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Do you mountain bike?

Do you have a significant other?

Did you try to meld both worlds only to have them implode?

Why would joining the two things you love the most be a recipe for disaster? Sure, sports teams can cause a house to be divided. But mountain biking? How is it possible for one to be so madly in love with mountain biking and the other think it’s the scour of the earth? I have seen many relationships strained from long-time mountain bikers trying to get their significant other (SO) to take up the hobby. And I’m not just referring to guys attempting to get their girlfriends (or wives) hooked on the sport, I’m referring to ALL relationships. That includes seasoned women mountain bikers taking their men out on the trails, too. Handle the situation poorly, and you may end up with an SO that absolutely despises mountain biking. Hopefully you never find yourself in this position. However, if you have, I now give you 5 possible reasons why your SO has decided against partaking in the amazing sport of mountain biking with you.

1. Misconceptions about mountain biking

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you spend a fair amount of time cruising the interwebs for all things mountain biking related. It’s also quite possible that you’ve shown your SO more mountain biking videos than they would like. With that, the SO may have developed very biased views as to what mountain biking is like and what your hobby entails. A passing glace at your computer screen may involve the following:

Wilder Kaiser extreme from Big Col on Vimeo.

Coming home with scrapes and broken bones only adds to the belief that you only ride trails wherein an ill-timed sneeze will send you to your death. I can’t imagine why someone would be reluctant to join you on a “casual” bike ride in the wilderness. Especially when that someone may or may not have a life insurance policy on you.

2. Mismanaged expectations

Most people haven’t ridden a bike since they were small children. At that age, a double black diamond more than likely consisted of riding in the grass of someone’s front lawn or going off a curb. Taking your SO out for the first time on even green trails with rocks, roots, and off camber sections may throw them for a complete surprise when they anticipated very groomed, road-like trails. Though your SO may know how difficult the trails are that you ride, they trust you to take them on trails that they can ride. Expect an intense backlash when the ride doesn’t meet their expectations.

The inverse is also true. You may expect your SO to be able to tackle “simple” trails… when, in fact, they aren’t comfortable even walking said trails. Since you expect them to be able to ride over mere rocks, you try your best to be encouraging and positive. However, your “encouragement” may cause more harm, as it shows you clearly don’t know what they are capable of riding.

Hubby: “You got this. It’s not even as big of a drop as the last one!”

Me: “Who do you think I am? Rachel Atherton???!!”

3. They may think you’re already crazy

As if incessantly talking about mountain biking, watching others mountain bike, or going mountain biking wasn’t enough, it has now come to the level that you must watch fake mountain biking.

And then there’s Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate:

Impressive skills, but I have no words to fully justify to anyone outside of the sport why this video exists. It’s Red Bull Rampage meets PeeWee Herman. “Yes honey, please pass me some of your Kool-Aid so I too can join in the insanity.”

4. You know them too well, and they know that

While some may consider the fact that you know your SO extermely well to be a positive aspect, in some instances that very aspect of your relationship may work against you. You know your SO has an intense fear of heights. Yet you take them on a ride that has exposure, even if minimal. You know your SO has a strange phobia of puncturing their eyeballs, yet you take them mountain biking in the desert with cacti-lined trails. If you think you will get a pass on a blatant disregard for fear, you are quite wrong. Even close friends are more likely to be forgiven. But you? You knew how deep the fear was. Even if 90% of that knowledge is obtained through ESP.

5. Egos can destroy the best of intentions

This may apply more to women introducing their men to mountain biking… though it can definitely go both ways. Egos can take people outside of their boundaries, pushing them to climb hills faster than they ought to in order to not be dropped. And even following lines behind you that they are not physically capable of taking without possible injury.

Hubby: “You should walk this next section, it’s techy.”

Me: “Challenge ACCEPTED!” (followed by a faceplant)

Taking out a new person, regardless of relationship status, can sometimes be an excruciating experience. Sure, it’s fun seeing that new person experience the thrill of the ride. However, slow rides with the SO can leave you salivating for more on the trails. You may find yourself practicing track stands and jumping over large rock features just to keep your sanity and have fun. Or perhaps even showing off how good you are at jumps and drops. You’ve told your SO numerous times how you can finally huck off that large drop. Now they can finally see you do it in person! Though you may have the best of intentions, I assure you that these “tricks” likely came across as pompous, and back-fired big time.

"Honey, look what I can do!" Photo by: Erica Barnes. Rider: jkldouglas

“Honey, look what I can do!” Photo by: Erica Barnes. Rider: jkldouglas

Unsolicited Relationship Advice

Taking your relationship to the next level by melding the personal/social world with mountain biking can seem like a no-brainer. What better way to spend time than with the love of your life doing what you love most: mountain biking? However, relationships can be made and broken on the trails. This has a particularly higher probability if you are a veteran mountain biker introducing a newbie to the sport. The introduction to the sport must be done with careful planning and forethought so it doesn’t result in an SO that absolute hates mountain biking. Even a lifetime of shared mountain biking on green trails is far superior to a lifetime of mountain biking by yourself.

Your TurnHave you introduced your significant other to mountain biking? Do you have any good tips to share to prevent a catastrophe?

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# Comments

  • k2rider

    Well, I have to say, I don’t want my wife mountain biking with me. She doesn’t want to anyway as she’s a “girly-girl” and doesn’t want to get dirty and isn’t a risk taker. Admittedly, I also have limited patience when I’m trying to teach people how to do something that comes so easy to me. I taught my wife how to snow ski and that caused a lot of grief. I later tried to teach her to snowboard and that didn’t last long. I had to put her in lessons.

    I did teach my 22 year old daughter to ride a few years ago and she does great 90% of the time. It’s the other 10% that scares the crap out of me because when she falls, it’s always a doozy.

  • Aharper687

    I’very found nice scenery is pretty important too, a relatively flat trail is definitely first priority though. Me “Did you see me nail that techy bit?”, my wife “look, an owl! “

  • tholyoak

    I’ve tried for years to get my wife to go with me. Unfortunately, some guy spoiled it for her on a mountain biking date before she even met me. We’ve compromised by riding paved trails together. And I’m now trying to get my kids to go with me in the dirt.

  • SunSnowandWater

    I don’t know if i could date someone that doesn’t mountain bike. Did I mention I’m still single? It’s pretty much all I want to do, so they’d only see me on rainy days.

    At least my non-riding friends have managed to keep texting me. We hang out sometimes. On rainy days. I cherish my couple riding buddies. I really need to make some more.

  • Jared Fuchs

    I may be lucky, my wife started Mt biking shortly after I did and she’s awesome. I’ve progressed further since we now have 2 little ones. It may have also benefited us that there is nothing very technical to ride where we live. I think mild trails help most at first and they need a desire to ride might be an even stronger benefit. I don’t think if she didn’t want to ride that I’d push her to try.

  • Downhill Mike

    I did number two mismanaged expectations. Now my wife wont ride anymore. Hasn’t touch her bike in two years. I never had to teach anybody how to ride so I when she told me she had a mountain bike before I took her to some blue trails and that was a disaster. After that i took her a few more times to easier trails but it was already too late. She hated it already. Now I know what I did wrong but it’s too late.

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