Gear Prudence: For better or worse, I’m single and I go out on a lot of first dates. I’ve done pretty much all the usual stuff, and frankly, I’m kind of tired of meeting up at some random bar and getting drinks. [An] app has matched me with someone who seems to be pretty active and into bicycling, and we’re going back and forth [about] what we should do when we meet up. So, I was thinking that maybe we should meet up for a bike ride. What do you think? —Doing Activity Together Eagerly
Dear DATE: Like a section of Belgian blocks, the course of true love never did run smooth. A bike date, and especially a first date that involves bikes, does seem like it could have some positive elements, though it wouldn’t be without its own drawbacks. Let’s review.
One of the major advantages of the bike first date is the immediate reveal of your prospective partner’s bicycle. Bike compatibility is a huge deal, and it’s difficult to imagine forging a longterm relationship with a partner whose bicycle isn’t “the one.” Likewise, if you have an especially nice bike, it’s a great opportunity to wow your would-be mate with your refined taste and superior cycling style. Beyond the bike itself, this kind of date allows you to gauge each other’s handling aptitude. Can your date avoid literal potholes? What might this mean for the metaphorical ones that could pop up between you over time? Are your cadences companionate? Do you motivate each other to climb faster and overcome doubts and fears? How one cycles is essentially how one lives, and if biking is a fundamental part of your life, you might as well find out at the very beginning whether or not your date is a match.
On the other hand, this is a terrible idea, and GP thinks that in no case should you ever do a first date by bicycle. Never. Bicycling, while fun and leisurely and shockingly revealing, is primarily a solitary activity. There are practical concerns, too: Will you be able to talk to each other as your pedal along? Will you have different ideas about appropriate pace or irreconcilable differences on a good route? Will your date steal your Strava KOM and will you be jealous forever? And if things are going particularly poorly, might your date just ride away, leaving you behind to futilely spin your wheels in rejection and sadness? Bad dates are bad, but you don’t need to give yours such a convenient escape.
If you must try something new for a first date, skip the bike. Save it for date number two and then ride together somewhere vaguely romantic like the Mall at night. If you really hit it off, there’s no shortage of places you can ride together as your relationship develops. But don’t rush it. —GP