We aren’t usually in the business of offering relationship advice but when it comes to riding with your +1, we have a few suggestions to help you both start and finish your ride still smiling!

We understand that every (riding) relationship is different so think of these guidelines as a solid starting point. Ready to get shreddy? Let’s go…

1. Foreplay

Take a few minutes to gather your gear and get into the right mindset for your romp on the trails.  You don’t want to show up unprepared – look over your bike, make sure you’ve got your fix a flat kit, fill up your water bottles, double check your tire pressure, lube your chain, and most importantly, take a deep breath.  Don’t take yourself too seriously, this is supposed to be fun after all!

Okay, you are ready to ride.

2. Meet in the Middle

Pick a trail that you will both enjoy. The guidelines for riding with your partner aren’t all that different than the textbook relationship advice you’ve heard a hundred times – it’s all about compromise.  Keep a nice pace that you can both sustain, ride a trail that is challenging but not over your heads and for goodness sake, spend some time actually riding together!

3. Get Up

Learning how to successfully get your partner to the top is a skilled art.  If you are the stronger climber, swallow your pride and slow it down for a bit.  If you are going stir crazy, have some fun with the slower pace (just keep it in your own head).   Focus on perfecting your track stand on the climb or try to single-speed the climb (pick a gear and don’t shift).

On the flip side, if you are the slower climber, tell your partner your preferences and be honest.  Want them to ride with you and chat on the climb? Tell them. Want them to ride ahead so you can sing out-loud unencumbered on the climb? Tell them. No need for mixed signals on the trail.  Be clear and direct.

4. Get Down

Maybe you are a little faster than you partner and you really want to let loose on the downhill flow.  Totally fair. What’s not fair is descending for 30 minutes at full speed and then complaining about having to wait 20 minutes for your partner to catch up.  Instead, break up the descent into bite size pieces. Let loose for a section of the descent and then pull over and wait for your partner to catch up. Maybe let them lead one section of the descent before you take the lead again.

5. Fuel the Fire

No one likes a thirsty and/or hangry riding partner. Bring plenty of water and snacks.  Learn your partner’s favorite trailside treat and bring it in your pack for a mid-ride surprise.  My personal favorite riding pick me up? Chocolate covered espresso beans.

6. Keep it Fun

Assuming you aren’t training to win a national title, don’t take yourself too seriously.   Stop and session challenging features together. Offer to spot your partner. Be patient. Don’t get frustrated with yourself or your partner on the trail. No one likes riding with a frustrated Debbie Downer.

7. Watch Your Words

Unless otherwise discussed, don’t try to coach your partner.  Let a trained mountain bike therapist (Ninja Instructor) offer riding feedback.  Trained professionals can help you navigate choppy skills. Whatever you do, don’t offer Bad Mountain Biking Advice!

8. Finish with a [insert favorite post-ride treat here]

End every ride with a good ol’ cheers.  Maybe you cheers with water bottles in the parking lot or maybe it’s beers at the local brewery or better yet, a slice of pizza.  Whatever you choose, take a moment to celebrate spending quality time together with your bike…I mean each other!

9. Seek Professional Help

If things have gotten rocky don’t be afraid to see the professionals. Join us for a Ninja camp or clinic so you can start speaking the same language and learn how to work through riding the rocks together. Make a weekend getaway out of it at one of our most buzzed about locations like Sedona, Kingdom Trails, or Bend to reignite that fire that got you riding together in the first place.

Happy shredding all you bike lovers!

14 Responses

  1. Great Article and even Better MTB Relationship Advice! Only think you forgot is the Mid Ride Excursion to a Lake, Ocean Side or Mountain Top View. Our personal favorite was any Swimming Hole or Lake. In my previous life, MTBiking made for a greater relationship.

    1. So glad you enjoy this article. Great call on adding a fun excursion into the ride. Anytime I have the option to hike/ride out to a viewpoint, I take it. And a mid or post-ride swim in the summer is the BEST! Plus, having a mid-ride destination is another great way to build in a forced break – must stop for a scenic snack!

  2. It never ends well, when training & exercise is the goal. Another’s significant other rarely match for rides. That said, realize that one of you will be sacrificing a normal ride day for a more social one. And even there appeasing those others may not go well. Wait until ASO sandbags the ride far enough away from home by wearing long blue jeans pants, has to stop every mile for hydration, has to choose the eating spot. Some are needier than others. Doesn’t matter if you simply gave up any say in any of it. Even what time the ride happens on their schedule. Hey, you know I’m just keeping it real.

    1. As my friend Shanna from Endless Bike Co says, “I’d rather be rad than fast. ” That’s my truth. I admire professional racers and riders who are dedicated to their training plans but for me personally, I relate to riders who are just out there to have a good time. Fast, slow, long, short, hilly, flat…..doesn’t matter. Smile, you’re riding a bike with someone you love!

  3. I think I’d kill someone because I suck at riding on the road never mind rocks. Went mountain one time and crashed 6 times in 3 miles; scared to bring my body out again never mind someone else. Obviously I need a lesson on how to ride a bike through wet rocks and roots where I’d actually go faster dismounting and portaging the bike. It wasn’t fun at all and depressing getting 3 miles behind me and no real progress, scenery (got lost to boot). Heck, I need to get up an work for a living; hard to do with broken bones (from experience road cycling) and this 50 year old bod doesn’t heal quite like it used to. I don’t care who’s the better biker, if you really want to enjoy each others company and return in one piece HIKE! It’s just as healthy, gets you to more cool places than a bike, and allows for more conversation/togetherness time while not completely out of breath. We both want to end up happy and bloodless if possible. I find that on a bike regardless of most riding environments; I paying to much attention to the road conditions, traffic, etc to be able to ride with someone as a leisure pursuit. When I see people riding together (not a training pack) they tend to be all over the place and not paying attention to others riders because they’re having a converstion and pointing out the “sights”. Maybe when I find someone who sucks as much as I do we can both fall off immediately and share an ambulance ride.

  4. Really great article and it applies to riding with kids and beginners you are trying to introduce to the sport.

    I’ll add:
    – use all your knowledge and experience to find a trail and route that will maximize the fun and potential for success. Match the trail with the skills/preference of you your riding partner, not you.

    – Prepare and overprepare. Make sure the bikes are dialed and the nutrition and hydration are stocked up. Make the experience about the ride, not the bikes or the lack of tools and supplies.

    – start inviting their peers or folks at their level. When your significant other is not the slowest, least skilled rider, their confidence/fun goes up

    1. Great additions! And yes, these tips totally apply for introducing new riders to the sport and riding with kiddos. We have two other articles on similar topics you might find helpful…checkout “8 Steps to Successfully Introducing a Friend to Mountain Biking” and “7 Must Know Skills For The New Mountain Biker”. Happy trails!

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