Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Monday, June 9, 2014

Father's Day Ideas for Athletes

by Kat Hunter

Cyclist and multisport dads spend most of their leisure time—what little there is—working out. Keeping up with a regular training regimen isn't easy alongside a job, housework, parenting duties, and the other sundry responsibilities of adulthood. Father's Day is a good time to say thanks. Thanks for being a role model of good fitness and hard work. Thanks for getting up in the middle of the night to change a diaper or banish monsters even though you had a hard training ride scheduled early the next morning. Thanks for being (mostly) cheerful in spite of it. And thanks for having really nice legs; the tan lines, they can be forgiven.

Kid-Friendly DIY Crafts
Father's Day is June 15, so moms and kids still have a little time to break out the paint and superglue. A wealth of DIY ideas, many easily tweakable to an athletic dad's interests, can be found online. Pro tip: Estimate how long you think a Pinterest project will take and multiply by four.
Happy Father's Day to my grandfather, Jim Hunter,
who entered me in my very first races.
  • Frames – Frame up a recent race-day photo of Dad or make a collage of races and results past. Let kids write some applause or add on a mustache. If Dad is a regular at the Driveway Series, peruse the collections of photographers like Jim Hicks for action pics. Race numbers can also be made into a collage or decoupaged keepsake. 
  • Coupon jar – It may not be an original idea, but the "coupons" inside can be as creative as you'd like. Decorate a glass jar, an old bike bottle, a Gatorade canister, or anything sport-related you can find, and fill it with slips of paper that promise Dad various treats. E.g., "1 leg massage" or "1 post-ride smoothie." 
  • Snacks – Make Dad homemade energy bars or other easily transported foods for his workouts.
  • Kid art – Put those handprints, stick figures, and unidentifiable-blobs-said-to-be-horses on things that Dad uses every day, like gel flasks, bike bottles, duffle bags, or workout clothes.
  • Be weird – My grandfather, a runner and triathlete, always had a collection of worn-out running shoes. When he retired, his coworkers gave him the strangest footstool I've ever seen—a round cloth-covered circle for the top, with two "legs" that went into a pair of his old ASICS. Tacky and memorable is better than boring!  
Transform the Bike Cave
Bike art created by ATC Racing's Sammi Runnels
This idea hinges on Dad's personality. If he's the kind of guy who knows where every wrench is, it's best not to even enter the bike cave, much less introduce new elements of interior design.
  • Organizational improvements – A parts bin really helps keep the small bits together if Dad is a cyclist or spends a lot of time working on his bike(s). And bike racks follow rule #12 in my opinion; if the correct number of bikes to own is n+1, you can use the same formula for the apparatus that holds them.
  • Decor – How cool is a bike cave (or any room for that matter) with art made from recycled bike parts?  Local artist and bike racer Sammi Runnels makes bike-inspired art, including chandeliers. The remote-operated LEDs have 15 color options.
Goody Bag
Labelled parts bin for bits and pieces

One Christmas my husband’s uncle gave him a bag full of small things he bought from his local bike shop, everything from bike gloves to chamois cream and a chain wrench; it was one of Jack's favorite presents. A large number of small items will feel like a big gift while also keeping you within a reasonable price range and ensuring practical use. Again, you can make your own creative container or kid-decorated box. If you don’t know exactly what to get or where to find things, ATC staff can help.

Running or cycling socks
Nutrition like gels or chews
Water bottles
Bike lights, skewers, disc wheel adapters, brake pads, flat kits, quick laces, and so on.
Gift certificate for a bike fit at ATC from ROTHE Training ($100)

ATC Chillo Dillo shirt, $19.95
Movie Night
If your offspring are fully mobile and stringing together sentences, an Alamo Drafthouse-style movie night with a swim, bike, or run theme is a fun idea for both the kids and Dad. Let the kids make him "movie tickets" and be on-call waitstaff during the show, picking up his order cards for drink refills, popcorn, pizza, and dessert. Some cult favorites and popular choices include Breaking Away, American Flyers, Without Limits, Prefontaine, and Chariots of Fire. Footage from old pro tours and early-day Ironmans can also be entertaining, even purely from a fashion and equipment perspective.

Every cyclist I know gets excited about new gear. Raid Dad’s workout drawer to get sizing and then stop by ATC for shorts, jerseys, bibs, swim shorts, and other clothing. Has he been pining for a certain helmet? Cycling or run shoes? Could he use a new jersey or fresh pair of race tires? And of course you can’t beat a shiny new bike if you want to go really big.

Sometimes the best present for a hard-working Dad is a vacation. Let him know guilt about training time is off limits: he can spend as many hours as he’d like out on the roads.
Sabinal River, near Utopia
  • Just three hours from Austin, Leakey offers spectacular riding and scenery, with twisting climbs and descents and blissfully traffic-free roads (when you're not sharing them with car clubs). Cabins in the area rent for cheap in the off season, and the Sabinal and Frio rivers provide recreation for the whole family, though are too shallow for real swim training. Nearby Lost Maples State Natural Area has good hiking and is worth a visit at any time of year.
  • The small town of Fort Davis, in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, is about 6.5 hours from Austin. The roads and the climbs are perfect for cyclists who like some elevation and miles and miles of solitude. Accommodation options abound, including long-time establishments like the Prude Ranch, Limpia Hotel, and Davis Mountains State Park. By day, ride up to the McDonald Observatory for a brutally steep climb; return at night in your street clothes for the “Star Party” to look through the big telescopes and admire one of the brightest skies in the state. Marfa, known for its art community and quirky personality, is also close by, as well as the famous spring-fed swimming pool (the world's largest) in Balmorhea. 
  • Fredericksburg, just 1.5 hours from Austin, is great for a quick getaway or day trip. Families like it for its shopping opportunities and old German feel, as well as the proximity to Enchanted Rock State Park. Erock has nice trail running. Back roads in the area also make for good road biking.


  1. So you're not too busy winning the state TTT to write long blog post? Very impressive.

  2. Ha! Thanks. Have to admit that I finished it on Friday, though.