Parents, Let your kids grow up to be bike racers.

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I’ve been back to Kansas for just a little over a day and already am back into trying to finish up some projects that I left in the middle of. I’m not much of one to let a project stop in mid-stream. I think that comes from my early days racing.

I have parents ask me all the time if I think it is okay that they encourage their children to race, or not race, depending on their personal views. I give them all the same answer.

Learning to allocate your time when you are young is a very valuable lesson. And when you’re trying to become a cyclist, no matter what your genetic gifts are, it takes a ton of time to do it, more time than is in a day or a week. So when a kid jumps into the sport headfirst, he or she instantly has made a commitment to forgo all the other stuff. Some of that other stuff is good for learning, but a lot of it is the stuff that parents worry about, the bad stuff.

Nearly all the young people I’ve had the pleasure to watch grow up, in the sport, are very regimented and responsible. At least compared to their peers of the same age. That is one of the aspects of the sport that stay with you no matter where it takes you. It is super valuable and a hard thing for young people to attain.

Right now it is taking me back out into the driveway to mess with exhaust on the Isuzu Trooper some. Right about now I wish I would have grown up to be a veterinarian.

New brakes on the rear was the project yesterday.

6 thoughts on “Parents, Let your kids grow up to be bike racers.

  1. Bill Laudien

    I have 3 athletic kids. I’d let them race if they had an interest, but I wouldn’t encourage them to race.

    I think road racing is ultimately an unhealthy time suck and provides far less opportunities for someone with elite athletic potential.

    The exception would be if cyclocross were a bigger sport and had a youth program. I might also make an exception if all racing up until age 17 was restricted to time trialing or track racing.

  2. Just Crusty

    I think the parent’s behavior (with respect to athleticism) is the strongest influence on kids. Kids who see their parents exercising regularly (swimming, running, cycling, whatever) as a way of life seem to be inclined to incorporate physical activity into their daily life. In the past, I’ve taught mountain biking skills to young kids and, while most few move on to other activities later, the ones that have become most proficient (a couple have become state champions) are simply following their parent’s behavior patterns.

  3. Nick Hand

    As a coach of high level gymnasts, and a die hard cycling fan, I would say that any elite athletics is good for kids. At least those that can make it. Putting all that time into sport helps them learn how to budget time and prioritize what must be done over what you want to do. My athletes train a minimum of 20 hours a week. It can make it hard to have what some would call a “normal” life. But I loved living that life as an elite gymnast and I turned out just great.
    Steve, I think you are right. Kids that want to race and be good have to learn how to make things work. And it is a great lesson to learn that as adults we use all the time.

  4. Bill K

    It’s a fantastic sport, for kids, but so damn expensive now. Back in the 80’s you could pick up real cheap used steel frames every year or so, as the kid grew. When he crashed, you’d just lace up a new rim to the crunched wheel.
    I’m so glad that I don’t have young kids now.

  5. Jim D

    My name is Jim Dirksen and I lost my 19 year old son to a auto accident 9/9/12. I am dealing with everything that goes with this sort of thing, all the pain and questions. Don’t ever wonder about giving your kid the choice to do something to do athletic.

  6. channel_zero

    I agree with Bill at the top. The competition format at USAC is not good for many kids. I’d like to see something pretty backwards in the sense of tracking the rider’s own times and no ranked results. It will get the same results later for the 1/1000 who stick with it.

    I’ve got an athletic kid and there’s no doubt the focus and goal setting does them good to a certain extent. For example, working on acquiring skills and setting goals, NOT competition.

    There’s no doubt some kids like the competition. Not only is there plenty of time for that, but ‘winning’ doesn’t teach a very broad audience.


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