How to teach your wife to mountain bike

ALL I WANTED TO do was rip single track. Memories of floating airs on Whistler’s A-Line trail, flowing turns through prairie fields and grinding climbs in the Rockies ran through my mind. After four years in Argentina and two years on a touring bike, my return to Canada meant I could finally dust off my mountain bike and hit the trails.

Florescent pink and green letters advertising “All Bikes 40% Off” added an ulterior motive. I bought my wife Romina her first mountain bike.

Although she’s completed two cycle tours, my wife has never been off-road. She doesn’t even enjoy gravel roads but I figured she’d learn if she owned a bike. I’d just have to teach her.

1. Understand first impressions

I knew her first ride would be like revisiting our first date, except her palms would actually sweat. Instead of deciphering my Spanish mumblings, she’d fumble with rapid-fire shifters and body positioning. There is no dinner and a movie equivalent to taking somebody onto their first single track. Instead of small talk and awkward silences, there are flowing corners and rocky sections.

By the end, decisions would be made, and there either would be a second ride or there wouldn’t.

2. Consider past mistakes

I’ve introduced my wife to other outdoor pursuits and I’ve always gone all-in; our first hike was a multiday alpine traverse and our first cycle tour crossed the Southern Cone. By ignoring the need to start small, each first now has its own blunder that is inevitably told during dinner with my in-laws:

Romina nearly drowned in a glacier-fed river, and she blew off Ruta 40 in a gale-force Patagonian windstorm. She watched as my makeshift stove ignited our campsite as heavy rain flooded our tent. Even simple complaints of sore knees led to clipless pedals, which led to bloody knees.

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