Andy Amick, founder of Pale Spruce, and I have had many good discussions via Twitter – we started chatting about guest posting and… Here we are! I’m happy to run Andy’s first piece for AthleteDad.com!
Saturday morning shop rides used to be a regular part of my athlete routine that would result in a long ride of at least 40 miles. Now, with two active boys? I make that Saturday morning shop ride about twice a year. The new routine of watching my kids play sports and seeing them grow up is great, but I do miss the regular rides.
Are you in the same boat struggling to find time for rides in your busy family schedule? For any parent, there is never enough time. Yep, we thought we were busy years ago before the kids were born, but we had no idea.
If you’re looking to keep active with your cycling while being a dad, you have a few options:
Option A) Wake up at 3AM and ride before the family gets up
Option B) Schedule one time a week for you to go on a long ride by yourself.
Option C) Incorporate your family into your riding so that you can be a dad and an athlete at the same time.
If you’re an option A person, then get out there an ride. You’re crazier than I am and require a lot less
sleep. Option B works great and everyone needs that personal time, but it still leaves 6 other days of the week where you want to ride.
That leaves option C for most of us and for most days. There are a variety of ways to combine your cycling and parenting. I’ll preface this by saying that these types of rides will not set any land speed records and will not count as tough training days. But you get to spend time with your kids and ride at the same time which is kind of a big deal.
AGES 1-4: Make the bike trailer your friend! Younger kids love the trailer and they also love to fall asleep on the way home if you ride around nap time. Ride to a park and let them play. Then take an extended ride home for some extra miles while they sleep. You can even extend the rides by packing your camping gear and heading to a local state park for an overnight trip. Grocery store trips are another highlight for younger kids. If lugging the kids around wasn’t hard enough, you can load up the trailer with another 30 pounds of groceries and work on your uphill power sprints.
AGES 4-9: At this age, kids can ride their own bike, but they may not be able to ride for very long. You can use a tag-a-long or a tandem for longer rides. My oldest son and I ride to school once a week with the tag-a-long and it’s the highlight of the week for me. Kids in this age range can ride for longer periods which will allow you to start exploring longer routes. Just be sure to include at least one snack stop or park stop to make sure they have fun off of the bike.
At the upper end of this age range, you can start doing local events with the tandem or tag-a-long. You won’t be at the front of the pack, but the fun meter will be pegged. A bonus for the kids is the fully stocked aid stations – the first time they see one there eyes will light up and they will probably eat their weight in snacks.
AGES 9+: My kids are not this old yet, but I do have memories of riding motorcycles with my dad at this age. Kids will want to become more independent and show that they can do more. No more trailers or tag-a-longs required. Make an effort to get out there and ride with them on your regular trails or road routes even if the pace is much slower to start. It won’t take long before they are riding faster and competing with you. Remember the first time you beat your dad in a game of basketball where he was really trying to win? Yes, it’s a big day for a teenager and they’ll push you to be better.
There you have it. A few ideas on keeping the athlete in you alive while being a dad. While they won’t get you in perfect shape for your races, they will let you combine two of the most important parts of your life. And yes, cycling can be one of the most important parts as long as it doesn’t come before your kids and family.
Andy Amick is a cycling nut, father of two boys, and started www.PaleSpruce.com to help cyclists be prepared when they ride. He is also training for his first marathon this fall.