We sat down with Ted King and Roger Brown, co-founders of UnTapped, to discuss their experiences as fathers and the unique blend of racing and parenting at Unbound. During our conversation, Ted and Roger shared their perspectives on how fatherhood influenced their racing experiences at Unbound. They spoke about the blend of joy and responsibility that comes with being a parent and how it has shaped their approach to training, strategizing, and ultimately competing in one of the most demanding endurance races in the world.
How did you balance training and participating in events with being a father?
TK: It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to have bike riding be a considerable part of my job, so that’s convenient when I need to log some training time! A go-getting wife who enjoys training and racing herself is a big part of the equation. The whole UnTapped office understanding that time away frequently revolves around cycling projects helps tremendously.
The previous chapter of my life, exclusively as a professional road racing cyclist, was solo from the perspective of family. I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, so to now be able to integrate my family into this traveling circus is such a cool, fun, new, novel project for us that it’s all part of the adventure.
RB: It’s a delicate balance of not really preparing for anything except for getting through the rest of the day and then trying it all again tomorrow. That’s not totally true, as getting ready for this year’s Unbound, I definitely was able to steal some time away from work and away from home. But there is definitely always that pull – when I am away from work I feel bad that I am putting things on everyone else and when I am not home, I feel bad to be putting the whole dog and pony show on my wife Jenny. But when you are working and coaching youth sports every day, at some point you just need to get out the door and get it done.
What is something that your children have taught you that you used either leading up or during the event?
TK: In an age of competitive gravel racing, I can rest assured my kids don’t care about the result. As an inherently competitive person, that’s been an interesting balance to strike, although more often than not I feel like I’m pedaling as fast as possible in events in order to get back to my family as quickly as possible!
RB: Ha – unlike Ted, my kids do see me as some old-time has-been (I realized this winter that my mom’s ski career was more recent to me when I was 11 than my ski career is to my kids – and her time was black and white dinosaur age), so showing them that Daddy can do fun, hard things too is entertaining for me.
This year at Unbound, Charlie (11 yo) got to ride with me for ten miles – that was really fun. And all four kids were there when I dropped at 225 (and watched me puke water and get the shakes) and got a sense of that Daddy did try to pull off something difficult.
Do you approach events differently now that you are a father?
TK: In addition to how I answered the last question, quite frankly I’m also more cautious in events. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze for taking risks in events these days.
RB: To be honest, the other thing that I think differently about an event is how rarely I have the privilege of having a whole day to myself to ride a bike. So just having a whole day to myself to go out and ride a bike is pretty special.
What qualities did you exemplify during training or the event that you hope to pass along to your children?
TK: The traditional ones come to mind, hard work, tenacity, dedication. It’s interesting to largely work from home and have our childcare done from home so my kids see me work, see me go out to ride, see me go training when they’re about to go sledding. Ahh, winter riding in Vermont…
Laura and I talk about this often. We truly don’t care if our kids get into cycling. We just want them to find something that provides a safe, enjoyable outlet and all the better if it’s something they’re passionate about.
RB: Snapping at my kids because I didn’t get enough sleep and am tired and annoyed that I didn’t get out as long as I wanted to. No, I am just kidding. Ted put this much better than I did. Try to do something hard and then work towards it. I hope to pass along the love of biking!
Provide an example of how you have shared your passion with your children?
RB: The MacRide rules for sure. We have actually been able to spend a decent amount of time together as a family on the bike. One of my favorite days was riding from Cotton Brook over into Little River last fall with Sydney, Charlie and Petey on the MacRide. It was a good adventure and we made it in just as it was getting dark (without headlights). We all feel a little exhilarated to have been racing the sun, sore from a long afternoon out in the saddle, and hungry and thirsty from too little food and drink, so ready for some post-ride treats. Fun to teach my kids to ride just like I always have…
TK: I can thank Roger for introducing me to the MacRide! This has been such a great addition to our summer (and sometimes winter) outings. https://youtu.be/tT5RSF61xdQ Just showing the freedom that the bike allows, riding to the bakery, to the playground, to the local creemee shop, that’s what I love about sharing cycling with my kiddos.
Anything else you want to ask? Share? Tell?
RB: As my youngest Petey likes to say whenever we roll up to a challenging obstacle on the mountain bike – “if you think you can or if you think you can’t you’re probably right.”