Coffee Talk - Does Being a Parent Make You a Better Racer?

Tuesday Coffee Talk allows all of us to engage in community related topics and share your 2 cents worth

Yesterday the Daily Camera ran a story on how local cyclocross star Kristin Weber balances family, work and racing and she does it very successfully too:

"After having my babies, I remember being like 'What am I going to do for myself?'" she said. "After giving and giving and giving, after years of being pregnant and you're so in demand in the years of being a new mother, it was a nice refocus for me. It's a much more manageable sport to get into."

As a small business owner, she works from a home office, so she can take off in the middle of the day for training. Her kids also like riding and ringing their cowbells at races, which helps, she added.

"I'm very grateful to represent the working moms," Kristin Weber said. "A lot of the women at the elite level have children, and it's inspiring."

Her husband, David, agrees, "Balancing a regular eight-to-five job, having kids and then racing is a completely different story," David Weber said. "And there's a lot of people who do it quite well in Boulder."

Interestingly, Kristin's story is not rare, we have plenty of other examples as well, some who stand on the highest podium like Nicole Duke, who has had her best racing successes after having kids. Another example is Kristin Armstrong, who retired from racing in 2009 and had her son in 2010. She ended her retirement in 2011 and went on to win a second Gold Medal at this summer's London Olympics.

This phenomenon is not limited to women. After his son was born in 2010, Tom Danielson took 9th place in the Tour de France in 2011 and this year after the birth of his daughter, Tom won a stage of the USPCC and clinched the overall "Most Agressive Rider" jersey. Other local examples are Pete Weber and Brandon Dwight, who remain at the top of cyclocross while being dads too.

So why do we see so many racers holding children while standing on the podium? Is it because being parents makes them more mature and disciplined, resulting is smarter and more efficient training and racing? Is it because they are now racing for something bigger than themselves? Or is it a simple correlation between the fact that endurance athletes often peak later, which happens to coincide at a time in their lives when they want to start families? What's your two cents, does being a parent make you a better racer?

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8 Comments

Good point

Your post made me laugh, but it has a ring of truth to it. Let's face it, parenting can be very stressful. But stress is great fuel for training and racing and after you "work it all out" on the bike, you probably return home as a calmer and more focused parent.

There is a balance

After having 3 boys the bike racing gig began less of priority. Training and getting to races is about as predictable as a miracle and just needs to be flexible with family duties. After a quick training session or cross race my patience and thus parenting seems to go much smoother.

no

Being a parent doesn't make you a better racer. That is wishful thinking. It isn't impossible to be a good parent and be a successful racer, but the two things will always be at odds with each other because both of them want as much time as you will give them and then some.

I race a lot, I do okay, I have two kids and a wife and a job. Balancing all of those is the most delicate dance I know of. It only takes a slight breeze to knock over my carefully constructed house of cards.

Bravo to anyone who strikes the balance. The rewards are worth the effort.

Being old(er) makes you a better cyclocross racer

Some cyclocross racing skills (riding in the mud with bike wash/pits, for example) are best developed in a real race situation. The folks with many seasons under the belt are benefiting from the lessons learned from a larger # of races. Cross is not a hill climb where you line up and let the man with the best w/kg win. It is a complete skill set that goes beyond "motor size". I think for the pure road stuff, it is better to be single so you can go ride all day on the weekends.

Personally I like the idea that by spending 5-6 hrs a week exercising my kids get a better dad for the other hours we are together. Also, the odds of kicking it at 60 yrs old due to a lifetime of unhealthy behavior are much lower. So they get a happy dad who is going to have a long, energetic life.

Why have kids?

I guess I grew up fortunate enough that my parents lived for their children and not for themselves. My parents were the ones going to my sporting events growing up and cheering me on, not the other way around. I can't imagine these kids are having fun spending their time standing around and ringing cow bells in their free time.

I can understand pro riders with kids who get paid and do this for a living, but these amatuer cyclits/parents who choose to race and train over spending time with their kids may want to re-think their priorities. Perhaps we should ask the kids what they think about it?

Brilliant

Yes, once you have kids, you can no longer do anything for yourself. You must devote every waking minute that is not spent working to your children. They are the center of the universe and should know it. Nor could they take any inspiration from their parents participating in sport.

This is a deep comment... I

This is a deep comment... I have children and they love to see Dad out there going at it. Curious as to what you mean?

When they are much older and get ready to take on organized individual and team sports, I'll be there to support them as they somewhat support me. Healthy activities promote healthy lifestyles. It's pretty simple.

"Perhaps we should ask the kids what they think about it?" If you are a parent asking that question, then you should likely rethink some things. If you are not a parent asking that question, then I'll dismiss it as... well... you just don't know what you meant by that statement.

See you at the races. Kids in tow!