Gear Prudence: I’m in a serious relationship with a guy who travels a lot for work. I’m also a pretty serious bicyclist who spends at least one full day every weekend out on long rides by myself. Lately, though, as he’s been traveling more and around less, I’ve felt pangs of guilt about spending so much of my weekend off biking instead of with him. But at the same time, I feel like I’m a less happy person when I don’t get my biking in, and I don’t want to become resentful for giving up something I love to do in order to spend time with him. Ugh, I’m so conflicted! How do I keep up my bicycling while also keeping my relationship together? —Guy Unavailable, I Leave Trepidatiously
Dear GUILT: Don’t try to convince him that he should bike. Don’t try to get him to ride with you on the weekend. Don’t try to combine your love of bicycling with your love of this guy in an attempt to achieve some sort of “best of both worlds” balance. If your guy hasn’t expressed interest in bicycling previously—or if, frankly, you have no interest in trading your solo bike time for relationship time (which is perfectly reasonable)—combining these things isn’t going to work. Many couples enjoy cycling together, but just as many don’t, and trying to fix both problems with the same solution is a pretty ugly kludge.
But what about the guilt? Any hobby that demands a lot of time that could instead be spent with an otherwise mostly unavailable partner does seem like it could be emotionally fraught. Days are finite and hours spent bicycling alone are hours you’re not spending with him. You have to choose one or the other. But have you ever talked about this? GP wonders if you’re feeling guilty without cause. Perhaps your guy, recognizing how important bicycling is to you, understands how riding makes you happy and would prefer you continue your routine rather than ditch it to spend a few extra (unhappy) hours with him. Any partner worth having is one who’s able to carry on a frank conversation about wants and needs, be it about bicycling or other less important topics like marriage, kids, etc.
If you (of your own volition) decide you want to skip those weekend miles, maybe there’s a way to get them back during the week. A post-work shakedown or a sunrise ramble once or twice or a week might help. Lunchtime laps don’t work for everyone, but they might for you. It might be less of a question of sacrificing miles overall rather than re-arranging your schedule to find the proper balance.—GP