without you giving crazy amounts of tips.
It may take a long time for her to get up to the skill level where you guys can go out for an actual ride
1: If you know someone else that is just learning to ride too have them come along with your girlfriend.. she may really like that.. but make sure you ask her if she is cool with it.
2: Buy her some new Sombrio shorts, socks and gloves. After her 2nd or 3rd time out.
Follow these steps and your chance of having fun riding with your girlfriend will increase.
Now more than ever we have amazing choices for cycling products. Awesome frames, forks, cranks, shocks and so much more... the problem is.. where do begin to decide what to get?
well you can jump on mtbr.com or god forbid pinkbike.com and ask the "experts" but you'll soon find out the only answers you'll get are a bunch of crap biased answers.. even from me. More recently i've been buying from shops and company's directly that have treated like their business depends on my $. I'll name 2 real quick... 1 shop and 1 company.
Shop: Universal Cycles... this name probably rings a bell even if you don't live in Portland. Universal Cycles has a big online shop w/ multiple warehouses. They carry a shit ton of goods at reasonable prices. I've bought many of the finishing touches for my Legend at the shop and Aaron at universal even put the whole thing together for me. Sure the work they do there on my bikes is great and they get me products real quick.. but whats best is that they take the time to answer my questions, they call me by name and they help me out with problems i have w/ certain components *cough..el *cough*..ixers.. uh* even though i didn't buy it from them.
I know they might not do this for everyone .. but i was in a bind and needed some work done on a Friday so i could ride on Saturday morning... i can't remember what i needed done but it was probably something time consuming and.. well long story short.. i explained that i needed to ride on Saturday and they had the bike ready Friday afternoon when i dropped it off that morning. These guys do a great job of treating everyone great and staying approachable... if you're in portland .. drop by their shop at 1820 NW 18th Ave. If you're not in Portland go to www.universalcycles.com to check out the massive amounts of inventory they have.
So that leaves us with the company..
Company: Deity - Holy crap, what can i say. Super fast, very personalized experience to say the least. I met Sadie and Eric at Sea Otter in 2010. Ever since i've bought, bars, 2 sets of pedals, 2 sets of grips,a stem, t-shirt and Sadie sent a t-shit out for my girlfriend. Its funny that i've bought all this (and plan to my exponentially more from them) when the first experience i had with their product wasn't the best. I bought some grips from an unnamed retailer and for some reason i only got a couple of screws for the clamps. It was a bitch getting the replacement screws from the retailer.. and they said they weren't accusing me of trying to get free shit but it sure felt like it. .. Well I just about gave up then i ran into Sadie and them at Sea Otter.. i told her about it in more about it and when i got home from the trip she called me at work and got my info to send everything out. In like 2 days i got my grips on and ready to roll. What a great experience (or as we say in my industry.. service recovery). Every purchase since has been rad... did i mention they are fast at sending stuff out... if they have it in stock it'll get to you quick. Beyond their service.. their product is amazing... i saw a guy w/ a mid-20lbs Ibis Mojo at blackrock recently.. and it was equipped with the new Decoy LT pedals.. nice choice if you ask me.
So all in all when you're buying bike gear.. go somewhere that is going to treat you with respect and not make you feel like a you're inconveniencing them. You're spending a lot of money on something you're going to break.. your business is important.