If you stay with cycling, the longer you’re involved, the bigger the gift it is.
I love competing and the urge to race will never leave me.
My love for my daughter easily trumps that, so creating and fostering experiences in this part of her life has been a fun opportunity.
Discovering her interests has been a lot of trial and error, and if something doesn’t stick, I’m quickly ready to move on than force something upon her.
Having my life centered around hockey for around a decade, I had my parents take CV Jr. to an LA Kings clinic at age 4 where she was scared enough of the action that she didn’t pick up a stick.
…until a couple of months ago when I was cleaning out my garage throwing out my old hockey sticks.
She picked one up and wanted to hit a ball back and forth.
We be chillin’…literally!
This turned into a nightly activity leading finding free stick time at our local rink which we’ve visited every Friday since despite the summer heat.
Her doing, not mine.
For this year’s Tour of California, by osmosis she caught the Peter Sagan bug and not only wanted to watch YouTube clips, but to watch live racing.
Trying to educate her on more racers, we’ve been watching Coryn Rivera clips because not only is she arguably the best cyclist our country has to offer, but also is a local as well.
Knowing that she was lining up at this Sunday’s 58th Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, CV Jr. was eager to head down despite the grandparents offering a movie with a possibility of ice cream.
We parked right off the east end and caught the middle of the Cat 3 race as they zipped around the swarming u-turn.
A little too close for comfort watching the Cat 3s
It was an interesting look from that angle and even a bit dangerous as I’m even guilty of getting too close to the action.
CV Jr. made me set up her camera on our tripod and though we’re not to the point of explaining the nuances of photography, the experience of seeing the action takes precedence here.
After a few laps, we made our way with the WeeHoo up the mulchy median with two foldable chairs pounding the back of my helmet (my bag was that big).
If you already didn’t know, George is an LA cycling all-star and even better person
Walking would have been more practical and by the time was got to the finish line, the race had ended.
As we meandered our way through the festival, we found a nice spot on the grass where we plopped our chairs down, grabble some shave ice, then enjoyed the humbling mood with Hawaiian music coming out of the truck.
It was just a nice relaxing time sitting together even though there was no action in front of us with the kids race and mile run going on.
Then right behind us, I noticed Coryn heading for a pitstop and when I pointed her out, CV Jr’s eyes lit up and we headed over where she picked out a strategic spot where to say hello.
Justin Williams sporting his stars and stripes in the Men’s Pro Race
Coryn was super gracious as if she wasn’t even getting ready for a race as my daughter tried getting out the words.
Seeing her this excited reminded me when I met Luke Skywalker (I didn’t know who Mark Hamill was at the time) at the same age.
With the race coming up in minutes, Coryn said goodbye and CV Jr. was eager to watch her race.
It’s hard to read overall race dynamics with live racing, but I could tell a number of riders tried getting away to wear down or breakaway from Coryn.
The front two
This tactic didn’t stick though as a rider of her caliber was able to chase down every move.
After a few laps, the field separated into two large groups with Coryn eventually spitting with another rider.
Their gap continued to grow until about three laps left when Coryn completely distanced herself to a large lead.
It wasn’t a dramatic finish, but CV Jr. was ecstatic to see someone she idolizes take home the victory.
I had to turn down the volume a bit on Coryn Rivera winning…
I knew she wanted to stay to watch more, but it also happened to be my mom’s birthday, so we had to head back in the middle of the men’s pro race.
On our way back, CV Jr. spotted Coryn as she waited by the stage to take the podium.
It’s a bit out of character for my daughter, but she really wanted to head over to congratulate her on the win.
We came back and in between all the fans, CV Jr. made her way through to give her a hug, something she doesn’t even do with all our friends.
On top of Coryn taking another moment, she offered to give CV Jr. one of her own personal jerseys which she didn’t quite comprehend at first.
Even though she was slated to be on the podium at any moment, Coryn went back to her car to grab the jersey and took another picture (which I wish I had a better one of).
It was an incredible gift and one she wouldn’t take off the rest of the day other than during dinner time.
While this was a great gesture, the biggest takeaway for me wasn’t the jersey, but how this experience helped shed a big layer of CV Jr.’s shyness.
She normally hides behind me when meeting people, so her taking an active choice to initially meet Coryn was an eye opener for me.
This was such a great experience for her, that it gave her the confidence to go back a second time to say hello.
To watch your daughter grow in front of you with my very own eyes was the best gift of all.
I’m sure there will be more moments like these, but thinking back to what memories as a six year old have stuck with me and they have always been the special ones.
Thank you Coryn Rivera.
Thank you cycling.