A Pain Cave Built for Two

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In-home trainer etiquette is the key to couple’s cycling therapy!

Congratulations! You’ve found a partner who likes cycling too. They understand your need to hop on the trainer for some miles when the weather outside isn’t cooperating. 

                               They tolerate your massive collection of water bottles. 

                        They even find the squarish look of your butt in bike shorts sexy!


Your partner enjoys cycling just as much as you do.

Figure 1. We all hope to find someone who looks at us the same way we look at our new racing bikes.


However, like any relationship, it isn’t always a smooth ride. Especially in the intimate and sweaty space of a pain cave, where speed bumps can pop up out of nowhere. 


From stealing Bluetooth signals to accidentally watching ahead on Netflix, here’s a How-to Guide for strengthening your relationship…along with your quads!


Rule #1:  Scheduling and Noise Etiquette 

What times will you be riding? Will you wake anyone up or disturb an important Zoom call? Do you prefer to ride together or alone?

John and I were training buddies before we started dating. So Zwifting together counts as quality time! I play director sportif (DS) for his races and he returns the favor in kind for mine. 

We watch ‘Great British Bake-Off’ together and attempt to replicate the recipes in our kitchen afterwards. 

Of course, with medical school, our schedules don’t always line up. So we have established house rules for when headphones are required to keep noise to a minimum.


Your Spouse is your best partner.                         Figure 2. John is ready for some Netflix and chilling in Zone 2.


Rule #2:  Know your Bluetooth (or ANT+) IDs

Having accidentally sabotaged one of John’s races by stealing his Bluetooth signal, I can’t emphasize this one enough. Know which signals correspond to your heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, and trainers. 

Yes, your computers will eventually learn (hopefully before you do), but it’s REALLY stressful to see your power numbers suddenly drop to zero during a hard workout (or worse…a race) because your partner logged on.

It also just reduces the stress when you log on to start a workout together.


Rule #3:  Establish a Netflix Policy

What shows do you want to watch together? What shows are okay to watch by yourself? Do you want subtitles? What’s a good volume?

Again, because John and I consider training to be quality time, we like to share shows. From ‘Great British Bake-off’ to ‘Merlin’ to ‘Avatar the Last Airbender’, it’s a great way to pass time and share media. 

However, it’s also annoying when someone watches ahead. To solve this, we have “side media” when we’re working out on our own. John does a lot of audio books and I tend to turn on my Disney playlist.


Rule #4:  Share Power Outlets and Bandwidth

Virtual racing (and training) requires a lot of power. You need a phone, a computer, a trainer, and maybe a TV. Double that for two people and you have a royal mess of cords. 

Make sure that your power strip is well-organized and capable of supporting that many devices. I personally like my Saris training desk which has a built-in power strip so I know which outlets are mine. 

Just like accidentally grabbing the Bluetooth signal mentioned above, you don’t want to pull a ‘Tim O’Donnell’ and unplug Mirinda Carfrae’s trainer in the middle of a race. (#couplegoals)

Internet bandwidth is also a precious resource. With our old router, John and I would experience lag in big races when we were both logged on. Our new router is designed for gaming, which enables us to hardwire in for big races. It also prioritizes which devices get the best internet!


Rule #5:  Be a Good Domestic Domestique 

Grab water and snacks immediately upon hopping off the bike.
Carbs prevent you from getting hangry.
Being hangry means you can’t be happy.
Happy wife equals happy life.
So feed your wife carbs.


This is true for every type of partner out there. Nobody likes being left off the snack run! And everyone appreciates a nice, cold bottle of bubbly (Nuun) in the middle of a workout.


Domestique bliss

                                Figure 3. Literal pro tip: you get double points if the snack is cake. 


Rule #6: Clearly Define Your DS/Coaching Style

John and I very actively assist each other during each other’s races. For UCI Worlds, he wore an American flag snuggie and had meticulous notes detailing what I was to do during each point in the race. 

I have the utmost trust in him to drop my power-ups and feed me in-race gels. I love it when he jumps up and down and cheers in a final sprint. 

I love watching his races too and go every bit as crazy as he does for mine!


Your spouse is your biggest fan.

                                                           Figure 4. Getting in the team spirit!


Not everyone enjoys racing, however. Not everyone wants their partner to tell them to “go harder” or pick apart their race technique. 

Relationships are massively different and communication is the key.  Determine your partner’s likes and dislikes. Ask them what you can do to be supportive. 

Sometimes it involves an American flag snuggie. Other times it might be as simple as taking care of the kids so they can have some time alone to decompress with their bike.


Rule #7: Develop Cleaning and Laundry Rules and Roles

Pain caves are, by definition, places where we go to sweat. That means they can get really, REALLY gross!

John and I have worked out a set of maintenance ground rules, making it clear how often we need to clean everything and our system to minimize getting sweat elsewhere in the house. 

We’ve also worked out a laundry agreement, which prevents our bibs from getting nasty in the hamper or ruined in the dryer. 


(The agreement is that John mainly handles the laundry. I do dishes. We sweat a lot and we eat a lot so it comes out pretty even.)



While I may be a virtual cycling pro at this point, I’m only just married (April 2021!) For all of you other couples out there, please drop your relationship and cycling tips below. John and I appreciate them. Having planned one wedding, I would like to do everything possible to NEVER PLAN ANOTHER.

Newlywed cycling partner bliss.


Please share!

Your helpful virtual training partner hints for the newlywed cycling couple are much appreciated. Thanks for reading to the end of the article!  Comment below!                                                                                            


Figure 5. Domestique bliss. 

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