Love, Marriage and the Bicycle
By Tara R. McKee
“The couple that exercises together stays together.” (The Schofield mantra)
For Jon and Leslie Schofield, their romance began on bicycles. “Our first date was a mountain bike ride,” Leslie remembers. It was on the mountain trails of Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah. The active life was part of who they were as individuals and as a couple. Mountain biking and running together was part of their courtship and something they continued to do together after they got married.
A marriage evolves and theirs was no different. Children came along and they juggled his full-time job, her part time job, and childcare responsibilities with their urge to continue a physically active life. So they divided things neatly to allow each to work out while the other watched the children. Leslie drew the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule and Jon had the other half of the week. Leslie’s bike spent more time in the garage as she put in her early morning time running. Jon ran and mountain biked and then he got a road bike and immersed himself in local competitive cycling with criteriums, long endurance races and triathlons.
It was during this era of their parallel training lives that Leslie began cycling with her neighbor Bev Ronnow, who was a very accomplished road cyclist and then Leslie competed in her first triathlon. Jon smiles as he remembers Leslie in the triathlon using her full-suspension mountain bike with slick tires: “She blew the competition away, passing people on their tri bikes with their aero bars.”
Soon after, she bought a road bike and she learned her road biking skills at the wheels of her friend Bev. When their oldest child was old enough to babysit, the couple would slip out of the house on the occasional weekend morning for a ride together. Jon was into competitive cycling at the time and he remembers those rides: “It was kind of good and bad for our cycling relationship. I would think ‘I’m not going fast enough. I’m not getting a good enough workout.’” He also realized that the training he was doing took a lot of time. Among the other responsibilities that divided their lives, these his-and-hers training schedules which included his hard core training for races meant they were spending a lot less time together.
Then they had an epiphany about their relationship: “About two years ago we realized we had a really good thing together and a passion for the bike,” Jon recalled. “To one extent I like getting a workout with my buddies, but then realize I’m missing out on the best relationship I had, (the one) with my wife. I had to evaluate: what’s more important: my family and my wife and our relationship or upgrading to the next racing level?”
That summer they put the intensity they had for training into their relationship. They used cycling to bring them together again. They trained for the Spudman Triathlon together. Leslie: “We had our whole schedule. We trained every single day together. We did all of it together: biking, running and swimming.”
Leslie is fast and competitive, but Jon is even faster on the bike. It took an adjustment to cycle together. Leslie explains their method: “On a flat it’s great if I can draft off him. Yet going up a hill, he’s obviously stronger than me. If he needs to do training, he will loop up and around and do a couple intervals then come back with me.”
Working out together has many rewards, a stronger marital relationship and a few unexpected bonuses. They raced in LOTOJA (The 206 mile Logan to Jackson race) later that season as a two-person relay team and Jon still remembers it as “one of the most fun racing experiences I’ve had as a team.” Leslie adds, “We took ‘second place’ and the next year we took ‘third’ but improved by 21 minutes. It was intense…so fun. Maybe we should do it again, Jon!”
They have a new balance for working out now. Jon doesn’t care as much about being so competitive anymore yet he does get out occasionally for a hard ride on his own or with friends especially during the winter or in the dark when Leslie prefers running to cycling. “We have felt in our own minds that we don’t need to be quite so competitive, we can find a balance and just do it for fun and still enjoy it and ride together more recreationally.”
On Sunday mornings in the summer they have a new tradition. They leave the house just as it begins to get light and they ride up one of the mountain canyons to a ski resort for a breakfast of pancakes or French toast which they enjoy while sitting at an outdoor table in the fresh mountain air. Sometimes they are joined on the ride by other couples. Leslie’s face lights up as she talks about it: “We tell the kids we may be a little later. It’s just a date in the morning. I love that.”