The se­crets of suc­cess for five bike-lov­ing cou­ples

With Valen­tine’s Day upon us and ro­mance in the air, Owen Rogers asks cy­cling cou­ples whether our sport can be one for lovers

Cycling Weekly - - Front Page -

Cy­cling is many things to many peo­ple. It is both a soli­tary sport where we clear our heads and a so­cial sport where we can chat to our heart’s con­tent. But how does cy­cling fit into re­la­tion­ships? Is the bike a place where ro­mance can blos­som? Can we find qual­ity time with the love of our life on the road?

Work and do­mes­tic pres­sures of­ten make time with your part­ner dif­fi­cult to find. Add hours spent train­ing for your next event, and qual­ity time is even harder to come by, so rid­ing with your part­ner could be just what the doc­tor or­dered.

A dis­par­ity in abil­i­ties can be a con­cern, but cy­cling is a sport where you can go as fast or as slow as you like; in­deed, a re­cov­ery ride can be as good for you as an eye­balls-out in­ter­val ses­sion.

Matt Rowe, hus­band of Waowdeals rider Dani and coach, says: “We coach a few cou­ples, and I guar­an­tee there is a place in your train­ing week to ride with your part­ner. They will get a lot more en­joy­ment out of their cy­cling be­cause they are do­ing some­thing with you and will re­sent you a lit­tle bit less be­cause you are not rid­ing on your own all of the time.”

CW spoke to five cou­ples — both pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur — and while there might have been a few nig­gles and the odd fallingout from rid­ing to­gether, they all viewed the sport as a pos­i­tive part of their re­la­tion­ships.

If you still need con­vinc­ing that cy­cling with your part­ner will work, first con­sider all those Valen­tine’s gifts you could ‘share’, then read what our cou­ples have to say.

Nikki and Matt Bram­meier

As a road rider with Aqua Blue Sport, Matt Bram­meier’s race pro­gramme is the com­plete op­po­site of cy­clo-cross rider wife Nikki’s, but the pair use that to their ad­van­tage. In­deed, the Bram­meiers are lucky enough to ride to­gether most days.

“Our en­durance rides are usu­ally the same pace, give or take a few watts,” notes Nikki. “I’ll do my ef­forts while Matt’s do­ing his, then we just ride to­gether the rest of the ride. It’s pretty good for me as I can get a re­ally hard ride in just tag­ging along with Matt and a group in Girona. It’s one of the rea­sons I don’t need to race much in the sum­mer!”

Their race sched­ules also al­low Matt to work for Nikki dur­ing the cross sea­son, an ar­range­ment not with­out its is­sues.

It is al­ways very clear that the next trip is go­ing to be some­where in the moun­tains so it is just a ques­tion of de­cid­ing where we want to go, not what we want to do,” Ca­role adds be­fore boyfriend Michael chips in: “The things you see when you’re in the moun­tains are dif­fi­cult to ex­plain af­ter­wards if you are en­joy­ing this alone. It is bet­ter to have the one you love next to you.”

Michael has one piece of ad­vice for cy­cling cou­ples: “Some­times I need to wait for her, so it’s best to for­get about Strava!”

Jackie and Al­lan Bell

The Bells had been a cou­ple for 22 years when they be­gan cy­cling to­gether. Jackie’s first ath­letic en­deav­our was as a run­ner, but a de­ci­sion to try triathlon gave Al­lan the op­por­tu­nity to join his wife’s ex­er­cise regime.

“It is a help if you have a shared in­ter­est,” says Jackie. “Hav­ing the bike I could do my train­ing and it was some­thing Al­lan could do as well, but he ob­vi­ously be­came a lot bet­ter than me.”

“And you get some­one to sit be­hind,” quips Al­lan.

The Bells now get dif­fer­ent things from joint rides, Al­lan tak­ing it easy while Jackie’s ride is a more in­tense ses­sion, but cy­cling has also ex­panded their so­cial hori­zons.

“Through cy­cling we’ve met lots of friends,” says Jackie. “We go to Ma­jorca with other cou­ples who have be­come strong friends. Al­lan has got new male friends through cy­cling and I have got new fe­male friends, so the whole so­cial thing has added a com­pletely new as­pect to our lives.”

It all sounds a bit too good to be true; there must be some dis­ad­van­tages?

“I have to clean twice as many bikes,” laughs Al­lan.

“And the wash­ing ma­chine is al­ways full!” adds Jackie. “But I can’t think of any­thing else dis­ad­van­tage-wise.”

Dani and Matt Rowe

Both Dani and Matt Rowe come from sport­ing fam­i­lies and met through the sport, but Matt’s his­tory as an elite racer has proved in­valu­able to Dani both on and off the bike.

“Matt un­der­stands the de­mands of be­ing a pro­fes­sional ath­lete. If I’ve got to do some sprints Matt will lead me out or gen­er­ally en­cour­age me,” ex­plains Dani, who won Olympic team pur­suit gold in 2012. “If I’ve got a turbo ses­sion Matt might come down and en­cour­age me through the hard­est parts, which re­ally helps.”

How­ever, Matt recog­nises his pres­ence on their joint rides can some­times be detri­men­tal.

“It’s tricky be­cause it’s your job and it’s my hobby, we

have very dif­fer­ent out­looks on it. I will think noth­ing of cut­ting a ride short if the weather is bad, or say­ing, do you want to change the route or have a cof­fee. Whereas Dani has got her plan, got her ef­forts for the day and she sticks to that like glue.”

“Some­times,” in­ter­rupts Dani, “when I am do­ing an ef­fort for ex­am­ple, and then Matt starts rid­ing re­ally hard straight af­ter, I get frus­trated be­cause I’m in pain, phys­i­cally in pain and you just can’t think nor­mally!”

With their Rowe and King coach­ing com­pany another cy­cling as­pect of their life, it is clear the sport binds them to­gether.

“If Matt wasn’t into cy­cling and as pas­sion­ate about the busi­ness, we would be so sep­a­rate be­cause so much of my time is taken up by cy­cling,” Dani ex­plains, be­fore Matt takes over.

“It would be easy for cy­cling to be all-en­com­pass­ing and con­sume us, but I’m very aware of that and in the evenings out­side of work hours we ac­tively try not to talk about it to try and have a life out­side it.”

Lizzie and Phil Deignan

Rid­ing for Boels­dol­mans and Team Sky re­spec­tively, Lizzie and Phil Deignan both ride at the very pin­na­cle of the sport and find this sta­tus ac­cen­tu­ates the per­for­mance gap be­tween them, lim­it­ing rides to­gether to pre-sea­son only.

“We only do gen­eral en­durance­type rides, they are eas­ier to ride to­gether, oth­er­wise we might start a ride to­gether but we won’t end that way,” ex­plains Phil.

“We’re not com­pat­i­ble dur­ing the sea­son,” ex­plains Lizzie. “Our train­ing speeds are too dif­fer­ent. We are not com­pet­i­tive at all; I would lose, al­though I reckon I could have him in a sprint if I got the jump on him.

“I sit on Philip’s wheel most of the time and en­joy the scenery. While we’re both at home we leave the house at the same time, to make sure we have the rou­tine of hav­ing break­fast to­gether, oth­er­wise it’s all about cy­cling.” While our am­a­teur cou­ples could think of few dis­ad­van­tages to be­ing a cy­cling cou­ple, the Deignans have a dif­fer­ent view.

“We don’t see each other very of­ten in the sea­son,” says Lizzie. “There was a pe­riod last year when I was in Hol­land for the Spring Clas­sics and Philip went to the Giro straight away, so we didn’t see each other for seven weeks.”

How­ever, while they try to get away from cy­cling when at home, with lit­tle sign of their ca­reers in their Monaco apart­ment, their jobs mean they are per­fectly equipped to sup­port each other.

“We both have a re­ally good un­der­stand­ing of how the other might be feel­ing,” says Phil. “If we feel to­tally shat­tered, I can un­der­stand or she can un­der­stand how I feel. When we get back from a race we can re­ally re­late to each other well.”

“When we get back from a race we can re­ally re­late to each other well”

Al­lan was in­spired to ride by wife Jackie

Dani draws strength from hus­band Matt

Cy­cling unites the Deignans even when they’re apart

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.