Ever wondered if it’s possible to enter a mountain bike event if you have young children? What about when they’re teeny and can’t ride bikes themselves? (Yet!)
We caught up with Rotorua local and Whaka100 first-timer, Emily Smith to hear more about how she fits in training, event-day planning, and how you can work your mountain biking with (and around) your children.
Emily Smith is no stranger to adventure, having just returned from 4 years living in Vancouver, Canada, with her Kiwi husband and (now) 10 month old daughter Frankie. Spending as much time as possible in the Rotorua countryside, the family are already seeing the same adventurous spirit in Frankie. Emily tells us Frankie's “drive to be continually moving and climbing hopefully sets her in good stead to be a future mountain biker/adventurer!”
After she and her husband got into mountain biking via her dad’s 60th birthday - joint family mountain bike presents definitely are they way forward - Emily found herself hooked! Fast forward a few years and several NZ and Canadian bike trips, she still loves a good Redwoods ride - in particular an Apumoana - Frontal Lobotomy – Eagle vs Shark loop.
As we’re sure many other mums have found, just heading out to the forest for a quick ride now can take a bit more organising! Emily has some great ways to work around this - or at least make it a bit easier. Working together with a “training” buddy for the Whaka 50 - another new mum - they have been motivating each other “by keeping one another posted on any rides (or other training) we manage to fit in.”
On top of that they’ve also managed to squeeze in a few family training days;
“we base ourselves at the Redwoods Waipa carpark with our friend’s Pajero and batwing sunshade, picnic rugs, and some good snacks. From there we tag team our riding with looking after the kids in mum and dad shifts."
However, Emily shared that it’s not always as easy as snacks and picnics in the sun;
”It sure has been a challenge….getting into the swing of the constantly changing ‘routine’ of a first baby, juggling work and trying to fit in training... but it sure makes me efficient with any time I do have.”
With help from an “extremely supportive husband and extended family” Emily has a few recommendations for other mums entering the Whaka 100’s events this year.
Plans are already underway for the big day too, Emily telling us that she is “definitely going by the motto of slow and steady wins (or completes) the race”. She also knows too well that it’s important to keep stress levels low on the morning of the event; “we plan to pass the kids over to the dads from first thing in the morning to give us our best shot to getting to the start line on time”.
Plus, we love Emily's plans for mid-race sustenance. The plan is to “attach some picnic baskets, rather than baby seats, to the front of our bikes in case we get peckish on the way”!
We know Emily loves an adventure and this year is no different. She may be a new mum to a 10 month old but she’s fully committed to the 2021 Whaka 50. Emily and her friend Kat have recruited a group of women to race with them, are using the event to motivate them all to train, and best of all - they all get a weekend away together to ride their bikes!
To finish, we asked Emily for her top tips for training or even just riding when you’re a parent; “being both organised, but equally flexible and nimble in our plans, helps set realistic expectations, and be thankful for any time I get on the bike.
As she says, “say yes and then work out how”.
Thanks for your time Emily - we can’t wait to see you at the Whaka100!