I ride my bike a lot. Not 'pro-level-a-lot', but 300 kilometres a week. I think is a fair bit for a bloke with a full-time job, and a family with 2 small kids under 5.
It takes a shed-tonne of planning, and a solid association with the discipline fairy to make that volume work.
Words - Dave Edwards
If my wife didn't support what I did, then I wouldn't be doing it. I get stacks of comments about how others are jealous that I get to ride so much, and how tolerant my wife must be.
To an extent, she is, but that understanding has been built over a long time. I didn't just start riding lots, and magically my wife was sprinkling happy dust around the house... Looking back, there are a few areas that allowed us to reach this point.
For the largest part, my wife gives zero f...s in any discussion about bikes. All she hears is "Derailleur, Shimano, Carbon blah blah..." But what I do try to do is discuss with her about upcoming goals I'd like to have, and which periods I will need to be more focused in my preparation.
We will talk about when I can and can't ride, and I'll listen to what she says when she has objections. If she knows what I am wanting to achieve, then she is more likely to be on board. I also seek to understand what she wants to do. How could I ask her to support me if I have no idea of what she is doing?
If I'm home from my ride by 6:30am, then good on me. Everyone was asleep, even when I got home, so as long as I was quiet when I left, it's my time to use as I wish. In the evenings, after the kids are in bed, then I am also okay to pinch some time, as my wife and I are usually busy working on our own projects anyhow.
If I do a longer ride on the weekend, then I still leave super early, and just get home at 9. The family wake at 7, so that is 2 hours of our time that I have used. For a whole week, the only time I have taken away from my wife and kids for myself is 2 hours.
I am as proud as punch of any success my wife achieves, knowing how hard she has worked to achieve it. Much the same, she's proud of me when I tear myself in half to reach a big goal. She cried every time I finished a big race. At each of my Everestings, she turns up and cheers her guts out, usually with the kids in tow.
At an everesting I did, where we were sans kids, she couldn't sleep during the first night, so at 2am, she bought 6 coffees, drove to the hill we were on, played "Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing loudly on the car radio, and danced at the top of the hill as we rode up. What a lady.
The point is, she knows how much it means to do what I do, and she supports me doing it, knowing I'd do the same for her.
PLAYING YOUR ROLE
Yes, when you come home from a long ride, or have just finished a big event, you'll be knackered. All you want to do is crawl into a hole that contains heaps of beer and food, and lay there for a little while, resting and stuffing your face. But your partner may well have been sitting there waiting and cheering for you for many hours, or they may have been minding the kids whilst they were being massive brats, and your partner was unable to do anything they wanted.
I put being a partner and parent on hold during my ride, so I am very mindful of taking the reins back up when I get back. That means housework, minding the kids, whatever is needed. I remember sitting at the finish line of my first ever Ironman, and giving a bottle to my 1 year old daughter whilst I waited for my mates to finish (in your face Scott, Shannon and Tod, I had time to spare at the finish line...) My wife could not have been more proud of me to be parenting our daughter at that moment.
Now let's be real here, it's not always roses. I am a passionate person, so is my wife. We fight like cats and dogs. We fight over how much I spend on cycling, how much training I do, and how focused I can be on cycling, to the detriment of other aspects of our lives.
The important thing is that we both listen to each other, and try to look at the direction the other is coming from. If she's stroppy about my riding, whilst it may be annoying at the time, it's important to know why she got that way, so that I could potentially change an aspect of what I did, or set better expectations, so that the problem doesn't happen again.
It's never about digging in, and fighting it out. We have all seen relationships break down over fights about training and cycling. If it came down to it, my bike would be on ebay in the 5 minutes it would take for me to write the ad, if it was a choice between family and cycling. But by communicating effectively, it won't ever come to that.
So yes, I do have a very understanding wife when it comes to letting me cycle. That comes from years of working together to find the best solution to allow for me to be the best Dad, husband, employee and cyclist that I can be, all at the same time. She's pretty good-looking too...