A good training partner is hard to come by. Not that I have children, but I am sure it is comparable to a good babysitter or life partner. I have been able to ride with my sister for the last month, and it has been amazing. A gorgeous professional triathlete who happens to be my sister and closest friend? Doesn’t get any better. It got us discussing the qualities of a solid training partner and the seriousness of that job and what the requirements are.
What is the appropriate chemistry and etiquette? Do you have what it takes? Or are you destined to train alone, or constantly be the brunt of the group ride joke.
You either find that training partner, or you really start learning about yourself.
What are is the job description? Is there an app for that?
My Top 10 Qualities of a Training Partner.
- Ride Leader. There must always be a ride leader. As a ride leader, you must accept this responsibility with utter seriousness. You have to pick the ride and adhere to the appropriate parameters that have been designated. Therefore, whoever is the ride leader must be prepared to accept full responsibility if the duration of the ride falls short or longer than the planned time, as well if the terrain or weather does not cooperate. If it is too long, or too short, or your training partner gets stuck in a headwind all day or a monsoon downpour, the ride leader must apologize profusely and make amends in a comparable way. Please take this job seriously. Too many chiefs on a ride lends to arguments, and too many Indians causes uncertainty. The rider leader may vary on the day, and does not have to be a lifetime commitment, just a ride commitment.
- Consistency. I hate stopping while riding. I don’t get coffee while riding (unless the Ride Leader has predestined the ride as a coffee shop ride). Coffee may be consumed after the ride, or before the ride. But if it is a training day, the ride is just that. A ride. Your bike must be in working order, you must be prepared with the flat fixing necessities (especially since I have the tendency to be ill-prepared), and you must be ready to ride the said ride. You need to count on each other for timeliness, fitness, and motivation. You need to have consistency, preparation, and resourcefulness.
- Understanding the Job. If one rider has 3x20min at Tempo, and the other rider has 5x6min at SFR, you may start out the ride together, but you must be prepared to split off and do your individual effort if that is what the agenda is. There is no fluff and no bragging. It is a simple parting of ways to get the work done. Although you may be envious of the others training day, you don’t make a snide comment that they don’t have the stamina to do what you are about to do. It is all in a days work, and you understand. Sometimes you just need a training partner to get out the door on a foggy morning or early time, and after the appropriate warm-up, you might not see them until the next ride, yet they had a purpose. They understand the job, and you both support that.
- Cohesion and Craziness. Yet, who really wants to ride a 4-5 hour ride by themselves? I know I am quite entertaining to myself, but that wears off eventually. I discover that I would rather not be alone in my thoughts and head day in and day out. The company is phenomenal to have, and they need to be just a little bit as crazy as you are. Ride out to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse? Why not. What happens if we take a right to Fort Jenner? Let’s find out. You are cohesive in your exploration, and you are both just a little crazy.
- Correct Phrasing. A good training partner doesn’t tell you that they “dropped” you, yet they may refer to it as “that time that I rode ahead of you and then waited at the fork in the road”. You didn’t get dropped. You let them ride ahead. They know they dropped you. You know they dropped you. But for your confidence and delicate self-esteem, they use correct phrasing of the event just to ensure you don’t become a puddle of sweat and tears into the asphalt for a rough day. We all have bad days, no sense in rubbing it in.
- Challenge. Yet, they need to challenge you. Through good days and bad days, they are still there. They know the time to leave you alone in your misery, and they know the time to hang back with you. It is a fine balance. It is a team effort at times, and a solo mission at other times. Sometimes their fitness is so beyond yours all you can do is hang on, and other days, you are the stronger rider. They challenge you. You challenge them. It simply works.
- Patience. Yes. I may be tough, but sometimes I require some patience. I might forget a glove or two. I might not want to change my flat. I might complain about the weather, my legs, or the movie I saw. Be patient with each other. There are more important things than riding a silly bike, but we are out there together with a similar goal and determination. No one is perfect.
- Timeliness. Oh yeah. I like to be on time for my rides. Ok, so I actually show up a little bit too early because I am a dork that way. I will be patient, and you will be on time. Sounds like a plan to me. Who is the first one to show up? Oh yeah, me. Can we say nerd? Absolutely.
- Entertainment. If you are cracking, sometimes the only thing that gets you up that hill is a good story. A funny anecdote. Something that has nothing to do about cycling. A story about your first scary movie, or your first job as a lifeguard and that one girl.. Anything that gets my mind off of the slogan “just keep pedalling, just keep pedaling”. Like I said, I train the majority of the time by myself, but every once in awhile I need out of my own head. I will recripcrate when the time is right, I promise.
- Just a ride. And like I told Bob Roll. It is just a ride. Nothing more, nothing less. It is just a ride.