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Gear Prudence: I bought my girlfriend a brand new bike for her birthday (one that she picked out and was quite expensive), and she seemed really excited about it at the time. Now that the weather is nicer, I’m really stoked to go on rides with her—except for the past few times I brought this up, she didn’t really seem that into the idea. I asked her why not, and she hasn’t really given me any specific reasons. How do I convince her to ride her new bike with me? —Please Explain Reasonable Strategies Using Ample Different Examples

Dear PERSUADE: Let’s say you finally convince her. Will it go something like this?

At mile 3: “Hey honey, how’s that bike I bought you riding? Pretty great, right?”
At mile 10: “Wasn’t it a great decision for me to buy you this bike?”
At mile 21: “You sure look fast on that expensive bike that I bought you for your birthday.”
At mile 27: “What do you mean ‘ride with other people?’ I bought you this bike!”

Bicycling with your partner can be a great experience, but your compatibility off the bike is no guarantee of your compatibility on it. Maybe you ride at different paces or maybe have different expectations of what makes for a reasonable weekend jaunt. Or perhaps, as suggested above, she’s preemptively fatigued by your quid pro quo gifting strategy, wherein your primary motivation for the birthday present was your fulfillment, not hers. 

That’s why you’re going to need to trick her. Ride out to a place on the C&O Canal towpath that’s inaccessible by car. Send a text indicating that you’re grievously injured, and she needs to get to you as soon as possible and that she’ll need to ride her bike to get there. When she arrives, surprise her by explaining that it was all an elaborate ruse and that you’re perfectly hale. Then you’ll get to ride home together! The icy silence will make the ride seem that much longer. You should really savor it too, since it’s likely the last time that you’ll be cycling (or doing anything else) in each other’s company. 

Conversely, you could not rely on subterfuge (it’s a terrible idea). Instead, the next time she suggests a couples activity, politely inquire if she’d be interested in arriving there via bicycle. Rather than putting biking together as the forefront purpose of your activity, it’ll serve as ancillary one. If she agrees, use the trip to demonstrate how courteous and charming you are as a riding partner. That might invite repeat excursions and soon you’ll be pedaling everywhere together. 

Ultimately though, it’s possible that you and your girlfriend will never become bicycling buddies. This is OK! You don’t need to make it a bigger deal than it is. —GP

Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at talesfromthesharrows.blogspot.com and tweets at @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email gearprudence@washcp.com.