Introducing: The Flying Frenchman

Michael OlivierKids, Lifestyle, Peak Pedaler

Born and raised in the flats of southeastern Michigan and aged like a Scottish ale for 16 years in the oak barrel forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I bought my first Bianchi Brava a few weeks after my (now 4yo) son was born so I could commute to work. Maybe it was the endorphin rush of being a new dad or the thrill of racing traffic through the streets of West Asheville, but being in that saddle felt like I had finally found the sport for which my boyish little 5’ 8” frame was built. Nearly five years — and another Bianchi and a Felt — later, I’ve never looked back (except to see who’s about to pass me). I’ve even passed that bug onto my son, who, if he isn’t on the back of my bike, is on his own bike, racing me through the quiet streets of our new hometown.

My wife of nearly seven years had been hounding me since we first met to move to Fort Collins. “You’ll love it,” she’d say. “It’s perfect for you!” she’d go on. “You can ride in the Rocky Mountains!”

After placing 69th at the 2012 Blood, Sweat & Gears in Valle Crucis, NC

After placing 69th at the 2012 Blood, Sweat & Gears in Valle Crucis, NC

Late last August, after a bad day, I finally gave in to her wishes. We made the decision to uproot ourselves from Asheville, N.C. and relocate to Fort Collins. “What the hell am I doing?” I thought.

I have not regretted the decision once since we landed here. Not. One. Time.

During our discussions of moving our family and the dynamics that would be affected, we determined that we wanted to make some changes, namely:

– It would make more sense for me, a graphic-designer who works as a freelancer/contractor, to be the primary caregiver for our 2yo girl and 4yo boy, while my wife worked full-time;
– We should sell off a car and get a cargo bike for me to haul the little ones about town, and;
-I should do the Ride The Rockies (since my riding partner back in NC had been going on about it since we started riding together…he’s never done it and I make sure to mention it to him as often as I can to make sure he remembers that I AM riding it this summer… and he is NOT).

Weeks after we settled in, I purchased our Xtracycle cargo bike, strapped the kids on and haven’t stopped pedaling them around since (minus for these past few weeks of epic snowfall). My main reason for giving up the car and commuting via bike – besides the environmental aspect – was to be able to balance training AND being a full-time stay-at-home dad.

My main worry was that the kids would hate traveling by cargo bike everywhere. They’d get bored. They’d fuss and fight. Man, was I wrong. Superbly wrong. They love it. They talk to everyone we see on the streets (including people in cars with their windows rolled up). And I get to rack up the base miles every day.

For now, it’s travel by cargo bike during the day en route to the Discovery Museum, Spring Canyon (or one of a hundred other) playground or some other playdate with other stay-at-home dads and then it’s ride by Felt in the evenings and weekends.

In short, as my mother has said nearly every time we talk about our new life out here: “We are living the dream out here on the Front Range.”