3. Plan the Pace
First, decide if you are going to actually ride together. When someone invites me to ride, I expect to ride with them, not 30 feet in front or behind. If you both don’t care if one person is way ahead and one is behind, then communicate that. I have been guilty of telling someone to “go ahead” but ended up enraged on the inside because they either weren’t stopping to wait soon enough or they were simply riding too far ahead.
If you’re the slower rider, do not feel guilty for asking them to wait or ride with you. It’s okay to change your mind mid-ride, too. Or, if you want to just start and end together, communicate that as well. Pacing can be one of the most frustrating issues when riding (and especially racing) with a partner. I know it’s been my biggest hurdle.
One option is to have the slower rider go first on the trail, which allows them to set the pace so that they aren’t struggling to keep up with the stronger rider. Also, it takes pressure off the stronger rider because now they know exactly what a comfortable pace is for their partner. In the event that the slower rider feels nervous or anxious with someone riding behind them, it’s very important that the slower rider communicates to the rider in front regarding what pace to go. Ask them to slow the down if it is a little too hard.
4. The Ride Isn’t Always About You
If you are riding with someone who isn’t as strong as you, consider riding with them on your easy training day. And don’t talk about how easy it is for you or how good you feel. Don’t show off (unless they actually enjoy that). Put yourself in their shoes. You can also offer to carry extra weight on the ride so it’s easier for them to get up the hills. And remember to always offer sincere encouragement and compliments. Believe me, it helps.