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That's the general gist I've gained from the post and I aim to improve on that. Riding has always been a case of ride hard or go home for me and so a little change in attitude should go a long way.
Oh and yes legs, she knows full well about Rule 5, my copy of the bible sits next to the bed! She does however appreciate Rule 9 as we tend to be applying that one at lot at the moment.
Big Gear/Small gear. Ride slowly in a gear that is so big you pretty much have to stand to push it. Don't stand. Then on the downhills (or faster parts) switch to your smallest gear and spin like a crazy man.
No feet down. Try to time all the traffic lights so you hit them just as they turn green. Make it a game for both of you: you are allowed to go ahead to the lights and trackstand, and tell her how fast to ride towards you. As soon as either of you put your feet down you both lose.
Standing riding. Do the whole ride standing up.
Weight training. Wear a backpack with bricks in it. (I've never tried this...)
"Meet me"/race. Sometimes you'll find a route where she can ride flat roads, but you can leave her for maybe 2-5km and do a hill. You aim to get to the meeting point before her. You can really only do this once per ride "together"
Now that the race season has started things will work into place nicely - I race in the morning and give way to a nice leisurely ride in the afternoon. Perfect.
In all seriousness, the first step is not too push too hard. My wife first started riding out of necessity. As a non-citizen upon arrival in the U.S. she wasn't able to get a driver's license right away. I built up a comfortable mountain bike with an upright position and a woman-specific saddle, added some fenders and a rear rack, and got her comfortable with running errands in the area. I never expected her to get more serious than that.
Over time she decided she wanted a road bike. I built her a "plush" bike... Klein Aura V setup with a triple. Eventually she was riding longer distances and made the switch to clipless pedals. We started riding together more and more often but not at my pace... we rode at hers. It certainly wasn't conducive to my fitness, but the time together was great. Usually, I hauled our Burley trailer with my son in it so I got a workout, but not the same kind of workout I would get on a solo training ride. Often, I would go out for a couple hours on my own before embarking on a shorter ride together. Once my oldest son was big enough to ride his own bike, these turned into family outings.
My wife is now a hardcore cyclist. She's not a racer. But she rides nearly every day. She rides with the boys to school. She runs errands by bike. She does the shopping with a bike and trailer. She rides the local trails for recreation and fitness. On Twitter she is @bicyclemum and she even started a blog under the same name... sharing our adventures on (and off) the bike. She has a slick, carbon fiber, di2 road bike and a sweet carbon, full-suspension mtn bike. She loves her bikes and loves to ride.
The bottom line is to help your partner remain enthusiastic. Make sure she is comfortable and enjoying herself. I felt it was worth the investment to give my wife quality bikes with a good fit even before I was certain she would get into the sport. Nothing curbs enthusiasm quicker for a newbie than being in pain during a ride. Next was to encourage her without pushing. I know I am not the most patient person so I had to be extremely conscious of my attitude when riding with her and not allow myself to get frustrated with her pace or her apprehensions... just shifting gears or changing hand positions can be really intimidating for a beginner.
If the opportunity exists near you, get your partner into some ladies-only rides. My wife LOVES riding with other women. The more experienced ladies can always offer advice and there tends to be a bit more "chick-cred" about saddles, shorts, creams, and other products coming from other women than from us guys.
Bottom line (as you mention in the heading) is to be patient. You have years of cycling experience (I assume) so it will take a while before your partner can even keep up with you. But, if you're in it for the long haul, it is worth the time and energy to develop her skills so you can enjoy cycling as a couple.
One more benefit... once you convert her "cyclist" she will never say no to a new bike, bike-related product, or bike trip ever again. Well, almost never.
The beginning... non-cycling, soon-to-be-mum.
The first time she came on a club ride she had an MTB with fat tyres, big budguards and a massive D lock and rode so slowly my buddy could not ride that slowly uphill on road gearing (42x21 then). However she persevered, borrowed a road bike and went faster. Then her dad bought her a nice Roberts 653 road bike. She did some races and TTs. By this time she could keep up with guys as long as we didn't sprint uphill and she stayed out of the wind. Rides were fun then. Then she went to France for a year and rode with Cadets at the local club. They had an old guy on a scooter to take bottles and amongst other things he used to pull her downhill to make her go faster. Then she came home and could comprehensively kick the arse of average club riders. Old guys making sexist comments were her favourite victims. Later she won the national student pursuit championship and lots of other things.
Now, 3 kids later, we go out on our tandem now and again. On the occasional 20-30 minute training ride in between looking after the kids, she can comfortably do 70 miles on the tandem and then the next day ask why my legs hurt. It's not fair.
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