Right around Valentine’s Day, this question is an especially hot topic: How do you meet someone these days?
The gym? Sometimes.
Friends of friends? Occasionally.
The bar? Nope.
The old cliché that you meet people in the produce section at the grocery store is outdated thanks to grocery delivery. Maybe these days, it’s only by swipe. Well, I’ve been out of the dating scene for six years now, and I have my bike to thank for that.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had success meeting someone on the bike. There probably aren’t any official statistics to cite, but it makes sense. Cycling is social. It often includes pastries or coffee (doesn’t every cycling group have a bakery stop?) — and it sometimes ends with a beer. The rides last for hours, which gives you plenty of time to get to know each other. And there’s something about being outside in the elements and pushing your body that’s like an aphrodisiac.
Even more, you can learn a lot about a person by how they ride. Are they considerate? Do they warn you if there’s a pothole, glass or other hazard in your path? Are they courteous? Do they let you draft off of them if you’re lagging? Are they handy? Can they help you with your flat? Are they prepared? Do they think about details? Do they pay attention? And my favorite: Do they like to indulge in pastries (good!) — or are they super regimented and only eat energy bars (not good…)?
While cycling kits are the opposite of sexy (does everyone feel like they’ve got sausages for thighs in cycling shorts, or is it just me?), it’s kind of a level playing field, stylewise. Everyone looks more or less the same, and the helmet and sunglasses add to that anonymity. I must admit that as a former tennis player, I miss the days of cute tennis skirts and flattering tanks.
But out on the road, the idea is to be anything but cute. You have to be something of a badass to catch the eye of a worthy fellow cyclist. On the up side, if they’ve seen you at your least flattering (in your cycling kit), when you actually meet in street clothes, it’s almost guaranteed to be a significant improvement!
See, I rode 250 miles over several rides before my boyfriend asked me to the movies. On our first outing, we rode together for hours and talked — we stopped at a bakery, and he passed the pastry-eating test (he had an apricot tart). Then he helped me with a clipping-in issue I was having with my new pedals and rode behind me to give me tips. He also sped up with me through several yellow lights just so I wouldn’t have to clip out and clip back in at all. Those little things add up!
Now, I’m no slouch on the road. As a relatively strong climber, I often pass guys up hills, especially if I’ve been riding a lot. I didn’t really think anything of it, but after a few hill passes, Paul mentioned that he liked to ride behind me and watch the reactions of the guys I was passing. Cue the badass point…
What’s so great about riding is that, like hiking, you’re somewhat uninhibited because you’re moving and not directly facing each other as you would at a cafe — this makes it easier to chat and maybe let your guard down. If there’s chemistry, then a ride leads to another ride. Then it leads to a ride with lunch or a ride and a beer. Then maybe, finally, that dinner and a movie. By the time you get to this stage, you know a lot about each other and the night tends to flow naturally — like you’ve known each other for years.