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Sharing the Riding Gene 

August 25, 2015
Sharing the Riding Gene

Father's Day is just around the corner, so who better for us to speak to than a family that lives and breathes cycling, the Scarletts.

Cycling has forever been the linchpin for Dave and Jenny, the couple even mountain biked up Mt. Kosciuszko on their honeymoon. The Geelong locals now have three kids, Mikahla, Ben and Nathan, all of whom have continued the family tradition of cycling and have amassed a variety of quality bikes at the house (which is sure to grow if Dave gets his Father's Day wish!)

We caught up with Dave, Jenny and Nathan to chat everything bike and discover why riding means so much to the family.

Dave - how did you get involved in cycling and what do you love about it?

I started racing triathlons at about 18, and continued doing that on and off for another 20 years. Mostly short course and Olympic distance events, but also a long course triathlon.

When I was younger I was a long distance runner, and quickly found that the longer events suited me better than the shorter ones. I got introduced to mountain biking by a good mate, and thought that sounds like a bit of fun, and probably suits my physical abilities more. So I entered a race and I've been riding and racing MTBs ever since. There's also a lot more fun and adrenaline on a bike than going for a run, so I was quickly hooked.

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For my first race I was on an old steel bike that I had to take the pack rack off for, complete with V-brakes and weighing about 20kg. A lot has changed since then but I love it just as much. I jumped straight into the Victorian six hour series and 100km events. The Giant Otway Odyssey has become our family tradition.

At what stage did the rest of the family get involved?

Back in 2007 I entered a six hour MTB series. The kids were pretty young at that stage, so while I was riding Jen would keep the two youngest boys entertained and my eldest daughter Mikahla would hand me gels and bottles as I came through transition. Looking back it was a pretty special time being able to spend it together as a family and find something we could all be a part of. Since then all of the kids have started riding bikes and competed at various points.

Mikahla was the first to start and she began riding as a teenager. She would compete in the 15km MTB events and did very well, finishing on the podium a couple of times. As she began to taper off but the boys became involved and took off. The bike we bought for Mik has been put to good use, first Ben grew into it once Mik stopped and now Nathan has grown into it.

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Ben our second oldest started as a 12 year old and over time has worked his way up to the longer distance events. Ben has great skills and won the most laps for a junior at a local six hour race. At a young age, Ben was able to ride any of the tracks that I could ride, which was brilliant because it meant we could train anywhere together. So that's been really good fun.

Of the three kids, youngest Nathan looks to have well and truly caught the cycling bug. He started cycling as a nine year old, and is now sponsored by local store Hendry Cycles. He has won the 15km at the Otway Odyssey the last two years. The boys have also done some six hour races in pairs at our local club races, the Geelong MTB club.

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Thanks Sam Maffet from Rapid Ascent for the family pic.

Who's the best rider in the family?

The boys and I will train together quite a bit on the road and on their mountain bikes. Their favourite spots are around the famous You Yangs trails, and closer to the coast at Anglesea and the Otways in Forrest.

As you can imagine the boys are very competitive - the youngest Nathan is always wanting to beat his older brother and myself. On a recent road ride around Geelong and up a couple of local hills, Nathan beat me up Challambra, which was his first attempt so I suppose that signifies the baton may have been passed.

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Dave and Nathan have some entertaining banter about who has the best rider in the family title. The general consensus is that it's Nathan up the climbs and the sprints, Dave over the longer distances, and Ben on the corners. It is clear to see that Nathan is wrapped to be able to ride with his Dad, and happy because it means he always has someone to go riding with.

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At the bottom of the 'Epic' at Mt. Buller

Anything special planned for Father's Day?

For Father's Day last year Nathan, Ben and I rode our bikes from Torquay to Anglesea and did a tour of the trails down there. It was a great day on the bikes with the boys, so maybe something similar this year.

What is on the wishlist for Father's Day?

Well, we are starting to get interested in Cyclo-cross at the moment. The bikes are cool and look like so much fun. It would also be great to be able to ride from home to the trails and jump straight on them without having to change bikes.

Plus that style of racing would really suit me... flogging myself for an hour, smashing hills and using some of the MTB skills.

Now all of the boys are hounding Jen for Cx bikes, dropping some subtle and not so subtle tips.

What's next?

Early 2016 I'll tick of my 10th 100km ride at the Otway Odyssey, one of only 10 people to do so, which I'm pretty proud of. The boys and I will also do a few Victorian MTB Enduro races together as well as the Kowalski Challenge and a handful of local Geelong MTB club races as well.

The best thing about the family getting into bike riding is spending time together and having everyone enjoy themselves. Being able to race and train with the kids; supporting each other at events; an occasional ride with Jenny to get a coffee and have some fun as a family is truly special and maybe not something a lot of families would get to experience.

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Training for the Otway Odyssey 2015

Looking for something to do this Dad's Day?

One in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will have anxiety at some stage of their lives. Together with charity sponsors Beyond Blue, Movember and OzChild, JASCO Telstra The Father’s Day Bike Ride aims to raise awareness and much needed funds for men’s mental health.

On September 6 2015, the very first event of its kind will be held around the Grand Prix Track at Albert Park and expects to draw crowds of thousands. The ride is suitable for people of all ages and capabilities, with training wheels welcome. Separated into two ride options, more experienced riders are encouraged to participate in the Mattioli challenge at 7am and will see riders attempt 12 laps in under two hours. The family event at 9:30 am is for is all about having a go and enjoying exercise with family and friends.

Registrations are now open! Visit Fathers Day Bike Ride to register

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