I remember a time when Caleb’s Christmas sled looked like:
It is exciting to see he still hasn’t lost his love of this most wonderful time of year!
Because I am an academic most people would expect that my children would have been raised to believe that College or University was the certain route that one HAS to take after leaving high school. The notion of a gap year is acceptable just as long as there are plans to head into the ivory tower to pursue higher education.
As the title of this post indicates my boys aren’t going to College. My older son Levi is 20 so this will be the second year he won’t be attending college. My younger son Caleb is 18 so this would have been his first year in higher education but like his older brother is too isn’t going to College. I think that it is easier on them then it is on me because it is this time of year that find myself questioning my wife’s and my decision to raise our boys to follow their dreams and passions and to take risks rather then to the safe and certain thing like going to College. Both of my boys are pursuing their dreams of Down Hill mountain bike racing and finding some way to get paid to ride their bikes.
Seriously, they want to get paid to ride bikes. This year Levi raced as a Professional also referred as an Elite and Caleb raced as a Junior Elite so both of them are in a position to have careers as Pro riders. Unfortunately, unlike baseball, football, hockey or even road biking where professional athletes can make millions the sport of Down Hill mountain biking is so young and so extreme that only top Pros are making a reasonable living. Up an coming Pro racers like my boys have to find alternative ways to support their dreams until they can land a spot on a factory team and get some sort of an income.
But this is OK because the official racing season just ended this past weekend and both my boys have been brainstorming and exploring ways to raise money to get ready for next season. They are both looking at entrepreneurial ways to raise money—they are both looking at starting their own businesses. They have also started their off season training with intense rigour because they know they need to up their skills and ranking to get one of those few spots on a factory team. They are working harder then ever because there is no certainty in their dreams and their success is directly related to their level of commitment and hard work.
I also think that things will be OK after reading Seth Godin’s post Teaching Certainty where he points to fact that our society has put is faith in the school system that has perpetuated the certain belief that if you follow all the instructions, follow the syllabus, and do well on the test then:
After you repeat these steps obediently for more than ten years, there will be a placement office, where there will certainly be a job ready for you, with fixed hours and a career path.
But the harsh reality we are facing in our world today is that nothing is certain; we are living in a world of constant change. Godin warns:
We’ve trained people to be certain for years, and then launch them into a culture and an economy where relying on certainty does us almost no good at all.
Broken-field running, free range kids, the passionate desire to pick yourself—that seems like a more robust and resilient way to prepare, doesn’t it? Who’s teaching you what to do when the certain thing doesn’t happen?
If Godin is right then perhaps my wife and I have prepared our boys much better for this uncertain world. The odds are against them and many would find their dreams unrealistic but they both have the grit to keep on working and keep on picking themselves up. If Godin is right and uncertainty is the new norm then I can be glad that my boys aren’t going to College—at least not until they choose to use College as tool to help them pursue their dreams.
Godin, S. (2016, September 8). Teaching certainty. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/09/teaching-certainty.html
How can a flat tire be the best father’s day present that I received this past weekend? My son Levi and I were in Mount Hood, Oregon at the NW Cup downhill mountain bike race this past weekend and towards the end of the first training day he was going too fast into a tight corner, went off the track and hit a tree. As you can see from the pictures he destroyed his front wheel and smashed his helmet visor.
But this wasn’t the biggest problem–the massive Charlie Horse on the top of his quadricep muscle made walking very difficult. Fortunately, we weren’t camping and as soon as we got back to the hotel started alternating hot soaking in epsom salts and ice plus the painful deep muscle massage to speed up the healing process.
The second day of Cat 1/Pro practice stated at 2:00 PM so Levi spent the morning hot soaking, icing and massaging. By the time we got to the course for practice he was still hurting, had difficult walking but once he got on the bike and peddled a bit got loose enough to ride. By the end of the day he felt a bit better about the training runs. Levi was still very sore so we continued the hot soaking/icing and massaging all evening.
The second day after an injury is often the worst so Levi was feeling very sore and was contemplating whether he would race. After lots of light peddling, deep squats and stretching he felt good enough to go for his race day practice run. Despite hobbling as he pushed his bike to the chair lift, Levi felt better on his race run then he expected and decided to race.
I got into position for a great picture and since Levi was the last in his category, I started counting down the riders. There is always a period of anxiety when you wait to see you sons come down the race course so when it was taking longer then expected I started to assume the worst. The race interval was only 60 seconds so when 4-5 minutes passed I started to get very concerned. I started to question my wisdom as a father and was wondering if I should have let Levi ride. He is 19 years of age and is considered an adult but I could have asked him not to race. All the worse case scenarios started going through my mind:
The Mount Hood Nw Cup wasn’t well organize so there were very few race marshals, therefore I wasn’t able to find out if there was an injured rider on the track. When the next category started I knew that if he was injured it wasn’t serious enough to put a hold on the race until the injured ride was removed, but I was still worried.
I raced up about half up the course before I started considering other scenarios. The race course was very rocky and so many riders were getting flats that I started praying that Levi had a flat tire. I turned around and started running back down the hill and when I finally got out of the trees and could see the finish line I saw the Levi waiting for me. As I got closer he started waving. He was standing on his own so I was thinking that even if he did crash he must not be too badly hurt.
As soon as I got close enough Levi came up and gave me a big hug and said happy fathers day. He knew that his flat tire was the best gift that I needed at that very moment. Thanks son!
Nothing better than finishing first the first time you make it to the podium. Caleb finished in first place in his U17 class a full 8 seconds ahead of the second place rider at the Panorama Canada Cup races this past weekend. No time to celebrate for too long. The boys are off to SunPeaks to train for the SunPeaks race this weekend.
It is exciting to see your sons do well as they pursue their dreams. The first place finish is great but the journey that they have taken to get to this point is equally important. The commitment and dedication it takes to train and race at this level will stay with Caleb and Levi for their entire lives. Experience of this kind is a wonderful teacher.
This past weekend my son Levi came in second in his category and was on the podium for the first time. This is a significant milestone and hopefully the first of many such weekends.
This is also a learning opportunity for Levi and I sent him the following email this morning to help him learn from this experience:
Great race! I was sure a proud dad seeing my son up on the podium. It’s all coming together. There is still lots of work to do in getting toward your ultimate goal. This is a reminder that you need to do a post race analysis so that you can learn from what went well and also help you identify where you can improve. Knowing what to keep on reinforcing and knowing what to adjust is going to help you save the seconds you need to move up. You need to go through the race turn by turn, stunt by stunt and analyze the whole race. This will help you to improve and make necessary adjustments and also give you a record to look back on for next year when you race the Ranch again. The following structure should help you pull your analysis together:
1. Identify and describe what went well. What lines worked? What things did you nail and why.
2. What can you do to improve? Where could you pedal more? Where should you have not pedalled (you mentioned hooking your pedal on one berm)? Where should you have stayed on the ground more? For example on the step up you got amazing air and landed at least 8 – 10 feet further than other riders but the time in the air cost you time because you weren’t on the ground peddling. DO NOT think in terms of what went wrong! Think in terms of what can I do to improve? What do I need to adjust? Remember you are fine tuning your skills and your performance.
3. Identify aspect about your bike and equipment you many need to adjust. For example we talked about going to Marzocchi to get their help in dialling in your suspension. Make note of key suspension issues that you need to talk to the Marzocchi people about. Consider your other equipment and race prep.
4. Identify nutrition and hydration issues that you need to remember for next year.
5. Finally consider your mental preparation. We just started working on your race preparation programming and have a lot more work to do on this aspect but you still need to identify what has worked so far and what else do you need to consider.
Once again Levi, I am proud of all the hard work you are putting into this and I assure you all this effort is going to pay off. You have come a long way and are so much closer to the end goal.
Why is it so important to encourage Levi to analyze his race? Without significant reflection there can be no improvement. Learning how to critically and analytically assess his performance is a skill that will carry over into so many aspects of Levi’s life. Learning to do this with something he loves addresses the issue of motivation–he is motivated to do this because he wants to race at the World Cup level and this is the way that he can get there.
Learning how to continue to motivate Levi to move in this direction is my learning challenge. It was a wonderful learning weekend and we have so much more to learning.