Turning pro is what most cyclists dream of all of their lives.
Getting paid to be out on two wheels, be it on the road, track, streets, park or down the side of a mountain. And then there’s the endless supply of free merchandise, energy drinks, holidays all over the world… Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Then reality comes crashing down, shattering these dreams into so many tiny pieces.
“Don’t turn pro, get your kids to!”
Let’s be honest, most of us are just not good enough. Our failings can be many and varied: too old, too young, too big, too small, or simply too shit.
But wait! All is not lost. Far from it, in fact.
You – yes YOU! – don’t have to put in the long hours and hard graft to reach the top and turn pro and, in turn, achieve the cycling Nirvana. You can get somebody else to do the hard work while you reap what they sow. Don’t turn pro, get your kids to!
“I’m too young to have kids!” you may cry. Even better. You can start laying the foundations nice and early.
Just follow our Pushy Parents Guide To Raising A Cycling Pro and before long, you’ll be rolling in it.
1) Get Busy
If you’ve already spawned offspring, you’re one step behind the game. Consider abandoning them and starting afresh. Sure, that’ll be a wrench, but nobody said this was going to be easy.
Plan the birth of your future prodigy. Statistically, children born between September and March – the 1st half of an academic year – tend to perform better in school. You don’t want that.
A smart child may realize that you’re creaming all of their winnings off them. Or worse, they may wish to pursue less valuable careers as a doctor, lawyer, engineer etc. if their head gets filled with education and their own ambition.
“your aim is to make money”
You want to start getting busy around about August/September time. Nine months later you’ll have a spring baby that, the stats suggest, will have a mind you can bend to your will.
In the coming years, a spring baby won’t question the need to be out on their bike in all weather, putting in the miles every day so they can turn pro and you can be rich.
The kinds of cycling that your future star could take part in are many and varied. Mountain biking, BMX, trial biking, downhill, road, track… the list goes on.
Even with all of the highly valuable advice in this guide, the chances of your nipper mastering all of them are between slim and none. Focus on just one. Both fashions and finance in the cycling world come and go.PHOTO: YOANN MORIN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
If your aim is to make money, then you’ll want to push them into whatever will be in favour when your sprog is in their pomp. Right now, that’s road cycling.
The success of Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome et al has raised the profile of road cycling to such an extent that it can be a nice little earner.
However, you need to look 15 to 20 years down the line. What will be big then? More importantly, what will bring in the money?
For many, our most treasured memories are those playing as a child. Wonderful, aren’t they? But where did this land us? Nowhere.
This is a risk you cannot take with your future star. You’re building a cycling machine here, not rearing a well-rounded little person. Exercise replaces play.
Ensure your child is working all the key muscle groups from day one. It’s never too early to start, despite what fully qualified medical professionals may tell you.
Not just the Hollywood muscles either. Your child should be working on their quads and glutes, smashing deadlifts, completing farmer’s walks, all before they’re out of nappies. Chris Hoy didn’t get those tree-trunk arms by watching Playdays!
Think this is too soon? There’s no such thing. Parents of other future pros started yesterday, what have you been doing?
By five-years-old, they should be spending at least 25 hours a week on a bike. Their peers will be off to nursery, but your offspring will be putting the hours in, making those muscles lactic acid resistant. Pain will be their friend. Holidays in Antigua will be yours.
If by the age of 10 they’re not ready to take on the Tour de France – or at the very least the Giro d’Italia – start again. But this time, follow the rules!
History tells us that this kind of early physical dedication is the key to success.
Michael Jackson reportedly had a miserable childhood, forced to practice song and dance routines until he and his brothers perfected them.
Look what happened to him; world domination is his chosen field and… well, let’s gloss over the other bits for now. Focus on the success. Focus on the money.
4) Become a Nutritionist
Exercise will only get you so far. To get the edge your prodigy needs, you’ll have to back it up with the right nutrition.
Now’s the time to start studying nutrition. Find out what the perfect balance of macronutrients is to get your sprog on the top of the podium.
Swap that baby formula for a protein shake. And no sugary treats to bribe your child. In fact, if they need bribing, you’ve gone wrong. Abandon this one and start again next September.
5) Lock Them Away From An Early Age
It’s normal to encourage a child to develop in the company of other children. This teaches them fundamental lessons and skills required for a normal, healthy life.
They’ll learn how to share, how to be polite, it will expand their mind and shape them as they grow. This is a bad thing.
For starters, you aren’t interested in normal! You want elite! Normal doesn’t turn pro. Normal doesn’t win. You need abnormal. Freakish, even.
“Focus on the Success. Focus on the money”
As for other children and their parents filling your sprog’s mind with crazy ideas about childhood, play, happiness… No! This is counterproductive. You child’s friends will be success, gold medals, and over-sized novelty cheques.
This enforced “me time” will also give them the single-minded focus they need to drive them to success. Either that or it’ll make them a bit nuts.
Let’s face it, anybody needs to be a bit nuts to try a look-down-flair, or hoon down mountainous Méribel. So win win, really.
6) Press Face
These days just being in peak physical condition isn’t enough. Your kid will, sooner or later, need to play the press game. Work on their persona.
From cheeky Scouse scallies to moody mods, cycling fans love a unique personality.
Start forging your offspring’s Unique Selling Point that helps that stand out from the baggy-shorted or lycra-clad masses.
Just to get the ball rolling, here are some characters that they could take on:
- Pained “artist”, tormented by their inner angst
- 17th century French aristocrat, complete with massive wig
- Feral redneck country sort, unaccustomed to civilised society
- Other-worldly being, à la David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth
- Descendent of the fabled magician Merlin, resplendent in a cape and big pointy hat
Image is also key to flogging merchandise. Let terrible soft-rock outfit KISS be your mentors.
They struck upon a Unique Selling Point – ridiculous make-up and enough leather to rival the annual Hamburg Bondage Festival –which has led to not only longevity exceeding their peers, but also a shed load of money through merch’.
From pinball machines to garage doors, there’s not much for sale that you can’t buy a KISS branded version of.
You want in on this action. Your child can be on boxes of cereal, release their own condiments, make their own brand of pasta, bottle their own olive oil, and this is all before we’ve left the food aisle.
The money will roll right in and, if you’ve done this correctly, straight into your bank account.
It’s really important to start documenting your child’s every movement – every word even – as soon as they emerge from the womb.
When they hit the big time, you strike cinematic pay-dirt by flogging this footage to the TV networks, desperate to piece together the rise of a star.
Absolute essentials are: birth, first bike, first wobbly ride down the garden, first competitive event, first loss, first win, and first big crash. Abandon that parental instinct to enjoy the moment. Keep the camera steady, focused, and on the subject.
Your child must also master the art of the TV interview. How they do this is based on the kind of personality you choose for their public persona.PHOTO: JOE FERRER / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Despite the years of avoiding other humans in pursuit of greatness, your child will need to turn-it-on when the cameras are there.
A daily regime of practicing two-minute interviews with heavily made-up Barbie doll sorts or monotonous middle-aged men is an absolute must.
7) Hire A Lawyer
A lawyer will be the most important person in your life. As soon as success comes your offspring’s way, so will the parasites all wanting a free ride.
However, the more people on board means more splits in the profits. Your lawyer will ensure that yours is the only seat on the gravy train.
They will also make sure that the only person ripping your kid off is you. After all, given all the work you’ve put in to get them this far, you’ve earned it, right?
Sponsors will all want to get as much as possible for as little as possible, but your star should hold all the cards.
After all, they’re the talent. Your lawyer will ensure that they get you… err, your child the best possible deal.
Remember all that merchandise we mentioned above? It’s an absolute cash cow. Other people will want a slice of this action, and will make knock off copies. These could be sub-standard products and hurt the people that buy them.
More importantly, every penny spent on a fake is a penny not rolling into your wallet. This must not happen. Who do you call? Your lawyer.
So, there you have it. A seven step guide to raising a cycling professional. What are you waiting for? Get to it! Oh, we did mention that we now get 10% of all proceeds, right?
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