It’s your typical love story, really – boy meets girl. Girl likes boy. Boy takes girl on bike ride across the state for a first date.
That’s how it all started for David and Edie Haney, at least.
“As a kid growing up in Europe and in the Midwest, my bike was my mode of transportation,” said Edie Haney. “If I wanted to go to a friend’s house, the ice cream store, or visit the park, I rode my bike. In my teen years I did some bicycle touring throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.”
“I’ve always enjoyed cycling, and in fact one of the first dates that Edie and I went on over 20 years ago was a cross Florida bike ride,” said David Haney. “However, after we had kids, cycling was not a sport that we had time for. Or rather, didn’t make time for.”
As parents to 17-year-old Victoria, 16-year-old Parker, and 14-year-old Madeleine, the formerly very active Haneys found themselves catering to the lives of their now very active children.
AND THEN WE HAD KIDS…
“When the kids were younger, they enjoyed riding around the neighborhood and exploring mountain bike trails. Somewhere along the way, we stopped riding and our three kids got involved in basketball, soccer, and lacrosse,” Edie commented. “As parents we found ourselves carting kids to practices and games. While the kids exercised, we found ourselves as mere spectators, leaving little time left in the day to exercise ourselves.”
Parker Haney had always enjoyed riding his mountain bike, so David thought he might enjoy trying road cycling. After doing a little research, he discovered the Frazier Cycling youth development program right in their own backyard. Once he joined Frazier Cycling, the Haneys learned that the parents were encouraged to ride at the practices, too. David began taking Parker to practice, and getting in a little practice himself, soon riding at all the practices along with the other kids and adults on the team.
About a year later, Parker was riding with his sister, Madeleine, on vacation and the two decided to race. It was obvious that Madeleine also enjoyed riding fast, so Parker encouraged her to join the Frazier Cycling Team as soon as we returned home from vacation.
“Due to my husband’s work schedule, it was necessary for me to take Madeleine and Parker to practices on occasion,” said Edie. “I would watch them ride. Many of the other parents encouraged me to bring my bike and ride, too. Before long my other daughter, Victoria, decided that she didn’t want to be left out, so she began to ride too.”
And the rest is history.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
One of the greatest perks of cycling for the Haney family is that it’s a hobby the whole family enjoys. Recent surveys show sport-active children and their parents are losing important time together as a family. Modern parents spend eleven hours less a week with their teenagers than they did two decades ago. Six out of ten 15- and 16-year-olds regularly eat dinner as a family. Children are being benched for missing practice to be with their families and tournaments are replacing church on Sunday for many families.
“When all three kids played soccer, we were constantly in the car, carting kids to practices at different times and on different days of the week,” remembers Edie. “On the weekends, it was a struggle to get three kids to three different games, at three different times. Now that all three of them cycle, much of the scheduling conflicts are eliminated and I actually get to watch all of their races. The cycling team all practice at the same time and place. On race weekends, the kids and my husband all race at the same venue at different times.”
“All of the races allow for us to race and cheer one another on,” said David. “Victoria and Madeleine are typically racing together, and sometimes Parker and I race the same category.
The sport has allowed us to be together on the weekends.”
“I enjoy watching my sisters and father race,” said Parker Haney. “When they do well in races I am happy for them. I feel a sense of accomplishment when they win, since we train together.”
IT’S A LIFESTYLE
On race weekends, the whole family is up before 6:00 a.m. and on their way to a race – together. No one will ever accuse the Haneys of being slackers: the typical weekend schedule includes a 50-mile ride with Frazier Cycling, back home for quick breakfast, then back with the team for an easy 20-mile ride at 11:30 a.m.
In order to accommodate their active lifestyle, the Haney children attend Gwinnett Online Campus, a virtual school (part of Gwinnett County Public Schools) that is structured so that students can work at their own pace during their best hours of the day. This style of education allows Victoria, Parker, and Madeleine to travel during the school year for competitions simply by working ahead or taking their laptops with them. They are able to structure their days so that all schoolwork is completed during the week, leaving weekends free for racing and socialization.
“My time management skills have improved since I started online school. I like to get up early and get started on my schoolwork right away so that I’m able to go to practice at lunchtime and again in the early evening each day,” said Victoria Haney. “I keep a very tight schedule. I like to stay ahead in school so that I can take advantage of various cycling or travel opportunities throughout the year.”
Improved time management skills are valuable lessons every high level athlete receives. By taking advantage of all the valuable lessons learned naturally on the playing field and applying them to all aspects of life, student athletes can remain one step ahead. On average, high grade point averages and equally high career goals – off the field – are nothing new to upper-level athletes.
Thanks to a large number of friends in the cycling community, most of the Haneys’ social activities revolve around cycling, which comes in handy, since late nights don’t mix very well with early mornings.
“Sometimes the social aspect of my life gets put off or is mixed with cycling because we have friends on the team and on other teams that we ride with, but it gets tough when you see the same people every day. My schedule is always tight trying to fit other people into my life,” Madeleine said.
A SPORT FOR LIFE
Thanks to its lifetime, all-inclusive nature, the cycling lifestyle works for the entire Haney family. It’s a sport that every member – from the oldest to the youngest, most athletic to least – can participate in. No one has to sit on the sidelines.
“There’s something about riding a bike that makes you feel like a kid again,” Edie commented. “As a mom, it’s a challenge to find time to take care of yourself. With cycling, I get my fitness in at the same time as the kids.”
“I plan to ride my bike for the rest of my life,” said Parker. “I can always take a break from racing if it becomes too much, knowing full well that I can get back in to competitive racing again at any time. There are people of all ages on the Frazier Cycling team and I have several great role models over 50 years old who are still racing, getting good results and enjoying themselves while staying fit.”
“Balance is critical in our lives today. We try our best to make sure that we have our priorities straight with family, work, school and cycling, and it seems to work well for us,” said David. “We all have schedules and we try to make sure that they align as much as possible. We also know that flexibility is key.”
Photo Credit: Kate Awtrey, copyright © 2013, www.gwinnetteventphotography.com