The third wheel
Margot McGovern asks, is there such a thing as too much bike love?
My name is Margot and I have a confession to make. I’m jealous of the other “love” in my partner’s life—his bike.
It’s not the kind of green-eyed jealousy that may see me walk out the door never to return— but my man’s passion for two wheels has taken over our lives.
I realised just how much when I arrived home one day last month to find a greasy sprocket nestled between the apples and bananas in my fruit bowl.
Between the front door and the kitchen I’d navigated an obstacle course of cycling paraphernalia: two bikes in the hallway; three pairs of muddy cycling shoes, a sodden rain jacket, floor pump, helmet, allen keys, numerous spare tubes, pedals and an unidentifiable mess of nuts and bolts from an abandoned cleat experiment littering the lounge room; and a pile of dirty lycra from last weekend’s ride stinking on the bathroom floor.
I love bikes and ride almost every day, but none of these bike bits were mine, and it suddenly occurred to me that I may be becoming the third wheel in this relationship. And I’m not alone.
Australian pro mountain biker Katherine O’Shea is the bike-obsessed partner in her relationship. Her partner, Ray Lacis, loves riding but, unlike O’Shea he doesn’t spend hours dreaming about his next ride.
O’Shea has been a competitive mountain biker since 2006, competing in every MTB World Cup from 2008-2012. She has also competed in World Championships and won gold at the Australian National Series Championship events in 2009 and 2011. Consequently, she’s on the bike every day and spends much of her time competing overseas.
She says Lacis, who has competed in triathlons, is her support and sounding board.
“He’s super supportive,” O’Shea says. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”
She says that as she grew more competitive he began riding less.
“Work got in the way and he did kind of stop for a while because [my training] was a lot to keep up with,” she says.
Though he was wasn’t spending as much time riding, Lacis helped O’Shea to clean her bikes when she was exhausted after races.
She admits it probably wasn’t much fun for him.
It’s a similar situation among many of my friends where one person in a relationship is heavily into cycling while the other is not.
I’ve often heard my riding companions complain that they want to ride more, but the old “wheel lock” in their life has been nagging them about how much time they already spend on the bike.
But, as I explain to them, there’s a fine line between a passion and an obsession and when your partner spends all their time off the bike talking about his or her next ride, analysing Strava data and discussing, in detail, the specs of fantasy bikes they’d one day like to build, it’s easy to start feeling that they’re more in love with the bike than with you.
It may sound like a sad story for all, but it’s not, really. There are happy mediums.
While O’Shea says there are compromises she and Lacis make for each other—it’s part of any relationship, whether you’re obsessed with bikes or not—Lacis has gotten back on his bike.
Now that O’Shea is home in Melbourne and taking a break while she sets her riding goals for 2014, the couple “love going for rides together”.
My friends have also made concessions, either saving their obsessive bike talk for their riding companions, or getting their partners more involved in their love of two wheels.
As for me, I do understand and even share my partner’s bike obsession (albeit to a lesser extent) and do my best to be supportive—provided he keeps his bike tools out of the fruit bowl.
Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.