Adam Coppola

How to Make Peace with your Bicycle Touring Partner

Aug 20, 2019

You’re slow. You never realized it before this bike tour, but as your partner once again pedals effortlessly up the hill and disappears over the summit, you feel like a turtle chasing after a rabbit.

When you finally arrive in front of your buddy, they’re studying your disheveled appearance and ragged breath with one eyebrow cocked as if to say, “everything okay?”

Going on a bicycle adventure with a friend (or spouse, or relative) can be heaven. But it’s guaranteed that at some point your opinions will differ, whether it’s on how to tackle the miles ahead, where to sleep, or what to eat for lunch. Whether you’re the slowpoke or the speedy one, you’ll do well to remember these five tips!

5 Tips to Keep Your Adventure Buddy Your Friend 

1. Assess Your Goals

Before you agree to cycle with someone else, have an honest conversation about your intentions for the trip.

Are you looking to go slow, take in the sights, and stop at every ice cream shop from here to Florida? Or do you hope to achieve your highest mileage yet, and cross the nation in record time? Your goals may align perfectly, but if not, it’s time for some compromise.

2. Listen to Your Body

This can be difficult since many of us find it easier to focus on the needs of others rather than our own. But on a bike tour, the best advocate for your own needs is … you guessed it! Yourself. And the only way to know what you need is to listen carefully to your body. 

Creaky knees, numb hands, and that raspy pre-chest-cold tickle in the back of your throat can be caught early and treated right away. But if ignored, a small discomfort could develop into a larger issue that halts your bike tour altogether. 

3. Speak Up

As in any healthy relationship, you’ll need to communicate honestly with your touring partner. If you’re feeling a strain on your knees or a headache from the heat, say something.

Your cycling buddy can’t read your mind, no matter how long you’ve known each other or how much they love you. Keeping quiet about your needs can lead to resentment, which makes for some awkward tension. So speak up!

4. Patience

This goes both ways, as you’ll need patience for both yourself and your cycling partner. If you’re the speedy one who’s starting to feel impatient with the slow-poke, take a deep breath and look around. Try to find something good about the situation: maybe frequent stops provide you with more opportunities to enjoy the scenery, stretch your body, snap some photographs, or check the route maps. 

If you’re the slow-poke, be patient with yourself: it’s a very small percentage of human beings who even attempt a bicycle tour! You are brave and strong and capable, and you’re doing your best. Be kind to yourself. 

5. Gratitude

When we spend a lot of quality time with someone, it’s easy to start focusing on pet peeves and petty frustrations. Remind yourself, as often as possible, why you selected your touring partner in the first place. Do they transform from a grumpy troll in the morning to a stellar navigator by midday? Or perhaps their frequent pit stops drive you crazy, but they can whip a packet of ramen noodles into a 5-star culinary experience.

Whatever their good qualities are, focus on those. 

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In the end, nobody’s perfect. And nothing will remind you of that more than spending each day, all day, with the same person or group. So take some space, take a breath, and remember why you’re out there: to have fun and to have an adventure.

If you can weather the rough times with your partner, it’ll strengthen your friendship for years to come! You’ll reach your destination with smiles on your faces and a newfound appreciation for comfy beds, good snacks, and each other. 

Do you have more tips for keeping peace on a bike tour? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!


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Donal O'Sullivan September 5, 2019, 12:51 AM

Thank you so much for this article. I rode a tour recently with and without a friend. We split up after 5 days when we disagreed on the route and the places to stay. We stayed in contact the whole time and resolved our differences via text. At the end we finished the tour together.

This was our very first tour. Neither of us had toured before. We'd ridden together before and not had any problems, but this was different. Touring puts a different emphasis on what would normally be an everyday occurrence because it becomes a balance between what you and your partner need/want in the long haul. We met seasoned riders along the way who encouraged us to keep going and we did, separately.

The truth of the matter is that I don't think either of us was properly prepared for what this tour was going to throw at us. We learned the hard way.

We remain good friends and are actively planning our next adventure...

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