When Helen, our very own social media coordinator, appeared in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago alongside her husband, Mike, we were reminded of how many awesome adventure couples we have as friends of FINDRA. To travel and adventure together requires communication and compromise and can be one of the most rewarding things to do with your partner. We chatted to a few of our adventurous couple friends about how they get outside with their partner.
Helen and Mike – “His Tinder profile said he wanted to cycle round the world. I asked: When are we leaving?”
When Mike and I met on Tinder, I was only half joking when I asked about cycling around the world. But sometimes you have to just grab life when huge opportunities come your way and that’s exactly what we did.
“It was a big lesson in compromise, communication and listening,” says Mike. “Not just what someone was saying, but all the non-verbal things: is Helen tired? Is she stressed? She’s saying we can go on, but does she mean it?”
Open and honest communication is quite a hard thing to do if you’re not sure how you’re actually feeling. We learnt so much about each other but also a lot about ourselves. Being kind to ourselves was, and still is, a difficult thing to balance with pushing yourself physically and mentally to cycle across continents.
Now that we’re back home, we still ride together but also encourage each other to engage in other sports. Mike loves mountain biking while I’m a little more reserved about throwing myself and a bike down a rocky path. I enjoy it, but I don’t want to hold Mike back from doing harder routes so encourage him to ride with others. It’s all about balance!
We both feel incredibly lucky to have found a life-long adventure buddy. Long may the adventures live!
Alex and Roddy – “The view, the landscape the fresh air it’s so good for the soul”
It was our love of the outdoors that brought us together. We were both into mountain biking and loved to spend weekends biking in the hills in and around the Tweed Valley.
Keeping fit is really important to us. We both acknowledge the positive impact getting outdoors has on our state of mind as well as all the physical benefits. Over time we have walked, ran or biked many of the paths and trails that we are fortunate enough to have on our doorstep. Within minutes of leaving our home we find ourselves climbing up one of the local hills and every time without fail we stop, take in the view and say out loud, ‘how lucky are we!’, just to enjoy the scenery, the landscape and fresh air, it’s so good for the soul. And to share that together is an added bonus.
Getting outdoors together is a big part of who we are as a couple. With busy lives juggling family, work and business making time for small ‘everyday adventures’ is really important to us. We support each other and push each other to try something new that takes us out of our comfort zone.
For a long time our adventures consisted of mountain biking or heading off on long walks with our lovely black Labrador Horace. In the last year or so though we have encouraged each other to try some new activities. I have done some road biking and loved it, especially the planned cake stops which I have found to be a great motivator! And we have also tried some SUP and surfing both of which were really good fun especially given Roddy is not a fan of water sports!
Trying to get a balance in life between work and play can be difficult, but we work really hard to achieve it. Getting outdoors and being in nature always gives great perspective on life and what’s important. The fact that we can share that together is pretty special and for that we are very grateful.
Krissy and Nics – “It’s never not worth going out on your bike”
After recovering from an illness in 2013, I’ve made it my business to say, “yes” to most things – especially when it involves two wheels. A total life overhaul found me here, with Nicola as my partner, and together, we’re working on that quest to grab life by the balls. It’s not always easy, but when you’ve seen the reality of your own mortality, things get pretty real.
Making memories together, on our bikes, anywhere, is our answer to that quest. The best conversations we have are when we’re peddling up and down the steep hills of a very windy Harris, along a Bavarian river in the hot sun or just closer to home in the Pentland Hills. Who needs therapy when you’ve got your partner and your bike?
After a ride, we always say, “It’s never not worth going out on our bikes” and it really feels true. There’s something about feeling tired, wet, muddy and wind blown after a ride that makes you feel pretty damn smug.
So, Nics and I are saying, “yes” to packing up our bikes, putting them on a plane heading for somewhere we’ve never been, jumping into a river, riding longer, steeper and faster than we think we can and pitching our tent on a deserted beach as the gales blow and the rain falls.
We will continue to laugh in the face of wind, rain, sore bums, tired legs, mechanical failures and hunger and keep our wheels rolling towards our next, big adventure.
We won’t find any of that sitting on the sofa.
Brenda and Rod Mitchell – “Couples who play together, stay together”
The saying, ‘couples who play together, stay together’ is one which definitely applies to Rod and Brenda Mitchell.
For more than 27 years, this adventurous couple have been enjoying the outdoor life together often on two wheels but also on the fairways, the ski slopes and more recently on the water in their kayak and out of it doing a spot of open-water swimming.
In 1992, when Rod and Brenda moved from Edinburgh to the Borders, their first Christmas present to each other was a pair of Giant hard-tail mountain bikes. Back then, mountain bikers hiked up the side of hills with their bikes slung on their shoulders and hurtled down any fire roads, single track trail or drover’s path they could find. How times have changed.
Age catches up with all of us and so the most recent addition to the Mitchells’ bike collection has been a couple of hard-tail FOCUS e-bikes. These E-Bikes have transformed their mountain biking activities opening up parts of the Tweed Valley which to date they have never explored. Sticking the E-Bike into boost mode, it’s a dream climbing up the Southern Upland Way from Traquair and from the top the views are outstanding.
Keen road cyclists too, Brenda and Rod have been riding in Scotland’s many epic sportives for years. Rod is faster but they’ve found a novel way to keep up with one another on board the Cycle Law Scotland tandem which is a great test for any couple as it involves both trust and communication. Brenda is the stoker on the back and with no access to steering or the brakes, has to trust her pilot implicitly. There is no falling out either simply because there’s nowhere to go if you take the huff!
Not content with pedal power alone, Rod and Brenda are both IAM qualified advanced motorcyclists and they love exploring the remoter parts of Scotland on short motorcycling trips.
Brenda and Rod are massive fans of FINDRA’s range of outdoor and active lifestyle clothing as it’s a perfect fit for them. Woolly hats and beanies for the slopes and shore side after a swim; merino tops and base layers to keep them cosy on the mountain bikes and motorcycles; mountain bike shorts for the e-bike mega journeys. Functional, comfortable, stylish and great looking all in one garment. So many good things happen in the Tweed Valley and FINDRA is most definitely one of them.
Marion and Ed – ” you see every side of the other person in sharp relief”
Ed and I started adventuring together twenty years ago, on cycle touring and camping trips in the UK and France whilst at high school. But after university our shared love of wild places inevitably called us away from those sensible graduate jobs to a year of cycling and snowboarding in New Zealand, where we realised that we could never not live in the mountains again. Since then we’ve done many more trips and snow seasons together, and now our adventures include a small person too.
I think that travelling together is one of the most important experiences you can share as a family: you get to experience all those new and wonderful things that you find along the way together, but as a couple you also see every side of the other person in sharp relief. For us, there have been amazing and not-so-amazing bits, but that has honed us into a pretty effective team who can work together (most of the time!) to get through whatever comes our way. Whether it’s escaping a thunderstorm in the Dolomites with a baby in a sling, surviving food poisoning whilst cycling at 3000 metres in remote Mongolia, getting safely off a glacier ski tour in thick mist, or even just sprinting the length of Beijing airport in record time whilst each carrying a bike box, those tough moments show what your relationship is made of and help you to understand each other more. And of course it’s always good to share the high points of an adventure as well, especially if you managed to persuade the other person to carry the biscuits.
Do you get outside with your partner? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your adventures!