Barbie and Ken both love to ride the bike. Ken is a strong guy who likes to ride 60km as fast as possible, enjoys of getting to the edge of his strength. Barbie is more relaxed, likes to enjoy the view when riding and rides about 20km on a ride.

Now, Barbie and Ken decided to go for a ride together. They decided to meet in the middle and ride 30km. After the trip, no one was happy:

  • Barbie was very exhausted because of the long distance
  • Ken was bored because he would have liked to ride longer

What can they do in the future to enjoy riding the bike together?

  • Let the less trained person ride on a recumbent. An untrained person on a recumbent easily passes by a well-trained racer.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 20:45
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    Would the answers below be different, if it was Barbie who was fit and fast, and Ken who was less well trained? I suggest a tandem to share the work unequally. Plus the stoker gets a most-excellent view.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 22:55

14 Answers 14


If Ken is training that hard, he should have rest days with easy rides. Barbie should join him on a rest day easy ride, preferably the day after the hardest ride he does all week. Ken should also realize that allowing Barbie to set the pace ensures that he will not be over training.

As heltonbiker has mentioned in his comment, this can also be done on the same day, e.g. Ken can train hard in the morning and ride with Barbie in the afternoon.

If Ken really feels that he would like to go longer, he should do one 20km loop with Barbie and then a second by himself while Barbie gets on with the rest of her day.

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    I have done this successfully during the same day, usually on sundays: train hard in the morning, and go out with my family in the afternoon. No way I will sprint and leave them behind (the opposite has already happened...) Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 2:18
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    This suggestion works best for us, thank you!
    – Uooo
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 5:23

First thing first: Barbie should NEVER suffer a penalty because of Ken's preferences or athletic level. It is up to Ken to solve by himself the problem of making Barbie enjoy the ride. Leaving her alone is not fine, unless she explicitly, truly says it is.

One possibility could be to add weight to Ken's bike, or maybe Ken could choose, among his many bikes, the one less efficient, be it because of weight, aerodynamic position, or rolling resistence. Of course, if he has a blazing racing bike, he could very well fit it so that Barbie can ride with less effort (and thus faster).

If Barbie and Ken are in a firm relationship and their mood is well tuned, riding a tandem is a garanteed success. Take a well-paved, fair traffic road and Barbie will love to go above 20mph while Ken beat the sh*t out of his legs.

Let's go further in the future: if they happen to have a CHILD some day, of course Ken is going to carry her around on his bike. Around four years old, the "average speed" of Barbie and Ken+Child should be quite similar, and beyond that age Ken is starting to fall behind... Above eight years old, or even sooner, the kid can eventually become the tandem stoker, while Ken is the captain and Barbie goes happily along with her own solo bike.

It is important to mention that every regularly performed physical activity develops endurance, then perhaps if Ken is patient, and surely if he gives up a bit the "every ride is a workout" paradigm, Barbie can improve, then Ken doesn't have to wait so often, neither she has to keep riding only 20km. But ONLY if he is patient.

(That pretty much describes my recently completed five years of marriage, with a stepson now 11 years old. I believe even a steady date can benefit somehow with this tips. Of course lots of times things go wrong, though...)

  • 31
    And even if Barbie says it's OK to leave her alone, it isn't. In the words of Admiral Ackbar "It's a Trap!".
    – Kibbee
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:46
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    Worst mistake ever: ride with your wife in the tandem and your child with his own kid bike. Everybody gets utterly stressed, no proper communication is possible, and once my wife and kid went home alone, walking. That was actually a HUGE trap... :o( (nowadays, I always decide if their ideas for a ride are suitable or not, and I'm NEVER going to ride again with my wife in the tandem and the kid wandering "alone", away from us). Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:51
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    Ken should buy a single-speed bike. Then he can get stronger AND ride with Barbie. - Ken Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 18:00
  • Unfortunately we both have only one bike :) Adding weight is a good idea. We also tried out a tandem, however we found it is a very different challenge than riding a bike independent from each other. Thank you for your suggestions!
    – Uooo
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 5:34

I would suggest that if Ken and Barbie want to continue biking together that Ken should learn that not every bike ride has to be about getting a work out or training. I mean, what happens when little sister Kelly visits and wants to go for a bike ride with them? Is Ken going to just leave them in the dust? Alternatively if Ken really insists on trying to get a workout on what is obviously a recreational ride, he could try things like doing one legged drills, going the whole way without sitting down (this will tire your legs out), or always leaving it in the lowest/hardest gear, except when descending down a big hill at which point he should put the bike in the easiest gear and see if he can set a new high score on his cadence meter.

  • 7
    If Ken plans appropriately, he can do a strenuous workout ride by himself the day before the joint recreational ride. Getting his exercise out of the way can make it easier for him to get in the mood for a low-intensity ride.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 17:34

If they're ambitious, they could try out a tandem, so that Ken can do more of the work while still riding at the same pace as Barbie. Just remember that this can potentially cause unhappiness in its own ways, if they don't work together well!

  • 1
    Another possible option is for Barbie to get an electric assist, so she can keep up with Ken for longer without getting tired. But that won't solve the problem that she'd really rather take it slower, and it also won't help if you are somewhere electric bikes are limited to 15mph/25kph, and Ken wants to go faster. (My wife and I have a tandem. Or will have, at the moment it's a stripped tandem frame waiting for a respray and rebuild with new components. And yes, this will potentially cause unhappiness in its own ways if I don't get it done soon....)
    – armb
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 12:06
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    We love our tandem, but try out is an important part of the answer above. They're not cheap, so take time to make sure you're both happy with all aspects of the experience. Bike fit, speed on hills and in traffic, shared cadence. I scream like a wimp as a stoker, but my wife likes reading the map, enjoying the countryside and issuing directions in whatever the local language is. She has never told me to slow down. :-) Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 11:39
  • We tried out a tandem and yes, it was quite challenging in its own ways :)
    – Uooo
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 5:35

Do a lap of 20km together then Ken can carry on and meet back at home/wherever after completing his ride, considering that lighter 20km as a nice sociable warm up. (The alternative would be for Ken to ride 40km hard, first, then meet to use the 20 as a warm-down.)

Maybe ride the opening 20km together, then Ken leaves Barbie at a suitable café, she can relax, have a drink and recover for a while, Ken spins off and rides hard, and comes back at the cafe, they ride home together at Barbie's pace.

Over time, stop at different cafés according to Barbie's preference for the opening spin and the closing warm down. You both get to visit different cafés and neither of you get stuck in a rut of particular distances!

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    I think splitting up in the middle of a ride will just add to the stress between them.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 19:00

Before doing the 30 km leg with Barbie, Ken should give himself a handicap:

Here are two ideas:

  • Get up early in the morning and do his hard 60 km (or longer) bike ride.

  • Go to the gym and hit the lower body with heavy weights: squats, deadlifts.

There is no cyclist on the planet who cannot be reduced to quivering, buckling legs with some heavy weight lifting, and thereafter find 30 km of riding a struggle.


In the tradition of Lance, Barbie should try power doping.

Electric assist has the huge advantage that, unlike EPO, LIPO won't give her cancer and just like Lance, power dopers can convince themselves they really are stronger than the other guy.

Also, if someone comes by stronger than Ken, Barbie can ride with the new hero and leave Ken struggling in the rear, thus restoring normal relationship dynamics.

Read what it would take to cycle fast when you can't.


I come mainly from CrossFit, where we get everyone working out at the same time, with the same intensity level by scaling the difficulty of what we do. For weighted movements, that means more weight, for bodyweight things, it's harder movements (knee push-ups -> push-ups -> clapping push-ups -> handstand push-ups).

For cycling, you could do this by adding weight if your bike has a rack or riding a less-efficient bike, perhaps a mountain bike with knobby tires.


It depends on what terrain you are doing. We have a number of methods on training rides to combat this. In addition to the leaving someone at cafes. However this is more to do with hill climbing.

If Ken finds it too easy to climb a hill at the same pace as Barbie can comfortably climb then he should go at the same pace but in a higher gear (with out too much pedal mashing), that way he will find it equally strenuous.

Alternatively, Ken climbs at his own pace until he reaches the top of the hill. When he does he goes down and meets up with Barbie. He can either go off again at his own pace or do the second climb at Barbie's pace. This way he gets to push himself, but will not leave Barbie on her own to do the whole climb.

I would add to Unsliced's cafe suggestion that, if he left her at a cafe for 30 mins after doing 20km she could probably manage another 10km on the way home at an easy pace. That way Ken might get 15 to 25km (at a hard pace) in while she is resting and then they can go home together in a leisurely fashion. That extra 10km could expand the range on places she can stop.

Finally I would suggest they joined a cycling club, we have some couples in ours who do not ride at the same level. They have all the same social advantages, but the stronger rider does not have to worry about the weaker rider being by themselves. They can sometimes ride together and sometimes ride separately in groups appropriate to their level of riding.


Back when I was doing long training rides and my wife liked to do 30km mile fun rides, I did my long ride with training partners and she biked the 10 or 15km to meet me somewhere for lunch, then we biked the scenic route home together at her pace.

Or you could bike home at the end of your ride and meet her for a short "cool-down" ride with her at her pace. (or she could drive to meet you at the end of your ride)


Learn tricks

There is a load of entertaining and useful tricks, that a person with a bike can learn. Ken might know none or all of them, but there is always still room for improvement. Ridding at a steady, slow pace, should be the perfect environment to learn a half meter high bunny-hop or a 2km wheelie.

Only downside is that Barbie could think of this as being arrogant and showing oneself off, so they should have this cleared beforehand.

  • Ken rides the bike because "he likes to ride 60km as fast as possible, enjoys of getting to the edge of his strength", which means he likes to ride long distances fast. Tricks do not have anything to do with that.
    – Uooo
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 9:19
  • @Uooo, I didn't read carefully enough. But tricks provide physical challenge.
    – Vorac
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 10:40
  • +1 Just found this thread. All the other answers were sensible ... but this one made me laugh :-)
    – andy256
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 0:17

Ken should ride his 60 km all-out ride, and then Barby can join him for relaxed 20 km warm-down ride together. I think both will be happy. Don't forget eat some fuels.


On the uphills, Ken can push Barbie with his hand on her back, while Barbie freewheels, or pedals lightly. Ken gets a good work out, Barbie has an enjoyable ride.

(This happens often on our club rides.)


To expand on the different bicycles answer: The less trained person could ride a recumbent. With the same effort, riding a recumbent goes considerably faster. From people I know with recumbents, they regularly overtake racers even when they're not doing much work. The work/speed ratio is just a completely different story on a recumbent.

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