Cycling couples photography project - Suzanne & Tobias

A new cycling couple Suzanne and Tobias are on my blog today. It is another story from my project "Ride together stay together" about couples who cycle. In this series of the interviews, I am exploring how cycling influence relationships combining my two passions for cycling and photography.

Today's story is about American-turned-British Suzanne, who works as IT Delivery Lead and has been in the country since 1991 and a Swedish-born web developer Tobias, who though "only" has been in London since 2004 is also calling this currently very snowy city home! The guys met in 2014 through a local club (the embryo of the Richmond Park Rouleurs once upon a time) like all of my featured previous couples and the rest is history.

As London weather hasn't been too kind, we decided to meet at their place in Richmond, which provided for a cosy setting for our photoshoot and chat. Their flat had a lovely London feel to it and you didn't need to be Sherlock Holmes to know Suzanne and Tobias are keen cyclists with bikes and everything related all over the place. And here is their story:

How long have you been cycling and how did you get into it?

Tobias: The 2012 London Olympics got me into mountain biking initially. I soon realised that I'd like to go faster and ride more socially so it wasn't long until I had my first road bike. Riding a mountain bike around Richmond Park was only so appealing and I didn't have a car so venturing out to trail centres or Surrey Hills at the time was not practical.

Suzanne: I was training and racing triathlon then was injured and decided to focus on cycling.

What do you like about cycling overall and specifically about cycling together? 

Tobias: Being outdoors and cycling with other people is great. Fresh air and social element are good for both mind and body. I've never gotten on with gyms, partially because it is indoors and you are doing it on your own. Commuting by bike to work is also great as you’re getting exercise, outdoor time and not paying Transport for London all in one go. 

Suzanne: Being able to go on adventures together. We now have touring bikes as well and hope to be using them a lot in the near future.

What do you find challenging about being both into cycling? And about cycling together? 

Tobias: It's not always easy when you are at different fitness levels or age and going for rides together, sometimes that leads to you having different goals. You've got to turn that into something positive if you're away riding together, for example, on a holiday or taking part in a sportive.

Suzanne: Different abilities can be a challenge at times.  Ditto to what Tobias said. 

Your most memorable cycling experience together and why?

Suzanne: Cycling on the Queen K highway in Hawaii. It wasn’t a cycling holiday per se but there’s always time for a bit of cycling and Kona Iron Man has been a lifelong dream of mine.

Tobias: I think the Mallorca 312 stands out as one of the best team efforts we've done. I was not feeling great for much of the stay in Mallorca at the time, so I was happy to let the other guys go who we were there with and instead ride with Suzanne. 

She was determined not to be caught out by the time cut-off put in place for the sportive and gave it beans. I remember having to remind her to eat and drink while on the bike😉. 

What impact has cycling had on your relationship?

Suzanne & Tobias: Cycling is our primary hobby whether we do it together or apart. So there is always a common interest that we can share. Even if one of us isn't cycling or maybe has a slightly different focus in the future, the same theme around interest in sport, fitness etc is there.  We have also met a lot of people both singles and couples during our times cycling together and good to then plan activities, even trips with them.

Any advice for couples who are only starting cycling together?

Suzanne & Tobias: Not everybody are equally fit or will develop fitness at the same pace or will have equal time to put in for cycling. You’ve got to communicate early on so that one doesn’t just go out cycling all the time when the other can’t or simply cycle away from their partner. Communication is the key, always communicate what you are capable of or want if cycling together and be willing to compromise. Also, cycle alone and with others, that way you enjoy it more when you cycle together and you develop your own circle of people to ride with if one or the other of you doesn't or can't go out on rides.

What about non-cycling couples? Would you recommend them to take up cycling and why?

Suzanne: Definitely, it is a good way to have a shared goal/hobby and meet new people.

Tobias: Absolutely! If not cycling then maybe some other activities, in any case. It's great to head out together, either purely for a social ride or at other times more focused on a training effort. You're bound to meet other people on and off the bikes while on the road and in cafés, so it's a great way to network and socialise. The fitness will come on its own if it's not already there. You just got to give it a bit of time at first.