Friday, May 30, 2008

34 Cycling and Relationships : A Tough Question

Suppose : Your new life partner, apple of your eye, but obviously not as crazy as you about cycling, tests your commitment in relationship. One day, in a very serious tone, he or she asks you to drop your passion altogether. Its either him/her or bicycles, not both. Its a one way street.

You've finally found a perfect mate after years, but cycling is another thing that keeps you alive. How will you reply and act? Will you do the obvious - say yes and keep riding (hehe) or will you give in, either to your urges or their demands .

Many, if not some, may already have gone through this situation. Because lets face it - serious cycling is a lot of investment in time. If you have not realized that by now, I don't know what to tell you. You don't necessarily have to be pro to decide to do every race in the local calender or ride 10,000 miles every year, not including the hours that go in training, preparation, reading cycling blogs and magazines, watching bike races and hunting for new equipment to buy every season.

Replies will not only help a young guy like me, it'll be interesting for other readers as well.


  1. Anonymous3:46 AM

    My wife and I have always agreed on one thing regarding this. Asking someone to give up a part of who they are, when you knew that part of who they are, before you became involved with them, is asinine. Regardless if it's cycling, or football, or garage sale shopping, falling for someone whose life(or a big part of it) is comprised of the afore mentioned activities and then once you've planted yourself into their lives and asking them to give up those activities is absolute shit. That's the sign of a significant other who wants to change you into their ideal, instead of finding some one who matches it. It's not that I love cycling so much I wouldn't give it up. It's that I married someone who understands and appreciates that cycling is a large part of what makes me, me.

  2. ...your first poster signed in w/ great advice & there's a nice sentiment woven throughout those words...

    ...if you, like he & myself, turn out to be someone who defines themselves in the longterm, through cycling (& it kinda sounds like you may) then he very succinctly stated what needs to be considered...

  3. This is a very hard thing, and I have two books to suggest: first, to give the new Significant Other a copy of "Roadie", which the new book from VeloPress which explains cycling to outsiders; secondly, to read the chapter on relationships in "Bike for Life." If the new SO is an athlete there will be some understanding there, but otherwise there have to be trade-offs made.

  4. The philosphical answer is: Cycling is a part of you, by asking you to seperate yourself from a part of yourself she is asking you to change. If she is asking you to change she doesn't really like who you really are, she likes the image in her head that she thinks she can mold you in to.

    If she can't accept who you are.... drop the girl, Not the bike.

    p.s. Love the blog

  5. Wait, you're not dating a cyclist?!

    First, I would just talk to her, and say "hey, I've been riding a lot longer than I've known you and I can't just stop my passion for cycling because you ask me to. I'll put you first, but I still need have to give time to the bike. You have to decide if you can handle that" or something like that. Just let her know that she'll be first, but the bike will be second and deserves some "loving" as well. Then let her decide if she can handle that. If she can't, then it wasn't meant to be.

    And if she dumps you, then find a freakin' chick-cyclist man!

  6. Your passion for cycling defines you, gives you that joie de vivre. From Wiki: "Joie de vivre (from the French joie, "joy"; de, "of"; vivre, "to live, living"; "the joy of living") is a term used to express a cheerful enjoyment of life. Joie de vivre, as one scholar has written, "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie is sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being."

    If there's no Joie, then there's no living.

    If she dumps you, call me! ;)

    Love the blog - thanks and keep it up!

    --California Girl

  7. Always a good question. Fact of the matter is that it is not a cycling question. Anyone who would not support your passion or dreams is not a person who would be a good long term match. Move on!

    (And I bet that eHarmony guy would say the same thing.)

  8. Oops. bio says 16. correction: call me in a couple years!

  9. get a tandem bike... and then maybe try a 3-person bike :)

  10. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Tim mirrors my advice, mine based on experience: Get a tandem. Riding a tandem with your girlfriend will halp you find out if:
    A) She like to ride or not
    and B) If you both can operate as a team.
    My gal and I have been together for a dang long time. I'd like to think it is due in part to our riding the tandem. It allows us to both get our ride in and get "there" at the same time.

    Plus, it's rippin' fast down hill....


  11. Anonymous12:43 PM

    Beware the ultimatum!

    Anon in post #1 said it best, very true, thoughtful words.

    Lets hope this blog post is just a "theoretical question!"

    I was in a similar boat (except with religion). Everybody needs to work with each other and be comfortable with having obsessions other than each other.

    Best of luck, I hope it works out if you want it to!

  12. Anonymous12:54 PM

    The obvious answer is that if this person will not accept you for what you are, then they are not worth keeping around.

    But then what if when you met, your passion for cycling was on the down-low? Maybe you were burned out for a bit and took a year or so off. Maybe you just went through a phase where it wasn't important. But then after the relationship is estabolished, something re-fuels the desire to experience the freedom of rolling on wheels under your own power. Does that change the answer at all. Isn't it then you who are changing into something your partner was not expecting? Suddenly you are spending large amounts of time away from the relationship, and large amounts of money on equipment. Plus your are tired all the time, falling asleap at 7:30 in the evening (when you're not out on a group ride) and eating 3x as much as you used to. What then? Does the same "Accept me for who I am" statement hold true?

    I posted a little more about this on my blog.

  13. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Life is made of compromises. I started cycling seriously more or less at the same time I began my current (serious) relationship, about 5 years ago.

    Cycling takes a huge amount of time and effort, and it has resulted in some frictions in my relationship. So for me the deal was just organizing better around cycling, but not dropping the ball with responsibilities around the house and stuff.

    The difficulties with cycling (or any other hobbies) rarely stem from the activity itself, but from the things that you weren't unable to do because you were cycling. This is the opportunity cost, and you need to be aware of it.

    I'm great at reaching agreements, and try to uphold my end of them. I think this has kept me from waking up with a knife in the back!

    Best of luck, mate.


  14. The commitment is more important than the hobby. The hobby is about self, while the relationship is about the two of you.

    That's a two way street, of course -- I'm absolutely confident that my wife would never tell me to give up bicycling because she understands that it's a part of me. We've both had to make adjustments and compromises to accommodate our interests.

    If you go into a relationship believing you can change the other person, you're in for some horrible disappointments. The only person you can change is yourself, and even that comes with great difficulty.

  15. If someone asks you to change or drop a significant part of your life, then they probably didn't want the real you to begin with. I agree with post #1. Very well written.

  16. Excellent follow up. Keep it coming, any other views?

  17. ...ouch, fritz...a hobby ???...while the rest of your words ring very true, i thought for sure you would see cycling as something more than a "hobby"...

    ...hell, i see your bike commuting & the genuine interest you show towards all aspects of cycling & the environment through your web-page, for it to be nothing more than a hobby...

    ...for myself, i've always found it to be a defining part of my lifestyle of which the physical aspects literally saved my life due to health & heart considerations...

    ...ron, beyond everything else, that's not to say that two disparate lifestyles can't be woven together...a degree of compromise or as someone said "the opportunity cost" & time & timing are a part of every relationship...but a common thread that runs through most of these posts is the very real fact, that only we can change ourselves & as fritz mentions, only w/ difficulty..., sir, need to be happy w/ who you are...

  18. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Simple, ask your wife (girlfriend) which she would prefer for you: A. Time with a mistress, or B. Time on the bike.

    Most would reluctantly pick B and would be happy with the results. Be concern if she says both.

  19. Anonymous10:59 PM

    I've been riding my bike lots of miles for over 20 years. Telling me to not ride my bike is like telling me to not enjoy life. Nobody around me will be happy long term.

  20. A friend of one of the above commenters visited me in Europe last year and I was asked to take him riding.

    Long story short - after some great rides, we had a long dinner conversation about his wife and how she constantly nags him to stop cycling.

    Poor guy was getting up at 5 am to ride. Returning by 10 am and still getting lectured.

    I (after some wine) gave a long speech about how if it is was my wife I would leave her, etc.

    He returned to the USA and promptly got divorced. Hehe - wow!

    Apparently he is MUCH happier

  21. The whole premise of the question is actually invalid. The "perfect" mate would not try to sway the partner away from a life's passion. Ergo, this is not the perfect mate. Move along.

  22. Dump them. If cycling is part of your identity, then it is always going to be a problem.

  23. Thank you all.

    The responses were overwhelming.

    I think I agree for the most part that its about compromises, not asking one to change so that he or she can fit into your twisted imagery of who they should be.

    Pursuing a sporting passion unmarried is different from one when married.

    The latter requires so much more commitment. There are duties to be fulfilled, errands to run, responsibilities to take care of.

    Everything has to be done in balance.

    Priorities, I think, though are home,children,wife,work...then cycling. If its the other way round and if you think you can get away with it, thats fine, but it'll hit you at some point otherwise. Ofcourse, I'm not talking about pro riders here.

    I think one of the reasons why a lot of marriages fail is due to

    1. Lack of understanding.

    2. Lack of love

    3. Selfishness : You know... its always me me me. And not him or her her know what I mean. That will hit you at some point.

    As a guy, I'll tell you this. Riding is fun and should definitely complement your life, but in the end there are other things that matter more than riding 10,000 miles every year. Sacrifices should be made more on the part of the man, don't expect it from the woman. If something else has to be taken care of, that comes first.

    Women, ofcourse always want to see their partners happy. They should know better - that men are wired differently. They like to do stuff!! You've got to give them their time to do it.

    Its all about balance and prioritizing and proper communication. Whatever you have to sort out with your partner, you got to sort it out early. If you wait for it, its going to hit you. Thats a lot of mental stress.

    As for replies to the specific question I posed, they were all great advice. I hope other readers read all this and start putting things in perspective, to see the big picture.

  24. If the partner would make such an ultimatum, then she/he is not "the perfect partner" as stated.

    Whether or not there is such a thing as "the perfect partner" is a question for a different philosophy class.

    In many relationships (especially when there's children involved) people make a decision that some things are more important than cycling. But it's your decision to make, and if it comes to the point of being issued an ultimatum, you've pretty much already decided.

    If your relationship is less important than your cycling, then so be it; your partner needs to understand that. If that hierarchy of priorities is unacceptable to them, they have to make some decisions of their own.

  25. Thank you Tim

    I like the last para. You're a product of the decisions you make in life. I've clearly stated to my girl that nothing will be more important than her, not even cycling.

    Because I want to treat her like she treats me. If she had a "passion" and conveniently ignored me or stayed away for the most part of the time, I would certainly feel bad.

    But then, am I in danger of turning cycling into a mere "hobby" as someone echoed here. I don't think so.

    As for me, I'll always let her be the person she is. I won't force her into cycling just because I happen to love cycling so much and I'm involved in it so much that I can't spend time with her anymore.

    If based on mutual liking and understanding that say, a tandem will help her foray into my interests, so be it.

    The bottom line is you got to let the other person be themselves, let them do whatever keeps them happy but the relationship scenario calls for a balance.

  26. Anonymous11:32 AM

    I just look at it this way: I am the summation of the things I've done. If I were to stop doing something I love I'd develop into a different person.

    In the instance of subtracting cycling from your life, you'd probably exhibit a higher level of stress in your daily life. You'd probably also gain a fair bit of weight. If the relationship problems created by the added stress don't bother your mate, maybe your newly chunky body would.

    You could follow that up with the continuation of the "weight gain" scenario saying that you might develop body insecurities which could manifest themselves in your daily life. Not only will you be a stressed-out, overweight version of yourself; you'll develop confidence problems and come running to your partner to make all your decisions for you.

    I don't know about your situation, but I know my girlie would not be down for that.

    Plus, if I lose something I love, she has to give something up, too.

  27. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Red flag! If they're asking you to give this up, what will be next?
    Love your blog. I just received it from a friend in San Diego and read Victory Salutes so i started parusing other "articles" and saw this one. Don't give up who you are! Laura in Mtn View, CA

  28. Hi Laura, thanks for commenting. Well I'm glad you decided to read some of my posts. I try to have a little bit of everything in here but I do focus more on some aspects of bicycling than others.

    The comments were great for this post and I hope it can help someone else going through a situation like this.

  29. Anonymous6:22 AM

    I don't do well with demands and someone who really cares about you will not make this type of demand. I know that my riding adds stress for my wife when I head out and leave her at home with four kids. Our compromise has been the purchase of a trailer. I know take our 2 and 5 year olds with me on 80% of my rides. Those don't appear as impressive rides on velog, but they do give you a great workout.


  30. Anonymous8:20 PM

    Cycling is about pain, not love.

    HTFU and shun all relationships that stop you from training, murder your accountant and sell your wife to buy carbon wheels.
    There is no room for pitiful human emotion on the track or in the bunch sprint or on the jump, or on the berm.

    Success at all costs is your aim, your family is your coach and your mechanic, your mind is merely a tool to operate your bodily machine.

    This is the way of the true winner.

  31. Anonymous4:22 PM

    Dont let the door smack you in arse on the way out!... We'll miss ya!

  32. She said "it's me or the bike" and I said, "I'm sure going to miss you."

  33. From a woman's perspective, this is a matter of prioritization. Perhaps she's trying to find out what's more important to you, cycling or her..sort of equivocal to asking, will you die for me? I think if you're a cyclist, sure it's important but relationships, family and kids are far more important. No hobby should take away what really matters to you.

  34. I just seeing a cyclist. He races Cat 3 and dedicates a lot and I mean ALOT of time between training and going to camps and wiping his bike down. ;o) He has been doing this his whole adult life. I'm sure if I started a campaign against his cycling it would be a deal breaker.. So I accept him for who he is and love him and his trek alike. ... Side Note: I dont cycle, I done even really like outside, but I go to all the races.. Even the long road races... You have to be supportive..


Thank you. I read every single comment.