Those Who Bike Together, Stay Together
I’m not exaggerating when I say it was love at first sight. When you know, you know.
Your heart starts beating faster. There is a strange feeling in the pit of your stomach that feels a little like nausea, but in a good way. Your palms get sweaty. Breathing gets so hard you have to remind yourself how to do it: “Breathe in, breathe out.”
I was 10 when I fell in love with bikes and, 17 years later, we are still going strong.
I owe many of my best qualities to spending my teenage years racing BMX. Being one of the few female racers in the state of North Carolina, I learned perseverance, determination, self-respect and independence. I can look back on the nine years that I spent traveling the United States racing BMX and know, not only did those years form the foundation for a life-long devotion to bikes, but it laid the groundwork for success in my career and relationships.
Hey, I Like Bikes. Do You Like Bikes, too?
The summer before my senior year of college I was discovering who I was and had become comfortable in my independence. I had a great group of friends, I loved where I lived in the mountains of North Carolina, I was stoked I only had one more year until I entered the “real world” and I definitely did not want to get into a relationship. I had also put my bike on the shelf for a while and was determined to bring it down, dust it off and get back into riding. So, when my brother came up to visit me for a couple days, I decided we were going to check out the dual slalom mountain bike track for the first time.
Dual slalom is similar to BMX racing in a lot of ways. There is a gate (where you start), berms (or banked turns) and jumps (airtime!). But, there are also some differences. Like, those berms are a lot smaller than they are on the BMX track and the jumps are a little “pointier.” Although I felt like a novice when my brother and I took our first run, I must have looked pretty good because I caught the eye of one of the guys that was out at the track that day.
“Hey, I’m Will.”
Unlike bikes, it was not love at first sight. In fact, all I really noticed about this guy was that his bike was a little lame. However, he did have one thing going for him that is rare among guys who are into mountain biking: he was really nice and he helped me. That’s right ladies, this guy actually gave me good mountain biking advice.
Is it Bike Love?
Dating is slow-going with two people who already love bikes. The thing is: bikes come first. For me, it was racing. I had just gotten into dual slalom and downhill racing and was riding for our college mountain bike team. And Will was building trails and organizing downhill races with his “bros.”
We did manage to go on some dates. They consisted of hours spent at the slalom and pump track, shuttle runs at the local downhill trail and me playing with salamanders while Will built trails. Over the years, we have continued to push each other to be better, in riding and in life. Will is the reason I have started to enjoy climbing to “earn my turns.” And I keep the competition alive by showing him that a girl can keep up (and sometimes win).
It’s been six years, and the bike dates have only gotten better.
It is Bike Love, for Better or Worse.
The thing about bike love is that it isn’t all about riding together—It’s about taking care of each other. You can’t call yourself a mountain biker unless you get dirty sometimes.
About a year into our relationship, Will ended up in a sling. After one of my first clean race runs of the collegiate season, I crossed the finish line and realized my beau was in the medic station with intense shoulder pain that would later need surgery.
There is nothing that will test a relationship based on bikes more than months without riding bikes. But, we made it. I tied his shoes. We went on hikes. I made him dinner and folded his laundry.
I went years without significant injury. The mountain bike gods had been good to me, but at some point I knew I would have a fall and be reminded of my mortality. It happened, three years after I had nursed Will to recovery. Luckily, we still had the same sling. Will tied my shoes. He made me macaroni and cheese when I returned from the hospital drugged up on pain pills. He occasionally folded the laundry. But, the biggest proof of his love? He willingly left his bike at home and took me on hikes in the mountains.
When you are a cycling couple, loving each other “for better or worse” may be the most important thing you offer one another.
Somehow, through it all, we ended up here. We still go on bike dates, whether it is taking the tandem to yoga or the brewery, friendly Strava competitions at the local XC trail or a day trip to the mountains for a downhill adventure. Yeah, we have totally been THAT MOUNTAIN BIKE COUPLE a few times. Nobody’s perfect. But more often than not, when you love something as much as we love bikes, it is just nice to be able to share it with the person you love.
Want more bike love? Check out our super cute BIKE WEDDING INVITATIONS and stay tuned for awesome bike-themed wedding ideas!