Family Support?

It seems like every interview with an athlete the topic of support from their family comes up. It also seems like those athletes always have a great support system. I do not fall into that category. My wife is also a cyclist but she is motivated by general fitness and vanity, where I’m motivated by racing and hanging with the pack on our group rides. When I bring up wanting to train for a race, whether it is local or a few hours away, I’m met with negativity about going to events. This makes me lose my motivation to train and race. So, any tips for those of us that don’t receive positive support?


Sorry to hear about the poor family support. My wife is plenty supportive now, but there were times when this was a struggle for me.

One suggestion not related to cycling is that the feeling of her not supporting you might be based on lack of core emotional needs being met. If those core needs are being met, then the likelihood of her wanting to support you will be much greater. It might be worth evaluating what you are doing now and what needs of hers you are fulfilling. For me, I found I was spending “time” with my wife, but there wasn’t any quality time. I thought “I spent 4 hours, just the two of us!” but what she really wanted was an emotional connection and deep conversation. Not just the two of us sitting around on the couch or watching a movie. I don’t say this to mean you aren’t doing the right thing now, but if you evaluate what needs you are meeting, and then do what you can to better yourself, you’d be surprised at how quickly your wife may support you with anything. I say this, because more often than not, the issue of family support in any aspect of life is more related to core needs not being met within a relationship.

Another thing that helped with me was commuting to places in order to get the time in that I needed. Family wants to go to the Zoo? Okay, that’s 50 miles away, so I’ll ride out around 2.5-3 hours early with my clothes in the car and meet the family there. Day at the lake, and the lake is 70 miles away? Same idea… Just work with your training schedule and the activities your family wants to do, then when you meet the family there, make sure to focus 100% on them


A little background; I grew up racing racing motocross and that’s when my wife met me, weekends that would require 3+ hour one way drives for racing.

I stopped racing moto when I got my job at my current employer within the industry but transitioned to MTB then adding road/gravel to my interests. I’ve taken to explaining what it means to me and motivation to have a goal race or something along those lines. I do luck out with Wednesday crits across the street to the house we recently moved in to.

Scheduling has been a huge change for us, we have 2 kids under 3 and it’s made everything smoother. Family vacations, work trips, races, family coming to visit, etc. Hope that helps.

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I would sit down with her and explain the situation to her in detail. Both your needs and expectations. And also ask vice versa.
Ultimately, I would try to figure out a compromise that works best for the both of you. Though if she doesn’t want to do that, I would go completely ego and ramp up the racing to make a point. Ultimately, it’s your life as well. Might as well have some fun. :slight_smile:

That is a tough one. In general I have better luck when my wife is aware that family is priority 1, even though it should be obvious it seems to work better when I remind her of that. Part of that is getting my own mental health in order so I can be a better husband.

Someone used an example for me once: On an airplane, they tell you in the event of cabin depressurization you need to put your mask on first before helping anyone else. The reason for this is that you can’t help anyone if you pass out. That is true in life. You can’t help a charity if you are broke, you can’t be there emotionally if you are not taking care of yourself. There is a balance.


Seems like an odd thing for her to zero in on solely. I think I would ask, is this the only thing she reacts this way to. If not, perhaps some professional counseling might be a good idea to try to get on the same page.

Your question cannot be solved in a web forum as there is not enough information.

Would urge you to understand the root cause before making assumptions. Many non-racing spouses are simply terrified by the racer’s activities. They don’t see the upside but do see your buddies carted off in ambulances or worse race after race after race. Add in costs, and time commitments, and often a bike racers self absorbed nature, and many spouses appear non-supportive.

Durable relationships are built on communication, honesty, trust and compromise.

Have a conversation. Facilitated by a professional if necessary.

Very best!



So…vanity? :laughing:


This has been discussed multiple times. When you have an event, what else happens? Is the trip ONLY for the event? Or do you schedule things for the family to do? Most of my races the family gets most of my time and energy. I work to make sure there are things for my son to do. I work to take the stress off my wife when I am done with the race, no matter how tired I am.

What do you schedule for your wife? What does she want to do? Does your training interfere with her social riding?

My wife gets frustrated with my training (try triathlon training – your wife will be happy you only do bike racing). But she knows my personality goes to the toilet when I don’t train. I make sure she gets her time. I push her to get together with her girlfriends. I make sure she gets to run, even if I have to miss mine.

You need to listen to her comments and address them. you have to put her and the family FIRST. Period. that does not mean not training … that means adjusting your training to their needs.

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Seek a therapist for couples counseling.

This type of thing is extremely difficult to navigate on your own. The structure and guidance of a professional is priceless. Your health insurance should cover the costs.

Don’t wait until shit hits the fan before seeking professional help.

If my other half told strangers on a public forum that I was “motivated by vanity” I’d be furious. That’s an appalling thing to say about someone you love and who trusts you.


:grinning: I’ve raced things with wheels for ~25 years starting with BMX at 16, moving on to motocross in my early-mid 20s, before transitioning to mountain and road bikes now. I’ve never been particularly fast at any of them but just enjoy mixing it up with everyone.

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She admits that one of her goals is to look good.

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Well, if it’s the truth?
Also, I am sure this here is a opportunity for him to vent. Ultimately, a victimless crime :slight_smile:

On events that are out of town, two in 2020, we always try to find other interesting things to do. We both enjoy going to local artisan shops so that is usually our first stop. With no kids, things are easier in that area. My training doesn’t change her riding. She’s faster than me and has no problem hanging with our friends on our rides, I however struggle.

Please be careful accepting online advice, especially when we know so little of your situation. Perhaps approaching the issue from a different angle might help. Maybe start by asking her about her priorities, what is important to her. Then discuss what is important to you and how it keeps you mentally healthy to provide for the family’s needs. That might help, but there are no guarantees.

In my first marriage, I had one event I wanted to do. Not each year. Just one single event in a 7 year marriage. I got up at 3:55am on training days to train while she and the kids were still asleep. This allowed me to take care of the kids in the evening so she would be free to pursue her activities. All my training was logged into a file. I averaged between 5-6 hours of training per week in preparation for it, again, all done in the early morning hours while she and the kids were still asleep. Yet, despite going to such an extent to prevent my activity from impacting her or the family, she still held it against me and did all she could to make me feel guilty. At the time, I failed to understand just how toxic she had become. I wanted to make her happy and couldn’t see that I was never going to be able to do that. I later discovered she was living a secret life behind my back. It wasn’t about me at all, but putting me down and making me feel guilty over every little thing somehow did something for her. She had so much control over me it is embarrassing now. I recall a time when I caught her in a blatant lie and dared to confront her over it. She was such a gifted manipulator that the discussion ended with me apologizing to her for putting her in a situation where she felt she had to lie. When she eventually filed for divorce, it was the absolute nicest thing she ever did for me.

Your situation is very unlikely to be the same as mine was. Listen to her. Find out what her specific concerns are. Pay heed to them. Be willing to compromise. But at the same time if this is important to you, communicate that to her. And by all means, remember that if you do not take care of yourself you will eventually not be able to take care of anyone else.


That isn’t vanity.


Very interesting topic and not always a linear one.

My wife’s attitude about my triathlon training is neutral 10% of the time and negative to very negative the other 90%.

I am blessed to have a job in a place with a 25 meters swimming pool and a very active running and swimming group. I take the most of lunch time sessions but every other training outside of that scope involves a painful negotiation.

This makes me appreciate like none each and every second of my training and forces me to get the very most of it. I am also sure it makes me much stronger when the hurt knocks at my door.

It is kinda weird but I am almost certain I would be a worse athlete in a very supportive family environment.

I do not think I have a particularly gifted physiology (race fitness of 3.8w/kg for 53 yo) but racing has converged to almost perfect execution and I have been achieving some AG wins and podiums nationaly every time I have the opportunity to get decently fit.

So, in my case I guess the negative support just pushes my limits a bit further.

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Listening to each other is great but how does that other stuff work? Is everyone putting everyone else first? Are the kids putting their parent’s first too? Are you saying this is the only way to make a family work?

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i think this thread reminds me why i’m single