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November 18, 2017
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  • jules

    Coke zero isn’t that healthy :)

    • Adam Fuller

      Yep, probably better off with a good beer.

  • Deryck Walker

    Great article.

    Staying well both physically and mentally is very important, but the reality is once you have kids, they are the most important thing in your life so whatever your training expectations are pre kids, its not out of the ballpark to reduce that by at least 70% post kids.

    I found my pre-kids 10 – 12 hour riding/training week quickly turned in to 2 – 3 hours post kids, and thats ok. I have periods of envy when I see my non-parent cycling mates smashing a 14 hour week and I mightn’t have ridden at all. I started a strava club for cyclist dads who dream of riding a handful of hours a week. A place where we can support each other and aim for at least some riding time and mediocre performance as a team, come join! https://www.strava.com/clubs/dadlyf

  • Kath Tate

    It’s even harder when you are a female. And then you get comments like I have had on the start line of a race: ‘If you’re here who is looking after your children?’ No sexism in cycling right?

    • jules

      That’s not fair. Blokes get asked who is babysitting their children too ;)

      • Kath Tate

        On the start line of a race? Surrounded by men who are parents? Can’t see that would even happen to a guy, safety in numbers (-: I’m not saying every guy would ask though…….often the reason more women aren’t racing is because they are at home with the kids.

        • jules

          sorry that was attempted satire, riffing on blokes babysitting their own kids. I made it up.

          • Spider

            Yeah, I got the joke, and it always makes me laugh when men refer to parenting their own children as ‘babysitting’, ‘sorry Rod, can’t do Saturday, I’m babysitting’….no…you’re actually just staying home with your family!

    • jules

      just to be clear and serious – that comment you received offends me too

      • Spider

        and if it’s a start line….does that mean that the question is being asked that by other women standing at the start line?

    • Andy B

      There are ass holes in all walks of life unfortunately!

    • disqus_DQs58GYmH4

      I would also beg to make this article “parenthood” instead of specifically fathers. Who can forget Kristin Armstrong in the Olympics being greeted by her son as she crossed the finish line to win gold??

      • We discussed that exact issue, but Nathan was clearly writing from a father’s perspective and so that’s what we went with. For a whole bunch of pieces about cycling and motherhood, check out the links below the piece.

    • Steve S

      >>> ‘If you’re here who is looking after your children?’

      After you’ve struggled to juggle training with all the other commitments parenthood brings, that must be a real windup.

  • OverIt

    I think you’ve raised many valid points and seem to have struck a decent balance, (but there’s no mention of your partners regime), but I’d “warn” you that if you think the first year is going ok, you will have LESS time in future, as when they aren’t sleeping as long and they become little people you will need to sacrifice more as they become engaged with parents and the world around them. :)

    Parents should be under no illusion about the level of responsibility they undertake when parenthood is being planned and then realizes. It is THE most important “job” you will ever undertake, and my theory is that NOTHING should take time away from your opportunity/responsibility to parent your children YOURSELF when you are together with them.

    I’ve never been or had much interest in being a competitive sportsperson, so I’ve never had to deal with the “loss” of competition, nor deal with the training demands, and maybe I’m “lucky” in this respect as I’ve nothing to “lose” as such. So in my cycling world the changes have not been so drastic. Prior to kids after getting into cycling as fitness at a higher level I would commute and ride on weekends, as well as 3-4 gym sessions. After kids, daily I commute early for 45 minutes (5am for 6am work start) to allow me to do the pickup at 3.30, then it’s my responsibility to entertain and prepare meals for 5.30-6 when my wife is home, (she’s dropping off remember) and we ALL eat dinner together, Then it’s more entertaining or learning/reading before bed at 7.30 when it’s bed time for the little guy. And to get my 8 hours sleep I need to hit the pillow by 8.30 myself so that’s under an hour each night to talk to wifey not train more. We both alternate x2 gym sessions each midweek in that window after dinner as well, (your cycling and health mustn’t be a priority over your partners!!). But we’re always both there to say good night to everyone. There is no more time to train alone here really. Sitting on a trainer at home while family is in another room is not parenting at not an option for me.

    Weekends, we all go to gym and alternate a session early Saturday with shopping mixed in, (theory is that exposing junior to gym and rides home from school is a good thing), I meet them back at home via bike to sneak in another 45 mins, (guess who can’t wait for me to get home?). I don’t really do long weekend rides, as that’s time away from my parental responsibilities. I work on my own bikes, and try to get son to observe and help with some of this as well. (that’s for many jobs about the house really). Sunday is family time, whatever that might be. Not me out for 4-5 hour rides with wife and child home waiting for my return.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory in thinking you’re getting kudos or “banking” time by doing jobs about the house alone or letting the wife do her thing so you can ride more, when you’re actually removing yourself from the scene. Do our children agree with this?

    So this is all with only 1 child aged 5 who hasn’t started his own extracurricular activities. Seriously, if you have 2-3 or more, my theory is to forget all about being an elite athlete or highly fit. There simply isn’t time in the day to do your training and parent them, and if you think there is then I believe your kids & partner are missing out. I know this POV may grate with some, but it’s my view.

    What I do think is possible for those with a few children aged say 0 -> 16’ish (after that I think they become less reliant on you), is that is possible to maintain an above average level of fitness via short rides and some gym and eating and living well.

    Many might argue that we all need our “own time” as well, and I get this I believe. I’m just making myself available as much as possible to those that matter most.

    Safe riding parents, :)

    • Jonathan.

      Well said. As everyone keeps telling me, your kids are only little once: I intend to spend as much time with them as I can.
      I’ve got a 3 and a 5 year old, and with mine and my wife’s work schedules and preschool/care pickups I’m lucky to get 1 day commuting a week, and then by the weekend I’m knackered and can’t drag myself out of bed for a pre-brekky ride. I still manage to get out for a decent long ride out in the bush/gravel every month or two, but weekend time with the kids is too important to be taking whole mornings out on the bike every weekend. I’d much rather be at the park watching my kids get the hang of their own bikes than riding mine. Watching my boy ride away from me under his own steam the other week nearly brought me to tears…
      So as long as I don’t become one of those fat dads at the BBQ I’m happy to get by with the minimal amount of bike time I’m getting at the moment (maybe 70-100 kms most weeks). And as the kids get older and more independent there’ll be more time for my wife and I to get out on our bikes (possibly even at the same time).

      • Robert Davey

        Great discussion.

        No mention of bike trailers yet. I’ve found mine invaluable. Steer clear of the cheap ones and go for a quality unit. They offer a serious workout while your child sleeps, or as they grow up, learn about the world around them. My 2 year old asks to go out in it everyday, she started in it at 4 months.

        • Jonathan.

          Oh yeah, trailers are good. We’ve got a WeeHoo, which is a single-wheel trailer where the kid has a seat and their own set of pedals that drives the trailer wheel. It’s great fun and yes, a great workout. And you can tell when they’re slacking off because you can hear the freewheel :) We’ve had some pretty good adventures and discovered every playground in a 10km radius from our house. It also works pretty well on dirt and mellow singletrack, just make sure your gearing is nice and low.

        • Spider

          I bought a Chariot CX…..I found out through exploration of yarra bend trails that the CX doesn’t stand for cyclo-cross. However the aluminium roll cage is very good for flips….and the harness works a treat.

        • Jim

          My first two kids used to love the bike seat and would be asking to go for ride, and cry when I left for work without them on the back. Makes you strong on the hills. The rest of the kids didn’t get it because you are still leaving behind multiple kids behind when you take one. However my brother use to have a kids seat, and tag-along and a double trailer to take four kids all at once….he used to call it the road train

          • Heather Howard

            Please checkout Josie Dew author and mad cyclist who rides Everywhere with her 3 kids!

  • Nick Hutton

    The first year is a piece of cake. I trained 20hrs a week for Ironman and completed my fellowship during my sons first year of life. It’s the 2nd (and further) kids and then the years of after school and weekend activities that time becomes less easy to find. Most of my competitive or elite age group mates have broken marriages for a reason.
    Also, this year I realised my kids are probably half way through their life at home with my wife and I. I don’t want to spend the second half of their childhood out training.

    • jules

      I don’t have kids but I have a partner. This is why I don’t do ironmans or long distance cycling events. By doing road racing or other cycling events based on 5-20 minute power efforts, you can be competitive at 10 hours a week or so. In fact, that’s ideal for doing the intensity you need for those events, beyond which you’re just fatiguing yourself for little gain in the fitness zones you need to be.

    • Spider

      Was going to make this exact comment….mate…..year 1 is a breeze….there’s 2 of you, one child and the baby is dependent on mother for meals (if breastfeeding).

      It’s number 2+ and when they are older than 2 that the time constraints begin…..sorry Nathan….you’re going to look back on this article and shake you’re head when you’re really in the trenches.

      • Nathan Hosking

        The article was about the transition from no kids to having kids – so for this time and place, the article stands true. I’m sure things will change if/when #2 comes along and so will my riding priorities… The main thing will be to keep moving, but competing might be another matter.

      • Steve S

        +1. + 10 infact :) Year one, with one kid, is nature’s way of suckering you so you have more. In hindsight it’s an absolute walk in the park.

  • Steve

    I’ve found the hardest part of training with a new baby is scheduling in my wife’s training along with mine. It’s very important to me that she gets exercise in, but with one of us needing to stay home, coupled with her breast feeding requirements and also divving up the morning shift, it has sometimes been difficult. I’m hoping my (currently in transit) trainer helps out.

  • Steel

    Not that I really train. What I do when I ride a bike would be laughed at as training.

    But just some of my tips for keeping power up…

    Focus on short sharp high intensity sessions. I used to roll around a lot which was fatiguing and good for burning kilojoules, but not at all useful for 3 min power – which is how I kind of measure my form on the bike.

    Now it’s 1 hour sessions on sat/sun or stationary sessions on a watt bike.

    My 3 min power has gone up from about 285 to 340.

    Problem is the waistline is harder to keep in control…

  • Stephen Finch

    As someone who’s eldest has just turned 18.


    Dad pretends nothing has changed. Dad loves telling people about the new baby on 100km group rides. Mum at home seething about dad riding all weekend. Mum gives ultimatum. Mum goes riding now instead of Dad.


    The false dawn, parenting becomes easier. Mum & dad go cycling together sometimes!


    Things turn ugly.

    13YO develops habit for sports that start at 4am, are far away, require all day supervision and take all bike budget away from mum & dad. Both mum & dad stop riding, unless it is to work to earn more money for offspring’s food intake or 3rd pair of runners for the year due to growth.

    A same time 16YO develops social life that requires permanent monitoring to ensure the bedroom door is open at all times when boy X Y or Z is over for a “visit”. Also requires driving back from social activities at midnight. Mum & dad don’t know what day it is sometimes.


    Yay – time is returned! In the meantime dad’s lack of cycling has given some more meaning to those memes about fat people choosing to wear lycra

    • OverIt

      Love it hehe :)

    • So true. My wife and I have six kids (18, 15, 13, 10, 7, and 3). Those first years are cruisy. But once they hit the teens you’re balancing all their stuff plus your own career and your wife’s right to some down time.

      I’ve discovered that coming home from a ride and being fully on board with the family makes ALL the difference.

      Don’t stop and upload your Strava file. Don’t tell her about the ride. Just get in the door and make up for lost time.

      And get used to 4-6 hours instead of 10+

      • Winky

        Six kids? They know what causes that now.

      • Spider

        mate, I know you write books on parenting but you don’t have to create your own sub-populous to be considered an expert!…..how about a book of contraceptive devices next :)

  • Sam

    I took advantage of Nathans limited time on the bike by purchasing his Castelli Gabba Jacket from him! BTW Nathan, great article. My scenario is where the kids are 4 & 6 y.o. They sleep right through, which allows me to get our on the 6am local group ride. Very early starts have allowed me to continue riding consistently. However, that’ll change once they get older & their weekend activities bite into my riding time.

  • Christophe

    My daughter turned 4 weeks today and I can’t imagine getting on a bike soon. If she ever gets into a sleeping rythm, I’m setting my hopes on the trainer. That being said, my pre-dad physical condition is getting me through the nights just fine up until now

  • Liam Pritchard

    Good substitute is to go for a run with the children in a pram… great for your leg strength and heart rate; not to mention the wife loves you for it for allowing them 30min-1hr of kid free time!

    • Spider

      Nice! anything that gives them a break is awesome. I showered both my boys….just that 10 minutes to relax helped as well.

    • marc

      yep agree, I did this too – went out for runs 3-5 times a week to keep up the fitness, and the boy loved it too! up to 4 yrs old

  • Kurty Adams

    One of the funniest parenting stories i ever heard in the bunch:
    A mate’s 4-6 year old wandered into the kitchen at 5am asking for help because his eyes had crusted over with conjunctivitis. Old mate stood bolt still until his son decided he hadn’t heard his dad filling his water bottle and wondered off. Dad sneaked out to the garage and rode off!

  • De Mac

    Father of two teenage girls, with ballet, school, tennis, volleyball, netball, etc, etc on the menu. Missus and I both work full time and apart from the first year of respective kids’ lives, full time work has been the norm for us both. Partnership and balance is the key – both parents have to be motivated towards actually sharing the load, which, in turn, provides opportunity for some dedicated time to oneself. Make no mistake, kids do change your life – for the better, without doubt – but, it also takes a fair bit of work.

    • Winky

      Father of two teenage boys. The activities that require them to be driven everywhere really are the weekend time-suckers. Personally, I much prefer activities with my boys that we can do together, such as cycling, hiking, running and kayaking. Driving them across town for meaningless game of sportsball (with all the associated parental politics and over-serious coaches), not so much.

  • Philipp

    Our son is 8 months old now and it is great to hear from other fellow cyclist-dads out there. i am not competitive, but used to get my 8000ks / year in during university and experienced the first significant drop in cycling when I started working. Now with the little one on board, i just now reached 1000ks this year. Bummer. But like everybody before said, cycling is not everything anymore.

  • Robert Merkel

    Oh great, let’s have our own version of the mummy wars :)

    Thanks Nathan for sharing. I’ve enjoyed the other perspectives that people have brought to the comments.

    I’ve just completed my first block of a few road races, after eighteen months off after the birth of our first child. While I didn’t blow everyone away, my form was roughly comparable to what it was before I stopped. So it’s certainly possible to combine having a toddler, actually participating in their upbringing, not get sacked from a full-time job, and training enough to be modestly competitive – and, more importantly, to enjoy being a strong cyclist.

    That said, it ain’t easy.

    Two five hour disappearances to ride each weekend simply isn’t feasible any more. My partner – very reasonably – expects to have some time to relax and do things on the weekend herself, and that means that disappearing for the entirety of Saturday and Sunday morning isn’t on. Furthermore, when you get home, you’re going to have to look after the munchkin, rather than collapse on the couch.

    Weekdays, it’s either the trainer or commuting if you live within cycling range of work, which I don’t. So, as Nathan says, a high-end trainer and a Zwift subscription is about the only way to keep both your fitness and your sanity. And unless you live right next to a convenient hill, if high intensity is your goal, a trainer session is often a much more efficient way to get it than the road. So if you want to be race fit, a lot of your time is on the trainer.

    And while structured training is great, in theory, the combination of the munchkin and work makes that pretty difficult sometimes. You might have a set of intervals planned, but the only interval you end up doing is the interval between bouts going in and giving your kid a cuddle in the vain hope that this might persuade them that sleep is a good idea. And before anyone romanticises that precious time with your kid, when your kid has been crying for two hours all the friggin magic has well and truly gone and all you want is the little blighter to JUST SHUT THE HELL UP so you can get some sleep. Oh, yeah, you were planning a training session? Congratulations, it’s midnight. Knock yourself out…but remember, work needs you there tomorrow, bright and early.

    And then there are the illnesses. The kid will get coughs, and sneezes, and raashes. And gastro. And you will get coughs, and sneezes, and rashes, and gastro. And your partner willl get coughs, and sneezes, and rashes, and gastro. Sometimes, all of you will get all of these things at once. Just one of them is enough to prevent you getting anywhere near the trainer, let alone the bike.

    On the bright side, the time you do get on the bike (or even on the trainer) is something you do appreciate a lot more. And I’m pretty sure the break makes me a better parent. Yes, I want to spend time with the munchkin (and my partner, something else that’s easy to neglect post-baby), but both my partner and I both need some time to do things other than work and wipe snot off a wriggling toddler.

    My takeaways from all this? The first year is a writeoff (and contra Nathan, I put on a bunch of weight that I’ve had to work hard to get rid of), and even after that, sometimes your kid is going to send your cycling plans down the toilet, But, for your own sanity, don’t get rid of the bike.

    • Great perspective as ever, Robert. Thank you.

    • Nathan Hosking

      Thanks Rob – I might add we’re blessed with a good sleeper, Aiden was sleeping thru at 2 months and is in a good routine. The book ‘Save our Sleep’ is indeed a goody.

      • bumpyknuckles

        This my friend is very rare. And you are very lucky.
        I think we also need a perspective from a parent of a less than ideal sleeper, which I know there are many!

  • Jim

    Working across town where commuting by bike or car takes an hour was the only way I stayed fit after number 3. Best of all when the traffic really goes to custard it takes only an extra 5 min, where the car could take and extra 40.

  • peter

    good article as i can relate. our twins turn 8 this weekend. 1st 2 years was hard enough and then came child care centres so the wife could have an adult conversation at work. the sickness tha tis associated with that time was eye opening, regardless of the sleep deprivation. 3 and 4yo kinda still had the virus’s on offer too, plus life was all about food! more food in the house meant more eating by all. i tried to control it but the comfort i got put about 8 kg’s on. school starts and everyone takes advantage of the free time to work but kids still get sick, so it’s a juggling act to manage who is taking the day off etc. started to manage certain food groups to regain health and riding slowly increases but the desire to spend all day on an adventure is gone for now.

  • Ssanchez

    Yeah interesting read. I think you’re situation is not the norm. No mention of balancing things with the missus exercise regime, though. It’s not a one way street in my household. Tit for tat as my wife is eager to win back her pre baby rig, fitness and strength. That’s been my biggest challenge in the first year of parenthood. The freedom is gone. Now it’s all about being home by 8am on a Saturday morning so the wife can go for a run or get to the gym on time. She literally passes me the kid as I walk in the door.

    10hrs a week across 3-4 days and staying sharp at work is a big call. I certainly can’t manage it. Tried and failed, in fact. Family, work, bike, in that order. You have no choice unless you’re one of those freaks who can survive on 3hrs sleep a night (sans exercise). My boss is like that. He’s a closet gamer. But he manages to function at a super high level every day. Even then, it’s not sustainable 365 days of the year. The physical fatigue catches up and you become a zombie at work, and fall asleep at the dinner table.

    BTW State League 4 Hockey is more like D grade club racing.


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