Along for the ride: one family's cycling story
Find out how our whole family has been taken along for the ride, as we've discovered the world of cycling through our daughter's passion for the sport.
If you had of asked me a year ago if we’d ever be a cycling family, I probably would have laughed and then firmly replied, no. Sure, we all had bikes, but they mostly sat languishing in the garage, with riding a bit of a chore, not something done for pleasure.
We certainly weren’t those people who wore lycra and tiny little gloves, or had those click click shoes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We weren’t even those people who owned a bike pump. Compulsory wearing of helmets were about as far into bike safety as we got.
Yet, these days on a Wednesday night, you’ll find us down at the local velodrome track, watching as our daughter rides round and round in circles for hours on end, as she trains for the upcoming summer cycling race series.
To be clear, while she’s the only one that wears the lycra and the click click shoes (or cleats as they’re really called), riding has become something of a family activity; her dedication to the sport inspiring even our extended family to get involved.
My husband and I share the training duties each week, taking it in turns to stand out in the cold over winter, as the kids train hard on the velodrome for hours on end under the watchful eye of their coach.
This always seems to have an element of parental involvement, as we catch small children on fast bikes without brakes (yeah, those track bikes have no brakes – terrifying), or help them take off from the top of the track, watching as they swoop down to take their place in the pace line.
It turns out if your feet are clicked into your pedals, your mobility is somewhat limited, and parent help is often critical to prevent injuries.
My dad has taken on the role of Chief Mechanical Engineer, making sure the bikes (and yes there are two, one for track and one for road) are in top condition. This seems to involve watching a lot of YouTube videos, discussing the pros and cons of various gear systems with my daughter at length, ordering parts on eBay and a small amount of swearing.
My uncle and cousin have stepped in as Official Training Partners, accompanying her on the long beach road rides that she does on Sunday mornings; challenging her speed and teaching her invaluable road skills, while I take the easier route of walking the dog, sipping coffee and waiting for their return.
My mum is acting as Head Nutritional Consultant; her slight obsession with all things healthy eating is being put to good use, as she encourages my daughter to eat more veggies and ditch the packet biscuits in exchange for fruit. It’s not always working, but I have to admire her enthusiasm.
Most weekends, and often after school as well, you’ll find at least one of us outside; riding, walking or sometimes even scootering (yes, grown-ups can ride scooters too), alongside her as she goes through her paces in our suburban streets.
She’s found a real love for cycling, which is amazing in itself. It’s given her confidence, fitness and a sense of teamwork. But for us as a family, the benefit goes further; we’re more active, we’re spending time together and we’re all learning to appreciate a new sport.
You could say that the whole family has come along for the ride… although I don’t think I’ll be volunteering to wear lycra any time soon.