As Backroads leaders, my coworkers and I often get asked how we got into the sport of cycling. For me, it started with my dad. For as long as I can remember, my dad's been a cyclist. He and his biking buddies have been going out on Saturday morning rides at 7:30 a.m. since I was a little kid, when I patiently waited for him to get home and make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. He taught me how to ride a bike when I was five, and a lot of weekend afternoons were spent biking to the park or downtown to get ice cream with my mom and sister. Dad would tell us about the sixty-mile ride he'd done that morning and I couldn't even imagine what cycling for that long was like. It seemed impossible. And the hills! He climbed up zeniths on both his road bike and mountain bike. Anything steeper and longer than my driveway seemed like a big hill to me—I didn't know how he did it. To me, biking was his superpower.
Fast-forward to when I was hired to be a Backroads Trip Leader. I wasn't yet much of a cyclist; I was athletic, but I knew that I would have to amp up my cycling for the job.
I turned to my dad for help. He took me on a few training rides and showed me some routes that he'd been doing since I was little, normally tacked onto the end of a longer ride to add a few more miles. I rode in T-shirts and sneakers on my commuter bike, slowly realizing that ten miles could be easy; that twenty was doable; that four-mile hills might seem long, but if you take them slow and steady, you eventually get to the top. My dad biked with me, riding slower than his normal pace, but with lots of words of encouragement, extra water and Clif bars. I got stronger and more confident on my bike, until I felt ready for the upcoming trip-leading season.
These miles spent riding alongside each other, encouraging each other up the hills and talking about life, are memories I'll always treasure...
With my dad's help, I quickly grew to love being on a bike. I'm never the fastest rider out there but I happily go at my own pace, whether along familiar roads or while exploring new places. I can see a lot when I'm traveling on two wheels, and get a great workout at the same time!
It's fun to share my dad's passion for cycling--we bike together whenever I'm home visiting, and we talk about different rides we've experienced. Living in California, he shares the love I've developed for the incredible riding in the Wine Country (we both know it's about more than the wine, although that's pretty great too!). And he bikes the Santa Barbara century every year, which includes one of the most challenging climbs featured on our Santa Barbara trip.
He and my mom are about to experience their first Backroads trip in Provence, France, and I'm excited for them not only to get in some great riding but to learn more about what I do on a regular basis. My dad has mentioned that he's jealous of my job, and given his lifelong passion for cycling, I know he'd make a great Backroads leader.
I'm grateful for the time I've been able to share with my dad as we've biked together these past few years. These miles spent riding alongside each other, encouraging each other up the hills and talking about life, are memories I'll always treasure, and I look forward to many more miles—and memories!—ahead.