How a Bicycle Changed My Little Girl’s Life

For a father, although there is no difference in the amount of love that he has for a daughter or a son, there does exist something that makes the father-daughter relationship very special. I think the “special-ness” is a result of how difficult it is to cultivate that tight bond, one that seems so natural between a mother and her daughter.

About To Head Out For A Ride

Paige, About To Head Out For a Ride…

I can attest to this because of my experience with my daughter, Paige.

Like most little girls her age, Paige had always been closer with her mom, and did not really understand, or take much interest in, the sweat, dirt, and competitive vibes that so dominate my mountain bike world. However, all of that changed this past summer after Paige learned how to ride her bike and competed in her first race……

It was a beautiful summer morning, and Paige, then 5 years old, had accompanied me to a Racers and Chasers race in San Diego, California.  I brought Paige’s bike–a customized baby pink bike she helped me build with spare parts– with us thinking she might want to practice riding around a little while I was getting ready for my race. My friend, Stephen (a former Canadian pro rider), and I had taught her how to ride her bike a few weeks prior. Like a true athlete with previously untapped potential, she learned quickly. After only two and a half hours in Balboa Park, she was riding her pink bike (without training wheels!) like a young Lea Davison.

Paige Asleep in the Truck after finding the Perfect Handle Bars for Her New Bike

Paige Asleep in the Truck after finding the Perfect Handle Bars for Her New Bike

Because her skills were so new, I didn’t expect Paige to want to race that day. However, as soon as we got to the event, I noticed Paige checking out all the bikes buzzing around the staging area.  She must have felt that exciting, competitive intensity that vibrates the air at MTB races because then, out of the blue, Paige told me she wanted to race.

At the staging area for the kids race I asked her one last time, ‘Are you sure you want to race?’  Wearing her new helmet, gloves, and a huge smile she said without any hesitation at all, ‘Yes! I want to race, Dad!’

She lined up, the raced started and she was off — with a look of pure determination, she pedaled as hard and fast as she could.  Paige seemed to have it all under control until she got to a grass section of the course.  Paige was slowing down — I ran over to her and jogged beside her as she worked hard to keep her cadence up.

Paige's First Moutain Bike Race

Paige’s First Mountain Bike Race

I could see she was getting tired and just about to cry,  I told her ‘Pedal baby, keep pedaling — you can do it!’  Right then, something came over her, I could see drive, passion and fire in her eyes…  She stood up on her pedals and hammered to the finish line.

Although she didn’t win the race that day, she gave it her all and I couldn’t be more proud. Not only did she show great physical strength, but she also proved that she had great mental toughness, fortitude, and self-confidence, all of which are qualities that will help her achieve success in all aspects of life.

Since then, she’s raced a few more times. She’s had her ups and downs, from beating all the boys to having her chain fall off and not being able to finish the race, but she continues to love it.  She loves riding and racing, and the best part is that she loves riding and racing with me.. :)

“A daughter can outgrow your lap, but she can never outgrow your heart.”

Thanks for reading…

Richard La China

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