My husband/boyfriend is a cyclist and he wants me to get a bike so that we can ride together. I am not very good at cycling, or sports in general. What bike do you recommend? My husband/boyfriend sent me a link to your blog and said that you would know.
Nice. Notice that the phrasing is not "I would like to get a bicycle so that I can accompany my husband/boyfriend on rides," but that the desire and intent are attributed entirely to him. This is something he has probably been convincing her to do for a while, and finally he sent her to my website, as if to say "See? Other women can do it!" (Great way to make her hate me, fellows!)
Of course if he does succeed in convincing her to buy a bike and join him, I can already see how that will go. He: the man dressed like a professional racer on a $2,500 road bike. She: the woman in ill-fitting bike shorts, cotton tank-top and sneakers, on a $600 hybrid. He: stern and professorial, explaining the importance of proper cadence and posture in a tireless monologue. She: red in the face and panting, sneaking longing glances at the families picnicking on the grass. Eventually it ends in bickering and tears - or worse, a fall. I see this on the local trails all the time. Please, don't be that couple.
If you are a cyclist and want to share your favourite pastime with your spouse, that's fantastic. But please understand that in order for someone to enjoy cycling as much as you do, the interest must come from within - and that you are essentially killing any chance of that happening by pushing too strongly or making the person's first cycling experience too difficult and stressful.
So what should you do instead? Well, for starters don't try to be your spouse's teacher or mentor. Unless she has absolutely never pedaled a bike before, there is no need to "instruct" her, as tempting as that may be. Even if you think she is "doing it wrong", leave it. She did not sign up for a bicycle course; she just wants to have fun with you out in nature. Give her that, and she will associate cycling with the nice time she had - and therefore will want to do it again.
Also, even if you have been cycling since age 5 and can compete in timed half-centuries in your sleep, consider downplaying your prowess and adapting a "leisure cycle" mode. Don't kit up. If you have an old beater bike, ride that when you are together instead of your super-fast roadbike. I would even go so far as to suggest buying an old vintage upright-ish bike for yourself, to match the level of the bike your spouse will be riding. This will even out the playing field between the two of you and will make you less intimidating.
In general, I think that getting your spouse to cycle is not about what she should do to keep up with you, but about what you should do to make her comfortable with her current level of skill. If it's going to work, that's the only way. Only if she enjoys cycling, will she become motivated to improve her skills, and perhaps will even start asking you for advice - giving you plenty of opportunity to play "coach" when the time comes for it. But that initial enjoyment is key, and it is up to you to set things up in a way to make it happen. Think about it from that perspective, start slow, let her figure things out for herself... And perhaps before you know it, your special lady might delight you by becoming a bona fide obsessed cyclist, entirely on her own accord. She may even start a blog.