Since my daughter doesn’t spend Christmas with me, I often slack or completely just pass on participating in the holidays. This year, I didn’t purchase a single gift until Christmas day, when I ordered a new mountain bike for my daughter. And today marks my second gift purchase, a year subscription to Road Bike Action for my dad (my mom’s gift is next up, I figured the 14-16 weeks to deliver on the magazine gave me some lead time).
I have written a few blogs in which I talk about my dad: he taught me to ride a bike at 5, bought me my first road bike at 32, and taught my daughter to ride at age 8. In a strange way, cycling has been a building block in our relationship, and has been a continued source for our bonding through my transition from child to adult.
To start, while I refer to him as my dad, he is actually my stepdad. He met my mom when I was four and has been the constant father figure in my life since. I owe me being on a bike to him, while my mom has nothing against cycling, I am sure my stubbornness and toddler era tantrums would have deterred her from trying to teach me (I was a really difficult child). Not only did he teach me to ride a bike, he also taught me to ski, another thing I never would have learned without him. He brought athleticism into our home that I don’t believe would have been present otherwise. In winter there were always skis littering our entryway, in summer, bikes piled up in the shed, and later on, the garage. My dad’s almost manic love for sports has been a trial for my mom at times, but we also acknowledge it has been a saving grace in his life and our relationship. My dad is a recovering alcoholic, five plus years sober now, and that is in a big part due to his love of cycling.
During my teen years, we had a difficult relationship and were not close at all. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that we began to rebuild some of the damage we both did to our relationship during that time. My dad’s love for my daughter is amazing, and made me see him in a new light. It is why I opened myself up to the idea of riding with him. He was the first person I rode with after I got Zelda (my beloved Trek 200 for new readers).
Neither of us are big on emotions or sharing, my mom often says it’s amazing we aren’t related by blood, as similar as we are. Cycling was the perfect way for us to spend time together. Our first ride together took us up out of town towards Telluride for 7 miles. As we began the initial ascent out of town, he guided me on shifting for hills, and keeping cadence. We chatted on and off in brief sentences on the flats, but mostly just rode together, enjoying a shared silence. As we reached the turnoff that marked our turnaround, he took a minute to advise me on how to descend, body positioning and how to shift weight to make turns safely. I had been on his wheel for most of the ascent but he quickly left me in the dust on the way down, reminding me that he’s kind of a badass, even for an old guy. I caught up to him and we rode the rest of the way down and were greeted by my (slightly anxious) mom. And we have continued to ride together often since that day. He is my biggest source of encouragement, and every time I finish a ride or race, I look forward to sharing it with him. My mom and I are close, she is and always will be one of my best friends, but this has been the first thing that has brought me and my dad together.
I have a lot of regrets about not starting cycling earlier in life, and this is one of the reasons why. But I have to keep telling myself its better late than never. Maybe I needed to be here at this point in my life to appreciate what it has to offer me, and what it is bringing in my life. I do know that I wouldn’t trade what I have now in my life for anything in the world. And I look forward to seeing what other great things cycling will continue to bring into my life.
On a funny side note, we are a family divided in the above picture. He is in his Primal Wear jersey, purchased with the gift certificate I won as 2nd Fastest Female Mechanic at Bike New York. I am , as always, in Hincapie Sports. Both have some funny back stories, so stay tuned…..