I took up cycling because I could do it solo. Just me and my bike (and shoes, and helmet, and glasses, and gloves, and kit, and, and, and it was a lot more expensive than I realized) on the open road. It took almost two years to discover the power of a ride buddy.
And on my team I found my buddy. We met because she was outgoing, friendly and open. I was lurking around the team launch party trying to work up the courage to talk to people (I am shy, and I hate parties with small talk – my husband was proud of me just for working up the courage to go.). She quickly teased out the fact we both lived on the same side of the water and would be riding together regularly on the North Shore.
My weekly ride buddy was a mentor, a willing receptacle of my venting (and I hers), a pal to laugh with, and – especially when riding roads – someone to pull me along when I needed help. My cycling skills grew exponentially last season and I credit my ride partner.
Here are the reasons why everyone needs a C (Hi C!! Are you blushing?)
(<——There she is over on the left or way up top on a mobile device ^ )
Motivation and Commitment
You know when you wake up and you think… hmmm maybe I will sleep in today? Well I would get a text from C that went something like: “Are you gonna ride today? I’ve been out for half an hour and waiting for you to get up – meet you in 30 min.”
It is so easy to quit on yourself – but most people aren’t jackasses – they don’t quit on friends. On those gloomy days, those wet days, those my-kid-was-throwing-up-all-night days your ride (or gym or run or yoga) partner will call you up and give you that nudge. Just knowing I am not going to be out on the frosty road by myself makes me excited to get out there. Commit to getting your buddy out the door and they will commit to get you out there.
Working Smarter and Working Harder
I was smart: C has more riding experience than I do. She has practical knowledge she passes on. She has a larger cycling network – if she can’t answer a question she goes out of the way to find the answer. As a result I have an amazing mentor who has made me a better cyclist.
Circling back to commitment, a good buddy pushes you that extra little bit. I always try to find another hill, C knows all the little jogs to make the ride just a touch longer. We are a good match that way, so much so it seems that if it wasn’t for failing light, some of our summer evening rides would go on forever. We share the load pulling the line and that means as a team we can ride longer and come out feeling better.
Fun! Mental Health! So Fun!
I am blown away by many of the women I ride with – whether effortlessly riding up and down the paceline to give tips during a hill climb or sharing parenting tips for introducing the idea of consent to kindergartners – they are skilled and knowledgeable. The double paceline is the place to catch up, commiserate and congratulate. There are days my body doesn’t need the workout but I head out because my mind does.
I really did luck out with randomly meeting C. We are both moms to young boys. We share the same trenches of day to day life – this means we can spend our rides
laughing empathizing with each other. At least we have someone to giggle with when 12 year olds (Devo) blow by us so fast we have no chance to jump on. A healthy dose of sarcasm will get anyone up a hill.
Try Something New and Try to Always say Yes.
You only know as much as you know – with a buddy you have doubled your knowledge. C grew up on the North Shore and knows it blindfolded. She can lead us down seemingly uniform residential streets for kilometres and we come out exactly where she planned. I am more researcher. Take last year: I had a goal of a longer fondo so I was researching rides to go farther afield and C always said: “Sure.” As I worked to that huge goal, I buoyed up ride after ride knowing I had someone in my corner helping me get there in a very practical way.
Our first club ride of the season was last week, I said yes to C’s suggestion of riding in (an extra 20 km – tough on ride number two of the season) – but let’s be honest, that was probably her helping me out again.
Cycling can be a dangerous sport. I am not talking spectacular Tour de France peloton crashes. I am talking gravel on the road, inattentive drivers and pothole dangers. A lot can happen in the blink of an eye. With a buddy there is another set of eyes on the road and an extra pair of hands to help if needed.
One of my favourite training areas is very secluded. There is no cell service. The trail can be quiet – it is closed to cars. This is a real win for training but it can feel lonely and isolated. With C these have been some of my favourite rides – equal parts friendly competition and heart-to-heart chit chat. On those remote roads alone I am never quite comfortable – sometimes it’s other riders, sometimes it’s bears – either way I would rather be with a buddy.
A recent female-only study found women burn 20% more calories during their workout than if they work out alone. So go find cycling partner! Make sure:
You have compatible goals
You both have positive attitudes
You have similar schedules
and most importantly
You like them – on their good days and bad.
This year C kicked ass bike commuting daily through the snowiest winter of our lives. She will be pulling me through the first part of the season for sure. My hope is I can repay her enthusiasm and support and help pull her to some of her goals this summer.