Professional Rider Jerome Clementz sent us a letter, in which he described the challenges of facing parenthood. He came to the conclusion that having kids means in no way that you have to stop riding your bike. Along with the letter, he took some pictures of his epic rides and made a video that we like to share with you.
Having a kid doesn’t mean you have to stop riding!
My name is Jerome Clementz, 36-year-old by now. I’ve been a professional mountain bike rider for more than 15 years. Most of my time was spent exploring, training, and racing all around the world. Luckily my wife Pauline was able to join me during most of this travel as she helped me running my career and she’s also a skilled rider. At some point, around 2 years ago, we were having a kid together, no stress for me as I was slowly moving out of my racing period, so I was not worried about having to invest energy into baby duties, early morning wake up, and short nights. Actually, I was super excited about this new part of my life and ready to face this challenge.
Telling the news to my family and friends, they first were happy for us but also raised some concerns. ‘Game over’ ‘no more riding for you’, ‘Now you are stuck at home’ ‘it was great to meet you, but now we won’t see you anymore’ were the kind remarks I’ve got and made me realize, things will be different.
I never experienced more than 2 months at home without traveling and all my weekends were dedicated to outdoor exploration with or without my bike. This was probably a tough part to digest, but after all, I like to learn and experience new things, or maybe you can still do cool things with a kid.
I’ll save you from all the details of the beginning with a newborn and will not encourage you to go crazy from the start but once you can understand when your kid is enjoying things there are plenty of opportunities to still live an exciting life and bring him on your journey. Luckily, a bike is probably the tool that has the most options to share moments together. We started with a Thule trailer, on some cycle path and some gravel road for some nice exploration. No need to stay at home, we could still spend our time away and discover new places.
When he turned 2, he started to ride his push-bike properly and we could put him on a seat on the bike, to really share the stoke. Believe me, we never pushed him, and he quickly was asking us for a ride. He didn’t have to tell us twice and we rode together almost daily in the mountain or the woods for an hour, with a mix of him riding his bike and some singletrails seated on his Macride (the seat on our bike). Thankfully we have a nice e-bike that really helps us to make this ride easier and everything more accessible because with those 13kg extra, it would be a mission without the assistance.
One problem solved, every day at home with a kid is not that bad, but what about holidays.
For this year we picked Val Di Fassa in the dolomites, a place that always fascinates me for its unique peaks, the endless valley, breathtaking views, and Italian lifestyle. We started our stay with some rides on the cycle path along the Avisio river where Emil, our son could ride his bike with us either on the tarmac or in the skills parks and on pump tracks we could find on the way without forgetting a stop or 2 on some playgrounds. Our live consist of more than just biking…
Listening to the recommendation of the tourism office we visited the Fuchiade area with the trailer on some easy gravel roads, checked some lakes, and the farming life in remote places. Donkey, cows, goats, and sheep all around for a mellow day with a real taste of holidays.
Then as the weather was great Val Duron was a must-do for us, it has a steeper access but once you reach the plateau, you are lost in this valley with big rock formation around, some sharp peaks, grassy field, few farmer huts, and a nice waterfall.
For us, our bike is a tool to reach nice places in harmony with nature, get to discover things you can’t reach easily by car or which are too far to get to by foot. It also has this fun and technical aspect that fulfills our need for adrenaline and challenges us. Those bikes, and especially now E-Bikes, allows us to imagine some adventures, and to get to share this safely with our son, it for sure changed our way of designing our holidays and our daily lives as parents. The best of it is that now, he is requesting some ride and asks to go outside. For us, this is the nicest thing he could ask, and we are always keen to support his demand. So, when he told us that he didn’t want to ride gravel roads anymore and that he was looking for some jumps and berms, it was hard to say no. We looked at some green and flowy trail on the Val Di Fassa Bike Park to make him happy. What a pleasure to ride with him in and hearing him giggling while you are also enjoying the ride for real. From a personal standpoint, these feelings match the one you get when you clear one of the most technical trails or when you achieve one of your goals in your racing career.
But don’t forget that a 2 years old kid also needs to rest, sleep long at night, and get a nap in the afternoon. This allows us to go on a private ride, where you can push the boundaries and live your own moment in the wild. We took turns either early morning for a sunrise ride or when he goes to refuel his battery.
People may think that we are crazy, but I can tell that I never weight as much the consequences of each of my decision. Falling is not an option and I always have his safety in mind, in the short term but also the impact on his future health. When you see someone doing something with a kid it does not mean that you should do the same thing. People have different skill levels and kids have different evolution timelines. It’s not a race or about doing the craziest thing to impress the world but to create shared happiness in your comfort zone.
So, thinking back of what people told me 2 years ago, probably in a kidding way, I can definitely say that having kids doesn’t ruin your life, and even less your riding opportunities. There is some change for sure but also a lot of new experiences that make life always as enjoyable, if not even more as before. Before you are trying it for yourself mainly but now you also have this teaching and learning aspect that creates another sense of achievement and I don’t speak of the stoke you feel when you see your child smiling and asking for more. There are many opportunities and good things to do together and this is what life is all about.
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Words & Photos: Jerome Clementz