Women's Wednesday - A Mom's joy and balance of cycling

Author: Kim Gilbert

Cyclocross Sessions with Amy Dombroski

Like cross but want some tips from
the pros and ride with other ladies. Check out
Amy's summer cross sessions

By Kim Gilbert

Does this sound familiar? Cycling can be a time consuming sport/activity and trying to balance it with a family can be challenging but we improvise and make it happen. Dads, moms, partners, we all make it happen. Thanks Kim for sharing!

The morning begins, with me hollering “get your shoes, we gotta get out of here” to my five and seven year old. It’s Saturday about ten o’clock, and it’s already 80 degrees. Two kids’ bikes are in the back of the car
and my cyclocross bike is on the roof. I have three cans of sunscreen, four water bottles, Goldfish, helmets, shoes, extra clothes, and a set of portable barriers. We’re goin’ to the park.

When my kids were two and three, I visited every playground in a fifteen- mile radius of my house. We were always on the lookout for the longest slide, the biggest sandbox, and the highest climbing wall. I came to know the terrain of each one, intimately, chasing the kids around, so they wouldn’t consume too many rocks or discarded bottle caps.  I realized that there would come a day where they could play on the equipment without a full-time spotter, and I would become one of those parents who lounged on a park bench and let them explore without the fear they would choke.

Last fall I decided I would take my eight-month-old cyclocross bike to a race. The race I chose was the “women-only” Queens of Cross in Golden, CO. The week before I had watched a few YouTube videos to learn how to mount
and dismount my bike. I tried it a few times before the race, and I knew if worse came to worse, I could stop my bike before a barrier and get off the old fashioned way. If I looked like a beginner, I was racing in a beginner category.

I nearly chickened out the morning of the race. Come on, it’s cyclocross, there’s, like, 200 races a season, I kept telling myself as I pulled into the parking lot. My stubbornness prevailed over my fear, and I registered for the race. The field was pretty big, about 30-40 Newbies, and I stood there with a group of women who were as freaked out and amped as me. Kids screamed, “Go, Mommy!” from the sidelines, while being restrained by dads. The ref
went over the rules and told us to get ready. The barriers were a joke, but I did successfully clear all of them. I reveled in the course and the dust and the spectators. It was a blast, and it was addicting. I came in ninth.

I went on to do twelve more races that fall; some were incredibly fun, others were painfests, but all made me want to race again the following weekend. Now it’s a year later, and I’m preparing for a second season. I knew my
barrier skills needed work, especially after trying to get over some in snow and ice and mud. So with the help of my boyfriend, we built some PVC barriers.

It’s back to the park, but I’m not looking for the ideal bench under a tree to observe my two devilish children; I’m looking for the park that has a sand volleyball court, a hard-packed baseball diamond, a soccer field, several picnic tables, a run-up, and a state-of-the-art playground. The kids help to unpack the car, grabbing snacks and water bottles, bikes and helmets, one tries to lug the barriers’ bag, while I take down my bike and suit up.
We look like a traveling circus, all we need is a tent.

The kids tear around on their bikes, and I dump the PVC on the ground and assemble the barriers. Their bikes get ditched next to a picnic table as they discover the playground has a piece of equipment that will make them vomit. I
look around, picking the course I plan to “race” on for the next hour, only stopping to check in on the kids and grab a drink of water every fifteen minutes. I can hear and see them the whole time, but we are all playing at
the park!

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1 Comment

Worth the work and the smiles!

Loved this, Kim. Very familiar! And it was great to see your fast face in the picture. We raced together often. Glad you didn't chicken out. That feeling is also very familiar. It's a lot of work to tote it all to the race with kids. Always lovely to see someone else out there doing the same. :)