Fatherhood and Cycling By Rick Horvat×

I’m obviously not the first guy to ever be a passionate cyclist and become a dad at the same time, but it never really clicked until I actually became a dad myself how much of a life rebalance was about to take place.  

Back in September of last year, one of the most amazing events in my life took place. Elle and I welcomed to the world our new daughter, Audrey.

Whilst Elle was in labour I entered the Tour of Bright (It’s not as bad as it sounds.  Elle had received spinal tap to dull any pain, so when entries opened for the ToB, we were just sitting around waiting for things to happen). At the time, I was completely unaware as to how much my life was going to change and how insignificant in my priorities things like entering a bike race were about to become.   

A couple of days after Audrey was born, I picked up a brand new Bike Gallery - Lexus of Blackburn team issue Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4. This was hands down the very best week of my life!

Upon returning home from the hospital, Elle and I got ourselves into a routine fairly quickly.  We adjusted our lives to fit in with Audrey’s sleeping patterns. I returned to work pretty quickly and began training for the ToB. I was quite comfortably living off 6 hours of sleep a night and able to fit in up to 400k a week on the bike.

Elle as a result took most of the brunt in terms of looking after Audrey.  In all honesty, there isn’t too much a dad can do in the first couple of weeks/ months of their child being born. I would help out where I could, but at times, Audrey just wanted to be with her mother.   

Come late November and on a training ride toward Lake Mountain (from Warburton) I miss-judged a left hand corner whilst on a decent, hit a pole and was flung into a ditch. I was fortunate enough to land in between some logs (and not on them) and come away from that accident with nothing more than a hairline fracture of my fibula.  My new bike on the other hand was unrecognisable.

 

At home, I was useless. I couldn’t walk which in turn meant I couldn’t help out with looking after Audrey.  I was hugely unpopular amongst my extended family, and whilst Elle put on a brave face and tried to support me as much as she could, she was being stretched. I in turn felt horrible.

This was a turning point in my life.

It was over the coming weeks that I had to step back and revaluate what was important to me.  It was fairly clear that whilst cycling was (and always will be) an important part of who I am, my family were always going to come first. 

In terms of cycling; I’ve never had illusions of being anything more than a social rider.  Sometimes the competitive male within rears it’s ugly head, and all of a sudden being recognised as an A grade cyclist as opposed to a B grade cyclist is important.  It’s this same competitive side that sees other cyclists become angry and rude, and takes risks (like over cooking a corner whilst descending) on a ride.  It’s this competitive spirit on the bike that now takes a backward seat as I realise how insignificant in the scheme of life it is.

I’m not resigning myself to the fact that I won’t be competitive in future rides or races, but becoming a dad has made me learn how to better control this instinct.

Safety (as you may be able to appreciate) has also become a priority.  I have recently purchased a high vis vest for those early morning rides, and more times than not will head toward the quieter roads offered by the northern suburbs rather than opt for a messy beach road roll.  

I’m also still coming to terms with going down hill at pace (as anyone of the boys will attest to), but I know this in time will return.

See you on the road (where I’m likely to race you to the next yellow sign!).