Friday Night Lights

Racing at the Marymoor velodrome

Took my 2-yr-old son to the last of the Marymoor Velodrome summer series races tonight. He rode his tricycle up to watch from the top of high-bank turn and sat there, transfixed. It was a perfect late summer evening– dry and warm, with a lingering sunset. The Cat 1&2 races were fast and precise, and the two-wheeled machines looked perfect in the purity of the track form.

As we left, I asked my son if he had fun. He responded, redirecting the conversation as only a toddler can…

ME: “Did you like the races and the fast bikes?”
SON: “You ride your bike fast!”
ME: “That’s right, sometimes I ride fast too. I push hard on the pedals and go fast.”
SON: “Push on the pedals and go FAST! Push on the pedals and go FAST! ”

I believe my work here is done. The kid is going to be fine.

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66 Replies to “Friday Night Lights”

  1. Great post Jim, thank you. I agree that he’ll be just fine.

    I regularly take my 2 year old son on rides. It is some of the best times we have together as father and son and I’m sure will be some of my fondest memories later in life.

    When Sam first started talking well enough he could never just say bicycle, he had to always say “bicycle-ride-it”. For every bike he saw, ours or another, whether being ridden or just sitting, he would always shout out “Daddy – Bicyclerideit!”

    My first inclination was to correct him to just say bicycle or bike, but then realized that when he sees a bicycle, all he thinks is “ride it!”, and why would I want to do anything to curb that impulse?

    So he still says it, and now when I’m driving down the road and see bike I can’t help but say to myself “Bicyclerideit”.

    The simple wisdom of kids never ceases to amaze me.

  2. When I race, I go with my daughters. Before the race, they do not want to attend, but, at the end, they always enjoy the race.

  3. Noice. That’s a nice looking track. Tracks have a lovely family vibe, with 2 things that a lot of other cycling lacks – down time between races and proximity.

  4. Nice one. You are lucky to have a cool outdoor track in Seattle and lucky to have a son to bring to it. I hope they have a tricycle night for the youth.
    Shouldn’t you Seattle velominati lads be racing on that track instead of fooling around with cyclocross? Crush the few hipsters that dare to venture out on the banking, and the road rash from the cement would be awesome.

  5. @Il buccaneero
    He already knows Rule #4 isn’t that all he needs?

    Nice one Jim. I used to put my little guy in his seat on the back of the mountain bike and do hill repeats while he napped, head in helmet lolling around, he always woke refreshed and happy. The guns were awesome that year!

  6. Awesome!

    Possibly the best thing about all of this is the simple joy of turning the cranks.

    Was coming in from walking the dog with the VHM last night as I spotted a cyclist flying down the hill a block over.

    Me: “Boy, that makes me jealous!”
    VMH: “What, that guy riding? Why? You already rode today.”
    Me: “I know, but that guy was going fast, and it looked fun!”

  7. Jimmy, Grahamcracker has already figured out what it took Faboo a lifetime to work out: Put it in a gear less, and go steady up with more speed. Aswesomeness. Now just make sure you have regular Rule #5 talks so that gets ingrained and becomes second-nature, and you’ll be all set.

    I love the idea of exposing a kid to cycling at such an early age. The ultimate in La Vie Velominatus; start young and don’t stop until you take your dirt nap. A few years back, we were in San Sebastian and this little girl was riding lap after lap after lap around this enormous fountain while her dad watched. She was really booking and was so obviously in love with the feeling of being on a bike and going fast. So cool.

    I’ve also got a picture somewhere of the neighbor kid’s scoot parked at a tree with his helmet stored in perfect Rule #74 goodness. To be fair, I taught him how to do it, but what was so cool about it is that I had taught him a while ago and he was doing on his own at this point.

    No such thing as starting too young. I’ll try to find the picture of it.

  8. Here’s the little scoot with the helmet. The helmet is dangerously close to being a violation for having an almost-visor, but he gets off on account of being about 2 years old and Giro doesn’t really make any Rule-compliant helmets for kids. The pink flames are pretty damn sweet, though.

  9. We had less than 100 riders for our downtown crit but over 200 kids for the kids race. I hope that is a sign of things to come.

  10. It’s cool to see kids get into the sport. But I’ll leave it to the breaders to take care of it. Nice pictures Frank.

  11. Track cycling rules! But I couldn’t find any article in your archive about it.

  12. Nice post Jim!
    I’ve posted a similar photo before, but my 4y/o did his first ‘kiddy kilo’ a few months back. It was 2 laps around a 1K circuit. We hollered at him to stop at 1 (’cause it seemed quite a ways for him), but he yelled back “I’m still going!”.

    He even had a podium girl (and not even his mom!)
    He also rides and cleans his bike most every day.

  13. @scaler911
    Awesome work @Scaler911.
    I love including my kids in riding. I love how mine have taken to riding singletrack like it’s no big deal. Just buying my eldest her first proper mtb with 20″ wheels. Can’t wait to see what the coming years bring riding wise with them.

  14. @scaler911
    Wucked eh bro! Want to give you grief (sure sure, that’s your ‘son’, admit it you’re a tiny tiny person) or it may be family resemblance.


    Great photo. That looks enormous and steep.

  15. You all are outing me. I’ve waffled about track long enough, and I thought JiPM had got the jump on me. I have to do a guest article now.

  16. Totally sweet. I can still remember my first proper ride with my old man. He’d left me to ride around with my chums in a park for a few months to get up to scratch. One evening he turned up just as I was about to go home and told me we were heading out on the roads. It was like a whole new world opening up.

  17. Great stuff chaps, good to see the kiddy love going on – thank Merckx my two have just got obsessed in the last month or so, as I thought it would never happen (6 and 8 yoa, better late then never) – from anxiety, straight to refusing to wear a helmo and cranking round blind corners, now the anxiety is for me to suffer!

    Lesson one – cycle in front of them – my daughter, inherently a show off, kept looking over her shoulder to tell us how fast she was going – I told her to keep looking a head, then thought, quick, get in front – too late, she lifted out of the saddle and buried it – and sadly herself – face first onto the tarmac – didn’t put her off, and now big brither struggles to keep up – great to see them at it – now at our caravan park (no not Trailer Park) it is not cool to walk anywhere, so the bikes and scooters have taken over the shoes as #1 mode of transport – vive la velo!

    Great to see the big growth in our club cadet rides (9-15) – they ride small front cogs (or disconnect the FD cable) to keep the speed down – fantastic in a scary parental sort of way – though I hope learning in group rides with a club will keep them safer longerterm

  18. Inspiring stuff, friends. Makes me want to run out and get a kid..or a track bike. I think I’ll go with the track bike first, see how that goes…

  19. @Dr C
    Somewhere under a mountain in Colorado, the Department of Homeland Security has put a “persons of interest” watch on alias “Dr C” for his reference to “kiddy love” and alias “drsoul” for his apparent plan to kidnap a child.
    What is it with you doctors?

  20. @Dr C
    Right on.
    Great to hear racing for kids is alive and well where you are as well.
    It seems to be a bit different here in Aus. We still have heaps of fantastic kids racing locally both on road, mountain biking and cyclo cross. It just seems a little less structured somehow.
    I shouldn’t cast aspersions on it though as it seems that the talent has no difficulty getting into the big leagues.

  21. Got the kid her first “legit” bike (i.e., 20″ wheels, training wheels not even an option) back in the Spring. Was so much fun watching her zip in and around the islands of the church parking lot across the street – and then teaching her to raise her inside pedal when cornering (so many close calls on pedal strikes). Finally getting her first wreck out of the way too – not something you want to happen but just knowing the inevitability of it and wanting it to be not too bad. Now she’s convinced that she’s faster than her mother and me.

    Going to gauge her interest in doing some Lil Belgians races during CX season though I don’t envy her if she has to lift that beast over any barriers (nor do I really envy myself. Not sure I want to expose her to daddy getting waxed in his race week in and out).

  22. @brian
    isn’t it just a whole new level of feeling shit about yourself, when you put your beautiful little daughter, who seems only recently to have learnt to walk, on a bike – driven yourself mad trying to get her to go fast enough for you to be able to let go before your bottom vertebrae collapse, and then watch her face plant on the street…..

  23. Frig me, that reminds me of the time I tied a rope to the front post of my then 5 yr old son’s scooter, to help pull him up our steep driveway – then as he hit mach 2 going back down the hill I couldn’t keep up and the rope, which I had safely wrapped around my wrist, went taught, resulting in my first born face planting the cobbles too

    Jesus I’m a bad father

  24. @Dr C
    She got her 2-wheel shit together on her first bike (16″ wheels, I think, anyway the smallest size that had pedals). What was tough was getting her to realize that she could do it – that she was more than capable. But yeah, that screaming lower back pain. The thing now is the confidence doesn’t match the handling. She’s screaming along on those big wheels leaning into corners and tempting that fates on Rule #64. It’s terrifying and exhilarating to watch (“stop looking at me, watch where you’re going!”)

  25. @brian
    such an intrinsic feature of humanity, that history will always repeat itself….

    chapeau for watching, I just scream now and look away

  26. @Dr C

    Frig me, that reminds me of the time I tied a rope to the front post of my then 5 yr old son’s scooter, to help pull him up our steep driveway – then as he hit mach 2 going back down the hill I couldn’t keep up and the rope, which I had safely wrapped around my wrist, went taught, resulting in my first born face planting the cobbles too
    Jesus I’m a bad father

    I recommend a track bike. Probably get an even trade, yes?

  27. @seemunkee

    Is that a Petzl climbing helmet? You getting the little dude out on the rocks too?

    He loves climbing. As do I. Goes to the rock gym quite a bit in the winter, and we do some top-roping outdoors. I let him take a cam or two and a couple nuts and he places them a lot better than some of my climbing partners.

  28. Cool post. I’ve had the family out to Marymoor a few times to watch the track races. Nice place.

    Seeing and/or riding with kids is huge fun and the future of our sport. Like a digital wallet with cascading pictures of your kids, I blabber about it constantly on my fluffy blog. My son, now 12 years old, has ridden with me for a few years now. He also races mountain bikes and cyclocross. It’s been fantastic sharing the two wheeled time and watching him progress as a rider.

    Seeing my son and other kids get the riding/racing bug is awe inspiring and just a kick in ass. Pics of him in action and other bike fluff here:

    Picture below is a neighbor of ours, all of 7 years old, going for the gold – on a shoddy jump constructed in my front yard. This is where it all starts…

  29. I’ve really enjoied the photos (and the comments) of this post,
    thank you.

  30. A great article and something that I am greatful to be able to do here in the UK. There are lots of opportunities for my daughter to watch and learn about cycling here and it is great to my hear my daughter shouting out “Green go green go!” as the riders begin to slow. Having learned that Red traffic light means stop and Green means go she uses this when wanting to tell daddy to hurry the hell up and lay down some V.

    Here she is at 18 months testing out the first trike in the living room.

    You may well notice she has already discarded the bidon in a bid to reduce weight before cycling up the stairs. She pushed it up four before mum told me to stop her so we will have to call that an abandoned attempt for now.

  31. Start ’em right and this is where it ends up, son and I about 6 years ago after doing a century ride

    Pleae ignore all the rules violations. I was young(er) and ignorant.

  32. Found my youngest (6yrs) looking through one of my bike magazines last night before his bedtime. “Is that a time racing bike, daddy?” “Yep, it’s a time trial bike” “that’s what I said, daddy, can we do spot the difference between that and a bike like yours”

    They’re not big enough for road bikes but they love cycling, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a big loop round a local reservoir, an afternoon at the BMX track or just belting up and down the garden.

  33. While we’re showing off our kids, here’s my youngest son Bodhi out training a few years ago.

  34. Ladies and Gentlemen – a study in the rules. Next time you consider any violation please reflect on this photo. A five year old (? guesstimate?) is taking you to school.

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