Welcome to our “bicycle dates” post! Below, we’ll detail how to plan the PERFECT bike date for you and your crush. The writers here at Biker and Bicycle have pooled all our dating and biking experience, in hopes of sending you off on an absolutely fantastic bicycle date. By the end of the post, you’ll know how to plan a romantic bike ride,* how to have fun and feel relaxed when you’re out on your adventure, and how to get to know the person who will become the love of your life.**
First, for all those doubters out there, we’ll discuss why a date on a bike is the perfect romantic outing. Then we’ll go over some practical tips on how to make sure your bike date goes smoothly and doesn’t end in disaster (these tips, of course, are taken from bike dates we’ve had that have gone horribly wrong). Then we’ll provide a big list of some bike date ideas, and talk about some other dynamics you’ll want to be aware of while you’re mid-date. Are you ready? Let’s jump in.
*This isn’t a gender-specific post, by the way—at least, we didn’t write it that way, or we tried not to. Hopefully there’s some good advice here, regardless of how you identify.
First Off, Why Is a Bike Date the Perfect Outing?
We’ll start with the most obvious:
It’s Really Pleasant
Ever notice that dinner dates… just aren’t fun? It’s the biggest and most obvious problem with early-in-the-relationship outings: dining with someone you don’t know just isn’t enjoyable.
But there aren’t too many people who dislike biking, so right away, you two are both doing something you enjoy. Nice! You’re off to a good start.
It’s a Couple of Different Dates All Wrapped Into One
There’s the “biking” aspect of the date, which is fun and carefree and innocent. Then there’s whatever you plan to do (and we’ve got a huge list of activities below), and you can stack activities: meet up, bike to a bar, have a drink. Hop back on the bikes, pedal to a street fair, hang out. Get back in the saddle and then meet up with friends and go to a house party. That’s a full and fantastic day, no matter who you’re with or what happens eventually.
It’s a “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure”-Style Day
You should absolutely have a plan when you set up a romantic bike ride (and we’ll discuss that below), but eventually, a bike date becomes an open-ended opportunity to follow whatever the day throws at you. Pass a store you’ve never seen before? Stop and check it out. Come across a great view that you didn’t expect to see? Stop and take silly photos of each other. When you’re on a bike—and this is one of the best parts about biking, whether you’re on a date or not—you’re free to go where the day takes you.
There Are Built-In “Quiet Time” Breaks
Even when you’ve got great chemistry with someone, you may find that on the first couple of dates, there are some awkwardly quiet moments. That’s normal, and a bike date fits those quiet moments into the date itself—when you’re pedaling from one place to the next, it’s a little “break time” where you can figure out the next thing you want to talk about. It’s a shame to let some quiet spots ruin an otherwise great time, and biking is a perfect buffer for that.
It Won’t Break the Bank
Let’s be real here: regardless of your gender, or what gender you’re interested in getting with, dating is an expensive hobby. Especially if you do a lot of it. And—who has money these days? Yes, according to your Instagram account, absolutely everyone you know seems to be living the high life, but that’s simply not true. And—even those folks who are wealthy—they seem to know how to hang onto their cash pretty well. And that’s why a date on a bike is fantastic. You’ve got a bike? Your date has a bike? So far, the date is free! And, if you don’t have bikes, or if you’re dating long-distance, it’s pretty cheap to rent one. We’ll go over that in a minute.
You Can Bail If It Goes South
If the date is going really, really badly, you can simply say, “Thanks!” and pedal off into the sunset. There’s no, “Let’s share a cab,” or “Please take me home”—after all, you’re on your own bike. If you’re having a lousy time, you can coast off any time you like. That’s a fantastic aspect of the bike date, and honestly, it would be great if all bad dates had that escape hatch. “This is awful! You look nothing like your profile pic, you haven’t asked me about me even once, and you talk about your mom, like, a creepy amount. So, see ya!” Poof! Gone.
The Bicycle Date Itself: Practical Advice
Because a bike date features a specialized activity and (presumably) more equipment than your average date, there are a couple of specific things you’ll need to keep in mind before you plan things. Here are some pointers:
Tell Your Date Before You’ll Be Biking
This kind of goes for any date, really. Your date is going to want to know how to dress, what to bring, and what he/she/they can expect. And, because you should have a couple of planned activities—we’ll talk about planning in a second—share with your date the activities you’ll be doing. Don’t worry—you’ll still have plenty of time to be adventurous and jump into unplanned activities—but telling your about where you’ll be biking is a must.
Plus, not having a plan—”I thought we’d rent bikes, and just, you know, bike around”—sounds awful and makes you look sloppy; whereas “I thought we’d rent bikes, and head up to my friend’s concert on 88th Street, and then hit up this new bar I heard about in Alphabet City” sounds like a fun adventure you two will share, and makes you look like you have a full and vibrant life.
Rent Bikes If You Don’t Have Them
It pains us to say this—after all, we write for a biking website, and we think everyone should be on bikes—but not everyone has bicycle. This is especially true in the city, where apartments are SUPER small, and space is at a premium. So if you’re renting a bike, here are a couple tips to keep in mind:
- The *type* of bike you rent is really, really important. Ask for a cruiser, a mountain bike, a hybrid, or a city bike (sometimes called a “Dutch bike”). Those are all easy-to-ride, relaxed bikes, and you’ll have a great time on them. Don’t get a road bike (like the kind you’d see in a road race, like the Tour de France). They look really gorgeous, but they can be difficult to ride, and feeling uncomfortable, or even like you’re in danger, is no fun. (Also: the brand of the bike doesn’t matter too much. Most rentals are made to be super-sturdy. They’re not high-performance vehicles, but you’ll be fine on them).
- You’ll be riding the bike out of your local bike shop, so wherever it is you plan to go, see if you can rent from a bike shop near the location you’re heading to. No reason to pedal farther than you need to, get sweaty, feel uncomfortable, etc.
- Call ahead. Bike shops run out of rentals—especially on the weekends—so once you’ve figured out where you want to go, call your local bike shop, give them your credit card info (or go online and see if you can rent bikes through their website), and make sure you’re good to go. It’s embarrassing to plan a list of activities and find out you screwed up the first activity.
Make Sure Your Bike Is In Good Shape!
Important. There’s nothing worse than having a romantic bike ride derailed because your bike (or your date’s bike) falls apart. If you’re renting a bike, the shop should give it a good look, and you should be fine; if you’ve both got bikes, give them a quick (but not showy-offy) look to make sure they’re both up-to-snuff. Make sure the tires are properly inflated, the front wheel turns with the handlebars, the chain is secure and lubed, the brakes work, the pedals are screwed in tight, and that the seat is safe, comfy, and secure. Also make sure you’ve both got bike locks. We’ve written an entire post about how to review a bike for safety, so check that out, if you like.
Safety first, kids!
Go in the Evening, Instead of the Afternoon
This is another one we learned the hard way. A bike date in the cool of the evening is tender and romantic; a bike date at 1pm, with the sun beating down your face so that you’re sweating your face off in the loud and crowded city streets—that’s a nightmare. Plan your bike date for late afternoon / early evening.
Also, check the weather. You can go on a dinner date in the rain, but a picnic date isn’t going to work out so well.
It Shouldn’t Be Too Vigorous
If you and your date are both rough-and-tumble bikers who love the outdoors, that’s awesome—plan a 50-mile ride through the mountains. But if you’re looking for a relaxed, fun, and flirty trip, make sure your bike date is an easy ride. Avoid hills, stay away from super-busy roads and highways, and don’t take your partner off-roading. You’re aiming for fun, not rigor.
After all, a leisurely bike ride along a paved nature trail is pleasant and engaging; a high-intensity trek that feels like a spin class is not.
What to Actually Do
So, we’ve covered the practical aspects of your bike date. Now… what do you actually do? Bike dates are kind of unique, in that they’re a little like two-dates-in-one: you’ve got the bike part of the date, and then the thing you’re biking to. So, you’ll need to…
Have a Plan
While it might seem like an open-ended adventure would be a lot of fun, it usually isn’t. You’ll need to know where you’re going, or you’ll end up biking around town, and it’ll feel like you’re just running errands or something. Luckily, there’s no end to the fascinating things you can do, such as:
- Museums! Who doesn’t love art? Well, some people. If you don’t like art, stay away from museums. But even people who don’t like museums still tend to like
- Music! In any given city, there’s live music every single night. And don’t get caught up in the “music has to happen at concert venues” idea. Get creative and bike around the city and find three street artists who are playing for money. That’s a fun and weird and creative afternoon. And if you live in a rural area, the same thing goes—there are bars and street fairs and “not-so-obvious” music events. A friend was actually upstate a few weeks ago and heard live music in the backyard of a craft brewery that was waaaaay away from town, and had a blast. If you’re interested in live music, you can find it.
- Bars! Can’t go wrong with bars, especially if they’ve got an outdoor area with trees overhead. Very pleasant. Just be sure you go during happy hour when it’s a little quieter, so you can hear each other speak.
- Local bodies of water! If you live near an ocean, that’s a gimmee; go to the boardwalk. If you live near a river, there are usually events (BBQs, concerts, game nights) you can look for, and the same goes for lakes: you can have a campfire, invite folks along for a get-together, or rent paddle-boats and spend your time on the waves.
- Weird hobbies! There are so many unique-and-interesting hobbies that offer one-time classes, it’s almost too easy: you can take an intro archery class, you go indoor rock climbing, you can sign up for a beginner fencing class… it’s kind of mind-boggling the things you can do together. And, if you both hate the activity, you have something to commiserate about; if you like the activity but end up hating your date, hey, you’ve got a new pastime you can dive into.
- Town events! Parades, street fairs, pie-eating contests—go to your town or city’s website to see upcoming activities. Even small towns have a surprising number of activities on the schedule.
- Holiday events! This sounds boring, but it can actually be a lot of fun: there are plenty of towns that have Jack O’ Lantern festivals, and that can be fun and spooky; tree-lighting ceremonies at Christmas are sweet and pretty; the fireworks at the 4th of July are inherently romantic. If there’s a holiday coming up, it can open up some great date activities.
- A brewery tour! We millennials have a lot going for us, but our real gift to the world is our insistence on craft beer, everywhere, at all times. It seems that every town in America is require to have at least three craft breweries, and each of those breweries must offer free tours at multiple times during the day. Embrace it! Go on a brewery tour, but just be sure to know when to call it quits—drunk biking is a no-no.
- More hobbies! Seriously, you really can’t go wrong with one-time classes: take dance lessons, enroll in an afternoon pottery-making session, learn trapeze-ing. We’re literally forgetting dozens of different things you can do.
- Games! Sometimes getting competitive can be a good thing. Go to a pool hall, find a bocce club, play shuffleboard. Fill up a bunch of water balloons and have a water balloon fight. Get creative.
- Picnic in the park! This is the time-tested bike date: a romantic afternoon, listening to the breeze through the leaves, getting to know one another. Wine, cheese, sliced apples and pears—blissful. It really is the quintessential bike date. Just be sure to bring actual picnic stuff—a blanket, maybe a pillow to lie back on when you get tired from sitting cross-legged, and wine glasses. A poorly planned picnic—that is, sitting in the dusty grass, drinking wine out of a bottle, and gnawing on a chuck of cheese—is depressing.
- We’ll finish off with a time-tested bike date formula: stop one place for drinks, one place for dinner, and then the park for a romantic walk. Perfect. Three dates in one.
As a general rule of thumb, if you live in an urban environment, you’ll have plenty of interesting and unique activities you can plan; if you live in a more rural place, you probably have access to some beautiful scenery, so enjoy it. Find a romantic spot, start talking about the favorite parts of your life and learn about each other, and watch the stars come out as the day ends. The best dates aren’t always flashy; the best dates are the ones where you come away with a real connection to another person.
Honestly, Don’t Worry About the Activity Too Much
Here’s the wonderful truth about dating: when it goes well, and you find somebody you click with, it doesn’t really matter the activity you’re engaged in.
Ever notice that when you really hit it off with a person, time flies, no matter what you’re doing? When you find someone you’re truly compatible with, you can be in a rainstorm / waiting on a line / standing in the subway, and you’ll find things to talk about. Fun times will always be fun, but ideally, you’re looking for someone who’s great to spend time with, even when things aren’t exciting.
The point is, don’t stress too much about what to actually do. Just choose a fun and interesting activity and go with it. If it’s meant to be, you two will hit it off and have a great time, regardless of the activities you’ve planned out. If not, that’s fine, too.
Some Other Advice We Learned the Hard Way
So, here are a few (quick) things you’ll also want to keep in mind:
Don’t Be Afraid to Ditch Your Plans
You’ve got a plan—great! But don’t be afraid to ditch it if something interesting pops up. That’s another beautiful thing about biking—you never really know what you’re going to come across. In a car or taxi or subway, you go from spot to spot; on a bike, you and your date will have many more experiences. Don’t let something magical go unexplored.
Be Aware That Biking… Can Bring Out Odd Dynamics Between People
This doesn’t always happen, but it’s worth mentioning: sometimes a voyage via bicycle brings out some weird interpersonal “stuff” between two people who are on a date. Some people don’t like to be led, and a bike date may put them in a “follower” role; other people get very competitive, and somehow turn a bike date into a race; others fall into engrained personal biking habits, like speeding up to make it through yellow lights, and that sort of thing. It seems weird, but it totally happens.
So, just, “be mindful.” If your partner seems uncomfortable, think back on Rule #1 of safe biking: “Take it easy, take it slow.” Be aware of your actions and that biking with a partner is a shared activity, and you both need to pay attention to each other.
Don’t Rent a Tandem Bike
If you’ve ever seen a couple cruising around town on a tandem bike, you may have thought, “Aw! Cute!” and made a mental note that tandem bike rides are a fun and romantic date idea. It makes sense—after all, what’s more romantic that two people, totally in sync, exploring the world together, and having adventures?
It’s actually not. It’s actually a bad idea. Tandem bikes are actually really hard to operate, and it takes a little while to learn how to ride them. And if you’re going out on the road with them and you don’t know what you’re doing, they can be dangerous. If, later on, you and your crush become a thing and you want to learn how to tandem, great! But for now, it may be wise to ski the tandem.
If You and Your Date Are Already Both Avid Cyclists…
In the city where we live, a crazy-high proportion of the young people living here already ride bikes. It’s part of the local culture, and it’s already kind of a given that both parties to a date are going to show up on bikes. Does that change anything we’ve written above? Nope! No matter how much you bike, a date-on-a-bike is inherently romantic. And if live in a biking city, the good news is, you’ll know your date will enjoy a bike date!
Grow Old Together
There you have it! You know all you need to know in order to have the best date of your life. Find your person, have a great bike date, and then grow old together. Good luck! We’re rooting for the two of you!